Ole Gunnar Solskjaer celebrates scoring on his Manchester United debut.

The day Solskjaer became an instant United hero

Tuesday 25 August 2020 13:28

It’s exactly 24 years to the day since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made his Manchester United debut, on 25 August 1996.

The unknown Norwegian had joined a few weeks prior and made an instant impression with his team-mates, thanks to his ruthless finishing in training.

However, United fans had to wait for their first glimpses of our new striker in action, with Ole sitting out our opening three games of the 1995/96 campaign.

It was during a clash with Blackburn Rovers that Alex Ferguson first called upon his services, with United trailing 2-1 at Old Trafford.

Watch as former United scout Jim Ryan explains how he spotted a young Solskjaer in 1996.

Within minutes, the future United boss changed the score as he fastened onto Jordi Cruyff’s header, fired a shot at Tim Flowers and then tucked in the rebound, sending the Theatre of Dreams into raptures and earning a well-earned 2-2 draw.

That was the first of 126 goals that Ole scored in a United shirt and one that David May, who Ole was introduced for against Blackburn, remembers well.

“Ole came on and within two or three minutes you knew all about him; he banged it in the back of the net,” recalled Maysie in Monday's episode of MUTV Group Chat.

“It’s so long ago and time’s flown. He was a phenomenal player and if he can get that into the lads now, we’ve got a great manager going forward."

“I remember him extremely well,” Ben Thornley, who was part of our Academy set-up at the time, added. “I think he signed the same day as Ronny [Johnsen] and Jordi Cruyff.

“The first thing that’s hit you is: ‘wow, this guy looks extremely young’, but I think he and Ronny were examples of the brilliant scouting network that Sir Alex had, to be able to bring in players that probably a lot of us had never heard of us.

“But it didn’t take long, whether you played with him or trained with him, to understand what a terrific player he was. Bearing down on goal, on either foot, and he would just smash it.
See how Ole scored on his United debut against Blackburn Rovers on this day in 1996.
“There wasn’t much delicacy about how he finished chances, everything was just through the goalkeeper’s legs, or as close to their legs as he could get it.

“His goals-to-game ratio was extraordinary, with how much he came off the bench. I’d have him up there as one of top-10 finishers in the Premier League era to date. I think he was superb.”

Like Ben, Danny Webber was a coming through the United ranks at the time, and the former striker revealed he studied Ole in an effort to improve his own game.

“I was 14 or 15 in ’96,” Danny recalled. “He looked so young that I thought they’d brought someone in only a few years older than me. But he came in and started doing the business straight away.

“I just remember him doing finishing sessions. I used to sit on the hill at The Cliff and watch him doing his sessions. He didn’t mess around.

“In some sessions people would mess around, try and chip the keeper or curl it. He just would just go: bang, bottom corner, bottom corner, through the keeper’s legs.

“He was just ruthless with his finishing. It was no surprise that when chances came on a Saturday afternoon he was ready. He wasn’t called the baby-faced assassin for nothing!”

Get ready for next season. Our 2020/21 home and away kits are available now from United Direct.