Fraser Dainton looks at Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's return to Manchester United
Sky Sports News' Fraser Dainton looks at Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's return to Manchester United as Cardiff boss.
Last Updated: 28/01/14 12:01pm
As Ole Gunnar Solskjaer walks in to a crowded press conference at a city-centre hotel in Manchester, he flashes a broad grin as he greets the assembled media.
It's the best part of a decade since I last saw him in the flesh, and aside from a few grey hairs, the assassin is still very much baby-faced.
The big difference now of course, is that he's grown up from player to manager - though it's not a move everyone expected.
"You see certain individuals and you see them become managers because you expect them to," said former team-mate Andy Cole. "You look at someone like Ole, and you never expected him to become a manager. But the way he's gone about his business so far, he's done extremely well."
The word legend is often overused but ask any Manchester United fan about Solskjaer, and that is the word they will invariably come up with.
In 11 years at Old Trafford, he scored 126 goals in 366 games, winning every trophy in the book. His name was indelibly written in to the club's folk-lore in 1999, with a last minute toe-poke in Barcelona, completing the United revival against Bayern Munich to win the Champions League Final, as part of a glorious and unprecedented treble.
Cole continues: "He was a quality finisher. From the bench, he used to watch the game, study the game, and see where he could have an impact, I think that was the key for him. He would come off the bench and have a ridiculous impact."
And now, with more than half the season gone and Cardiff bottom of the Premier League table, Solskjaer once again finds himself being thrown into the game in an effort to see whether he can have an impact.
The new boss is still looking for his first Premier League points - so what chance them coming at the stadium where there's still a banner with his name on at the Stretford end, and where the home fans still sing his name? And how will he keep his feelings for United in check?
"I'm not too emotional," Solskjaer says. "It caught me, an hour or two after the testimonial match I had, because I was so tired! But I will be alright. You get used to the reception by playing there for 11 years, you're used to the crowd. When I'm there, I'm going to be working for 90 minutes."
And then - in homage to his former boss - cheekily adds, "Plus extra time, probably".
Losing four games at home in the Premier League already this season has had many asking whether the fear factor is still there at Old Trafford - but Solskjaer dismisses the idea out of hand.
"Of course it is," he insists. "You're going to the biggest club in the world. I've been part of many defeats at home. So that's not just happened suddenly now, that's been all over their history. I can remember many bad defeats when you go home and you react. That's Man United - they always bounce back and obviously they went out of the League Cup last week to Sunderland, so they're bound to come back and give everyone a response."
Cardiff have not won away win in the league since late September and given such form, there's little expectation on them to win - and the manager wants to turn that lack of pressure to their advantage.
The Norwegian adds: "We're going to go there and put on a performance that we can be proud of, and go home with no regrets. That's all I ask from the players."
That's all Sir Alex Ferguson ever asked of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, and though his time was often limited, he was usually very effective. Cardiff fans will be hoping he can do the same for them.
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