have forever made involuntary emotional concessions to two specific interviewees: mild panic of saying the wrong thing to Sir Alex Ferguson, and a beaming grin whenever I met Ole to chat about the Reserves. He undoubtedly would’ve preferred to skip a few interviews in the last two and a half years – there are only so many ways to cover the frustration of having November, December and January’s fixtures decimated by weather – but every time he was prompt, beaming and armed with a handshake strong enough to floor Hulk Hogan. His dad was a professional wrestler, I suppose.
So it was with great personal sadness that I met him for perhaps the last time this week. Having interviewed him just after he returned from Molde, there’s a clear change in his mood – a perhaps predictable sadness to be leaving behind his life in England after so long here. The five weeks between accepting his new post and leaving his old job is a long goodbye, especially for someone who freely admits that he doesn’t like goodbyes.
Among the things he will miss the most about life in England are his neighbours in Wilmslow, the daily drive into Carrington and, slightly unexpectedly, mince pies. He will be on the phone ‘three or four times a week’ to his Reserves co-manager, Warren Joyce, with whom he has forged a particularly special bond, and he is keeping his house ‘just in case’ the possibility of a managerial return to England arises in the coming years.
He has a clear vision for Molde’s future: overthrowing Rosenborg, winners of 17 of the last 21 Norwegian titles, replicating the family feel and performance culture of Carrington and imparting the same winner’s mentality with which he has been imbued by Sir Alex Ferguson. When he flies back to Norway on Saturday, he’ll unpack a masterplan for domestic dominance and Champions League football – and, given the right tools, he has the ambition and clarity to realise those goals.
We must say goodbye to our legend and release him into his future, but we'll forever have our shared