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'Go over there, enjoy yourself, and please don't come back' - Solskjaer told to bag Man United job


Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Solskjaer: ‘I want to see us in the top four’. Photo: PA

Solskjaer: ‘I want to see us in the top four’. Photo: PA


Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Manchester United's impressive run of victories may have come to an end, leaving Ole Gunnar Solskjaer merely a very successful caretaker manager rather than a record-breaking one, though the Premier League table as well as the last result suggests the club are back in the late drama business.

The season has been rescued and, with a couple more wins likely to take United back into top-four contention, supporters are looking forward to seeing how the rest of the campaign pans out, which was emphatically not the case before the change of manager.

Solskjaer has just admitted United have bridged the gap to the top four earlier than expected, while denying he set himself any sort of schedule on arrival. "I want to see us in the top four but when I came in that was not the first thing on my mind," he explained. "I just didn't see it that way. If you look too far ahead and set yourself goals or results targets, I think you are in the wrong process.

"I felt I had to come in and start at the other end, talking to the players about their performances, what we expect, what the playing style should be and so on. I think we've had some success there, and if we get the playing style right I'm sure we'll get enough points to be in with a shout at the end of the season."

Should United achieve a top-four finish, which looked unlikely under José Mourinho, the club will face a dilemma. Could Solskjaer be packed off quietly back to Norway in those circumstances? Or would a manager who has created a more positive impression than any of his three predecessors deserve the job on a permanent basis?

Solskjaer is still young and inexperienced, and everyone knows what usually happens when caretakers are given full-time jobs on the basis of a short-term upturn, though it also happens to be true that Solskjaer has been pressing the right buttons at United in a way that did not come naturally to Mourinho, Louis van Gaal or David Moyes.

While Solskjaer is diplomatic on the subject - "We are a team here: it's not about me at all" - it is not particularly difficult to read his mind. Kjell Inge Rokke and Bjorn Rune Gjelsten, the joint owners of Norwegian club Molde, certainly seem to have done so.

"When I rang them to tell them I had had a phone call from United they wished me all the best," Solskjaer said. "They know this is something I've always dreamt about, and to get their backing was fantastic. What they actually said was: 'Go over there, enjoy yourself, and please don't come back!'"

It goes without saying that Solskjaer is enjoying himself, though he would like a more permanent arrangement one way or another in order to be reunited with his family. "That has been the only downside so far, but hopefully later on I can see more of them," he said.

United are at Leicester this afternoon, with Solskjaer wary of underestimating a team that have taken points from Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool in the last couple of months. "They defend very well and have the pace to break out quickly on the counter," he said. "In this league it is dangerous to underestimate anyone. You have the biggest teams pressing for the European competitions, but just about anyone from lower down the table is capable of springing a surprise.

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"When we went to Newcastle and won 2-0 I thought it was a great performance and a massive three points, but everyone said Newcastle were the sort of team Man United should be beating. Then the same Newcastle go and surprise everyone by beating City so it looks like I was right all along to be proud."

By the same token, relegation-threatened Burnley sprang a surprise at Old Trafford in midweek, almost inflicting Solskjaer's first defeat. The caretaker is still keen to stress the positives. "The last 10 minutes against Burnley showed what we are all about," he said. "The crowd got behind the players to lift them and the players responded. That wasn't about me or any system I put in place, it was about the whole club working together. That's what I want and that's what I'm here to do. My job is to try and make the players perform better, but we are all in it together."


  • Leicester City v Manchester United, Sky Sports, 2.05

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