Ole Gunnar Solskjaer met Sir Alex Ferguson for a cup of tea before his first match at the Manchester United helm, with the caretaker boss warning his players that he will replicate the Scot’s hairdryer treatment if needs be.
It has been a turbulent week at Old Trafford, with Jose Mourinho’s two and a half years in the dugout brought to an abrupt halt on Tuesday in the wake of the club’s worst-ever start to a Premier League season.
Solskjaer, who represented the club as a player with aplomb before spending time as reserve team boss, was installed as caretaker boss for the remainder of the season and kicks off his reign at former club Cardiff this weekend.
The Norwegian endured a torrid time at the Welsh club, overseeing relegation in 2014, but feels he has developed since then.
Plus, Solskjaer also has one of the best sounding boards around in United great Ferguson.
“I have been in touch with the gaffer quite a bit,” the Norwegian, a hero of the 1999 treble season, said.
“Well, he signed me 22 years ago, so he is the big part of course.
“I don’t know what input he had but when I got the call, of course, I texted the boss.
“I have been in touch with him and I am going to enjoy a nice cup of tea back at his house to sit down and discuss a few ideas.”
Solskjaer says “there’s no one to get better advice from”, nor was there anybody better to learn from up close – even if it that meant the hairdryer treatment back in the day.
“We’re all different to how we manage people and the manager was different to every individual,” the 45-year-old said.
“Of course, maybe I should get the hairdryer out of my pocket because I’ve got a hairdryer – you know, when my hair needs lifting I use it on myself, but I am also not afraid of, if you like, laying down the law.
“You know with your kids, when they disappoint you, you tell them off. You don’t give them some chocolate then, do you?
“So you treat players similar to how you treat your kids, really, because you want the best for them, you want to guide them, you want to help them, but if I get disappointed…
“Ask (my children) Noah, or Karna, or Elijah, or some of the players I’ve had in Molde. Once in a while you really have to tell them standards we’ve got.”
Solskjaer clearly relishes this opportunity and barely stopped smiling during the press conference on the eve of facing Cardiff, when the possibility of staying on as full-time manager next summer was broached.
“I’m ambitious, but I understand that the club is doing a process,” the Norwegian, who is due to return to Molde in May, said.
“I have the perfect life back home now, I have to say, and then suddenly I get this phone call.
“If we come to May, I’ve done a good job and they’ve found a new manager, fantastic. That’s just my aim now to do a good job the next five or six months.”
Getting the players onside is a must after so many of their relationships broke down with Mourinho.
“I’m not sure about (the suggestion) the power has gone to the dressing room,” Solskjaer said.
“Football is evolving, of course, and the gaffer (Ferguson) was in charge of more or less the whole club. Football is developing. The structure of the club has developed.
“The power is with the manager. He picks the team, the tactics, the strategy. The philosophy is in these walls. That legacy is more important than any player power.
“I have to say, being a part of Man United, being a Man United player, it’s a privilege and, of course, I think all of them wants to succeed here.”
Paul Pogba was chief among the disenfranchised and has not started a Premier League match since performing so poorly at embattled Southampton at the start of December.
Such was the Frenchman’s unhappiness with Mourinho that there was little surprise at the cryptic – and swiftly-deleted – social media post from his accounts that some construed as a dig at the departing Portuguese.
“We’ve spoken about what we expect, what standards we have on and off the pitch,” Solskjaer said when asked about the player he coached when reserve team boss.
“Of course you prepare for every game. I trust the lads to know what they’re doing, to help the team.
“Everything we do is to help the team.
“The world has changed now. I’m not into this social media. My kids are, yeah.
“I’m that old that I’m not on Twitter or Facebook – maybe Facebook’s old now, but anyway – but that’s just common sense for me, that I’ve spoken to them about.
“We move this forward. We have one target – that we succeed – and we do that as a team.”