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Ole Gunnar Solskjær KSO (Norwegian pronunciation: [ˈuːlə ˈɡʉnːɑr ²suːlʂær] (About this soundlisten); born 26 February 1973) is a Norwegian professional football manager and former player. He is currently the manager of English club Manchester United.[2][3] As a player, he played as a forward and spent most of his career with Manchester United. Solskjær also supervises a training academy for young footballers in his home town of Kristiansund, and is a patron of the Manchester United Supporters' Trust.

Ole Gunnar Solskjær
KSO
Zenit-Mo;de (7).jpg
Solskjær in 2018
Personal information
Date of birth (1973-02-26) 26 February 1973 (age 46)[1]
Place of birth Kristiansund, Norway
Height 1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)[1]
Playing position Forward
Club information
Current team
Manchester United (manager)
Youth career
1980–1990 Clausenengen
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1990–1994 Clausenengen 109 (115)
1994–1996 Molde 42 (31)
1996–2007 Manchester United 235 (91)
Total 386 (237)
National team
1995–2007 Norway 67 (23)
Teams managed
2008–2011 Manchester United Reserves
2011–2014 Molde
2014 Cardiff City
2015–2019 Molde
2018– Manchester United
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Before he arrived in England, Solskjær played for Norwegian clubs Clausenengen and Molde. He joined Manchester United in 1996 for a transfer fee of £1.5 million. Nicknamed "the Baby-faced Assassin", he played 366 times for United, and scored 126 goals during a successful period for the club. He was regarded as a "super sub" for his knack of coming off the substitute bench to score late goals. In injury time at the end of the 1999 UEFA Champions League Final, he scored the winning last-minute goal against Bayern Munich, with Manchester United having trailed 1–0 as the game passed 90 minutes, and winning The Treble for United. In 2007, Solskjær announced his retirement from football after failing to recover from a serious knee injury.[4]

Solskjær remained at Manchester United in a coaching role as well as in an ambassadorial capacity. In 2008, Solskjær became the club's reserve team manager. He returned to his native country in 2011 to manage his former club, Molde, whom he led to their two first ever Tippeligaen titles in his first two seasons with the club. He secured a third title in as many seasons, when his team won the 2013 Norwegian Football Cup Final. In 2014, he served as manager of Cardiff City, during which the club were relegated from the Premier League. In late 2018, Manchester United appointed Solskjær as caretaker manager, taking over from José Mourinho for the rest of the 2018–19 season.[3] On 28 March 2019, having won 14 of his 19 matches in charge, Solskjær signed a three-year contract to take over as Manchester United manager on a permanent basis.[5]

Early lifeEdit

Solskjær was born in Kristiansund, Møre og Romsdal[1] to Øyvind, a Greco-Roman wrestling champion,[6] and Brita Solskjær.[7][8] At the age of seven, he joined local football club Clausenengen,[9] who were in the 3. divisjon.[10] Solskjær supported Liverpool as a child.[6] Between the ages of eight and ten, he followed in his father's footsteps and trained as a Greco-Roman wrestler, but gave it up due to being tossed around too much.[11][7] Between 1992 and 1993, Solskjær completed a mandatory year's national service in the Norwegian Army.[11][12]

Club careerEdit

Early career at ClausenengenEdit

Solskjær debuted for Clausenengen (CFK) at 17 years old in 1990.[13] He participated in the Otta Cup, scoring seventeen goals in six matches. On 21 May 1993, CFK faced Molde in the Norwegian Football Cup, with Solskjær scoring Clausenengen's only goal in their 6–1 defeat.[14] Clausenengen were promoted to the 2. divisjon in 1993, winning the 3. divisjon by 12 points.[15] Solskjær's final season at the club was in 1994, with him scoring 31 of CFK's 47 goals,[13] helping the club achieve a mid-table finish of sixth place.[16] In Solskjær's five years playing for Clausenengen, he averaged more than a goal a game, scoring 115 goals in 109 matches.[13]

MoldeEdit

1995 seasonEdit

In late 1994, ahead of the start of the next season, he was signed by Åge Hareide, manager of the first-tier club Molde, for a fee of NOK200,000.[13][17] On 22 April 1995, Solskjær made his debut for Molde against Brann, scoring twice in a 6–0 victory.[18][19] In his second game on 29 April, Solskjær scored a hat-trick helping Molde 5–4 win over Viking.[18][19] On 14 May, he scored another brace in a 2–1 win over Hamarkameratene.[18][19] Two days later, he netted a hat-trick as Molde thrashed Hødd 7–2.[18][19] Solskjær scored a penalty in Molde's 4–1 victory over Strindheim on 30 July.[20][19]

 
Solskjær after a game for Molde in 1996

On 10 August, Solskjær played in his first European competition, the qualification round for UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, against Belarussian team Dinamo-93 Minsk.[20] Molde conceded in the first half but Solskjær managed to equalise in the 85th minute.[21] He also scored in the second leg as Molde won 2–1 (3–2 on aggregate) and qualified for the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup proper.[22] Molde were subsequently drawn against French team Paris Saint-Germain, Solskjær scored in the first leg on 14 September as the team lost 3–2 at Molde Stadion.[23] He played in the away leg on 28 September, but Molde were outmatched and lost 3–0.[24] Molde finished the season in second place, runners-up to Rosenborg by 15 points.[25] In Solskjær's first season at Molde, he scored 20 goals in 26 matches in the 1995 Tippeligaen.[26] Solskjær also formed a good strike-partnership with fellow forwards Arild Stavrum and Ole Bjørn Sundgot; because their surnames all started with the same letter, this led to them being referred to as "The Three S's".[18][27]

1996 seasonEdit

Solskjær began the 1996 Tippeligaen in defeat, losing 2–0 to Rosenborg.[28] However, in his next match on 21 April 1996 against Moss, he scored a hat-trick as Molde won 8–0.[28] He scored a brace against Tromsø on 19 May in a 3–0 victory,[28][29] and his goal-scoring form led to interest from Hamburg of Germany and Italian club Cagliari.[30] Molde's then-manager, Åge Hareide, made Solskjær available to both Everton and Hareide's old club Manchester City for £1.2 million.[30] However, neither Everton nor City were willing to take a risk on Solskjær, and the interest from Hamburg and Cagliari fell through after Manchester United submitted a bid of £1.5 million during Euro 1996, which Molde accepted.[30] Solskjær made his final appearance for Molde on 21 July 1996 in a 5–1 win against Start, scoring the fourth goal in the 85th minute, before throwing his shirt to the crowd in celebration and receiving applause as he was substituted.[31] He finished his time at Molde with 41 goals in 54 games in all competitions.[31]

Manchester UnitedEdit

1996–97 season: DebutEdit

Solskjær joined Manchester United under Alex Ferguson on 29 July 1996, and was something of a surprise acquisition as he was almost unknown outside his homeland and at the time United were still in the hunt for Blackburn Rovers and England striker Alan Shearer, who then joined Newcastle United for a world-record £15 million.[32] As the only striker to arrive at Old Trafford that year, it was widely expected that his first season would be spent as a backup to Eric Cantona and Andy Cole with only occasional first-team opportunities. However, within weeks of his arrival it was clear that he would be a key part of the first team sooner than had been anticipated, and would also prove himself to be one of the biggest Premier League bargains of the season.[33]

He was issued with the number 20 shirt for the 1996–97 season, a squad number he would retain for the rest of his Manchester United career. He scored six minutes into his debut as a substitute against Blackburn Rovers on 25 August 1996, after replacing David May in the 64th minute.[34] Solskjær made his first start on 14 September in a 4–1 win against Nottingham Forest, scoring United's first goal in the 22nd minute.[35] On 25 September, he netted his first European goal for Manchester United in their 2–0 win over Rapid Wien, opening the scoring in the 20th minute.[36] He scored his first brace for United against Tottenham Hotspur on 29 September, scoring the only goals of the game in the 38th and 58th minutes.[37] On 21 December, Solskjær scored his second brace of the season as United beat Sunderland 5–0, scoring in the 35th and 48th minutes.[38] The Norwegian started in both of United's UEFA Champions League semi-final matches against Borussia Dortmund, which United lost 2–0 on aggregate to the eventual winners.[39][40] He scored his third brace on 3 May 1997 against Leicester City in a 2–2 draw, netting in the 45th and 51st minutes.[41] United clinched the title after Newcastle drew away at West Ham on 6 May, thus Solskjær won his first Premier League title.[42] Solskjær scored 18 Premier League goals in 33 appearances (25 of which were starts) for United in his first season – the club's top goalscorer for that campaign.[43] The British media nicknamed him "the Baby-faced Assassin" because of his youthful looks and his deadly finishing.[44]

1997–98 seasonEdit

Solskjær scored his first goal of the 1997–98 season on 24 September 1997 in a 2–2 draw against Chelsea, equalising in the 86th minute after coming off the bench 20 minutes earlier.[45] On 1 November, he scored a brace against Sheffield Wednesday during a 6–1 victory at Old Trafford, netting in the 41st and 75th minutes.[46] Solskjær got his second brace on 30 November, scoring in the 18th and 53rd minutes of United's 4–0 victory over Blackburn Rovers.[47] On 24 January 1998, he scored his third brace of the season in a 5–1 win against Division Two team Walsall in the FA Cup fourth round, adding the second and fourth goals in the 35th and 67th minutes.[48] Solskjær started in the UEFA Champions League quarter-final second leg at Old Trafford against Monaco on 18 March (with the aggregate score at 0–0).[49] David Trezeguet opened the scoring for Monaco inside five minutes, before Solskjær levelled in the 53rd minute, but United failed to score again and were knocked out on away goals.[50]

Manchester United's match against Newcastle on 18 April would become a defining moment of Solskjær's career. The match was tied at 1–1, and Manchester United needed at least a draw to keep up with Arsenal in the race for the league title, with Solskjær being introduced in the 79th minute.[51] Near the end of the game, Newcastle's Rob Lee had a clear goalscoring opportunity, running unopposed towards United's goal, but Solskjær had run across the entire field to commit a professional foul against him, thus denying Newcastle a winning goal. Solskjær did this knowing he would be sent off, and suspended for the coming matches. Supporters regarded this as an example of how Solskjær put the club above personal interest.[52] The Norwegian only managed six league goals in 22 appearances (15 starts) during his second season at the club,[53] and despite his sacrifice against Newcastle, Arsenal beat Manchester United to the league title by a single point.[54]

1998–99 season: Continental TrebleEdit

 
The Manchester United team, with Solskjær, celebrating after winning the UEFA Champions League in 1999.

Solskjær stayed at Old Trafford even though other clubs showed interest in the player in 1998. He refused an offer from Tottenham Hotspur, after Manchester United had accepted a £5.5 million bid for him.[55] He scored his first goals of the 1998–99 campaign in a 4–1 victory over Charlton Athletic on 9 September 1998, netting in the 38th and 63rd minutes.[56] On 11 November, Solskjær put two past Nottingham Forest in a 2–1 win, helping United advance to the fifth round of the League Cup.[57] He scored his third brace of the season against Tottenham Hotspur on 12 December, scoring in the 11th and 18th minute of an eventual 2–2 draw.[58] On 24 January 1999, Manchester United faced rivals Liverpool in the fourth round of the FA Cup. United were down within three minutes by a goal from Michael Owen and proceeded to trail late into the second half.[59] Solskjær was introduced in the 81st minute, replacing Gary Neville, and went on to score the winner in the 90th minute, shortly after Dwight Yorke's equaliser.[60] On 6 February, Solskjær came off the bench in the 71st minute during United's 8–1 win over Nottingham Forest and went onto to score four goals in the last 12 minutes of the match.[61] This has been described as one of his most impressive feats.[52] Manchester United sealed the Premier League title on 16 May, the last day of the season, against Tottenham Hotspur after coming from behind to win 2–1,[62][63] with Solskjær winning his second Premier League title in three years.[64] Solskjær started in the 1999 FA Cup Final against Newcastle on 22 May, playing the whole match as United won 2–0 and completed the double.[65]

On 26 May, Manchester United faced German team Bayern Munich in the 1999 UEFA Champions League Final at Camp Nou.[66] Mario Basler scored from a free kick in the sixth minute putting Bayern ahead.[67] With United still trailing, Teddy Sheringham was introduced in the 67th minute while Solskjær was brought on for Andy Cole in the 81st minute.[67] Sheringham scored the equaliser at precisely 36 seconds into stoppage time, and shortly after the following kick-off United forced a corner.[66] David Beckham took the corner kick, finding Sheringham who headed the ball across the goal, it then being poked into the roof of the net by Solskjær (the goal being timed at 90+2:17').[68] The Norwegian's winning goal helped the team secure the Treble and cemented his own place in United folklore.[69] Solskjær finished the season with 12 league goals in 19 games (9 starts).[70]

1999–2000 seasonEdit

Solskjær scored his first goal of the 1999–2000 season on 11 August 1999, netting in the 84th minute in a 4–0 win over Sheffield Wednesday.[71] On 2 November, he scored a sublime volley during a 2–1 victory against Austrian team Sturm Graz in the UEFA Champions League.[72] Solskjær won the Intercontinental Cup on 30 November, as Manchester United beat Brazilian team Palmeiras 1–0 at the National Stadium in Tokyo, Japan.[73] On 4 December, he put four goals past Everton in a 5–1 victory at Old Trafford, the second of which was Solskjær's 50th goal for the club in all competitions.[74] Solskjær equalised for United against Liverpool in a 1–1 draw on 4 March 2000.[75] Three days later, he came off the bench in the 83rd minute against Bordeaux, scoring a minute later from goalkeeper Raimond van der Gouw's long ball.[76][77] Manchester United won the Premier League on 1 April after thrashing West Ham 7–1, with Solskjær getting the seventh in the 73rd minute.[78][79] On 15 April, he scored a brace during a 4–0 victory over Sunderland, netting in the 2nd and 51st minutes.[80] Four days later, Solskjær featured in United's UEFA Champions League quarter-final second-leg against Real Madrid, but failed to score as United were knocked out 3–2 on aggregate.[81][82] On 24 April, he equalised against Chelsea bringing the score to 2–2, with United going on to win 3–2.[83] He ended the campaign with 12 league goals in 28 appearances (15 starts).[84]

2000–01 seasonEdit

Solskjær's opportunities were limited at the start of the 2000–01 season, however he scored on his second start of the season on 16 September 2000 as United beat Everton 3–1.[85] On 31 October, he netted a brace during a 3–0 victory against Watford in the League Cup third round, scoring in the 12th and 81st minutes.[86] He scored another brace on 23 December, against Ipswich Town in a 2–0 victory.[87] Three days later, Solskjær helped United snatch a 1–0 win against Aston Villa, with the Norwegian heading in a David Beckham cross in the 85th minute.[88] Solskjær scored the first goal of United's 2–1 FA Cup third round win over Fulham on 7 January 2001.[89] On 25 February, he netted Manchester United's fifth goal against Arsenal (their closest title rivals) in United's 6–1 demolition,[90] which sent them 16 points clear at the top of the table.[91] On 10 April, he scored the winning goal in United's 2–1 victory over Charlton Athletic, scoring only six minutes after coming on in the 76th minute.[92] Manchester United wrapped up the Premier League title in April – their third consecutive title, and Solskjær's fourth.[93][64] That season Solskjær scored 10 league goals in 31 appearances (19 starts).[94]

2001–02 seasonEdit

After a few years of coming on as the super-sub, Solskjær got a chance as a starter in the 2001–02 season, paired up with Dutch striker Ruud van Nistelrooy. He took the opportunity with characteristic incisiveness, forcing Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke onto the bench.[citation needed] He scored his first goals of the season on 22 September 2001, in a 4–0 victory over Ipswich Town, with Solskjær netting two – the second from a difficult angle.[95] On 23 October, Solskjær came off the bench in the 73rd minute against Olympiacos, with the score level at 0–0, and within six minutes broke the deadlock – helping United eventually win 3–0.[96] Four days later, he came off the bench while United were 1–0 down against Leeds United, and snatched an equaliser in the 89th minute – heading in a Ryan Giggs' cross.[97] On 12 December, he scored a brace and provided two assists in United's 5–0 victory over Derby County, netting in the 6th and 58th minutes while setting up Roy Keane and Paul Scholes.[98][99] Solskjær started the comeback against Aston Villa in the FA Cup third round on 6 January 2002, scoring in the 77th minute, as well as providing the assist for van Nistelrooy's second goal as United won 3–2.[100]

On 29 January, he scored a hat-trick against Bolton Wanderers in Manchester United's 4–0 win.[101] Solskjær netted a brace against Charlton Athletic in United's 2–0 win on 10 February, scoring in the 33rd and 74th minutes.[102] On 26 February, Solskjær's 29th birthday, he scored his fourth brace of the season against French team Nantes as United won 5–1.[103][104] He scored yet another brace on 30 March, putting two past Leeds United as 'the Red Devils' won 4–3.[105] Solskjær helped Manchester United advance to the UEFA Champions League semi-final after scoring two against Deportivo La Coruña in United's 3–2 victory on 10 April, the first only two minutes after coming on.[106][107] He started against Arsenal at Old Trafford on 8 May, but failed to score as 'the Gunners' beat United 1–0 and won the Premier League.[108][109] Solskjær finished the season with 17 league goals in 30 appearances (23 starts), his best tally since his debut season at the club.[110]

2002–03 seasonEdit

By the 2002–03 season, both Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke had left Old Trafford, leaving Solskjær only Diego Forlán and Van Nistelrooy to compete with for a place in the starting line-up. Ferguson's persistence in playing Van Nistelrooy up front with Paul Scholes, or as a lone striker, meant that opportunities were limited.[citation needed] Solskjær scored Manchester United's first goal of the season on 17 August 2002, netting the winning goal (his 100th in all competitions) against West Bromwich Albion in the 78th minute.[111][112] On 19 October, he earned a point for United in a 1–1 draw against Fulham, equalising in the 61st minute.[113]

Solskjær was subsequently given his time again when David Beckham picked up an injury and Ferguson played the Norwegian on the right wing. While proving himself to be an able crosser of the ball, Solskjær also continued to contribute with goals, scoring a total of 16 goals in the season. He was selected to play on the right in important matches, such as in the league game against Arsenal and the Champions League quarter-final against Real Madrid, while Beckham was left on the bench. He also captained the team in a number of matches.[citation needed]

2003–06: Injury-plagued seasonsEdit

At the start of 2003–04, Solskjær found himself as United's first-choice right winger. However, a knee injury suffered against Panathinaikos on 16 September 2003 put Solskjær out of action until February 2004. Solskjær returned from the injury for the season run-in and was man of the match in the FA Cup semi-final victory over Arsenal. He also played in the 2004 FA Cup Final, which the club won. Solskjær was forced to undergo intensive knee surgery in August 2004 and had to miss the 2004–05 season entirely. While he eventually recovered his fitness, it was difficult for the 32-year-old to carve his niche again among the heavy-weight attack of Manchester United. The Old Trafford faithful, however, displayed almost fanatical loyalty in their desire to see Solskjær in action again.[citation needed]

To show their continuing support, fans added a banner to the collection that lines the Stretford End reading "20 LEGEND"[114] (Solskjær wore number 20 for United). Solskjær further solidified his status amongst United fans when he became a patron of the supporters action group, Manchester United Supporters' Trust (MUST), previously Shareholders United.[citation needed]

2006–07 season: Back from injuryEdit

Solskjær made his long-awaited return to action on 5 December 2005, playing for United's reserves against Liverpool.[115] Spectators numbering 2,738 showed up to witness the comeback of the popular Norwegian – an above-average turn-out for a reserve team match. He made his first-team return as a substitute in the match against Birmingham City on 28 December. He then finally made his first start in January 2006 in an FA Cup match against Burton Albion, before playing a full game as a captain in the third round replay. His return to full fitness slowly continued with regular appearances in the reserves, until on 8 March 2006 when, during a game against Middlesbrough, he was accidentally caught by Ugo Ehiogu, breaking his cheekbone. While facing the possibility of missing the rest of the season,[116] he nevertheless appeared as a substitute against Sunderland on Good Friday. Solskjær had a successful pre-season tour in the summer of 2006 gaining Ferguson's praise who also said he would reconsider his plan to buy a new striker.[117]

He returned to Premier League action on 23 August 2006 when he scored in an away match against Charlton Athletic, his first Premier League goal since April 2003. Ferguson commented after the match that "it was a great moment for Ole, United fans everywhere, the players and the staff" and that "Ole has been through a torrid time with injuries for the last two years, but he's persevered and never lost faith and has got his repayment tonight. Everyone is over the moon for him." He continued his come-back by putting in the winning goal in the Champions League group match against Celtic at home on 13 September, fulfilling his post-injury ambition to score another goal at Old Trafford. Solskjær's first Premier League goals at Old Trafford since his return came on 1 October when he scored both goals in the 2–0 win against Newcastle United. His goalscoring form continued when he started in the away match against Wigan Athletic and struck a sublime finish to round off a 3–1 victory, and again against Crewe Alexandra on 25 October 2006, scoring the first goal in a 2–1 away victory in the third round of the League Cup. After a further injury sustained in Copenhagen in the UEFA Champions League, Solskjær recovered and again returned to form scoring the third goal in a 3–1 home win over Wigan on Boxing Day. Solskjær continued his form by scoring United's opening goal in their 3–2 home win over Reading on 30 December. Additionally, he came on as a substitute to score an injury-time winner in the 2–1 victory over Aston Villa at home in the FA Cup third round on 7 January 2007.[citation needed]

After scoring in the away FA Cup fifth round replay match against Reading on 27 February, Solskjær had further surgery on his knee. However, it was not as serious as his previous operations, and he was out of action for only a month. He was predicted to be available for the home game against Blackburn Rovers on 31 March. United manager Ferguson said: "It was good timing with the international break coming up. It gave us the opportunity to get the thing done." Solskjær did make his comeback against Blackburn Rovers as a late substitute, and even scored in the 89th minute to seal Manchester United's 4–1 win. His last match was the 2007 FA Cup Final against Chelsea, but he had to settle for an FA Cup runners-up medal, as an extra-time goal from Didier Drogba gave Chelsea the victory.[citation needed]

On 5 June 2007, it was announced that Solskjær had undergone minor surgery after he reported discomfort in his knee while training with Norway. The surgery was a success, but Solskjær failed to fully recover and announced his retirement from professional football on 27 August 2007. On 4 September, at a home game against Sunderland, Solskjær walked onto the pitch to say goodbye to the fans and received a standing ovation.[118] As of his retirement, Solskjær held the record for the most goals scored for Manchester United as a substitute, scoring 28 goals off the bench,[119] as well as the most Premier League goals as a substitute with 17,[120] a mark which since passed by Jermain Defoe.[121]

2008: TestimonialEdit

 
Solskjær taking a free kick during his testimonial in 2008

On 2 August 2008, a testimonial match was played in honour of Solskjær at Old Trafford against Espanyol. Almost 69,000 fans were present, setting a record as the second-highest-attended testimonial in British history.[122] United eventually got the winner from substitute Fraizer Campbell. Solskjær appeared in the 68th minute, replacing Carlos Tevez.[122] At the end of the game, he addressed the fans with a speech, thanking the staff, players, fans and his family.[citation needed]

Solskjær will perhaps be best remembered[123] as a "super-sub", having earned wide acclaim for a habit of coming into matches late on as a substitute and scoring goals. Ferguson remarked that Solskjær has a knack of sitting on the bench and studying the game without taking his eye off the action. Reflecting on this aspect of his career years later, Solskjær said: "I had to think about myself, how can I do the most damage for the opposition if I come on? I sat there and I studied football games but I didn't exactly analyse their strikers. [...] Instead I would pay attention to what the defenders and full-backs were doing wrong."[124]

International careerEdit

Solskjær made his international debut in a friendly match against Jamaica on 26 November 1995, just a few months before he joined Manchester United. The game finished in a 1–1 draw with Solskjær scoring the only goal for Norway. He continued his great goal scoring start by scoring three goals in his first competitive appearances for the national team during the 1998 World Cup qualifying campaign.[citation needed]

Solskjær played in both the 1998 FIFA World Cup and UEFA Euro 2000 for Norway. He formed a feared partnership with Tore André Flo which was seen as one of the best striking partnerships in Norway's history.[citation needed]

Following his lengthy layout to injuries Solskjær made his full game comeback on 2 September 2006, when he scored the first and last goals in a 4–1 win against Hungary in a Euro 2008 qualifying match. They would be his last goals for the national team taking his tally up to 23 goals.[125]

On 7 February 2007, Solskjær made what proved to be his final appearance for Norway in a 2–1 defeat against Croatia, he finished with a total of 67 appearances for his country.[126][127]

Managerial careerEdit

First step into coachingEdit

Solskjær signed his last player contract with Manchester United on 31 March 2006, with a provision to allow him to develop his coaching awards. He also acted in an ambassadorial role for the club, when he travelled to Hong Kong in 2006 and played with students at the Manchester United Soccer School in Hong Kong. When interviewed by Setanta Sports in August 2007, Solskjær confirmed he would train to be a coach after retiring from professional football, and would start to earn the required badges after his last season with Manchester United. Following his retirement, Solskjær worked for Ferguson at Old Trafford, coaching the strikers on the first team for the remainder of the 2007–08 season.[128]

As announced on 20 May 2008, he took over the Manchester United Reserves during the summer of 2008. Solskjær was United's first full-time reserve team manager since 2006, taking over from Brian McClair and Jimmy Ryan, who had filled the role in a caretaker capacity. He won the 2007–08 Lancashire Senior Cup by defeating the Liverpool Reserves 3–2 in the final.[129] On 12 May 2010, Solskjær won his first Manchester Senior Cup by defeating Bolton Wanderers 1–0 at the Reebok Stadium.[130]

Shortly after the resignation of Åge Hareide from the position, Solskjær was offered the opportunity to coach the Norwegian national team; he declined, saying that it was not yet the right time for him to become the Norway coach.[131] Solskjær's final game as Manchester United Reserves manager was a 5–1 victory over Newcastle United on 16 December 2010.[132]

MoldeEdit

On 9 November 2010, Solskjær signed a four-year contract with the Norwegian club Molde to take over as manager, where he played prior to moving to Manchester United.[133] Solskjær continued as Manchester United Reserves manager until January 2011, when he took over at Molde for the start of the new season.[134]

On 18 March 2011, Molde played their first league game under Solskjær and suffered an embarrassing 3–0 defeat to newly promoted Sarpsborg 08. They played their first home game of the season on 3 April, where despite coming from 1–0 down to lead 2–1 they were held to a 2–2 draw by league leaders Tromsø. Molde's first goal under Solskjær was scored in this game, by Senegalese striker Pape Paté Diouf. On 17 April 2011, Solskjær won his first Tippeligaen game at Molde with the 3–2 home win over Stabæk. On Molde's 100 years anniversary on 19 June 2011, Solskjær lead the team to a 2–0 victory over Sogndal and the top of the Tippeligaen. On 30 October 2011, Solskjær won the Tippeligaen with Molde in his first year as manager for the team.[135]

On 18 May 2012, Molde gave Aston Villa permission to discuss their vacant managerial role with Solskjær, following the sacking of Alex McLeish.[136] However, Solskjær decided to remain with Molde to avoid disrupting his family after they had settled back in Norway.[137]

On 11 November 2012, Solskjær's team, Molde, won the Tippeligaen for the second consecutive year after they beat Hønefoss 1–0, whilst their closest title challengers, Strømsgodset lost 2–1 away to Sandnes Ulf.[138]

In 2013, Molde suffered a tough season opening with only 7 points in the first eleven matches. Under the guidance of Solskjær, Molde managed to recover and at the end of the season the team finished in sixth place with 44 points in 30 matches. On 24 November 2013, Molde beat Rosenborg 4–2 in the 2013 Norwegian Football Cup Final to win the Norwegian Football Cup for the third time in the club's history, thus securing a place in the 2014–15 Europa League qualifiers.[139][140]

Cardiff CityEdit

 
Solskjær as Cardiff City manager in 2014

On 2 January 2014, Solskjær was announced as manager of Cardiff City.[141] He won his first game in charge after coming from behind to beat Newcastle United 2–1 in the third round of the FA Cup two days later.[142] Cardiff then struggled for points and after defeats against Swansea City,[143] Hull City,[144] Crystal Palace[145] and Sunderland,[146] were relegated back to the Championship following a 3–0 away defeat to Newcastle.[147] At the end of the season, Cardiff finished 20th, collecting only 7 wins and 30 points. He departed on 18 September 2014 following Cardiff City's poor run of form at the start of the Championship campaign.[148][149]

Return to MoldeEdit

On 21 October 2015, Solskjær returned to Molde, signing a three-and-a-half-year contract to become their new manager.[150] His first match back in charge was the next day, with Molde defeating Celtic 3–1 at home in the Europa League group stage.[151] His first game in the league was a 2–1 away win against Aalesunds on 25 October.[152] He won the next, and final, two games of the 2015 Tippeligaen against Viking and Start, with Molde finishing in sixth.[153][154] Meanwhile, in the Europe League group stage, Solskjær guided Molde to first place, ahead of Fenerbahçe, Ajax and Celtic.[155] On 14 December, Molde was drawn against the title holders and eventual champions Sevilla in the Round of 32.[156] Molde lost the away leg 3–0 on 18 February 2016 but won the home leg 1–0 on 25 February, getting knocked-out 3–1 on aggregate.[157][158]

The 2016 Tippeligaen started fairly well for Solskjær with Molde winning seven, drawing three and losing two games in the first 12 matches with Molde sitting in second place. However a bad stretch of form followed with Molde failing to win their next six games, losing five of them – including a 3–1 defeat to league leaders Rosenborg on 28 May 2016.[159] Molde then won the next four games, including a 4–2 victory over Odd on 21 August with two goals coming in stoppage time from substitutes Tobias Svendsen and Harmeet Singh.[160] In Solskjær's first full season back as manager, Molde finished fifth in the league after losing on the final day of the season 1–0 to Lillestrøm.[161]Molde's initial form under Solskjær in the 2017 Eliteserien was mixed with the club winning their first two matches – including a stoppage time winner against Lillestrøm on 5 April 2017[162] – but after that they only won one of their next seven games leaving Molde in tenth. Form improved however with Molde only losing just once in the next nine games, winning six including two 3–0 victories against Tromsø and Aalesund, bringing the club up to third place.[163][164] After losing the next two matches, Molde went unbeaten for the next seven games, winning six with two last minute victories against Odd and Vålerenga – seeing Molde go second.[165][166] Solskjær reached the semi-final of the Norwegian Football Cup on 17 August after a 2–1 victory over Kristiansund.[167] The match took place on 21 September with Molde losing 3–0 to Lillestrøm, who went on to win the Cup.[168] Solskjær helped Molde finish second his in third season, seven points behind winners Rosenborg, seeing the club qualify for the first qualification round of the Europa League.[169][170]

The 2018 Eliteserien was Molde's best year under Solskjær since his return, starting the season with three wins against Sandefjord, Haugesund and Tromsø sending Molde top.[171][172][173] After a 4–0 defeat against Rosenborg on 8 April 2018,[174] Molde's form began to vary with the club getting only three wins in the next eight matches leaving the club in eighth. However Solskjær oversaw Molde go undefeated over the next five games including: a 4–0 away win over Brann on 1 July;[175] a 5–1 victory against Vålerenga on 8 July;[176] and a 5–1 win against Brann on 12 August.[177] On 11 July, Molde played away against Northern Irish side Glenavon in the first qualifying round of the Europa League, losing 2–1.[178] Molde won the return leg 5–1 on 19 July, sending them through to the next qualification round.[179] Molde were then drawn against Albanian team Laçi, beating them 5–0 on aggregate.[180][181] For the third qualifying round, Molde faced Hibernian over who Solskjær led his team to a 3–0 win on aggregate.[182][183] Molde were drawn against Russian side Zenit St. Petersburg on 6 August,[184] who they faced on 23 August with Molde losing 3–1 away.[185] Solskjær's Molde won the return leg on 30 August 2–1 but it was not enough as Molde were knocked out 4–3 on aggregate.[186] After suffering defeats in the league to Stabæk and Ranheim at the end of August,[187][188] Solskjær led his side undefeated for the rest of the season – winning eight out of ten. His best win in this run was against title challengers Rosenborg on 30 September, who Solskjær beat 1–0.[189] Despite this it was not enough as Molde finished the league in second place, five points behind winners Rosenborg. On 3 December 2018, Molde announced that Solskjær extended his contract till the end of the 2021 season.[190]

Manchester UnitedEdit

Manchester United appointed Solskjær as caretaker manager on 19 December 2018, taking over from José Mourinho for the rest of the 2018–19 season.[3] He was scheduled to return to Molde in May 2019, with his assistant coach Erling Moe acting as caretaker manager during Solskjær's absence in the pre-season and the first matches of the 2019 Eliteserien, which is scheduled to start on 31 March 2019.[191] Solskjær later suggested that he would need to sign a new contract with Molde if he were to return,[192] but this was refuted by Molde director Øystein Neerland, who expected Solskjær to return to Molde at the end of the English season.[193]

Solskjær's first match was against his former club, Cardiff City, on 22 December 2018, with United finishing as 5–1 winners.[194] This was the first time United had scored five or more goals in a Premier League game since a 5–5 draw with West Bromwich Albion in Ferguson's final game in charge before his retirement in May 2013.[195] Victories in his next four league games made Solskjær the first Manchester United manager to win his first five league games in charge since Sir Matt Busby in 1946.[196] The league winning streak was ended at six (eight in all competitions, including FA Cup wins over Reading at home and away at Arsenal) after United played out a 2–2 draw at home to Burnley on 29 January.[197] Solskjær's successful first full month as Manchester United manager resulted in him being named as the Premier League Manager of the Month for January 2019, during which time his team earned 10 points from a possible 12 in the league, making him the first Manchester United manager to win the award since Ferguson in October 2012 and the first Norwegian to be named either Player or Manager of the Month.[198] Two consecutive away wins in the league against Leicester City and Fulham gave United six consecutive away victories in all competitions for the first time since May 2009. Having picked up 25 points since taking over, Solskjaer earned more points than any other manager has managed in his first nine games in charge of a single club in the Premier League.[199] A 3–1 win at Crystal Palace on 28 February 2019 set a club record of eight consecutive away victories in all competitions.[200]

The UEFA Champions League saw Solskjær suffer his first loss as manager, as United were beaten 2–0 at home to Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of their round of 16 tie on 12 February.[201] In the second leg at the Parc des Princes three weeks later, a Marcus Rashford penalty in the 94th minute gave Manchester United a 3–1 win, sending them through to the quarter-finals on away goals and making them the first team in the history of the European Cup to advance after losing the first leg at home by two goals or more.[202]

On 28 March 2019, having won 14 of his 19 matches in charge, Solskjær signed a three-year contract to take over as Manchester United manager on a permanent basis.[5]

Personal lifeEdit

During his time in England, Solskjær lived in Bramhall with his wife, Silje, and their three children, Noah, Karna and Elijah. He has admitted that he is not his son Noah's favourite player – his former United teammate Wayne Rooney is,[203] while drawing inspiration from Michael Carrick.[204] Noah is also a footballer, who plays as a midfielder for Kristiansund BK and made his professional debut in a friendly against Ole's Manchester United side in July 2019.[205]

On 24 October 2008, Solskjær was awarded the First Class Knighthood of the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav by King Harald V of Norway.[206] He was presented with the award in a ceremony the next day in his hometown of Kristiansund.[207] Solskjær is the youngest ever recipient of the knighthood, usually bestowed upon notable members of society in their later years.[208]

In 2009, the Norwegian parliament bestowed upon Solskjær its annual Peer Gynt Prize for his work as worthy ambassador of sport and for his "great social commitment",[209] in a ceremony at Vinstra Hall.[210] The ex-footballer laughingly admitted in the subsequent press conference that he had neither read nor seen the Ibsen play, yet, but now intends to.[211]

In 2010, the Sunday Times Sport Rich List estimated his personal wealth to be around £10 million, making him one of the richest coaches in British football.[212] After he purchased a house in his home town Kristiansund, speculation mounted around whether he would succeed Uwe Rösler as manager for Solskjær's former club Molde.[213]

Career statisticsEdit

ClubEdit

Appearances and goals by club, season and competition
Club Season League National Cup[a] League Cup[b] Europe Other Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Molde[214] 1995 26 20 4 6 4[c] 3 34 29
1996 16 11 4 1 20 12
Total 42 31 8 7 4 3 54 41
Manchester United[215] 1996–97 33 18 3 0 0 0 10[d] 1 0 0 46 19
1997–98 22 6 2 2 0 0 6[d] 1 0 0 30 9
1998–99 19 12 8 1 3 3 6[d] 2 1[e] 0 37 18
1999–2000 28 12 1 0 11[d] 3 6[f] 0 46 15
2000–01 31 10 2 1 2 2 11[d] 0 1[e] 0 47 13
2001–02 30 17 2 1 0 0 15[d] 7 0 0 47 25
2002–03 37 9 2 1 4 1 14[d] 4 57 15
2003–04 13 0 3 0 0 0 2[d] 1 1[g] 0 19 1
2004–05 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2005–06 3 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 5 0
2006–07 19 7 6 2 1 1 6[d] 1 32 11
Total 235 91 30 8 11 7 81 20 9 0 366 126
Career total 277 122 38 15 11 7 85 23 9 0 420 167
  1. ^ Includes Norwegian Football Cup and FA Cup
  2. ^ Includes League Cup
  3. ^ Appearances in UEFA Cup Winners' Cup
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Appearances in UEFA Champions League
  5. ^ a b Appearance in FA Charity Shield
  6. ^ One appearance in FA Charity Shield, one appearance in UEFA Super Cup, one appearance in Intercontinental Cup and three appearances in FIFA Club World Championship
  7. ^ Appearance in FA Community Shield

InternationalEdit

Source:[216]
Appearances and goals by national team and year
National team Year Apps Goals
Norway 1995 2 1
1996 6 3
1997 2 1
1998 9 3
1999 8 5
2000 10 1
2001 7 3
2002 9 2
2003 7 2
2004 2 0
2006 4 2
2007 1 0
Total 67 23

International goalsEdit

Ole Gunnar Solskjær international goals[217]
# Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1 26 November 1995 Kingston, Jamaica   Jamaica 1–1 Draw Friendly
2 27 March 1996 Windsor Park, Belfast, Northern Ireland   Northern Ireland 2–0 Win Friendly
3 2 June 1996 Ullevaal Stadion, Oslo, Norway   Azerbaijan 5–0 Win 1998 FIFA World Cup qualification
4
5 30 April 1997 Ullevaal Stadion, Oslo, Norway   Finland 1–1 Draw 1998 FIFA World Cup qualification
6 25 March 1998 King Baudouin Stadium, Brussels, Belgium   Belgium 2–2 Draw Friendly
7 27 May 1998 Molde Stadion, Molde, Norway   Saudi Arabia 6–0 Win Friendly
8
9 27 March 1999 Olympic Stadium, Athens, Greece   Greece 2–0 Win UEFA Euro 2000 qualification
10
11 28 April 1999 Boris Paichadze National Stadium, Tbilisi, Georgia   Georgia 4–1 Win UEFA Euro 2000 qualification
12 8 September 1999 Ullevaal Stadion, Oslo, Norway   Slovenia 4–0 Win UEFA Euro 2000 qualification
13 9 October 1999 Daugava Stadium, Riga, Lavia   Latvia 2–1 Win UEFA Euro 2000 qualification
14 27 May 2000 Ullevaal Stadion, Oslo, Norway   Slovakia 2–0 Win Friendly
15 24 March 2001 Ullevaal Stadion, Oslo, Norway   Poland 2–3 Defeat 2002 FIFA World Cup qualification
16 28 March 2001 Dinamo Stadium, Minsk, Belarus   Belarus 1–2 Defeat 2002 FIFA World Cup qualification
17 15 August 2001 Ullevaal Stadion, Oslo, Norway   Turkey 1–1 Draw Friendly
18 14 May 2002 Ullevaal Stadion, Oslo, Norway   Japan 3–0 Win Friendly
19 22 May 2002 Aspmyra Stadion, Bodø, Norway   Iceland 1–1 Draw Friendly
20 2 April 2003 Stade Josy Barthel, Luxembourg City, Luxembourg   Luxembourg 2–0 Win UEFA Euro 2004 qualification
21 11 June 2003 Ullevaal Stadion, Oslo, Norway   Romania 1–1 Draw UEFA Euro 2004 qualification
22 2 September 2006 Szusza Ferenc Stadion, Budapest, Hungary   Hungary 4–1 Win UEFA Euro 2008 qualification
23

Managerial statisticsEdit

As of match played 22 September 2019[218]
Managerial record by team and tenure
Team From To Record
P W D L Win %
Molde 9 November 2010 2 January 2014 125 69 25 31 055.2
Cardiff City 2 January 2014 18 September 2014 30 9 5 16 030.0
Molde 21 October 2015 28 March 2019 118 66 19 33 055.9
Manchester United 19 December 2018 Present 36 19 6 11 052.8
Total 309 163 55 91 052.8

HonoursEdit

As a playerEdit

Clausenengen

Manchester United

As a managerEdit

Manchester United Reserves

Molde

IndividualEdit

ReferencesEdit

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