Ole Gunnar Solskjaer told his first official press conference as Manchester United’s caretaker manager on Friday that he would relish the opportunity to be the permanent boss.
The 45-year-old Norwegian, a legendary former player at Old Trafford, has been appointed interim boss until the end of the season, replacing Jose Mourinho, who was sacked on Tuesday.
Solskjaer, on loan from Norway’s Molde, conceded that he has not looked beyond the end of the current campaign with the club where he spent nearly 15 years as a player and coach.
But he said he would be interested in taking the job permanently should the opportunity arise.
“When you get a job like this and they ask you to sign for six months, you say ‘yeah’,” he said.
“I’m happy to help out and my job now for the next six months is to do as well as I can and move the club forward as well as I can.
“I understand there are so many managers who would love to be manager of Manchester United and I am one of them. But it is not something we’ve talked about, they’ll do a process now for the next six months.”
– United hero –
Solskjaer, renowned for his threat off the bench and still revered by United supporters for scoring the winning goal in the 1999 Champions League final, faces a daunting challenge as he replaces Mourinho.
United have made their worst start in the Premier League era and languish 19 points behind leaders Liverpool, and 11 off the Champions League places.
“My job is to help the players, make them grasp the opportunity now because they all want to be part of Man United,” said Solskjaer.
“I’m going to be here to help them, help the team, that is down to man management. I had the best manager as a player and coach to learn how he dealt with players and it’s about communication. I’ll sit down and speak to the ones not playing, tell them what I expect of them.
“When you’re at Man United there are a set of demands and one is to be a team player and I don’t think anyone has been on the bench more than me. That’s always my comeback to players, you might come on and make an impact.”
Solskjaer spoke of the debt he owed to Alex Ferguson, who built a team that dominated English football, winning 13 Premier League titles and two Champions Leagues.
Solskjaer will begin his United reign at Cardiff City, the only other Premier League club he has managed — he had a difficult eight-month spell in South Wales and was unable to save the club from relegation.
But he said he had learned from his mistakes.
Solskjaer would not be drawn on his relationship with Paul Pogba, who lost his place under Mourinho and was in conflict with the coach.
“It’s about getting every player to the best, speaking to them, the training ground, the philosophy, principles, how we want to play,” said Solskjaer, who coached Pogba in the reserves at Old Trafford.
“It doesn’t matter what team you’re coaching, they all want to have a picture of how you want to play, the qualities.
“They are quality players so it will be easier to get the players expressing themselves. You play with courage, go out there and express your skills.”