Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gave a fascinating insight into culture, anger and how he is building for Manchester United’s future.
Man Utd vs Arsenal
September 30, 2019, 7:00pm
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In an exclusive interview with Sky Sports, the Norwegian stresses the importance of patience, ahead of a crucial Monday Night Football clash with Arsenal at Old Trafford, live on Sky Sports Premier League.
Following a run of just one win in five Premier League games, and just four wins in 15, Solskjaer remains adamant that Manchester United are moving in the right direction
Roy Keane said he saw anger in you after the West Ham defeat. Were you, and are you, angry?
“Why wouldn’t you be angry when you lose a game? Of course you’re angry within. That’s one thing; you put pressure on yourself, and you’re competitive. I want to win every single training session. I wanted to beat Roy in cards on the team coach! But I don’t show it to everyone.
“Maybe the ones who know me the best will see how I feel. I can’t go out [like that], I manage my way, and lead the players my way, and I lead these players the way I deem to be right, and what’s said in the dressing room is said in there, and it stays there.”
Have times moved on from Sir Alex Ferguson’s hairdryer? Is it more about using kid gloves now?
“All the players have to be treated differently. That’s one of the key attributes the gaffer (Ferguson) had, he knew everyone, how to push their buttons. Roy was the same when he was a player and a captain. I think he was absolutely brilliant at sparking your pride. It’s about sparking our pride as well.
“It’s not like the situation we had last year. There’s no lack of desire there, that’s for sure.”
Is this the job you expected when you took it on?
“Yes. Yes. I never said this was going to be a quick-fix job. It’s step after step after step. I think we’ve shown, and with the money we’ve spent, the big money if you like, has been on the two defenders. We’ve been one of the more solid teams defensively, if you look at how little we’ve conceded in chances.
“Yes, we’ve conceded goals we shouldn’t have. But the next bit now is moving forward up the pitch.”
What was more daunting, signing as a player or as a manager? Or was it the same?
“You just look forward to it. You relish it. We have a saying in Norway. You trust yourself, back yourself, and you do it your way. As a player, was I good enough? Someone else has to say. As a manager, will I be good enough? I trust myself to keep doing it the way I’m doing things.”
You signed for £1.5m in 1996, cheap even in those days. Is it possible for Solskjaer to sign a Solskjaer nowadays?
“I think we’ve shown with Dan James. The price we had to pay for him wasn’t massive, and he’s shown there is talent out there, if you scout them well enough and recruit the right personalities, you don’t have to pay over the odds.
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“Of course. The money that’s involved in football now is different, but I’m delighted with the three we’ve signed. I think they’ve shown that we’re doing a good job.”
How much of your work is for now, and how much for the future?
“If you look at Aaron and Dan, 21-year-olds, they’re coming in and doing a good job. We’re not expecting them to be leaders, but they’ll have longevity, and they’ll stay in the club and the team for many, many years.
“Harry is a different player; he was the one centre-back we wanted, and the one we felt was the missing jigsaw in that defence. He was for now and the future, because he’s only 26. I’m delighted with those three, both for now, and for the future. It’s not just signing players for the sake of it, you have to sign the right ones.”
How much time is needed, and what is at the forefront of your mind?
“Keep working on improving the understanding and relationships between all players, and the style we want to play. Of course, we’ve hit a few bumps in the road, I never said this was going to be a quick-fix job. Rome wasn’t built in a day. We need time, and the attitude of the boys has been great.
“They want to learn, so the week is all about improving and learning, which is great, and then your mood is decided by the games, results. When I do an interview now, a few days after a defeat, it’s more settled and you’re looking forward again.”
Are you seeing that hard work at a base level?
“I think hard work is important, but you have to do the right work. I’m delighted with the coaches we have; I’m surrounded by knowledgeable people, passionate people, hard-working people, who know their job. They’re absolutely quality, and the discussions we have and sessions they put on are great, so I can only see this improving.
“I think we’ve got further in our shape work when we haven’t got the ball, than when we do have the ball, because to create is more difficult than to stop. The injuries we’ve had have mostly been to forward players, so it has been more difficult to settle that front four or five if you like.”
Is this the perfect game to get back to winning ways?
“The next game, if you win it, is the perfect game, whatever opponent you meet. For us, the games against Arsenal have always been great for the spectators, and for us. We’ve got a good record against them. For us it’s about focusing on ourselves, doing our bit, and seeing if we can solve the problems they give us.
“I think it will be an open game, two teams that want to attack, and the next game is always the perfect occasion to prove yourselves. Every game here is a game you want to win, and have to win.