Super sub Solskjaer returns to United bench, Latest Football News - The New Paper

Super sub Solskjaer returns to United bench

Pundits have mixed reaction to interim appointment at Old Trafford

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was yesterday named as Manchester United's caretaker manager until the end of the season to a mixed reaction.

Following the sacking of Jose Mourinho on Tuesday, the former United super sub will take charge of the first team with immediate effect and will remain in place while the club looks for a new full-time manager.

Mourinho was axed after just 2½ years in charge at Old Trafford, with the 20-time English champions languishing in sixth place in the English Premier League, 19 points behind leaders Liverpool.

Former United reserves boss Solskjaer, 45, will be joined by Mike Phelan as first-team coach, working alongside Michael Carrick and Kieran McKenna.

"Manchester United is in my heart and it's brilliant to be coming back in this role," said the Norwegian, who is on "loan" from his boyhood club Molde.

AFP quoted United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward as adding: "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."

Solskjaer's appointment hasn't united the pundits, however.

Southampton legend Matt Le Tissier believes the 45-year-old has what it takes to make his appointment a permanent one.

He told Sky Sports: "If it goes well then he has a chance to get himself one of the biggest jobs in world football.

"When you look at the fixture list, they've got nine Premier League games before they play PSG in February.

"Of those nine, there's only one against a team that's above them in the league and only two against teams in the top half of the division. He's got a really good chance."


Former teammate Henning Berg, meanwhile, reassured that Solskjaer is a different manager to the one who struggled during his first managerial stint in England with Cardiff City in 2014, when he oversaw their relegation from the EPL.

"I look at it as an experience for him, where he has tested himself in this league but with a team fighting relegation and not a team who wants to compete at the other end of the team," said Berg, who has crossed swords with Solskjaer in Norwegian football as coach of Stabaek.

"The job he did at Molde is much closer - how he plays football offensively, how he handles the squad, finds different tactics to find solutions to win matches.

"Teams play defensively against them and he needs to break them down."

However, some former United players were not as enthusiastic about the appointment.

Darren Fletcher told the BBC that United appointing a caretaker instead of a permanent boss means they are "almost writing off this season and next season because if they appoint a new manager in the summer, he's not going to have much time to look for new players."

Paul Ince, meanwhile, pointed to Solskjaer's struggles at Cardiff and suggested that former teammates Steve Bruce and Mark Hughes were better options.

Ex-Tottenham Hotspur boss Harry Redknapp, meanwhile, said he was "shocked" by the appointment, telling talkSPORT: "I think they'll struggle to make the top six this season.

"I'm sure they'll just about make it… actually I'm not sure about that now that they've brought Solskjaer in."