No room for complacency

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer posing during a photo call at Old Trafford on Thursday after being confirmed as Manchester United manager.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer posing during a photo call at Old Trafford on Thursday after being confirmed as Manchester United manager.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

New United manager Solskjaer promises not to let standards slip; targets title next season

LONDON • While Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will always have a place in the hearts of Manchester United fans for his winner in the 1999 Champions League final to seal the treble, the club's new manager has insisted maintaining that success would supplant his achievements as a player.

At his first pre-match press conference after handed the full-time reins on a three-year deal on Thursday, the Norwegian admitted he was "so honoured and privileged" to get the Old Trafford job.

Ahead of today's Premier League home game with Watford, Solskjaer, who confirmed assistant Mike Phelan and the rest of the coaching staff would be retained, and that he had spoken to former manager Alex Ferguson, said: "People talk about a dream job, in my case, this is literally that.

"I have always visualised myself as a possible Manchester United manager. Maybe it was a naive dream, but it has always been my ultimate one.

"I don't look back too much, I always prefer to look forward, but obviously, I enjoyed my time playing for United and I was quite successful.

"If I can leave here as a successful manager, I'll be happier still. Bringing success in the form of trophies would count as an even bigger achievement."

THE IMMEDIATE FUTURE

As long as we are in it (the Champions League), we have a chance. It will be tough (against Barcelona) but we have climbed mountains before.

The short-term target has to be (top-four) qualification for next season, though.

OLE GUNNAR SOLSKJAER, Manchester United manager, on his targets.

Although Solskjaer is realistic enough to accept a top-four finish would be a satisfactory outcome this season - qualification for the Champions League had looked unlikely under Jose Mourinho - he also promised that standards would not slip under his watch.

He added: "Players who get complacent, they never last at this club anyway. I am the same, I can't be complacent. We are looking forward, we have got to work harder.

"I have got some targets, I want a Manchester United team that is one of the hardest-working teams in the league, one of the fittest teams in the league and that then will bring results. The players know my expectations on the future.

"As long as we are in it (the Champions League), we have a chance. It will be tough (against Barcelona) but we have climbed mountains before.

"The short-term target has to be (top-four) qualification for next season, though. We have improved greatly in three months and given ourselves a great chance of finishing fourth or even third."

And Solskjaer is already looking beyond the summer, revealing that "to lift the Premier League trophy again is what we expect, what we're used to and what we have done so many times".

The Red Devils have not won the league since Ferguson's farewell season in 2013. While he conceded "it is not going to happen overnight", expectations at the club are such that "we can't wait too many years".

Former United striker Dimitar Berbatov agreed, telling Betfair yesterday that "the pressure is going to be huge as the difficult work starts now".

He said: "Ole will now be fighting to keep the job, come next season, they need to be targeting the title. This is Manchester United we are talking about. He absolutely needs to be fighting for all the big prizes next season."

REUTERS, THE GUARDIAN

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 30, 2019, with the headline 'No room for complacency'. Print Edition | Subscribe