Football Features

What Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s rival big-six managers think of his Man Utd appointment

By Chris Smith

Published: 10:18, 30 March 2019

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been rewarded for his incredible effect as caretaker manager with the permanent position in the Manchester United dugout.

The Norwegian has been given a three-year contract at Old Trafford having won 14 of his 19 games in charge so far. His only meaningful defeats have been against Wolves in the FA Cup and Arsenal in the Premier League, with the Red Devils overturning their 2-0 Old Trafford loss to Paris Saint-Germain with that incredible 3-1 win in Paris.

With the permanent role comes a completely new set of pressures that just weren’t there when Solskjaer’s job was purely to steady the ship, bereft of any responsibility for potential heavy defeats or abject displays. Ultimately, though, he will be keen to secure Champions League football this season before mounting a serious title challenge next term.

But how was Solskjaer’s permanent appointment received by his top six rivals? Is Unai Emery running scared? Is Pep Guardiola quietly laughing at the massive risk taken by his Manchester rivals?

We’ve taken a look at what the managers of some of United’s biggest rivals really think of Solskjaer’s permanent appointment.

Arsenal – Unai Emery

Despite only being around since December, Solskjaer has already locked horns with Emery twice at the Emirates. In the FA Cup, United put on one of the most impressive counter-attacking displays seen this season to win 3-1, while Arsenal got their revenge with a 2-0 Premier League win just before the international break.

(Photo credit GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)

However, it’s safe to say that Emery is keeping his cards close to his chest when it comes to his thoughts on Solskjaer.

“I appreciate Solskjaer a lot. Like a man and like a coach,” the Spaniard responded when asked if he thought it was a good appointment.

When pressed on whether he thinks it’ll be harder for Solskjaer now that the job is his, Emery simply added: “I don’t know.”

Still bitter about that FA Cup exit, Unai?

Liverpool – Jurgen Klopp

Following Jose Mourinho’s sacking after an abject Anfield defeat in December, Solskjaer fared much better against United’s arch-rivals, drawing 0-0 with Liverpool at Old Trafford in February.

And Reds boss Klopp reckons Solskjaer would have been eyeing up the permanent role all along, despite being initially set to return to Molde at the end of the season.

(Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

The German also insisted his counterpart has already done more than enough to prove he has what it takes to be a success.

‘”I’m pretty sure he thought a lot about the manager’s position and that would be the main target,” Klopp said.

“He has proven already he can do the job.”

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Manchester City – Pep Guardiola

Arguably the key game for City in their title run-in comes when they face Solskjaer’s Man Utd at Old Trafford in April.

By that time, it may well be that United are still firmly battling it out for Champions League spots, while Guardiola will desperately want the win to keep Liverpool at bay at the top of the Premier League.

(Photo credit read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

However, the Catalan still went out of his way to congratulate his Manchester rival, insist he has done an ‘incredible’ job.

“United are always incredible opponent,” Guardiola told reporters. “Congratulations to him, he has done incredible in terms of results and I wish him all the best.”

Tottenham Hotspur – Mauricio Pochettino

After being title dark horses just a month ago, Spurs now sit just three points ahead of fifth-placed Man Utd and have been sucked into a battle to stay in the top four – a 1-0 defeat to United at Wembley in January has been part of their terrible run of form in recent months.

However, just like Guardiola, Pochettino has moved to congratulate the new Red Devils boss, although he may harbour some quiet resentment toward not getting the job himself.

(Photo by Maja Hitij/Getty Images)

“I never talked about rumours,” said the Argentinian.

“I need to congratulate him and wish him all the best, now he is officially the new manager of Manchester United.

“I am not going to talk about rumours and in this period there is going to be more rumours, but there is nothing I can do about it.

“If it is not this, speculation is going to come around from another club.

“We are so focused on our job.”