Sir Alex stories: The team talk Ole took from the boss
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admits he learned everything he could about being a manager from Sir Alex Ferguson.
That includes one particular motivational speech which Ole regaled to us on his episode of UTD Podcast.
The Norwegian took us back to 1996, when Sir Alex felt his charges needed a lift after a particularly bad run of form, which had included heavy defeats to Newcastle and Southampton in the Premier League.
At training, the legendary gaffer pulled Ole and his team-mates to one side to deliver a choice message, which Solskjaer later used to great effect himself in his first management job, at Norwegian side Molde.
“I wouldn’t have been a manager if I hadn’t met Sir Alex,” Ole told hosts Sam Homewood, David May and Helen Evans, back in December.
“Of course I’ve learned everything I can about managing people and managing football clubs from him.
“Do you know what he said after we lost 5-0 to Newcastle and we lost to Southampton? He gathered us at The Cliff and he said if there’s any ******** in you then you can take your mortgage and put all the money on yourselves winning the league, because you’ll never get better odds.
“And I thought, wow. So we won the league, but we never put the money on did we?
“I used that trick with Molde when we lost 5-0 to Haugesund away [in 2011], just to give the boys that confidence that we believe in you.
“We went on to win the league for the first time in the club’s 100-year history.”
While Solskjaer is indebted to the lessons he learned from Sir Alex during his playing days, he may have gone down a different route in his post-playing career had it not been for a more direct intervention by Ferguson 11 years later.
In the summer of 2007, the Norwegian had decided against having another knee operation, effectively meaning he would have to retire from football.
Although worried about informing Sir Alex, the manager understood Ole’s choice and extended an invitation that would kickstart the chain of events that led to Solskjaer following in his footsteps in the Old Trafford dugout.
“As I’m parking [at the training groun] he’s coming out and he says: ‘How are you son?’
“Not great, I need another operation. I’m not going to do it, I need to retire.”
“‘Well don’t worry son, you’ve had a fantastic career, your family must be so proud, your last season was fantastic. Why don’t you coach my forwards? Go home for a few weeks and come back when you’re ready,’ he said.
“I went away for three weeks, came back and he integrated me into the first-team set-up and I coached Cristiano [Ronaldo], Wazza [Wayne Rooney], [Carlos] Tevez was there.
“So whenever Cristiano or Wayne scored through the defender’s legs, I nudged [son] Noah and say: 'Your dad taught them that.'”