Wednesday 26 June 2019

Confirmed: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer returns to Old Trafford as Manchester United's new caretaker manager

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been appointed as Manchester United’s interim manager (Phil Cole/PA).
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been appointed as Manchester United’s interim manager (Phil Cole/PA).
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been confirmed as Manchester United's caretaker manager.

After firing Jose Mourinho for failing in terms of style and substance on Tuesday morning, the club have acted quickly to bring in their former striker and reserve team coach.

Molde boss Solskjaer has been brought in until the end of the campaign and will be joined by first-team coach Mike Phelan, who will work alongside Michael Carrick and Kieran McKenna.

Solskjaer said: "Manchester United is in my heart and it's brilliant to be coming back in this role. I'm really looking forward to working with the very talented squad we have, the staff and everyone at the club."

United moved quickly to appoint the former striker after Mourinho's exit and executive vice chairman Ed Woodward feels the Norwegian is a good fit.

He said: "Ole is a club legend with huge experience, both on the pitch and in coaching roles. His history at Manchester United means he lives and breathes the culture here and everyone at the club is delighted to have him and Mike Phelan back."

Solskjaer's first game in charge will be Saturday's trip to former club Cardiff.

He managed the Bluebirds between January 2014 to September 2014, failing to stop them being relegated from the Premier League.

Solskjaer won just nine of his 30 games in charge, losing 16 and drawing five.

Speaking moments before Solskjaer's appointment was made official, former United first-team coach Rene Meulensteen warned it would be a huge job for the Norwegian.

"It would be a good choice in terms of the fact that they want to bring back some of the spirit that was at United in the time of Sir Alex Ferguson, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was a big part of that," he said on Sky Sports News.

"In that respect I can understand they were looking for a candidate who can live up to those expectations.

"If they do decide for Ole and Ole decides to accept then again it is a big ask for everybody. But I think in the short term it would be a good choice to make."

Meulensteen added that bringing in Mike Phelan as first-team coach would be crucial to helping Solskjaer be successful in the role.

"That's massive," he said. "Mike has been with the club a long, long time, as a player and then as assistant manager.

"He will be really important to help Ole to steady the ship and more importantly to get a smile back on the faces of the players and get the best out of them."

In 2008, having won six Premier League titles at Old Trafford, Solskjaer became United's reserve team manager, before taking his first senior managerial role at Molde in Norway two years later.

He won the Eliteserien twice in 2011 and 2012 and the Norwegian Football Cup in 2013 during his first spell at Molde.

Since his return in 2015, Molde have been runners up to Rosenborg in the last two seasons.

Former Everton and Norway goalkeeper Thomas Myhre accepted it was a huge leap for Solskjaer.

"(At Molde) everything he has touched was magic," he said on Sky Sports News. "He went over to Cardiff and it didn't succeed and maybe that's what the fans are thinking about, but I think it's a great chance for him.

"I understand about the thing in Cardiff but he did a few things there that turned out to be mistakes.

"He brought in three Norwegians who didn't really take to the level, he swapped around the squad a lot because he was used to that at Molde and used to that at United but with a squad that needed confidence it was probably not the right thing to do. But I think he's experienced a lot from doing that.

"He knows the club, he knows the culture, he's been reserve manager for three years. At a time when Mourinho has gone there are not many options but he is a legend and he will be a spark for the fans."

Molde have confirmed that Solskjaer will return to the club in May, with chief executive officer Oystein Neerland saying they are happy to "lend" their coach to United.

"That Manchester United ask Molde FK to lend the manager is by itself an event, and not least a statement of trust for both Ole Gunnar and Molde FK," Neerland said.

"We are happy to lend Ole Gunnar, we wish both him and the club a success.

"This is a big opportunity for Molde FK, we think it will be developing and helping to put Molde FK further on the football card."

Speaking on the Molde website, Solskjaer backed his Molde first-team coach Erling Moe to hold the fort while he was gone, and thanked his employers for allowing him to take up the opportunity at Old Trafford.

"In football you never know what can happen," he said. "We get proof time after time. This is an opportunity I had to take. I am looking forward to leading Manchester United until the summer.

"At the same time, I will follow closely what is happening here at home."

Molde won eight of their last nine league games to finish second when the season ended in November.

"We have built stone for stone and the end of the season this year gives us hope for another good season," Solskjaer added before offering support for his backroom staff.

"Erling, Trond (Strande) and Per Magne (Misund) will do a lot of work while I'm gone. At the same time, I would like to thank the club, and Kjell Inge and Bjorn Rune have once again congratulated me on (joining) the world's biggest club."

Similarly to Solskjaer being 'on loan' from Molde, Phelan will treat his role very much as a temporary one and continue to serve as sporting director for Australian club Central Coast Mariners throughout.

"Taking on a temporary coaching role at Manchester United is extremely exciting," Phelan said. "It's also a really positive step for the Mariners to have a direct link with Manchester United as I will continue my role as sporting director.

"I'm still a Mariner. I've put something in place that I want to see through. This might be a small distraction, but it's with one of the biggest clubs in the world that I simply couldn't turn down."

More to follow

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