Big Match

It all points to Solskjaer

Everybody loves Manchester United interim manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, including club mascot Fred the Red.
Everybody loves Manchester United interim manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, including club mascot Fred the Red.PHOTO: REUTERS

Norwegian closer to landing United job after he confirms termination of Molde contract

LONDON • The path is now clear for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to take up the full-time reins at Manchester United, after the caretaker manager yesterday made clear he was no longer contracted to Molde.

Senior club officials believe it is now a matter of when, not if, he is appointed on a permanent basis.

According to The Times of London, he is seen as the only candidate for the job after their progression to the quarter-finals of the Champions League in midweek.

And pressure on the club's hierarchy to ask him to stay on after his interim tenure expires in the summer ratcheted up several notches after Solskjaer confirmed at his pre-match press conference "that contract (with the Norwegian outfit until 2021) was terminated".

Speaking ahead of tomorrow's Premier League trip to Arsenal, he said: "I am contracted to United until the end of June. With the contract issue, you cannot have two contracts when you are a manager."

The Norwegian, who took over from the sacked Jose Mourinho in December, also brushed off the clamour for him to put pen to paper after overseeing United's best away run with nine straight wins as "just the media".

HE WON'T BE DISTRACTED

With the contract issue, you cannot have two contracts when you are a manager...I'm just doing the best I can every single day. If and when a decision is to be made, then we will see.

OLE GUNNAR SOLSKJAER, Manchester United's interim manager, putting the ball in the court of the Old Trafford board.

The team are also unbeaten in the league under him, with 14 wins in 17 games in all competitions.

He added: "I am not here to get excited, I am here to do my job. I love managing these boys and I love working here.

"I'm just doing the best I can every single day. If and when a decision is to be made, then we will see.

"Absolutely everyone likes to get complimented and meet people that are happy. But (that) doesn't change my approach whatsoever.

"I'm good at focusing on what I shall be focusing on and that's not thinking about that part of it."

He also revealed that United's absentee list - they travelled to Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday with 10 first-teamers either injured, ill or suspended - was easing up.

Midfielder Paul Pogba, who was banned for the second leg, is expected to return to his starting XI.

Solskjaer also had positive news over defender Eric Bailly and forward Anthony Martial, with the duo likely to be available for the clash at Emirates Stadium.

Expressing his hope that midfielders Nemanja Matic and Ander Herrera would also recover in time, before challenging his side "to get ready again for a fantastic game with Arsenal", he told reporters: "They just need to have another couple of days of training, they've done well in their recovery work."

Solskjaer also tipped forward Marcus Rashford to kick on following the stoppage-time penalty that sealed the dramatic 3-1 victory in Paris, comparing the 21-year-old to the way Cristiano Ronaldo cut his teeth at Old Trafford before moving to Real Madrid in 2009.

"Rashy's goals sometimes are worldies and he does have a sensational strike of the ball," he said.

"But you see the change in Cristiano's goals from when he was young to now, he scores more from inside the box and that's what Rashy has to improve as well.

"There are legends we've had at this club who have stayed long and been one-club players, and we hope Rashy will be one of them."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS, THE TIMES, LONDON

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 09, 2019, with the headline 'It all points to Solskjaer'. Print Edition | Subscribe