I watched Ole coaching at Cardiff and it didn’t go very well, then disappeared to Molde.
So when he replaced Mourinho – who we all agree over the last 15 years has been one of the best tacticians in football – I thought it would be hard for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to replace someone like Jose, and the presence he’s got.
I didn’t believe any manager could, actually. I didn’t think the kind of negativity coming from Jose could get to a group of players the way it did, I thought it needed more to rectify than man-management alone.
I don’t know Ole that well, but I couldn’t see him and his group being as good as Jose Mourinho tactically, with the knowledge of what he’s done over the years.
But, what Solskjaer has brought in shows you that there’s more to football.
People have been kidding on about systems and philosophies, but a man has walked in there with the philosophy that ‘Man United play this way’, you’re the luckiest people in the world to play here and I’m the luckiest man in the world to manage this club. You’d have to say his attitude has changed the whole thing.
For all the seminars you get in sport psychology, all the systems, all the nonsense about players having to drink X amount of water, they have to be sleeping by such a time, they need two grams of rice and the rest of it – it basically comes down to man-management.
Players are harder to work with these days.
We know all the systems, but it’s about the players. Pep Guardiola is a good example of this.
We all know how he plays but, unfortunately, none of us have got the players that can actually achieve what he can.
It just reaffirms that good people can change football clubs with drive. Obviously, Solskjaer and Mike Phelan know their coaching, but there’s more to it than that. The attitude of the players has just changed completely.
That’s why Mourinho has to go away now and re-evaluate what he was up to at United.
Ole should get the United job permanently
If it was up to me, I would pick Ole for the permanent job.
It’s like Zinedine Zidane. I don’t know how great tactically Zidane is, but he walked into Real Madrid and made people play because of his presence.
I’ve heard Ole isn’t the world’s greatest coach. But, Sir Alex Ferguson wasn’t the world’s greatest coach either.
Sir Alex knew how to coach but, for 25 years, he didn’t do much coaching – he left that to other people. He brought presence, discipline, and a footballing philosophy. Things like passing the ball forward more.
That’s where modern football is at and It’s a lot simpler than people are making out. You’ll get caught up in it if you believe all these stats. But, it’s like the Emperor’s New Clothes.
Ole’s right to lean on Fergie
We know Ole is talking to Sir Alex, and I think that’s good. He won’t be asking about tactics, he’ll be asking how he deals with being United manager on and off the park.
When Alex first went to United, he had a similar set up with Sir Matt Busby. It was nothing technical, but just how to deal with being the manager at that club.
As a top manager, sometimes you can think you’re getting all the problems in the world and that can be horrible. So, it’s nice to sit and have a cup of tea with somebody who’s been there, done that, and survived it.
There’s not many who have walked the road Ole is right now.
He can have somebody on the end of the phone help deal with things like small problems with individuals. Sir Alex may say ‘I had that with Beckham or Stam and this is how I solved it, try that’.
But he’s definitely his own man, Ole. There’s absolutely no doubt about that.
There’s nothing wrong with getting help though – because if we’re saying players need psychologists, why can’t a manager get some help too?
Your family doesn’t understand it, the coaches around you don’t really understand it. You need somebody who really knows what it’s all about and that’s what Solskjaer has with Sir Alex.