Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has enjoyed success as a manager at Molde, the club where he starred as a player prior to joining Manchester United in 1996.
Here, Press Association Sport takes a closer look at the club who say they are proud to have ‘loaned’ their boss to his former club until the summer.
Molde are three-time Norwegian champions, with all three of those titles coming in the last decade and Solskjaer having a say in all three. Having joined in 2010 following a stint as United’s reserve team boss, he was in charge when the club won back-to-back titles in 2011 and 2012, and the third title came in 2014 with a squad he had largely put together before departing for his ill-fated spell at Cardiff. The first of those titles coincided with the club’s centenary – Solskjaer’s first season in charge – but their rise to the top has been very recent, and they only became a fixture in the top flight in the 1970s, establishing themselves as one of the country’s leading clubs in the years since. Twenty-six times champions Rosenborg continue to dominate, but Molde are the only other Norwegian club to have ever played in the Champions League.
Defender Vegard Forren, who has made more than 350 appearances for the club and won more than 30 caps for Norway is a club stalwart, now in his third stint at Molde after spells with Southampton and Brighton, the latter in 2017. There are other familiar names too, not least for United fans. Magnus Wolff Eikrem, son of Molde great Knut Hallvard Eikrem, played for United at youth level before Solskjaer took him to Molde. Though he then signed for Heerenveen in Holland, he was one of the players Solskjaer subsequently signed for Cardiff. After spells with Malmo and the Seattle Sounders, he returned to Molde in July this year. Another midfielder, Etzaz Hussain, also had a spell with United as a youth player, and Leeds winger Pawel Cibicki is on loan with the club until the end of December.
Form and style
Molde brought back Solskjaer in October 2015 as they were in the process of limping to sixth place in a disappointing defence of their most recent title. He has reintroduced his attacking style since, encouraging his full-backs to get forward and overlap with the wingers. Results have improved, with the club finishing fifth in 2016 and then as runners-up to Rosenborg in each of the past two seasons. This year they won eight of their last nine games as they finished five points adrift of the champions.
Molde play their home games at the 11,800 capacity Aker Stadion. Opened in 1998 and a gift to the club from local businessmen Kjell Inge Rokke and Bjorn Rune Gjelsten, this modern arena sits in a stunning Fjord-side location in the city. Molde is known as the City of Roses, giving the fan club Tornekrattet – which translates as Thorn Bush – their name. Rosenborg are Molde’s biggest rivals – a rivalry based on results and status rather than geography as a 135-mile drive, included a ride on a ferry, separates the two.