Growing calls for Solskjaer to be boss

Manchester United interim manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, with assistant coaches Mike Phelan (left) and Michael Carrick, watching Anthony Martial in action during his first match in charge against Cardiff City in December. The 45-year-old Norwegian has
Manchester United interim manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, with assistant coaches Mike Phelan (left) and Michael Carrick, watching Anthony Martial in action during his first match in charge against Cardiff City in December. The 45-year-old Norwegian has taken United to within two points of fourth-placed Chelsea since he replaced the sacked Jose Mourinho.PHOTO: REUTERS

Rooney feels Norwegian has proven himself; Sutton says United's big guns are behind him

LONDON • Former Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney has backed his former teammate and caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to take over the hot seat on a full-time basis in the summer.

The Norwegian, who replaced Jose Mourinho in December, has made a compelling case for a permanent appointment after guiding United to seven wins and a draw in the Premier League.

With the Red Devils just two points off the top four and displaying a free-flowing attacking style that was sorely missing under Solskjaer's predecessor, Rooney felt the 45-year-old had proven himself.

"Ole's a fantastic person. It'd be nice to see Ole continue with this form and get a shot at the job on a permanent basis," United's all-time record scorer, on 253 goals, told CNN World Sport in an interview.

However, if the Old Trafford hierarchy decides against hiring Solskjaer, then Tottenham Hotspur boss Mauricio Pochettino, the early bookmakers' favourite, would be the "right guy" in his eyes.

Rooney added: "If the club go to choose from somewhere else, then in my opinion, Pochettino would be (the best alternative)."

However, the Argentinian, who joined Spurs from Southampton in 2014 and has guided the north London club to consecutive top-three finishes in the league, has yet to win silverware in his managerial career.

While Solskjaer has fared little better, having won only domestic trophies in his country, BT Sport pundit Chris Sutton felt that should not count against the 45-year-old as he had "transformed the club".

He told the TV channel: "In the early stages, they said these were games he should be winning, but I disagree with that.

"They have their belief back, why not give it to him? He's proved himself, albeit in a short space of time, but it's not just the results, it's the manner in which they've done it. The style of play, he's got all of the big players onside.

"It would be the sensible thing to do. It would be more of a risk not to give it to him."

Former United midfielder Jonathan Greening agreed with the former Blackburn Rovers striker, telling BBC Radio 5 Live's Football Daily podcast that Solskjaer had won over the dressing room and "brought the confidence and enjoyment back to the players".

He added: "They're still playing for the shirt, but probably the attacking players have got a bit more of a licence to rotate, attack, get forward without actually doing the defensive duties. Solskjaer has let them off the leash a little bit."

However, not all have been sold on the increasing calls for the former United striker to take on one of football's biggest jobs on a long-term basis.

Former United midfielder Paul Ince, who has been one of Solskjaer's most vociferous critics since his interim appointment, told BBC Sport "anyone could have come in and done the same".

He said: "I have got absolutely nothing against Ole but, when I looked at teams who have done something similar and given permanent jobs to interim managers, not many of them lasted very long.

"Roberto di Matteo at Chelsea is a good example of that, as is Craig Shakespeare at Leicester.

"It could be the same with Solskjaer - no matter what he achieves this season, it will not mean he is the right man to take the club forward."

The club, who will face Fulham in the league on Saturday, are expected to make a decision on their manager at the end of the season.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 07, 2019, with the headline 'Growing calls for Solskjaer to be boss'. Print Edition | Subscribe