What Ole Gunnar Solskjaer must do in first season to keep job - ex-player

Sunday, March 31st, 2019 7:00am

By Kieran Wellington @kieranwelly

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer must win the league as Manchester United manager, in the words of former Dutch international Arnold Muhren.

Muhren, who won the FA Cup with Manchester United back in 1983 and even scored in the final, believes the club is too big to want to settle for just the top four and Solskjaer’s side must perform on all fronts if they want him to remain in charge for the entirety of his three-year deal.

During his spell as interim manager, Solskjaer lost just one Premier League game and sealed a quarter-final berth in the Champions League for the first time in five seasons after remarkable two-legged comeback from 2-0 down to Paris Saint-Germain.

“A club like United has to go for all the prizes, not just winning the league but also the Champions League - why not?” Muhren told Ian Stone’s Comedy Breakfast (weekdays 6:30am-10:30am).

“They’ve got the money, it’s a very big club not only in England but in Europe and the rest of the world, and the fans want to win the Premier League and also do well in the Champions League.

“It’s going to be very difficult in the quarter-finals this season against Barcelona but I think he deserved a longer deal with the club.”

Solskjaer has surprised the majority of observers with the improved results and performances since three-time Premier League-winning manager Jose Mourinho left the club in December with United 11 points off the Champions League places.

They are now just two points behind fourth-placed Arsenal heading into their game against Watford and Muhren believes consistency in results comes from Solskjaer’s consistency in selection.

“Every week, the team is more or less the same if they don’t have any injuries," Muhren added.

“Mourinho changed the team a lot and the points didn’t come in.

“The way they were playing wasn’t suiting the team. They have to play in an attacking way, especially at home, because the fans expect to have a manager who wants to play good, attractive football.  

“A big advantage for him is he’s been a United player before so he knows the culture of the club and he knows the fans want the team to play forward.

“It was very difficult for him to join the club in December because he didn’t know a lot about the players and the system but he’s done very well.

“He’s been picking up a lot of points with the team, but he’s just a nice guy. He looks like your next-door neighbour.

“The whole team is playing with more freedom, every player is playing in their favoured position and [Paul] Pogba is happy again.”

Marquee players such as Pogba have always been essential to the Man United philosophy, and getting the best out of the World Cup winner is seen by many as the key to Solskjaer’s early success.

Since the Norwegian took charge just before Christmas, no player has been directly involved in more Premier League goals than Pogba and the midfielder has now scored 10 goals in a single season for the first time in his career.

Muhren also played in midfield and believes the added pressure behind the performances, and spending power, of their fiercest rivals will force United’s hand in the summer.

“A team such as United has to change the team every year because the fans want big signings, especially when the other teams are doing very well.

“City are buying a lot of players, Chelsea the same, even Arsenal are buying players now.

“They have to strengthen. Not so much attacking wise, because they have very good attacking players - Martial, Lingard and Pogba with his skills going forward.

“At the back, they could use some extra qualities.”

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