Senior Manchester United players believe Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needs to be strong enough to deal with the egos in the squad as he prepares to take over as interim manager. Solskjaer has been identified as United’s stop-gap solution until they appoint a permanent manager at the end of the season and played with assistant Michael Carrick for a season.
Sources have told the MEN that United players felt Carrick and fellow first-team coach Kieran McKenna were the ‘obvious choices’ to take over but it is thought Carrick would have been unable to, since he is not believed to have obtained his Uefa Pro License. The Pro License is the highest coaching certificate that is required to manage a football club for more than 12 weeks.
Carrick and McKenna joined Jose Mourinho’s coaching staff in the summer and their ‘thoughts and plans were not really listened to’ by the former United manager, according to sources.
Despite their lack of influence, both coaches are popular with the players and staff at United’s Carrington training ground and Carrick and McKenna oversaw first-team training on Tuesday.
Certain United players hope Solskjaer’s caretaker and affable nature status does not compromise his authority in a dressing room Mourinho failed to keep in check. Paul Pogba repeatedly and publicly undermined Mourinho until he was prevented from speaking to journalists in the mixed zone after matches and Mourinho’s relationship with the Frenchman adversely affected the harmony at United this season and last.
The MEN reported United players were ‘happy’ to discover Mourinho had been dismissed after the Liverpool match. It is understood most of the squad members felt a managerial change was required as early as September amid strong support for Carrick, who was never considered as an option to replace Mourinho as United looked to external candidate Solskjaer.
Although Solskjaer never played with any of the current squad members, Pogba, Antonio Valencia, Chris Smalling and Jesse Lingard were at the club during Solskjaer’s time as Reserves coach before he left to manage Molde in December 2010.
The MEN revealed on Tuesday United players were expecting Solskjaer to be announced as Mourinho’s temporary replacement, despite competition from former United defender Laurent Blanc.
The United website accidentally confirmed Solskjaer as interim manager in a video that was uploaded in anticipation of the official announcement. A URL linked to highlights of United’s 1999 Champions League final triumph over Bayern Munich and featured the caption ‘Solskjaer becomes our interim manager, 20 seasons after clinching the Treble with that goal at Camp Nou…’