Solskjaer reveals Man Utd players wanted to leave when he got the job | Football

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer spent almost three years as Manchester United manager (Picture: Getty)

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has revealed ‘some’ members of the Manchester United squad wanted to leave when he job the Old Trafford job on a permanent basis.

Solskjaer returned to his former club in December 2018 as interim manager following Jose Mourinho’s sacking.

United were sixth in the Premier League – 11 points outside the top-four places – when Solskjaer arrived but the team immediately improved under the Norwegian, losing just once in 13 league games before he was awarded with the top job on a three-year contract.

Solskjaer believes ‘something changed’ following his appointment, with his near-three-year spell as manager coming to an end in November 2021 with United seventh in the table.

‘I arrived and was asked to go straight to the staff Christmas party at Lancashire Cricket Club,’ Solskjaer told FourFourTwo.

‘I walked in halfway through the night. The place was packed. I was introduced. Everyone – and United have 1,000 staff – was singing. Smiling. And we’d not even played a game. 

‘We went to Cardiff, my old club, in my first game and scored five. It was just about letting the players play. Play forward, run forward, create chances, score and enjoy being a Man United player. We won our first eight games and had a great time together. 

Solskjaer was sacked in November 2021

Solskjaer was sacked in November 2021 (Picture: Getty)

‘Then suddenly the media – I understand why, because we were playing so well – were asking, “Does he get the job permanently?”. I’d never thought about doing it permanently, I was just enjoying myself and the players were, too. I got the job and something changed. 

‘Tiredness, since we demanded a lot. That caused injuries. Some players wanted to leave. I felt that the air came out of the balloon at the end of that first season, but in my two full seasons we finished third and second in the Premier League.’ 

One of the highlights of Solskjaer’s Manchester United reign was a stunning Champions League victory over Paris Saint-Germain in the French capital, but the 51-year-old pointed out his Red Devils teams also enjoyed other memorable moments.

‘Scott McTominay’s goal in the 96th minute against City in the last league game before lockdown,’ the United treble winner added.

‘Scott’s a great player and lad. He always gives 100 per cent for the club and represents United in the best possible way. It was wonderful for everyone.   

‘There was the 9-0 against Southampton. We played some nice attacking football. At our best, we’d go to places like Brighton, Spurs and Everton under Carlo Ancelotti, and we’d control the game. Or Leeds against Marcelo Bielsa’s side: we won 6-2 and 5-1 at home. 

‘Beating City away wasn’t an issue. That was Man United, we had to dig in, yet run against very motivated teams. Most are against Man United. 

‘And I don’t think we got the recognition for the organised attacks and defending, which we did well. Other managers and coaches complimented us on our tactical approach, with and without the ball.’ 

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Manchester United finished third in Solskjaer’s first season at Old Trafford and second in his second – and last – full campaign.

Michael Carrick had a brief role as United caretaker manager following Solskjaer’s departure before Ralf Rangnick saw out a difficult 2021-22 season for the club.

Erik ten Hag impressed in his first year at the Theatre of Dreams – guiding Manchester United to a third-place finish and lifting the League Cup – but United are currently just sixth, 11 points outside the top-four and 19 adrift of leaders Liverpool.

The Red Devils flattered to deceive in a 1-1 draw with Brentford on Saturday and return to action on Thursday night against Chelsea.

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