Sir Alex Ferguson told Ole Gunnar Solskjaer he was ‘ready’ to step up as United’s interim manager after Jose Mourinho was sacked, according to the Norwegian.
Without a hint of a leak, last month. United took the unprecedented step of sacking a manager when qualification for the Champions League was still a mathematical possibility.
Club chiefs were concerned with the United’s form, the style of play and the development of youngsters under Mourinho and felt a change was needed.
Solskjaer was quickly identified as the ideal caretaker to put smiles back on the players’ faces and it has proved an inspired decision; the 45-year-old has won all of his first eight games, closed the gap on the top four to three points and led his side into the fifth-round of the FA Cup.
And United’s interim manager has now revealed what his mentor, Sir Alex, told him after he was offered the job.
“Of course I text him when I got the call and he gave me his blessing to put it that way,” he told beIN SPORTS. “He thought I was ready for it because, obviously, we have kept in touch over the years down at Cardiff, when I was in Molde.
“He’s been following my progress in Europe so it was just natural for me to make contact and then again he came down to visit us and had a chat with me and the staff, which was fantastic for us, because we know he knows everything about football.
“Now, he’s getting older so I can’t ring him every week, can I? I can’t bother him! Of course, I see him after the game in the lounge at Old Trafford. I always visit him there and it’s nice to see him, Cathy and his friends.”
It is easy to forget that Solskjaer has been a manager in his own right since 2011 and is a two-time title winner with Molde, who agreed to loan their manager to United until the end of the season.
When he got the call, Solskjaer had been planning ahead for Molde’s pre-season – which got underway this month – but he did not have to think twice about returning to Old Trafford.
“I tried to understand what it was all about and it is one of them you cannot say no to because: 1. It’s a fantastic challenge and 2. It’s the club that’s closest to your heart so it’s one of them they feel I’m the right man to help them,” he said.
“Of course, I’ll always, always do that. I called my club [Molde], said, ‘Just signed a new contract. Is there any chance we could get this sorted for now?’ ‘No problem’.
“Then, it was about thinking on my feet. Who do I need to come in with me. Tried to get hold of Mick [Phelan]. It wasn’t easy because he was doing a coaching course in Burnley or something. I didn’t get hold of Mick until three or four o’clock in the afternoon.
“He’d have to sort things out with his club in Australia. It was one of them things. Everything happened so quickly but because I know Mick so well anyway, we said ‘We’ll give it a go’ and so far so good.”