Football: Solskjaer making best of handicap

The Old Trafford man is not a natural winger but is happy to play there in Norway's cause.

THE WORLD Cup is all about encountering unfamiliar opposition and dealing with fresh challenges. Usually. In Bordeaux today Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will not take long to recognise one of the men pitted against him.

"I have pictures back home of Colin Hendry trying to strangle me," said Solskjaer after a Norwegian training session at their base near Nantes. Lest this be misconstrued, the photographs are from a Manchester United v Blackburn encounter early in Solskjaer's Premiership career, and he added hurriedly: "That is the name of the game. It didn't shock me, we don't play football with our hands in our pockets in Norway."

In Solskjaer's case they are making him play with one hand metaphorically tied behind his back. Due to Norway's rigid system, and Tore Andre Flo's form, he is being played on the left wing, a position ill-suited to his strengths, physique and experience. Yet his main criticism is reserved for himself.

"I missed a good chance against Morocco and I was unhappy with myself for doing so. I had a big chance to be a goalscorer in the World Cup. Hopefully I will get a few more."

But on the wing? "We have played 4-5-1 all the time and there is no point in us changing it now just because we did not play well in the first game. I have to settle for the left flank as Tore Andre is doing well for us in attack. I feel I should have another chance because my record [eight goals in 14 games] is OK, but I have to do the role he wants me to play.

"I will never get 100 per cent used to it but I am getting close. I have played there for Manchester United but I am not naturally left-sided and I like to be in front of goal to get chances so I suffer a little bit offensively."

This is a view shared by one of his house-mates (the Norwegians share a chalet between three), Thomas Myhre, the Everton goalkeeper. "He is more used to playing like a centre-forward with two up front. He's a goalscorer. He's not someone with great pace who runs behind the defence, nor is he good in the air, which can be a problem with the way we play, but he is a good footballer. As a goalkeeper he is the worst player to face on a one-on-one situation, he is quick in his head, always focussed on where the goalkeeper stands. He shoots when the goalkeeper doesn't expect it - in that he is like Robbie Fowler."

Solskjaer expects to play today, though the Norwegian press are less convinced as coach Egil Olsen is expected to make two or three changes. If he does not start, however, Solskjaer is still likely to finish. "The game is a very important and difficult one," he said. "We know all about Kevin Gallacher, Gordon Durie and [Darren] Jackson but must also be careful of players like Hendry at set-pieces."

Should Solskjaer score he may not be that popular at pre-season training. "I've not spoken to Alex Ferguson yet but I hope he's disappointed after the game. If I score an own goal he will be very happy. The best thing for him is if we lose 4-3 and the Manchester United players [Solskjaer, Henning Berg and Ronny Johnsen] score."

After an exceptional first season at Old Trafford Solskjaer had a disappointing time last campaign, squeezed out by Andy Cole's form, Teddy Sheringham's arrival and his own injuries. "It was frustrating but it has also been a learning experience. Before last season I had never been injured, I was always looking at the sky. This year I met the wall. It is not a problem, you have to take a step back to take three or four steps forward and that is what I am doing now. I am sure I will perform much better for Manchester United next season after what I have learned."

Norway have never lost with Solskjaer in the starting line-up, and only once when he has been involved. "We lost 3-2 to Trinidad and Tobago. It was my debut, I came on as sub.

"The Morocco game was disappointing as we wanted the three points. Now both teams have to go forward and try to win. I expect us to play much better than in the last game. Knowing so much about Scottish players will help us. They are more possession-orientated than Norwegian people think, which may suit us."

Sport
Alexis Sanchez has completed a £35m move to Arsenal, the club have confirmed
sportGunners complete £35m signing of Barcelona forward
Voices
Poor teachers should be fearful of not getting pay rises or losing their job if they fail to perform, Steve Fairclough, headteacher of Abbotsholme School, suggested
voicesChris Sloggett explains why it has become an impossible career path
Sport
world cup 2014
Sport
Popes current and former won't be watching the football together
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
News
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
newsJohn Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
books
News
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
News
business
News
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
people
Sport
Germany's Andre Greipel crosses the finish line to win the sixth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 194 kilometers (120.5 miles) with start in Arras and finish in Reims, France
tour de franceGerman champion achieves sixth Tour stage win in Reims
Extras
indybest
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Chocolat author Joanne Harris has spoken about the financial struggles most authors face
books
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Business Analyst Consultant (Financial Services)

£60000 - £75000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

Systems Administrator - Linux / Unix / Windows / TCP/IP / SAN

£60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A leading provider in investment managemen...

AVS, JVS Openlink Endur Developer

£600 - £700 per day: Harrington Starr: AVS, JVS Openlink Endur Developer JVS, ...

E-Commerce Developer

£45000 - £60000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Exciting opp...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
10 best girls' summer dresses

Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

Westminster’s dark secret

Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

Naked censorship?

The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests