Manchester United’s players expect Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to be named as the club’s manager on a permanent basis before the end of the season, with sources telling ESPN FC that senior staff at Old Trafford are merely waiting for Ed Woodward, the executive vice-chairman, to confirm the Norwegian as Jose Mourinho’s full-time successor.
Solskjaer guided United to a 14th win in 17 games as caretaker manager with Wednesday’s remarkable 3-1 victory away to Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League. The win overturned a 2-0 first-leg defeat to win the tie on away goals and secured United’s place in the quarterfinals of the competition for the first time the 2013-14 season.
The 46-year-old’s success in turning around the club’s fortunes since replacing the sacked Mourinho last December has seen him overtake Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino, who was Woodward’s initial preference for the job, in the pecking order to be named the full-time boss.
The club have insisted that the plan remains for the managerial vacancy to be filled at the end of the season, but there is now a hope within the squad that the uncertainty will come to an end before May. ESPN FC reported last week that United had still not approached any manager, other than Solskjaer, to discuss the long-term position at Old Trafford and sources have said that the mood behind the scenes is now pointing firmly towards Solskjaer being confirmed in the role sooner rather than later.
The former United forward, who is technically on loan from Norwegian club Molde until the end of the season, has already started to draw up plans for the club’s summer tour of Australia and the Far East. And Solskjaer is also involved in assessing the club’s summer transfer requirements, having been given the authority by Woodward to sanction Marouane Fellaini’s January sale to Chinese club Shandong Luneng.
Within the dressing room, Solskjaer is a popular figure, particularly after easing the tensions that had begun to weigh heavily towards the end of Mourinho’s reign. And after the PSG victory, Solskjaer was given the public backing of senior players.
“I know he’s going to stay, there’s no doubt about that,” Romelu Lukaku said. “He wants to stay, the players want him to stay.
“He’s a young coach, he has young players as well so it’s the perfect environment to develop and hopefully win trophies in the future.
“I think it has been decided. I think he is going to get it, he should get it. What else does he have to do?”
Ashley Young, who captained United in Paris, added his voice to the increasing backing emanating from the playing squad.
“It’s not down to the players to decide, but if you look from the outside you’d say ‘why not?'” Young said. “He’s been fantastic since he’s come in — a breath of fresh air.
“The way he’s gone about the job has been unbelievable and the achievements we’ve made in a short space of time have been fantastic.
“Luckily for us as players we don’t have to decide. It’s down to the owners and the directors.”