Monday 23 September 2019

'Don't worry, Gary will be really hard on me' - Solskjaer not looking for favours from former team-mates in media

Gunnar for glory: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made a winning start to his stint as Manchester United’s caretaker manager. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Gunnar for glory: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made a winning start to his stint as Manchester United’s caretaker manager. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Mark Critchley

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants no favours from his former Manchester United team-mates who are working in the media after taking temporary charge of the club.

Solskjaer was appointed as United's caretaker manager last week following the dismissal of Jose Mourinho and made a winning start on Saturday, winning 5-1 at Cardiff City.

Mourinho's demise came amid public criticism of his methods by former United players, with Paul Scholes a key dissenting voice.

Gary Neville is another former United player now working as an influential pundit and, though less critical of Mourinho than Scholes, he claimed earlier this week that the club had become an "unhappy place" during the Portuguese's time.

Solskjaer can expect to face similar scrutiny during his caretaker spell but, before making his Old Trafford return against Huddersfield Town today, he said he would not have it any other way.

"Don't worry, Gary will be really hard on me," Solskajer, who scored 126 goals in 366 games for United as a player, said. "I sat next to him in the dressing room for 11 years. He was next to me and you know Gary.

"He's paid now to give his opinion and of course he should do. I'm no different to anyone else. I'm no different to any other manager when you lead that team out onto the pitch.

"It comes with a responsibility but my job is to get the players enjoying themselves."

Admitted

Solskjaer admitted that it may be a challenge to stay composed when he walks out at Old Trafford today, despite having visited his old stomping ground since retiring as a player in 2007.

The Norwegian worked as United's reserve team manager between 2008 and 2011, then sat in the away dugout as Cardiff manager for a 2-0 defeat against United during the 2013-'14 campaign.

A famous banner bearing Solksjaer's name returned to Old Trafford's Stretford End last week and he can expect a rapturous welcome from United's home support, particularly after such a convincing win at the weekend.

"Of course you try to keep your emotions in check because I'm there to do a job, I've got to be focused," Solskjaer said.

"It's not easy, I don't think it will be easy, but I'm looking forward to it and I think the boys are looking forward to playing at Old Trafford. That's the key, we should be looking forward to playing there.

"They're the best fans in the world. Of course I have my history at the club and to see that banner is special. I just hope in the next five months I'll do a good enough job for them to keep singing my name."

Solskjaer's second outing as caretaker manager has much to live up to after Saturday's thumping victory, which saw United play with a freedom that was rarely witnessed during Mourinho's reign.

"You can never set the bar too high," Solskjaer said after beating Cardiff. "[The players] are setting the standard. The players who play for this club have high standards to live up to.

"Today, it's not like they were outperforming themselves. We want to look at this game. We'll evaluate, look at a few clips and as I said earlier we can be better, we can understand each other better.

"They've not said anything about any handbrake but we spoke today in the team meeting about how when we get one, we want to get two. When we get two, we want to get three.

"That's the nature of this team, this club. You always go and attack. It's not going to happen every game that you're going to create chances like we did today. You've got to try and do that." (© Independent News Service)

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