His first interview about what went wrong

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the Norwegian football legend, has been a significant figure in Manchester United‘s history, both as a player and a manager. Known for his iconic last-minute goal in the 1999 UEFA Champions League final, Solskjaer returned to the club as a manager in 2018. His time as the boss was marked by highs and lows, including a second-place finish in the Premier League but also a failure to secure any silverware.

Today, Solskjaer broke his silence in an in-depth interview with The Athletic, opening up for the first time about the challenges he faced, his relationship with key players like Cristiano Ronaldo, and the complex dynamics with the club’s owners, the Glazers. This candid interview provides a new lens through which to view his time at the club, offering insights that have been, until now, kept under wraps.

The Ronaldo Effect: Solskjaer’s made a big mistake signing CR7

In a recent interview, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitted that signing Cristiano Ronaldo “felt right but was wrong.” This blunt confession has sent shockwaves through the Manchester United fan community. Ronaldo’s return to Old Trafford in the summer of 2021 was met with euphoria, especially after his two-goal debut against Newcastle. However, Solskjaer suggests that Ronaldo’s arrival unbalanced the team dynamics, contributing to his eventual sacking.

While Ronaldo’s goal-scoring prowess was undeniable, his presence seemed to exacerbate existing issues within the squad. Solskjaer pointed out that the team’s performance started to decline, culminating in significant losses, including a 5-0 defeat to Liverpool. These setbacks, according to Solskjaer, revealed the “egos” within the team, making it increasingly difficult to manage. The Norwegian tactician felt that Ronaldo’s addition, although electrifying initially, became a catalyst for underlying problems, eventually leading to his departure. He understood there was no coming back after a 4-1 loss against Watford where the players where mostly focused on showcasing themself than working together as a team.

Player Egos and Team Dynamics

Solskjaer didn’t shy away from discussing the role of ego in his squad. He opens up that some players “weren’t as good as their own perception of themselves,” a statement that sheds light on the internal dynamics that may have contributed to his managerial challenges.

The modern footballer is not just an athlete but also a brand, often with a significant social media following. This dual role can sometimes lead to conflicts within the team, especially when players feel wronged and are not afraid to voice their grievances publicly. Solskjaer’s traditional management style, while effective in the past, may not have been flexible enough to handle these new-age challenges.

The need for more adaptable management styles is evident. In an era where players can easily leak information to the press or vent on social media, managers like Solskjaer are learning that the dynamics of player management are ever-evolving. This shift calls for a delicate balance between authority and empathy, a lesson that might come in handy for Solskjaer in his future endeavors.

The Glazers: A Complex Relationship

He also opened up about his nuanced relationship with the Glazers, the owners of Manchester United. While most fans have been vocal about their discontent with the ownership, Solskjaer’s perspective offers a different lens. He described his interactions with the Glazers as “honest and upfront,” acknowledging the challenges that come with managing a club under such high-profile ownership. Solskjaer also touched upon the mental strength required to navigate the complexities of this relationship.

The former manager’s insights shed light on the intricate dynamics between the managerial role and ownership, a relationship that often remains shrouded in speculation and hearsay. Solskjaer said the Glazers “were committed to improving” United. However, he later criticized the American family for neglecting the club, stating that Old Trafford and the training ground had been neglected and that a takeover was needed. This was the first time he had outright criticized the Glazers in public, marking a significant change in his stance.

Solskjaer’s Future Plans: What’s Next?

Since his departure in 2021, Solskjaer has been cautious about his next steps in professional football. He has turned down multiple offers, including a surprising opportunity to manage the Norway women’s team. Solskjaer has also been linked with English clubs like Burnley and Leicester, but none have been the right fit for him.

In a recent talk, Solskjaer outlined his criteria for accepting a new role, stating that it has to be “something special, a new culture, or a club that really excites” him. He even hinted at a possible return to Manchester United in some capacity. This selective approach indicates that Solskjaer is not rushing into any decisions and is waiting for an opportunity that aligns with his career goals and managerial philosophy. Interestingly, Solskjaer’s career choices aren’t solely driven by financial gain, as evidenced by his decision to turn down two managerial offers from Saudi Arabia. This move suggests that Solskjaer is more focused on the right fit and the quality of the footballing project rather than the paycheck

Fan Interactions and Protests

Solskjaer had a complex relationship with the united fans, especially during times of protests against the Glazers’ ownership. In a new admission, Solskjaer blamed such protests for affecting the team’s performance in key matches against Leicester and Liverpool. While he understood the fans’ grievances, he urged them to support the team, emphasizing that unity between the fans and the team is crucial for success.

This approach reflects Solskjaer’s managerial style, which aimed to balance the emotional landscape of a globally-followed club. His comments reveal a leader aware of the power dynamics between fans, ownership, and the team, and how these relationships can impact on-field performance.

Lessons Learned and Regrets

While the article doesn’t explicitly mention Solskjaer’s regrets or what he would have done differently, it does provide insights into his reflective nature. For instance, Solskjaer mentions a missed goal opportunity against Bayer Leverkusen in 2002 as a moment that still bothers him. He also discusses the red card against Newcastle, stating that he would probably do it again despite the repercussions, as it was a decision made for the team.

The Europa League final and other pivotal moments were not covered in the interview, but these instances serve as examples of Solskjaer’s willingness to learn from his experiences. The signing of Ronaldo stands out as the only big mistake he would wish he did differently.


Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s recent interview provides a rare glimpse into the complexities of managing a football giant like Manchester United. From the challenges of handling player egos to navigating a complicated relationship with the Glazers, Solskjaer’s insights offer a fascinating view of his tenure. For Manchester United fans, this candid discussion not only humanizes the man behind the managerial role but also sheds light on the intricate dynamics that influence the club’s performance.

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