Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gets his dream job as permanent Manchester United manager
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is “beyond excited” to have signed a three-year deal to become Manchester United manager on a permanent basis.
The move has seemed inevitable for many weeks given the transformation the 46-year-old fans’ favourite has overseen since being named caretaker boss in December.
Solskjaer has brought smiles and a swagger back to a United side that had been toiling under divisive former manager Jose Mourinho.
The Norwegian has overseen 14 wins from his 19 games in charge, reviving top-four hopes while progressing to the quarter-finals of the Champions League with a jaw-dropping win at Paris St Germain.
Solskjaer’s work over the last 99 days has seen the interim role turn into a permanent job, with the 1999 treble hero signing a three-year deal at Old Trafford on Thursday.
“From the first day I arrived, I felt at home at this special club,” the former United striker said.
“It was an honour to be a Manchester United player, and then to start my coaching career here.
“The last few months have been a fantastic experience and I want to thank all of the coaches, players and staff for the work we’ve done so far.
“This is the job that I always dreamed of doing and I’m beyond excited to have the chance to lead the club long-term and hopefully deliver the continued success that our amazing fans deserve.”
Solskjaer, who scored 126 goals in 366 appearances for United, was already a hero to fans as the man who scored the stoppage-time winner in the 1999 Champions League final to complete the treble.
He initially arrived ‘on loan’ from Molde until the end of the season after Mourinho was sacked following a galling 3-1 loss to Liverpool on December 16.
Molde had been adamant he would return to his job there, but Solskjaer was clear about his desire to stay at Old Trafford from the outset and it later emerged that his deal with the Norwegian club had been ripped up as he could not manage two sides at once.
United sources have told Press Association Sport that there will be a “gesture of goodwill” to Molde, who wished their outgoing manager the best in a tweet that will surely have been lined up for some time.
The club posted: “Molde Football Club thanks Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for the efforts he has made with MFK, and wishes him the best of luck!”
Whatever the cost, United’s compensatory gesture to Molde looks to be worth it as executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward got his man.
“Since coming in as caretaker manager in December, the results Ole has delivered speak for themselves,” Woodward said.
“More than just performances and results, Ole brings a wealth of experience, both as a player and as a coach, coupled with a desire to give young players their chance and a deep understanding of the culture of the club.
“This all means that he is the right person to take Manchester United forward. I want to thank Ole and the coaching team for everything they have done so far and congratulate him on this richly-deserved appointment.
“The fans and everyone at the club are behind him as he looks to take us where we need to be and build the next stage of our history.”
The Old Trafford hierarchy had planned to wait until the summer to make a full-time appointment but had seen enough from Solskjaer to act immediately.
It is understood the club felt it the right thing to do given he was the man they wanted for footballing reasons, not merely due to fan popularity.
Assistant Mike Phelan has also been key to United’s resurgence and is expected to stay on.
Press Association Sport understands he has spent much of the international break in Australia, where Sir Alex Ferguson’s former right-hand man works as sporting director of A-League side Central Coast Mariners.
United intend to bring in their own director of football as part of a restructuring plan that stepped up a gear after Mourinho’s exit.
Solskjaer will face the media at an Old Trafford press conference at 4pm on Thursday, when stars past and present were quick to welcome the news.
Rashford posted an image of himself and Solskjaer on Instagram with the caption: “Congrats boss”.
Solskjaer’s former United team-mate Gary Neville wrote on Twitter: “I’m delighted for Ole. I didn’t think this would happen when he was appointed.
“However the results and spirit in the club have been incredible since he arrived and he deserves it. He now needs support in the transfer market in terms of finance and the right resource!”
Former United defender Rio Ferdinand added on his Twitter account: “Yessss Ole is officially at The Wheel… Signed, Sealed, Delivered! Manager of @ManUtd! I hope my Thank You is in post Ole”.