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Manchester United have confirmed the appointment of former Red Devils star Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as their interim manager for the rest of the season.
Manchester United @ManUtd
We can confirm that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been appointed as caretaker manager until the end of the 2018/19 season.
He will be joined by Mike Phelan as first-team coach, together with Michael Carrick and Kieran McKenna. #MUFC
“Manchester United is in my heart and it’s brilliant to be coming back in this role,” Solskjaer said. “I’m really looking forward to working with the very talented squad we have, the staff and everyone at the club.”
Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward added:
“Ole is a club legend with huge experience, both on the pitch and in coaching roles. His history at Manchester United means he lives and breathes the culture here and everyone at the club is delighted to have him and Mike Phelan back. We are confident they will unite the players and the fans as we head into the second half of the season.”
The Red Devils seemed to accidentally announce the former Norway international would take over on their website on Tuesday night before deleting the post, per the Press Association’s Simon Peach:
Simon Peach @SimonPeach
“Solskjaer becomes our interim manager, 20 seasons after clinching the Treble with THAT goal at Camp Nou…” – web page on the #MUFC site (live link… for now) https://t.co/UWpCijXUAl https://t.co/3WqhilxsqJ
Solskjaer managed Molde in his native Norway, but they have finished the 2018 season and won’t resume playing again until the end of March.
The 45-year-old spent 11 years at Old Trafford between 1996 and 2007, scoring 126 goals in 366 appearances. In that time, he won six Premier League titles, the UEFA Champions League and the FA Cup twice.
He has inherited a United side that sit sixth in England’s top flight, 19 points behind leaders Liverpool and 11 points off the top four. The Red Devils also have a goal difference of zero, having scored and conceded 29 goals—more than they shipped in the entirety of last season—in 17 matches.
Solskjaer’s only senior coaching experience aside from Molde—where he was in his second spell—was an unsuccessful stint at Cardiff City.
Football writer Sam Pilger and Samuel Luckhurst of the Manchester Evening News are not convinced he’s the right man to bring a successful end to United’s season:
Samuel Luckhurst @samuelluckhurst
@sampilger No doubt he will ‘put smiles back on people’s faces’ but genuinely wouldn’t be surprised if United finish in the bottom half.
Bleacher Report’s Rob Blanchette and sports writer Daniel Harris are pleased with his appointment, though:
Rob Blanchette @_Rob_B
Ole is a massively underrated coach. Learned his trade from the best and had an impossible task at Cardiff. It’ll be fascinating to see what he can do with our players til the end of the season. If it goes wrong, no problem. We hug & say thanks. And move forward. #MUFC
Daniel Harris @DanielHarris
Solskjaer did an incredible job at Molde to begin with, reads the game well, has something special about him as a bloke, and knows what a United team and manager should be. I’d love a free hit seeing how he does.
While he may not have had much success as a coach at the top level, Solskjaer’s presence in the dugout at Old Trafford could unite the supporters and have a transformative effect on the negative atmosphere that surrounded the club during the final months of Mourinho’s reign.
He will hope to oversee an improvement on the pitch as well, but it would take an enormous turnaround at this point—and for one or more of their rivals to collapse—for them to improve on a sixth-placed finish this season.
The real work in that department will be done by the club’s next permanent manager, so there’s relatively little pressure on Solskjaer.
That said, if he can get more from his players—the likes of Paul Pogba in particular—he can lay some valuable groundwork for whoever comes in next summer.