Man United boss Solskjaer on Sir Alex Ferguson influence, hairdryer treatment and Barcelona tie

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has this evening opened up on his stint in charge of Manchester United, during an in-depth interview with ESPN.

Solskjaer turns things around

Former United hitman Solskjaer was the man chosen to replace Jose Mourinho on the bench at Old Trafford late in December.

And the Norwegian subsequently went on to enjoy an absolutely superb start to life back in Manchester.

Solskjaer’s first 18 outings as United boss saw the club notch 14 wins, with the negative, defensive brand of football long-showcased by the Premier League giants under Mourinho having been replaced by a fast-paced, attractive style under the guidance of their new boss.

Along with steering United firmly back into the hunt for a top-4 spot in the Premier League, Solskjaer has also overseen the club’s passage to the quarter-finals of the Champions League, courtesy of a historic 2nd-leg comeback at French champions PSG last month.

Solskjaer staying put

As such, though the form of the Red Devils has fallen off somewhat of late, Solskjaer was nevertheless rewarded for his work at the helm at Old Trafford two weeks ago, when United confirmed that the 46-year-old had been appointed as the club’s new permanent manager:

‘I’ve used some of his team talks’

And, speaking in an interview with ESPN earlier today, Solskjaer was drawn on a number of topics relating to his stint in charge of his former club to this point.

First off, the 46-year-old was quizzed on the influence of Sir Alex Ferguson, who oversaw the entirety of Solskjaer’s 11-year playing career in Manchester, on his managerial approach:

‘When I came back here as the manager I thought a lot about what makes a winning team. What does it really take to win on the biggest stage? I’m not one to sit back, rest on my laurels and think: ‘That was a great time’ — it’s more thinking about what did we do to get there.’

‘What did the manager tell us? What kind of master team talks did he have? When did he speak to us? All these little things.’

‘I’m quite lucky because I did write a few diaries. I did think a lot about football so I do have vivid memories of things that happened and I’ve written some things down.’

Sir Alex Ferguson jokes with his training staff during a Manchester United training session. (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)

‘Towards the end of my career I was more focused on what the manager said. You learn that there was a pattern to what he was saying. There’s a pattern to how he builds his team up to believe: ‘We are going to make this.’

‘I’ve used some of his team talks. You’ve got to plan; you can’t just act on emotion. As I got to know him, I realised it’s not just emotion. When he went on one of his hairdryers or when he was hammering people, there was a reason behind what he did. He was maybe pointing at one player so that the 10 others would help him out.’

‘He would put his arm around someone or really go hard on someone to really get the best out of them. That’s what I learned from him the most — how he managed to get the best out of every single player.’

‘Sometimes you have to raise your voice’

When asked whether he utilizes his own take on the hairdryer treatment, Solskjaer continued:

‘Sometimes you’ve got to go strong. You do it when you’re disappointed, definitely.’

‘If your kids disappoint you, you have to tell them off. If you can see they’re trying their utmost, they’re trying their best, I don’t think there’s any reason why you should scream and shout. Sometimes you talk sensibly and sometimes you have to raise your voice.’

Finally, when drawn on his side’s upcoming Champions League quarter-final showdown with La Liga giants Barcelona, the first-leg of which is set to take place on Wednesday night, the United boss explained:

‘We’re playing against a good team but there is something special about this group of players. It will be fantastic.’

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