Peter Schmeichel with the Manchester United Foundation.

Schmeichel: Ole came up smelling of roses

Manchester United great Peter Schmeichel believes Ole Gunnar Solskjaer proved his managerial ability during the goalless draw with Liverpool at Old Trafford, and says that was the moment he was convinced his fellow Treble winner was the right man for the job.

The Norwegian, who has been confirmed as permanent manager on a three-year contract, was tested by injuries to key players during the 0-0 stalemate and has since, of course, masterminded an amazing turnaround against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League knockout stages. 

Schmeichel, who will be returning to Old Trafford on 26 May as part of the Treble Reunion fixture against Bayern Munich, admits his former team-mate is showing he can handle anything that is thrown at him.

#TrebleReunion: Watch our Schmeichel interviewVideo

“I think he’s doing very well,” Schmeichel told MUTV, during a recent visit with Manchester United Foundation to Elm Wood Primary School in Middleton. “He’s grabbed his opportunity and it’s been easier for him than other managers because he was announced as temporary manager.

“It gives you the opportunity to go and let the players do their job. He didn’t have to be so careful and cautious as it didn’t matter if he loses a game. It didn’t really, as he was only there temporarily. Of course, he put himself in the position where I can’t see anyone being in a better position than him.

”Therefore, you look at how does he react and Liverpool was a God-send for him, in so far as what happened. I don’t think any manager has ever been faced with a player being injured in the first minutes and then preparing the substitutes but, before you make a sub, you’ve made three substitutions for other players to come in.

”That happened to Ole and he had to make decisions like that but still gets it right. There was a lot of preparation going into the game and how he approached it and this is our plan, but it went out of the window in one minute or so. He still got it perfectly right. And he came out of that game, for me, smelling of roses.

”If I needed more convincing, for me, that was it. It was great to get a draw there with the problems we had in that game. We had chances and, when I look back, we should have won the game but that’s nothing against Ole. I thought he did fantastic in the way he regrouped the players and was brave enough to put [Andreas] Pereira in. He hadn’t even warmed up. The team didn’t look too different, if you know what I’m saying.

Look who's returning to Old TraffordVideo

”You wondered can they play without [Nemanja] Matic, but they’ve got [Scott] McTominay in there. Matic is a different type of player but, in this one game, you couldn’t see the difference. I think that comes down to the manager and how he prepares the players and how he works with them, plus how he takes care of everyone to make sure they know what is required.

“He knows what he needs from them. In this very short period he’s been manager, it’s so evident he works on the players’ strengths.

Peter Schmeichel in Middleton.
Peter Schmeichel answers pupils' questions at a primary school in Middleton.

The backroom staff have helped bring a United feel to the dug-out and Schmeichel believes it is this strong team ethic that is helping to bring the best out of the players on the pitch.

”It does feel like a united unit with a United team,” he said. “That is something that makes me very happy.

”In many ways, Ole was an unexpected candidate who has gone there and put so much Manchester United back into it. Mike Phelan coming back is a great decision as he trusts him. Michael Carrick, again, is a Manchester United great, so he’s there and you can just see Ole makes the decisions but not without talking to these guys.

“This is what the club needs now. Seriously, we need a good injection of Manchester United culture into that part of the club and, from 22 December [with the win at Cardiff City] to now, it’s a very short period of time, I think it’s very, very clear the effect of doing that and what it can do to the team.”

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