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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer releases the handbrake at Manchester United

By December 22, 2018No Comments

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took charge of Manchester United for the first time at Cardiff in his role as interim manager.

Solskjaer was back at the club where he was relegated from the Premier League in 2014, but it proved a far more satisfying experience as United ran riot to win 5-1 in the Welsh capital.

Here, Press Association Sport looks at how the Norwegian began life in the United dugout.


Paul Pogba made his first Premier League start since December 1 as Solskjaer made four changes from the side beaten 3-1 in Jose Mourinho’s final game at Liverpool. Phil Jones and Luke Shaw returned to the defence with Eric Bailly and Matteo Darmian missing out. Diogo Dalot dropped to the bench and Romelu Lukaku was missing, so Anthony Martial was restored to the starting line-up.


Ole Gunnar Solskjaer releases the handbrake at Manchester United PLZ Soccer
Paul Pogba, bottom, and Ashley Young celebrate (Nick Potts/PA)

The handbrake was well and truly off as the pragmatic approach of the Mourinho era was cast aside. United moved the ball quicker than at any time this season and full-backs Ashley Young and Luke Shaw were given licence to raid forward. Ander Herrera and Pogba also had more freedom in midfield, and United got more bodies into the box as a result. Solskjaer clearly wants his side to play with more attacking freedom.

On the touchline

Solskjaer might have had some bad memories of the Cardiff City Stadium but he could not have felt more at home in the technical area. The United fans recalled his 1999 Champions League winner against Bayern Munich and sang his name throughout. Solskjaer was a calm figure when he occasionally rose from the dugout to bark orders, and he had few concerns when taking his seat between Mike Phelan and Michael Carrick.


Ole Gunnar Solskjaer releases the handbrake at Manchester United PLZ Soccer
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer got off to a winning start (Nick Potts/PA)

This was the perfect start for Solskjaer. Three points, five goals and a return to the attacking spirit that is part of United’s DNA. Sterner challenges await in the coming months that will test Solskjaer’s tactical ability. But he has already clearly won over players so disaffected under Mourinho. And the United fans, as ever, love him.