Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has no doubt he will feel the wrath of Gary Neville and other former Manchester United players during his time in charge of the club.
Solskjaer’s stint as caretaker manager got off to a fine start with a 5-1 thrashing of Cardiff City at the weekend – a performance entirely at odds with the increasingly turgid offerings served up by Jose Mourinho during the closing days of his Old Trafford reign.
Neville and other ex-United favourites working as media pundits, such as Paul Scholes and Rio Ferdinand, have not held back on criticism of the club as the post-Alex Ferguson years under David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and most recently Mourinho underwhelmed.
But ahead of what is sure to be a hero’s welcome when he leads United for the first time on home turf against Huddersfield Town on Boxing Day, Solskjaer insists he expects the same treatment.
“Don’t worry, Gary will be really hard on me. I’ve sat next to him in a dressing room for 11 years.
“He was next to me and… you know Gary!
“He’s paid now to give his opinion and, of course, he should do. I’m no different to anyone else, no different to any other manager when you lead that team out on to the pitch. It comes with a responsibility.
“But I don’t play for them. My job is to get the players enjoying themselves.”
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) December 23, 2018
The swagger evident in United’s play as they took Cardiff apart chimed with an attacking philosophy Solskjaer feels is a non-negotiable demand of his position – again striking a note of contrast with his immediate predecessors.
“They [the players] have not said anything about any handbrake but we spoke in the team meeting about when we get one you want to get two, when you get two you want to get three,” said Solskjaer, who won six top-flight titles with United.
“That’s just the nature of this team, of this club – that you always go and attack.
“It’s not going to happen every game that you create chances like we did today, you’ve got to go and grind it out.
“But I don’t think any team would like to have [Marcus] Rashford, [Anthony] Martial, [Jesse] Lingard and [Paul] Pobga running at them. So why should we stop them?
“The attacking philosophy is in the walls of Man United, that’s tradition and that’s history.
“That’s how we play, that’s how we want to play. [The Cardiff game] was a good reflection of what we want.”
Solskjaer received what he smilingly hailed as “great advice” from Wayne Rooney and similar tips from numerous other old United colleagues.
While grateful of the pointers, the 45-year-old is keen to sit down and receive some pearls of wisdom from his mentor Ferguson before long.
“I’ve spoken to him, of course. I’ll go to his or he’ll come to me and we’ll have a cup of tea because,
you know, he’s the boss,” he added.
“If there’s anyone who can give me proper advice, not my team-mates, then that’s him.”
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