Ole Gunnar Solskjaer appointed Manchester United manager

Manchester United have appointed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as permanent manager on a three-year contract.

The Norwegian, 46, arrived at Old Trafford on an interim basis in December to replace Jose Mourinho.

Solskjaer spent 11 seasons as a United player, scoring the winning goal in the 1999 Champions League final.

“This is the job that I always dreamed of doing and I’m beyond excited to have the chance to lead the club long term,” Solskjaer said.

“From the first day I arrived, I felt at home at this special club. It was an honour to be a Manchester United player, and then to start my coaching career here.

“The last few months have been a fantastic experience.”

When Solskjaer took charge, United were sixth in the Premier League and 11 points off the top four.

But they have lost only once in 13 league games since – at Arsenal this month – and are now two points behind the London club, who occupy the final Champions League qualifying spot.

Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward said Solskjaer’s appointment was “richly deserved”.

“Since coming in as caretaker manager in December, the results Ole has delivered speak for themselves,” he said.

“More than just performances and results, Ole brings a wealth of experience, both as a player and as a coach, coupled with a desire to give young players their chance and a deep understanding of the culture of the club.”

Solskjaer became the first United manager to win his first six league games, beating a record held by Sir Matt Busby.

United reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League for the first time since 2014 when they overturned a 2-0 first-leg deficit thanks to a stoppage-time penalty at Paris St-Germain this month.

Solskjaer’s assistant Mike Phelan still has a contract with Central Coast Mariners in Australia, although it is anticipated he will also stay on at Old Trafford.

The Solskjaer effect

Solskjaer is United’s fourth permanent manager since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013.

Ferguson led the club to their 20th top-flight title and David Moyes was earmarked as the Scot’s long-term successor. He was awarded a six-year contract but was sacked in his first season.

Former Netherlands and Barcelona boss Louis van Gaal left after two seasons in charge despite winning the FA Cup in his final game.

Mourinho delivered League Cup and Europa League success in his first season, and a Premier League runners-up spot in his second.

This season, United’s points tally was closer to the bottom of the league than the top, when Solskjaer – who started his coaching career as reserve team boss at Old Trafford – returned.

The team had scored only 29 goals in their opening 17 Premier League fixtures under Mourinho while also conceding 29, with many fans critical of the Portuguese’s style of football.

A thumping 5-1 victory in Solskjaer’s first match at Cardiff – where he was relegated from the Premier League during an eight-month spell as manager in 2014 – immediately raised morale.

That was swiftly followed by victories at Tottenham, Arsenal and Chelsea with a return to a more attacking style of play.

“Over a few short months fans have witnessed a turnaround that even the most optimistic could not have predicted,” read a Manchester United Supporters’ Trust statement.

Manchester United since Sir Alex Ferguson
ManagerPlayedWonDrawnLostWin ratio %
David Moyes (2013-14)512791553
Ryan Giggs (caretaker, 2014)421150
Louis van Gaal (2014-16)10354252452
Jose Mourinho (2016-18)14484322858
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer 2018 – present19142374

What about Molde?

Solskjaer was manager of Molde when he returned to United on a temporary deal.

The Norwegian club, whose season had finished, said Solskjaer agreed a new three-year deal with them in December and they were only “lending” their manager to United.

However, that story has since been removed from the club’s website and this month Solskjaer said his deal with Molde had expired.

United are expected to make a “gesture of goodwill” to Molde in the form of a payment and a possible future friendly fixture.

‘Solskjaer appointment leaves unanswered questions’ – analysis

BBC Sport’s Simon Stone

Even Ole Gunnar Solskjaer must be stunned at the speed with which he has gone from interested observer on the travails of Manchester United to the man in the manager’s hot seat.

By doing what comes naturally, he has brought a sense of calm to United after the chaos of Jose Mourinho’s latter days.

Solskjaer has shown tactical acumen, he has made key decisions – shown faith in Paul Pogba, eased Alexis Sanchez to the fringes, sold Marouane Fellaini – and ended the internal conflict Mourinho seemed to revel in. Most importantly, he has got results.

It has given Solskjaer a proper shot at his dream job. Yet, in abandoning their stated aim to wait until the summer, United have left unanswered some fairly key questions.

Firstly, can Solskjaer finish this season’s job? Can he, either through a top-four finish or winning this season’s competition, steer United back into the Champions League, something that looked impossible when he took over and they were 11 points adrift?

What has happened to the technical director idea that the club were so keen to push in the wake of Mourinho’s dismissal, without which many people – including Louis van Gaal – feel any United manager, including Solskjaer, will struggle?

Will big-name players want to sign for Solskjaer, as they did for Van Gaal and Mourinho?

These questions will be answered in the fullness of time and are key to Manchester United becoming a force in the English game again.

For now, Solskjaer deserves huge congratulations at landing himself a job virtually everyone felt would be Mauricio Pochettino’s in the immediate aftermath of Mourinho’s exit.

Source : BBC