Manchester United have announced that former striker Ole Gunnar Solskjær will take over as interim manager for the rest of the season, with Mike Phelan – Sir Alex Ferguson’s right hand man for five years – joining as assistant.
Jose Mourinho was dismissed by the club on Tuesday morning following the club’s worst ever start to a Premier League season after 17 games.
Solskjær’s only Premier League experience came during an unsuccessful six month period at Cardiff City – who are Man United’s next opponents – back in 2014.
“Manchester United announced today that former striker Ole Gunnar Solskjær has been appointed as caretaker manager until the end of the 2018/19 season,” a club statement read.
“Solskjær scored 126 goals in 366 appearances for United between 1996 and 2007. In 2008 he became the club’s reserve-team manager, before taking the managerial role at FC Molde in Norway.
“Solskjær will take charge of the first team with immediate effect and will remain in place while the club conducts a thorough recruitment process for a new full-time manager. He will be joined by Mike Phelan as first-team coach, working alongside Michael Carrick and Kieran McKenna.”
The Norwegian cannot be described as a concrete solution to United’s troubles on the pitch but the appointment does, at the very least, give supporters hope that their team can move away from the cloud of negativity cast by Mourinho and, aided by Phelan, towards a more aggressive, attacking style of football which unites players and supporters behind their club once again.
Ed Woodward, the club’s chairman, said: “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 as we head into the second half of the season.”
The next six months should be regarded as a free hit for Solskjaer and his players, as United’s board hopefully takes its time ahead of the summer to mandate a more fundamental restructuring of the club, bringing in a director of football and looking for a manager capable of implementing a clear long term vision.