Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will play at Old Trafford this May as the club celebrates the 20th anniversary of their treble triumph.
Named permanent boss on a three-year deal on Thursday, the Norwegian has now been confirmed as part of the Manchester United Legends squad taking on Bayern Munich Legends on May 26.
Solskjaer’s stoppage-time goal sealed victory in the Champions League final at the Nou Camp in 1999, with the match raising funds for the Manchester United Foundation.
“I am delighted to be part of this very special reunion,” he said. “Over the coming weeks I will be training hard to make sure the boss has me in the starting XI this time around!
“In all seriousness, it will be a great match and a chance to catch up with some old team-mates, whilst raising vital funds for our Foundation.”
Provided by Press Association Sport
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s remarkable work as caretaker manager has seen him rewarded with the Manchester United job on a permanent basis.
The 1999 treble-winner is starting a new chapter at Old Trafford and here Press Association Sport look at how he sealed the job.
Returning United to their roots
From Sir Matt Busby to Sir Alex Ferguson, United have been built on three key pillars: winning, attacking football and promoting youth. None of those characteristics were recognisable in United’s play by the end of Jose Mourinho’s reign. Background backbiting accompanied their on-field downturn, with Solskjaer helping to perform a cultural reset at the head of a team who had lost their way.
The shackles have come off as United attack in a way fans want, with senior figures understood to like the risk-taking, attacking football, as well as small things like incisive, first-time passing. Solskjaer, who spent time as United’s reserve team manager after his retirement as a player, has promoted youth as he did with former club Molde.
Academy graduates Mason Greenwood, James Garner and Tahith Chong have all made their debuts under his watch and have also learned the importance of discipline, which had been seeping away under Mourinho. Even little details like the return to players wearing club suits to games has been viewed positively by those on high.
Winning football matches
It sounds simple but winning is vital at United. Mourinho’s side were 11 points off the top four following the galling 3-1 loss at Liverpool, but they are back in the hunt after securing a scarcely believable 32 points out of 39. Solskjaer’s eight-game winning start to life at the helm broke Busby’s long-standing club record, while United made history when overcoming Paris St Germain.
No side in Champions League history had overcome a first-leg home loss of two or more goals to progress, but Solskjaer’s side overcame the odds – and a 10-strong list of absentees – to triumph 3-1 in the French capital, sealing progress and sparking wild celebrations.
Getting the players smiling again
When the players are chanting the manager’s name with as much gusto as the fans, you know you are on a winner. “Ole’s at the wheel” was sung so loud that you could hear it through the dressing room doors at the Parc des Princes. Romelu Lukaku concisely summed up the players’ feelings about the then caretaker manager by asking: “What else does he have to do?”
The group had been on its knees when Mourinho left but Solskjaer swiftly changed the toxic mood and rebuilt confidence, regularly reminding the players of the opportunity they have to make history and why United bought them in the first place.
That approach has helped previously marginalised Paul Pogba and stuttering Marcus Rashford to flourish, while training has become more fun and focused. Those inside the dressing room describe Solskjaer as a joy to play for, repeatedly pointing to the feel-good factor and his man management.
Understanding the role and the club
Solskjaer gets that being United manager is about more than picking the team. While Mourinho often cowed those around the club, the Norwegian is engaging, warm and open. Solskjaer also shows his appreciation to general staff, from appearing at their Christmas party to bringing a Norwegian chocolate bar to long-serving receptionist Kath Phipps on his return. Solskjaer’s positivity is also projected publicly.
Mourinho’s barbed comments in the media particularly alarmed the club from the summer onwards, but the 46-year-old speaks with optimism, insight and, where needed, honesty. For example, Solskjaer’s comments criticising the group after the FA Cup loss at Wolves impressed the club hierarchy as much as anything else.
Then there is the fact that the adopted Mancunian knows he is representing the club and the city. Solskjaer went to the ball organised by Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany to help tackle homelessness in Manchester in the same week that he paid respect to victims of the Munich air disaster on the 61st anniversary.
The full package
Solskjaer may have overseen Cardiff’s relegation between spells at Molde but the powers that be always thought there was a chance that the stop-gap solution could do well. Even so, the 46-year-old has exceeded expectations and that is why United chose to act now. The initial plan to assess candidates at the end of the season was ripped up as Solskjaer was their man, having done the right things on the field and away from it from the outset. There is a feeling within the club that this is the right fit for the culture and history – but Solskjaer knows there is much work to do.
Provided by Press Association Sport
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is determined to get Manchester United back where they belong after being given his dream job on a permanent basis.
A move that seemed inevitable for weeks was made official on Thursday morning when it was confirmed the fans’ favourite had signed a three-year deal after an amazing spell as caretaker manager, with 14 wins in 19 games.
Initially seen as a capable stop-gap appointment following Jose Mourinho’s sacking, Solskjaer has implemented a return to winning attacking football, utilising exciting players and young talent.
It has put United back in the top-four hunt, while a remarkable win at Paris Saint-Germain has kept their Champions League dreams alive, and it is that work – rather than fan popularity – that has resulted in his full-time appointment.
Molde, the club Solskjaer was due to return to as manager in the summer, are understood to be receiving a six-figure sum as a goodwill gesture, while there is also the possibility of a future friendly with the Norwegian club and potential partnership cultivation.
With the drive to take United back to the top, 1999 treble hero Solskjaer said: “I’m just going to be myself as I’ve always been.
“I know the expectations of the club, the traditions of the club, the history we’ve got.
“Of course, I want to be successful, of course, I want to lift trophies, but I can’t wait to get onto the job, onto the challenge of improving this great bunch of players because it’s a squad full of potential.
“I worked with them – or we have as a staff – for three months and the improvement is there to be seen.
“We know there’s so much more to come from them, we can see so much more improvement.
“We see them every single day in training, the attitude has been fantastic, but we know we’ve got a way to go.
“But lifting a trophy, I am sure, will be a success.”
Predecessor Mourinho lifted the Europa League and EFL Cup in his first season, but cracks began to form after his second campaign as eye-catching summer comments were compounded by background back-biting.
The downturn in fortunes on the field and questions over discipline are also understood to have concerned the powers that be, with United great Solskjaer proving to be the perfect antidote.
Top four❓— Goal (@goal) March 28, 2019
Manchester United can still achieve plenty this season, says Ole Gunnar Solskjaer 💪 pic.twitter.com/Gz9CBVGA8k
The 46-year-old, who represented the club as player and reserve team coach during his first spell, has helped reset the culture, with his man-management and approachable style impressing as much as results.
Small details like getting the players to wear suits to games have been viewed positively, along with a public persona in stark contrast to his predecessor.
“To lift the Premier League trophy again is what we expect, what we’re used to, what we have done so many times,” Solskjaer said.
“We can’t wait for too many years, but we have to take it step by step. It’s not like it’s going to happen overnight, catching 15, 16, 17 points or whatever we are behind the top teams now.”
The new United boss struck the right tone between short-term success and long-term requirements at his unveiling at Old Trafford, where his standard cheery manner came with a more authoritative edge.
Solskjaer spoke about his summer transfers plans, just as he has with executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, and hopes to have signings in place before pre-season gets underway with a July trip to Australia.
Furthermore, he has opened the exit door to anyone that is not ready to fight each and every game for United.
“Players who get complacent never last at this club anyway,” he said. “Managers… I’m the same.
“I can’t rest on ‘Well, I’ve got a job’. That’s not me. We’re looking forward, we’ve got to work harder.
“I’ve got some targets. I would want a Man United team that’s one of the hardest working teams in the league, the fittest teams in the league and that will then bring results
“I think the players know my expectations on the future.”
For now, though, Solskjaer can enjoy the fruits of the last three months’ labour.
Sir Alex Ferguson was one of the first people he spoke to after being approached about the full-time role, while he intends to keep the same backroom team together as assistant Mike Phelan speaks to the club.
“I’ve dreamt about it and maybe visualised it myself, as I did as a player,” Solskjaer said of the job.
“We’ve had three months and now we’re here permanent.
“The players have responded fantastically to us coming in and we’re just looking forward to working together, to improve the players and the club.”
*Copy provided by Press Association Sport