Manchester United appoint Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as caretaker manager after Jose Mourinho sacked

Mauricio Pochettino is United's primary long-term target to replace Mourinho, who was sacked on Tuesday

Miguel Delaney,Mark Critchley
Wednesday 19 December 2018 10:19 GMT
Jose Mourinho sacked as Manchester United manager

Manchester United have appointed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as caretaker manager following the dismissal of Jose Mourinho.

United sought to appoint someone “familiar with the traditions of the club” after Mourinho was relieved of his duties on Tuesday morning.

Mauricio Pochettino is United’s primary long-term target but, as appointing the Tottenham Hotspur manager is seen as impossible until at least the summer, Solskjaer will take temporary charge.

Solskjaer, who scored 91 goals in 235 United appearances, joins from Molde in his native Norway.

The 45-year-old will take charge until May, at which point he will return to Molde. Øystein Neerland, the Norwegian club’s chief executive, said Molde were happy to ‘lend’ Solskjaer to United.

Solskjaer will be joined by Mike Phelan, Sir Alex Ferguson’s former right-hand man, who also returns to the club.

“Manchester United is in my heart and it’s brilliant to be coming back in this role,” Solskjaer said. “I’m really looking forward to working with the very talented squad we have, the staff and everyone at the club.”

Ed Woodward, United’s executive vice-chairman, said: ”Ole is a club legend with huge experience, both on the pitch and in coaching roles.

“His history at Manchester United means he lives and breathes the culture here and everyone at the club is delighted to have him and Mike Phelan back. We are confident they will unite the players and the fans as we head into the second half of the season.”

Solskjaer is seen as a figure who understands the club’s culture and can heal the divisions fostered during Mourinho’s time at Old Trafford.

The Norwegian took charge of United’s reserves from 2008 to 2011 and had an unsuccessful spell in Premier League management with Cardiff City during the 2013-14 season.

Many of the United players felt that coach and former midfielder Michael Carrick could be a good stand-in option until the end of the season. Carrick and fellow coach Kieran McKenna stay on as part of the first-team coaching staff.

Phelan left when Ferguson retired in 2013, and sources say that the Scot has been actively consulted throughout the process of replacing Mourinho.

Laurent Blanc, the former United defender and Paris Saint-Germain manager, was also in contention to take up the caretaker role but is understood to have had reservations about joining on a short-term contract.

Mourinho leaves United in sixth-place in the Premier League table, 11 points off the top four and qualification for next season’s Champions League.

The Portuguese lost his job due to a combination of poor results, dressing room unrest and failings in the transfer market.

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