Exclusive: Second half of Ole's international Q&A

Sunday 14 March 2021 09:00

Manchester United fans from across the globe have submitted some excellent questions to manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

On Saturday, we published part one of the exclusive Q&A as the manager discussed pre-match rituals, signing Roy Keane or Cristiano Ronaldo, his dream five-a-side team and much more 

Here, in the second half of the interview, conducted at the Aon Training Complex on Friday, Solskjaer speaks openly about media scrutiny, the evolution of positions, the art of man-management and even player nicknames in the squad. 

Without further ado, here's how our manager answered your questions... 

Available now: Part two of Solskjaer’s fan Q&A Video

Available now: Part two of Solskjaer’s fan Q&A

🇳🇴 Answering another nine fan questions, Ole reveals all on nicknames, his daily routine & the art of man-management…

Victor O, from Nigeria | Were you called the Baby-faced Assassin back in Norway or just at United? And how do you feel about the nickname? 
“I think, Victor, that’s more the name in England. In Norway, it wasn’t… There was other nicknames for me there, so it was here. Now, when I’m getting closer to 50, I don’t mind that, I’d like to stay as young for as long as possible. But when I was playing, I didn’t mind. I know deep down that I’ve made an impact and people were a little bit afraid of me.”

Kuna C, from Singapore | Thank you for doing a great job at United. Could you share your daily routine from the time you get out of bed until the end of the day?
"Hi Kuna. Obviously I have got kids as well so I get them ready for school, the school run. At the moment, actually, Elia is back home in Norway so I don't get that routine. But you drive straight to the training ground, we report here with the coaches, we have a little discussion about the training session, about training yesterday, who is fit, who we can use for training, what we are going to do. We have a good canteen here so I have some breakfast. Then we are all prepared and everything is ready, the players start coming in, half an hour to 45 minutes before the first meeting. I go to speak with a few of them. Normally we have a meeting before the training session. Then the training session, we debrief that one, discuss what was good and what was not so good, have lunch and then we sit for a few hours discussing the next team we are playing against, starting to find the team that we are going to go for. So every day is about improving the players and improving the team."

Manni C, from UK | What position do you think has evolved the most since you stopped playing?
"Good question Mani, that deserves a very long answer because all positions in football have changed. Obviously the keeper's position has changed a lot, I feel, and many teams build up more and more from the back. The keeper has to have good distribution, good tactical knowledge, along with the two centre-backs that you want to play out with, because you want to draw the pressure onto you. The centre-forward changes a lot. There used to be a traditional no.9 who was big and strong, and more teams used to play in 4-4-2 with two strikers, and many, many teams play with one striker and a no.10 now. So, probably, the keeper has changed the most but I would say I hope to get a good old traditional no.9 back. I was a centre-forward and I like a focal point that you play through, so the centre-forward position has changed very, very much, but also have the demands on everyone, tactically and technically. Every player has to be spot on now in today's modern football."

Aneek G, from India | Which player does Bruno remind you of the most from your playing or coaching days at United?
"Hi Aneek. Bruno has the attributes of many of my team-mates, I feel. Part of it is Juan Sebastian Veron, part of it is Paul Scholes, part of it is Eric Cantona, so those are probably the three players. He has their attributes as a leader and a winner."

Olanrewaju I, from Nigeria | One of your major strengths is obviously man-management. How do you decide the right time to leave a player out or bring in an improving player who hasn’t been playing?
"Good question. I like to work with people, I like to learn about their personalities, what kind of human being they are, and then of course in that you find out what triggers them. Are they strong, do you give them tough love, do you give them an arm around the shoulder? I always think that players learn more from doing and playing, so I like to give them opportunities but then once in a while you have to leave them out, maybe to freshen up their legs and get their fitness back, but also maybe to take them away from the pressure to sit back and think about it themselves. Because I cannot help them if they can't help themselves. They need to find the solutions. It is impossible to spoon feed the players, they have to have that drive themselves. The times you leave them out, I think all managers and coaches are the same - it is a signal that we need more from you, or we want you to take a little step back and reflect on what you are doing at the moment, and then come back stronger."

Essential viewing: Part one of Ole's fan Q&A Video

Essential viewing: Part one of Ole's fan Q&A

🚨 Stop scrolling, set aside eight minutes and watch how Ole answers 10 random fan questions from around the world...

Nick, from the USA | Hey, Ole. When you moved from a player to a manager, what mindsets or skills did you directly carry over to coaching? And what aspects did you have to modify, given your extensive playing history?
"Good question. For me, it was a quick transition from being a player to a coach. I got injured, told the manager I needed an operation, and he said: 'Oh, why don't you come and coach the forwards in the first team?' So it was a quick transition for me. He gave me two or three weeks to get my head around it - my new role - and then I got into trying to improve the players. Of course, I tried to use all my experience from how I was thinking as a player when trying to improve the players. Then you go more into management, which requires a different skillset. You don't go out and coach every single one, every day, so now you're trying to learn the triggers to improve everyone. It's a very good question and it deserves a bigger and a longer answer, but what I learned from Sir Alex, as well, I try to bring with me and pass on to my players."

Misan, from the USA | How do you cope with any negativity directed towards you in the press?
"No problem at all, because I know when we play well, I know when we play badly. I know if I've done the preparation that I should have done. So the criticism, that doesn't affect me at all. Absolutely no problem at all. It's our performances – and not so much bad results – but bad performances is what affects me the most. Because it makes us, as a coaching staff, a managing group... it makes us sit back and think: how can we improve the team more? Because we all work every single day to improve the team and we see the improvement but, once in a while when we get a disappointment, you [ask] 'Do we change what we're doing? Or do we just believe what we're doing?' So the criticism is no problem. I don't care about that. We know ourselves when we've done well or bad."

UTD Unscripted: Father and son


As we celebrate Constitution Day, revisit Ole's amazing long read from February about his childhood in Norway.

Rahul, from the USA | How do you bridge the language barriers between players? With players from all around the world, how do you make sure that your words convey the right intent in the right tone?
"Good question again! Of course [it helps] being predominantly English-speaking myself - for a Norwegian! I speak Norwegian to Victor [Lindelof]. Norwegian-Swedish, that's the same, so that's not a problem. I think my English is good enough. Then we have Martyn [Pert, strength and conditioning specialist], who speaks Portuguese. [He's] married to a Brazilian girl, so he speaks Portuguese. We have French players that we can communicate with easily, because most of them speak English anyway. I feel that we have a common language and that we understand each other, but sometimes, yeah, you need to go through maybe Martyn to speak to Edinson [Cavani] and sometimes maybe Fred and Alex [Telles], if you really want to get your point across in their mother tongue. Martyn's been a very good help in that respect, and I've picked up a little bit of Spanish here and there, so I think we can understand each other."

Ben, in Ireland | As we've already heard, you have nicknames for some of your players, like Rashy and DJ. Are there any nicknames that we haven't heard about too much?
"[Laughs] Yeah, nicknames! I could talk about McTominay or James or Tuanzebe or Matic. For me, I like to speak to them as who they are. They're not their surname. For me, it's important that we find an easier way to communicate, and I've had coaches myself [as a player] that have said your surname and it feels like so distanced. Yeah, you need a distance, but you still feel that we're in this together and you treat them like your kids really, and you want the best for them. When I say 'Scotty' everyone knows it's Scott, or DJ. I just use what the other lads use, really. I don't have a special nickname for any one of them. Who would have a nickname that other fans wouldn't know about? I think you know the fans create the nicknames, and maybe that goes along into the playing group. I can't really see that there's any unknown nicknames, no. You tell me differently, because I don't read too much in the social media, but from what I see it's Shawy for Luke. That's probably well known I would think. Everyone likes to have their nickname. Some have an easier name so David, for example, that's a very nice simple name. Ole... when I played, it was a simple name. But we're good at naming and giving nicknames in England, I have to say."

Highlights from part one of Ole's fan Q&A: