Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has given Manchester United’s players more time off over Christmas but warned them not to be fooled by his nice guy image.
Jose Mourinho had ordered the squad to train at 4pm on Christmas Day before staying at The Lowry Hotel. But Solskjaer has put the session back a couple of hours so they can have more time with their families ahead of the Boxing Day clash with Huddersfield.
However, United’s interim manager believes the players are wrong if they think he cannot match Sir Alex Ferguson’s hairdryer treatment.
‘I’ve got a hairdryer,’ said Solskjaer ahead of his first game at Cardiff this evening. ‘I’m not afraid of laying down the law. You know with your kids, when they disappoint you and you tell them off, you don’t give them chocolate, 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 and help them.
‘But if I get disappointed? Ask (his children) Noah, Karna and Elijah, or some of the players I had in Molde. Once in a while, you really have to tell them the standards we’ve got.’
The 45-year-old Norwegian dismissed the suggestion power has shifted to the players, as shown by Mourinho’s fall-out with Paul Pogba.
‘I’m not sure the power has gone to the dressing room,’ added Solskjaer. ‘Football has evolved and the gaffer (Ferguson) was in charge of more or less the whole club.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.’
Solskjaer confirmed that he has already spoken to Pogba and the rest of the squad about their use of social media.
Pogba was criticised for posting a photo of himself smirking shortly after Mourinho was sacked on Tuesday, while Antonio Valencia liked a message calling for the Portuguese coach to be axed in October.
‘We’ve spoken about what we expect, what standards we have on and off the pitch,’ said Solskjaer when asked about Pogba, a player he once coached for United’s reserves.
‘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 but what I’ve spoken to them about is just common sense for me.
‘Paul is a terrific lad and when I had him as a kid he was always there, the happy-go-lucky lad.
‘He hasn’t changed personality-wise. He’s a better player, of course, and he’s one I want to get the best out of.’
Solskjaer is on loan from Molde until the end of the season, when United are expected to make an attempt to appoint Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino.
But the Old Trafford legend has not given up hope of landing the job on a long-term basis if he succeeds over the next five months.
‘Yes, of course,’ said Solskjaer. ‘There are so many managers who would love to be manager of Manchester United and I am one of them, but it’s not something we’ve talked about. I’m ambitious but I understand the club is doing a process. If we come to May and I’ve done a good job and they’ve found a new manager, fantastic.
‘I have the perfect life back home, I must say. Then suddenly I get this phone call. When you get a job like this and they ask you to sign for five months, you say yes.’
Solskjaer has sought advice from Ferguson since accepting the job and will visit his former boss at home in Cheshire for more.
‘I have been in touch with the gaffer quite a bit,’ he said. ‘I am going to enjoy a nice cup of tea back at his house and sit down to discuss a few ideas. There’s no-one better to get advice from.
‘Sir Alex — and even going all the way back to Sir Matt Busby — installed that way of playing fantastic football.
‘They’ve had three fantastic managers since. But it’s not down to me now to talk about the last five years. It’s about the next five months and to work towards getting us happy, smiling and winning games. We’re too far down the league. We’re not used to being sixth.’
Solskjaer’s first game takes him to Cardiff, where he was sacked in 2014 after a nine-month spell that ended with relegation from the Premier League.
Is he a better manager now? ‘Definitely,’ he said. ‘I’m getting old and the grey hairs are coming. I’ve had 300-400 games as a first-team manager now. That period in Cardiff was a huge step for me. I’ve reflected on it. I made a few mistakes but if you don’t make mistakes you’re not going to learn.’Daily Mail