In Brief

Solskjaer: his Man Utd ambitions, transfer plans and top-four hopes

Norwegian holds his first press conference as United’s caretaker manager

New Manchester United caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has today held his first press conference and spelt out his plans for the Old Trafford club.

Following Jose Mourinho’s sacking on Tuesday Solskjaer was named the interim boss until the end of the season. He will be assisted by Mike Phelan and work alongside current United coaches Michael Carrick and Kieran McKenna.

The Red Devils are currently sixth in the Premier League, 19 points behind league leaders Liverpool and 11 points adrift of fourth-placed Chelsea, who hold the final Champions League qualifying spot.

Solskjaer’s first match in charge will be an away trip to Cardiff City tomorrow (5.30pm, live on BT Sport). The 45-year-old previously managed the Bluebirds for eight months in 2014.

While Solskjaer has taken temporary charge, United’s board will conduct a “thorough” recruitment process to appoint a new full-time manager in the summer. Candidates include Tottenham’s Mauricio Pochettino and former Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane.

Solskjaer in his own words

Here we round up what the Norwegian said when he met the media… 

Excited to be back

“I didn’t think twice when the club called me to sign me as a player and obviously this is more of an honour and privilege to help the club for a few months. It’s five to six months to help out, while the club do the process to get the next manager from the summer onwards. They [the players] are happy, there has been a good mood, every time I meet new people I am excited. It is the first time I have seen a few of them, I know a few of them from before, I had a few in the reserves and I have seen them as kids growing up when I was a player.” 

Feels like home

“I spent 11 years here as a player, then three and a half as a coach, so I’ve spent nearly half my life here. Nicky Butt was one of the first people who welcomed me back, it feels like home.”

Long-term plans

“My job is for the next six months, I will do as well as I can, to move the club forward as well as I can. So many managers would love to be manager of Manchester United, I am one of them, but it is not something I have talked about.”

Learning from Alex Ferguson

“He’s influenced me with everything, to be fair. The way he’s dealt with people, the way he was manager of the club. How he kept 25 international players happy and hungry, wanting to improve, but also the staff in and around the place. He’s been my mentor but I didn’t understand early on that he’d be my mentor. Towards the last... ever since my injury in 2003 at least, I was making all the notes about what he did at different, certain situations, and of course I have already been in touch with him because there’s no one to get better advice from.”

Grab the opportunity

“My job is to help the players and make them grasp the opportunity - they all want to be part of Man Utd. It’s down to man-management. I have had the best man-manager [Alex Ferguson]. I learned how he dealt with people. It’s about communication. Of course I will sit down and speak to the ones who are not playing. When you are at Man Utd there is set of demands and standards we set and one of those is to be a team player. I don’t think anyone has been on the bench more than me! That’s always my comeback to players - you never know, you might come on and make an impact and grab the opportunity when you get it.” 

Top-four hopes

“I want to get the players to understand how I want to play as a team, then let’s take the results after and see how many points we can gather. This club has made up many points before, but I am not going to set that target now.”

January’s transfer window

“I will have an input. But my job now is to get to know the players, observe them and see their qualities and improve them. I have seen more or less every game from Norway when I had time from my other job. The club has got scouts and I am sure they have got targets. I have not sat down and talked about them. It is about getting these players enjoying football again.”

Returning to Cardiff

“I have had 300-400 games as a first-team manager. The period at Cardiff was a huge step for me and I learnt a lot. I have evaluated and reflected on it. Unfortunately, I made a few mistakes, but if you do not make mistakes you do not learn. And Cardiff are in the Premier League now so I don’t think they’re too unhappy about it.”

Premier League fixtures and TV guide

Friday 21 December
  • Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Liverpool (8pm, live on Sky Sports)
Saturday 22 December (3pm unless stated)
  • Arsenal vs. Burnley (12.30pm, live on Sky Sports
  • AFC Bournemouth vs. Brighton & Hove Albion 
  • Chelsea vs. Leicester City 
  • Huddersfield Town vs. Southampton 
  • Manchester City vs. Crystal Palace 
  • Newcastle United vs. Fulham 
  • West Ham United vs. Watford 
  • Cardiff City vs. Manchester United (5.30pm, live on BT Sport)
Sunday 23 December
  • Everton vs. Tottenham Hotspur (4pm, live on Sky Sports)

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