Football News

‘Like having Sir Alex Ferguson back’ – Ole Gunnar Solskjaer both popular and feared in Man Utd dressing room

By Mohamed Moallim

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and former Manchester United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson

Published: 20:05, 7 December 2019

Having Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as Manchester United manager is like Sir Alex Ferguson never left, according to Ashley Young.

The 46-year-old Norwegian, who enjoyed an illustrious playing career at Old Trafford, became the club’s full-time coach earlier this year having been initially appointed on an interim basis last December.

Five key things to know about Solskjaer and Man Utd…

  • Ole Gunnar Solskjaer returned to Man Utd last December following Jose Mourinho’s sacking.
  • He previously registered 91 goals across 235 league appearances as a Red Devils striker, winning six titles.
  • Solskjaer famously won Man Utd their second European Cup in 1999 with a stoppage-time goal against Bayern Munich.
  • As interim boss, Man Utd won 14 of his 19 matches in charge (losing three games) giving him a 74% win percentage.
  • However, as permanent manager, they’ve so far won 12 of his 32 matches (losing 11 times), which gives him a 38% win percentage.

Man Utd would embark on a strong run under Solskjaer, before the wheels came off. Since then, he’s come under incredible pressure following a string of poor results and performance that has seen their top four chances all but evaporate.

However, recent 2-1 wins over Spurs, who are now managed by Mourinho, and Manchester City have presented the chance to build new momentum. The Red Devils, who have only won five of their opening 15 league matches this season, currently sit five points below the Champions League places after Chelsea’s 3-1 defeat to Everton.

Solskjaer retained the backing of his board despite an away defeat to Kazakhstan’s Astana and draws against newly promoted sides Sheffield United and Aston Villa. It is said the United board respect that Solskjaer is beginning a long-term project which involves building a “new culture” that involves the introduction of new young faces.

He has kept his word and fielded a number of academy graduates, including highly-rated teenage forward Mason Greenwood. Those more senior names under his tutelage have also backed Solskjaer, including captain Young – one of the remaining players from United’s last title-winning season – who sees similarities between him and their legendary manager Ferguson, who brought 13 league titles to Old Trafford in a 26-year spell.

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“I said it when Ole came, it was like Sir Alex walked back in the door,” he told talkSPORT.

“He might be the baby-faced assassin that people see, smiling all the time. But when he loses it, he really loses it and lets people know. That’s how I think it should be.

“You can laugh and joke but when it’s serious business, then you put your serious head on. It’s exactly how Sir Alex was. That’s how Ole has commanded everyone to respect him in the way that everybody does here.

“Ole’s been fantastic with us, the players respect him. He’s got great coaching staff here that want to go and succeed. Everyone wants us to succeed and get back to winning titles again.”

Next up, United have Everton at home before matches against Watford (away), Newcastle United (home), Burnley (away) and Arsenal (away).