Thursday 19 September 2019

Solskjaer keen to make Manchester United position permanent

The Norwegian, who has hero status at Old Trafford, has been appointed until the end of the season.

Solskjaer faces the media at his first press conference at Carrington (Simon Peach/PA)
Solskjaer faces the media at his first press conference at Carrington (Simon Peach/PA)

By Simon Peach, Press Association Chief Football Writer

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had no hesitation in answering Manchester United’s call and would love to earn the permanent manager’s job.

Jose Mourinho was sacked by the Old Trafford giants on Tuesday, with off-field tensions compounding the club’s worst-ever start to a Premier League season.

Solskjaer, whose Champions League final winner sealed the treble in 1999, has been parachuted into the hotseat until the end of the season as the club undergoes a restructuring process and searches for a new full-time manager.

Norwegian club Molde have allowed the 45-year-old to make the temporary switch “back home”, but the former United striker and reserve team coach is already dreaming of a longer stay.

“When you get a job like this and they ask you to sign for six months, you say ‘yeah, I’m happy to help out’,” Solskjaer said.

“Of course, my job now is just for the next six months to do as well and move the club forward as well as I can.

“I understand there are so many managers who would love to be manager of Manchester United, so of course I’m one of them but it’s not something that we’ve talked about.

“They’re going to do a process now for the next six months.”

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been heavy influenced by former manager Sir Alex Ferguson (Martin Rickett/PA)

A packed press conference welcomed Solskjaer as a whirlwind few days continued ahead of Saturday’s first match at Cardiff – the only other Premier League club he has managed.

“I didn’t think twice when they called me to sign me as a player, and obviously this is more of an honour and privilege to be helping the club for a few months I have to say,” the Norwegian said.

“It’s until the summer now, so it’s five or six months, just help out in the meantime while the club is doing a process to get the next manager from the summer onwards.”

Solskjaer smiled throughout the press conference at the Aon Training Complex, where he admitted it is a bit surreal to  be in the manager’s office previously frequented by mentor Sir Alex Ferguson.

“He’s influenced me with everything, to be fair,” United’s interim boss said.

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Solskjaer was part of many comebacks as a United player and now needs to do the same as a manager (David Davies/PA)

“The way he’s dealt with people, the way he was manager of the club. How he kept 25 international players happy and hungry, wanting to improve, but also the staff in and around the place.

“He’s been my mentor but I didn’t understand early on that he’d be my mentor.

“Towards the last… ever since my injury in 2003 at least, I was making all the notes what he did at different, certain situations and of course I have already been in touch with him because there’s no one to get better advice from.”

United built a reputation as comeback kings under Ferguson, peaking with Solskjaer’s last-gasp goal to seal Champions League glory against Bayern Munich.

Now comes the chance to oversee a comeback from the dugout, with the club languishing 11 points off the Champions League spots after just 17 matches.

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Romelu Lukaku could miss the game with Cardiff after being given compassionate leave (Martin Rickett/PA)

Solskjaer said: “The first thing is the first game. Think about getting my principles into the boys, get the players to understand how I want them to play, how we want to play as a team, work together and then let’s take the results later on.

“See how many points we can gather, but this club has made up many, many points before, but I’m not going to set that target now because you’ve got to go game by game to start with.”

Solskjaer spoke with positivity about his players and his group – a far cry from predecessor Mourinho – and will hope to kickstart their Champions League hopes with a win at Cardiff.

The caretaker boss will be leaning heavily on coaches Michael Carrick, a former team-mate, and Kieran McKenna when selecting the side in the Welsh capital, where striker Romelu Lukaku will reportedly be missing after being given compassionate leave.

Solskjaer said: “He’s had a couple of days off, so I’ve not seen him yet. I’ve not seen Alexis (Sanchez) because he’s on his way back as well, so I’m looking forward to seeing them. That was decided before me, so that’s fine.”

It was reported on Friday that Sanchez had bet money with team-mates that Mourinho would be sacked, but he denied this on Twitter, saying: “This is fake. The mister brought me to the best team in the world and I only have thanks for him. We’re a real United team.”

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