Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants to bring 'attack' ethos back to Manchester United
Norwegian discusses his ambitions for his tenure as caretaker manager at Old Trafford ahead of Boxing Day clash with Huddersfield Town
Manchester United scored five goals in a Premier League game for the first time in the post Sir Alex Ferguson era at Cardiff City on Saturday, with fans and pundits praising new manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for taking the handbrake off his team following months of frustrating, low-scoring football under Jose Mourinho.
Before the Boxing Day game at home to Huddersfield Town on Wednesday, Solskjaer said: “The players have not said anything to me about any handbrake, but when we spoke in the team meeting I said that when we get one goal then we want to get two, and when we get two then we want to get three. That’s the nature of this club: you always go an attack.
“It’s not always going to happen like it did [at Cardiff] but you have to try and create chances and grind it out, but it worked and with the blistering pace we have up front I don’t think any team would like to have Martial, Pogba, Lingard and Rashford running at them.
"So why should we stop them? The attacking philosophy is in the walls of Man United. That’s tradition, that’s history, that’s how we play and want to play.”
Solskjaer will be at the helm at Old Trafford for the first time when he walks down the touchline for the clash with Huddersfield.
“You try to keep your emotion in check because I’m here to do a job and I’ve got to be focused,” he said. “It’s not easy, I don’t think it will be easy but I’m looking forward to it and I think the boys are looking forward to playing at Old Trafford – and that’s the key.
"We should be looking forward to playing there.”
He spent plenty of time on the bench during his 11 years as a player there and has also served in a coaching role too.
“I was sat next to a Rene Muelensteen in a reserve game and I was there once with Cardiff, but it will be special,” said Solskjaer, 45, of a stadium which has a huge "2Olegend" banner.
“They’re the best fans in the world. I’ve got my history with the club and to see that banner is special. I just hope that in the next five months I’ll do a good enough job so that they keep on singing my name after someone else gets in there.”
The Norwegian is not just there to be a steady hand in his mind, with the club still in the Uefa Champions League, the FA Cup and also having aspirations still of finishing in the top four of the Premier League.
“You can never set the bar too high,” he said. “The players at this club have got high standards to live up to.”
United players have rarely reached those this season – Solskjaer advances one theory why.
“Confidence is not something that you just go into the fridge and pick up," he said. "You earn it by your performances and by your training and how you feel. I hope this game [against Cardiff] gave us a boost and I think all the players are looking forward to Boxing Day.
Asked about potential criticism from former teammates now working in the media, the Norwegian said: “Don’t worry, Gary [Neville] will be really hard on me – I’ve sat next to him in the dressing room for 11 years. He’s paid now to give his opinion and of course he should do. My ex-teammates will criticise me, don’t worry about that.
“I’m no different to anyone else, no different to any other manager. When you lead that team onto the pitch it comes with responsibility. My job is to get the players enjoying themselves.”
United struggled to impress at Old Trafford this season, where they managed only one goal in three Champions League games and were eliminated from the League Cup by second-tier Derby County.
The side only lost one of their eight league games, but their home form is the eighth best in the league and the home goal difference is only +3.
To put that in context, Manchester City’s is +26.
Solskjaer has already spoken to his former manager Sir Alex Ferguson and plans a meeting with him on handling the next few months in charge.
“We’ll have a cup of tea,” said the Norwegian. “He’s the boss and if there’s anyone who can give me proper advice, it’s not my ex-teammates, that’s him.”
Solskjaer has no new injuries to deal with against a Huddersfield team who have only won one away match all season – that was a surprise win at Wolverhampton Wanderers, when David Wagner’s team dominated with their three-man midfield. Aaron Mooy and Philip Billing were outstanding at Molineux.
Huddersfield also caused an upset by inflicting Manchester United’s first league defeat of last season in October 2017.
It would be an even bigger surprise if they can get another victory at an expectant Old Trafford to spoil Solskjaer's return.
Updated: December 25, 2018 12:12 PM