Ole hopes 'old-fashioned no.9s' will return

Sunday 14 March 2021 08:00

The evolution of football means that positions are constantly changing and Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer moves with the times, assembling a squad that is tactically flexible, although the Norwegian admits there is one particular role he wishes to bring back.

In a fascinating Q&A with supporters that has been published this weekend – part one on Saturday and part two today – the boss speaks fondly about 'old-fashioned no.9s' who can provide a strong focal point up front, like he often did as a centre-forward in his goal-laden career. 

Solskjaer has assembled an excellent group of strikers this season, of course, in Edinson Cavani, Mason Greenwood, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford, who all wield different strengths and qualities. The competition for places between them is something that has really benefitted the group this campaign, to Ole's delight.

In response to a question from Manni C in the United Kingdom, who asks which positions have changed the most since he stopped playing, Solskajer says: “Good question Manni, that deserves a very long answer because all positions in football have changed. 

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...

“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 so have the demands on everyone, tactically and technically. Every player has to be spot on now in today's modern football.”
When all of the players are fit, the manager has a difficult job in choosing which of them should start and that selection process for all positions is also discussed in part two of his fan Q&A. 

Asked by Olanrewaju I from Nigeria about the right times to bring a player in our take them out, the boss answers: “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? 
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…

“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.”