How treble-winning spirit could help Solskjaer land the Man Utd job
If Ole Gunnar Solskjaer can mastermind a famous Champions League comeback in Paris, Ed Woodward might as well hand him the Manchester United manager’s job there and then, reports James Robson.
The Norwegian has spent the last three months invoking the spirit of Sir Alex Ferguson – and should he overturn Paris Saint-Germain’s 2-0 first-leg lead, it will all but confirm he is the rightful heir to his mentor’s throne.
Photo: Getty Images
Solskjaer is now the front-runner ahead of Mauricio Pochettino to take over on a permanent basis in the summer. And while Champions League elimination will not damage his credentials – an unexpected win in Paris might just seal the deal.
Saturday’s thrilling 3-2 win against Southampton was the perfect preparation, with even Solskjaer admitting it was just like old times under Ferguson.
Against PSG he wants to rekindle the magic of the 1999 treble-winning season, when Ferguson’s side repeatedly pulled off dramatic fightbacks en route to the greatest achievement in the club’s history.
Solskjaer scored the winner in the Champions League final with virtually the last kick of the game.
Now he is calling for that same spirit in Paris.
“I have to say that we felt invincible,” he said. “We felt that every game we were in with a chance to win and the way we won it against Arsenal in that FA Cup semi final – they missed a penalty and we scored the winner after that.
“The belief is here now. I have to say, they are confident going into the game knowing that we are 2-0 down. We know it is going to be difficult, we played them here and they are a good team, and we have got loads of injuries.
“Our players they know what we are capable of and we have spoken about it. They know that they are part of a special club that can do something like this.
“We are not going to go there and lay down. We are going to give it a go.”
So far Woodward is playing it perfectly regarding United’s managerial situation.
Solskjaer was never intended to be part of the conversation when parachuted in as interim boss following the sacking of Jose Mourinho in December.
The picture has changed dramatically since then, but Woodward has refused to bow to pressure to make the call now.
Even club staff are said to be wondering why it is taking so long to give Solskjaer the job, but United’s executive vice-chairman has given himself breathing room in case the honeymoon period ends with a bump.
United’s grip on fourth remains precarious. Arsenal are a point behind and can go two clear if they beat Solskjaer’s team at the Emirates at the weekend.
Chelsea are also in contention. A heavy defeat against PSG could dent the confidence Solskjaer has rebuilt so impressively.
But such is the wave of optimism sweeping through United that another famous European night is the only thing on their mind.
“We have to get goals in that game,” added Solskjaer. “If we get an early one, then suddenly we are in with a shout.”