The caretaker boss says he can be tough when he needs to be and will not back down if he has to bring Paul Pogba and company into line
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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has insisted that he will not be afraid to lay down the law to his Manchester United players, warning them that he is ready to replicate Sir Alex Ferguson’s infamous ‘hairdryer’ treatment if necessary.
The new caretaker manager, who leads his side to former club Cardiff City on Saturday, takes over a United squad which came across as fractured under previous boss Jose Mourinho, with Paul Pogba in particular having enjoyed a frosty relationship with the Portuguese.
And while the 45-year-old is known for his pleasant, amiable demeanour, he says he won’t think twice about calling a player to task in the style of his legendary former boss when the situation demands it.
“We’re all different in how we manage people, and [Sir Alex] was different to every individual,” Solskjaer told the media on Friday.
“Maybe I should get the hairdryer out of my pocket, because I’ve got a hairdryer! When my hair needs lifting I use it on myself, but I’m also not afraid of laying down the law.
“You treat players similar to how you treat your kids really because you want the best for them, you want to guide them, you want to help them, but if I get disappointed… ask [my kids] or some of the players I’ve had in Molde… You have to tell them the standards we’ve got.”
He added that while the likes of Pogba have huge profiles these days, the power continues to rest in the manager’s office.
“I’m not sure that the power has gone to the dressing room. Football’s evolving of course, and the gaffer [Ferguson] was in charge of more or less the whole club.
“Football is developing, the structure of the club has developed, but the power is with the manager… He picks the team, he picks the tactics, the strategy, the philosophy is in these walls.
“So that legacy is more important than any player power, because I have to say being a part of Man United and being a Man United player is a privilege. And I think all of them want to succeed here.”
Solskjaer managed Pogba during the Norwegian’s stint as United’s reserve-team coach and previously claimed he would build the team around the Frenchman if given the opportunity.
And while the midfielder was drawn to quickly remove a social media post on Tuesday which seemed to revel in Mourinho’s sacking, the new boss says Pogba is well aware of what is expected of him going forward.
“We’ve spoken about what we expect, what standards we have on and off the pitch. You prepare for every game, I trust the lads to know what they’re doing to help the team. Everything we do is to help the team.
“I’m not into this social media, my kids are! I am that old that I’m not on Twitter and Facebook – maybe Facebook’s old now! – but it’s just common sense for me that I’ve spoken to him about that.
“We can move this forward, and we have one target: that we succeed. And we do that as a team.
“He’s a World Cup winner, Paul’s a terrific lad. When I had him as a kid as well, he was always the happy-go-lucky lad and he’s not changed personality-wise.
“He’s a better player, and of course he’s one I want to get the best out of. You have so many quality players that I want to try to get the best out of and he’s no different to anybody else.”
United’s fixture at Cardiff, their first under Solskjaer, gets underway on Saturday.