Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been given his dream job after being appointed Manchester United’s permanent manager on a three-year contract.
The Norwegian has been rewarded for winning 14 of 19 games in charge during a successful interim spell after the sacking of Jose Mourinho.
Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward cited Solskjaer’s knowledge of the culture of the club and faith in youth – two elements Mourinho was accused of lacking – as reasons for making the 46-year-old United’s fourth permanent manager since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013.
Woodward said: “Since coming in as caretaker manager in December, the results Ole has delivered speak for themselves.
“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.
“This is a 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.”
Solskjaer added: “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. From the first day I arrived, I felt at home at this special club.”
United have taken the most points in the Premier League, 32, since Solskjaer returned to Old Trafford in December and reached the Uefa Champions League quarter-finals when a team missing 10 players secured a shock 3-1 win away over Paris Saint-Germain.
He scored 126 goals in 366 games for the club, including the winner in the 1999 Champions League final, and, as caretaker manager, has overseen away wins over Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal, Chelsea and PSG and brought improved performances from players including Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford, Ander Herrera and Chris Smalling.
Anthony Martial, Ashley Young and Phil Jones have all signed new contracts since the end of Mourinho’s divisive reign while Romelu Lukaku, Luke Shaw, Herrera and Pogba were among those to call for Solskjaer to become permanent manager.
Mike Phelan, who was Ferguson’s final assistant manager is expected to stay on as Solskjaer’s No 2, but United will have to negotiate a compensation deal with Australian side Central Coast Mariners, where he is sporting director.
Solskjaer’s appointment means Mauricio Pochettino, who has admirers at Old Trafford, was the favourite when Mourinho was sacked and was also considered a target for Real Madrid before Zinedine Zidane returned to the Bernabeu, is almost certain to stay at Tottenham.
It also means Solskjaer will sever ties with Molde, who are set to receive £8 million in compensation for the loss of their manager.
Solskjaer, who won the Norwegian League twice in his first spell with Molde, will first be charged with steering United, who are currently fifth, back into the Champions League and then with producing their first genuine title challenge since his mentor Ferguson’s retirement.
Having restored a feelgood factor at Old Trafford following Mourinho’s toxic reign, he has to demonstrate a lasting impact and avoid the fate of other caretakers, such as Chelsea’s Roberto Di Matteo, who were sacked five months after being appointed.
Solskjaer, who has never had major funds to spend, also faces the challenge of spending United’s huge budget – expected to be at least £150 million (Dh722.7m) this summer – wisely.