Monday 16 September 2019

Solskjaer tells United players they have fresh start as he gives first interview

The 45-year-old Norwegian has taken over from Jose Mourinho until the end of the season.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will give his Manchester United players a fresh chance to prove themselves (Anna Gowthorpe/PA)
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will give his Manchester United players a fresh chance to prove themselves (Anna Gowthorpe/PA)

By Damian Spellman, Press Association Sport

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has promised World Cup winner Paul Pogba and the rest of his team-mates they will get a chance to prove their worth to Manchester United once again as he starts afresh at Old Trafford.

The 45-year-old Norwegian took training for the first time on Thursday after replacing Jose Mourinho at the helm until the end of the season, and will hand the players he has inherited from the Portuguese a clean slate.

Pogba, and £89.3million signing from Juventus, started only one of Mourinho’s last four games in charge and has looked a shadow of the player who played such a key role in France’s triumph in Russia this summer, and he will be one of those hoping to show he can rediscover his best form.

Speaking to the club’s in-house media channel MUTV, Solskjaer said: “Everyone in the squad knows that ‘I’ve got a chance now’ because whatever has gone, whatever has happened has happened. Now it’s just about from here.

“Everyone starts with a clean slate and we want players to perform, and we’ll give them the chance.

“We have got 23, 24 players, they’re all quality and they’ll all get a chance now. With the amount of games coming up, they have got a chance to show that they are Manchester United players.”

Solskjaer wrote himself into United history in May 1999 when his injury-time goal against Bayern Munich – after coming on as a late substitute – completed a remarkable Champions League final comeback, the pinnacle of his 11-year stay.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is mobbed by his Manchester United team-mates after scoring the winner in the 1999 Champions League final (Owen Humphreys/PA)

He will send out his team for the first time against Cardiff, where he endured a difficult nine months as manager in 2014, in the Premier League on Saturday, the first of four games in 12 days over the holiday period.

Solskjaer said: “Of course, I have watched the Premier League, I have seen all the teams, so I have got a little bit of a view on them.

“But it’s not about the opposition, it’s about us. It’s about Manchester United, it’s about our players knowing what they can do.

“We want to see them express themselves, so my main focus, of course, will be on us, how we want the team to play, and then we will give them one or two details about the opposition.”

The new manager is certain to be afforded a hero’s welcome when he walks about at Old Trafford on Boxing Day ahead of the clash with Huddersfield, although he knows that goodwill may be short-lived if he cannot turn things around on the pitch.

He said with a smile: “How long will that last?

“As a player, I gave everything I had and now walking out, leading the team, just being part of this team – because that’s what I am, I’m part of a huge team. We’re playing for the supporters, we’re playing for our pride, we’re playing for the club’s history.

“But to be honest, it’s going to be very, very special, I have to say. I’m good at controlling the emotion, so I won’t be that emotional.

Then Cardiff manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Manchester United mascot Fred The Red at Old Trafford (Dave Thompson/PA)

“When I came back with Cardiff a few years ago in 2014, it was a strange, strange feeling, one of the most surreal feelings I have had being on the other side, and I can’t wait for it.

“It feels like coming home, I have to say. It’s been a few whirlwind days, of course, it’s been very hectic, but it’s just great to see everyone again.”

PA Media

The Throw-In: Selection dilemma for Dublin and All-Ireland ladies football final preview

In association with Bord Gáis Energy

Also in Sport