Manchester United appoint Solksjaer as permanent manager

Former United striker turned club's season around reviving its bid for a top-four finish in the English Premier League.

    Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: "This is the job that I always dreamed of doing." [File:  Catherine Ivill/Getty Images]
    Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: "This is the job that I always dreamed of doing." [File: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images]

    Manchester United hired Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as its permanent manager on Thursday as a reward for leading the team to 14 wins in 19 games in his impressive interim spell.

    The former United striker has turned the club's season around after replacing Jose Mourinho as coach on December 19.

    He has led the team into the Champions League quarterfinals and also revived its bid for a top-four finish in the English Premier League.

    More than that, he has the team playing in an attractive style while also lifting the gloom that lingered at the club in the final months of Mourinho's tenure.

    Solskjaer accepted a new three-year contract.

    "This is the job that I always dreamed of doing," he said, "and I'm beyond excited to have the chance to lead the club long-term and hopefully deliver the continued success that our amazing fans deserve."

    When Solskjaer was appointed on a temporary deal, United was sixth in the league and 11 points off fourth place — the last spot to gain automatic qualification for next season's Champions League. Now United is in fifth place but only two points behind fourth-placed Arsenal, after losing just one of its 13 league games under Solskjaer.

    In the Champions League, United beat Paris Saint-Germain over two legs in the last 16 and next faces Barcelona.

    "Since coming in as caretaker manager in December, the results Ole has delivered speak for themselves," said Ed Woodward, United executive vice chairman.

    "More than just performances and results, Ole brings a wealth of experience, both as a player and as a coach, coupled with a desire to give young players their chance and a deep understanding of the culture of the club.

    "This all means that he is the right person to take Manchester United forward."

    'Felt at home'

    Samuel Luckhurst, a Manchester United football writer for the Manchester Evening News, said that Solskjaer's appointment by the club had been a matter of when, rather than if, during the last couple of months.

    "Timing of Solskjaer announcement a decent PR move by #mufc, given they're backing the new United manager after successive defeats," he wrote on Twitter.

    Solskajer said almost immediately that he wanted the United job on a full-time basis, having played for the English club from 1996-2007 and scored 126 goals in 266 appearances. His most famous goal was his late winner in the 1999 Champions League final.

    "From the first day I arrived, I felt at home at this special club," Solskjaer said. "It was an honor to be a Manchester United player, and then to start my coaching career here. The last few months have been a fantastic experience."

    Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino was widely regarded as the frontrunner to replace Mourinho, but United's results under Solskjaer meant the Norwegian quickly became the favourite. The team won its first eight games under Solskjaer and didn't lose until its 12th game under him.

    Solskajer can begin planning for the future as he looks to win the Premier League with United, which hasn't been English champion since 2013, the last year of Alex Ferguson.

    Former Manchester United forward Dwight Yorke said on Thursday Solskjaer has "brought the best" out of the Old Trafford club.

    "Now we are seeing the real potential of our players," he said, speaking at the launch of the International Champions Cup (ICC), China. "I think going forward next season, I feel like these players will see the real Manchester United Football Club back at the top of the Premier League next year."

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies