Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has addressed reporters for the first time since being named Manchester United caretaker manager, replacing Jose Mourinho on a short-term basis until the end of the season.
The 45-year-old returns to Old Trafford seven years after leaving his role as reserve team manager, having spent the final 11 years of his playing career with the Premier League club that helped cement his status as one of the most-loved figures in United history.
United announced the appointment on Wednesday morning, almost 24 hours exactly after Mourinho’s dismissal was made public, and the Norwegian has been given a contract until next summer as the club continues to look for a new technical director who will be tasked with appointing a long-term manager.
Speaking after the club announced his appointment, Solskjaer spoke of his delight at returning to a club that he holds in such high esteem, and he is certain to receive a raucous reception from fans at this weekend’s trip to Cardiff City as well as the Boxing Day clash with Huddersfield Town, in which he will walk into the home dugout hot seat at Old Trafford for the first time.“Manchester United is in my heart and it’s brilliant to be coming back in this role,” Solskjaer said in a statement.
“I’m really looking forward to working with the very talented squad we have, the staff and everyone at the club.”The appointment of Solskjaer has proven to be a swift process given that United had to negotiate his release for Norwegian side Molde, and he returns to the club alongside Sir Alex Ferguson’s former assistant Mike Phelan, who assumes the role of first-team coach, with Michael Carrick and Kieran McKenna retained from Mourinho’s regime.
But Molde confirmed on Wednesday immediately after the announcement that Solskjaer is only on loan to United and will return in May 2019, with a secondary statement ensuring that he still has his Molde hat on as he monitors their progress without him.Solskjaer also issued a statement to Molde fans to stress that his business is not finished with the club, and to thank the hierarchy for allowing him to move to the “world’s biggest club”.
“In football you never know what can happen,” Solskjaer said. “We get proof of that time after time. “This is an opportunity I had to take. I am looking forward to leading Manchester United until the summer.
“At the same time, I will follow closely what is happening here at home. We have built stone for stone and the end of the season this year gives us hope for another good season. Erling, Trond and Per Magne will do a lot of work while I’m gone. At the same time, I would like to thank the club, and Kjell Inge and Bjørn Rune once again congratulate me on joining the world’s biggest club.”Explaining his decision to bring in Solskjaer, United’s executive vice-chairman Edward Woodward said: “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.”
Solskjaer scored 126 goals in 366 appearances for United after joining the club in 1996 from Molde, who he eventually left United for in 2011 from his role as reserve team manager in order to forge his coaching career.After three successful years in Norway, Solskjaer returned to the Premier League to manage Cardiff City, but it was an ill-fated and short-term stint that ended in relegation to the Championship and the inevitable sack.
He returned to Molde to rebuild his reputation, and after more than three years there he has once again made the move to Manchester to familiar pastures, though the size of the task ahead of him is a monumental one as he faces the daunting prospect of trying to salvage United’s season that was quickly spiralling out of control under Mourinho.