Take risks, but be a team player – Solskjaer lays out demands to United stars

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants his players to enjoy playing for Manchester United, but will not accept less than full commitment to the team.

Paul Pogba (L) and Anthony Martial weren't Jose Mourinho's favourites and could find a new lease of life under interim manager Ole Solskjaer.   -  Getty Images

Interim manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has made it clear that he wants Manchester United to fearless football but has also warned his players that they must embrace a team-first mentality.

The former Red Devils forward has taken charge as interim boss until the end of the season following Jose Mourinho's departure this week.

Much of Mourinho's final few months in charge was dominated by talk of arguments with players including Paul Pogba and Alexis Sanchez, while he also appeared to question the mentality of younger stars such as Jesse Lingard and Luke Shaw.

Pogba was dropped to the bench for Mourinho's final three Premier League games in charge and did not even come on as a substitute in the 3-1 loss to Liverpool.

Solskjaer, who became something of a famous 'super sub' during his successful playing career at Old Trafford, has made it clear that all his squad will get a chance to impress during the busy Christmas schedule and wants them to approach every match with the sort of mentality that became common in Alex Ferguson's time at the club.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer replaces Jose Mourinho as Manchester United's manager.   -  Getty Images

 

"My job is to help the players and make them grasp the opportunity," he told a news conference. "They all want to be part of Man United. It's down to man management. I had the best manager, to learn how he dealt with people. It's about communication.

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"I'll sit down and speak to the ones not playing and [tell them] what I expect of them. There are a set of demands and one of them is to be a team player. I don't think anyone has been on the bench more than me!

"You might come on and make an impact. Grab your chance when you get it. They all will get a chance.

"It's about getting every player to their very best, speaking to them, getting your principles through. No matter what team you're coaching, they all want to have a picture of how you want to play. These are quality players and it's easy to get them to express themselves.

"At Man United, you play without fear. I've had the best [manager for that]: go out, express yourselves, take risks. His last game, the 5-5 at West Brom, was almost the perfect end for him. I want the players to be the kids that love to play football and go out in front of the best fans in the world. Good players are easier to coach than bad players."

Solskjaer, who says he has already spoken with Ferguson about his appointment, believes his old boss was the ideal mentor for his coaching career.

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"He's influenced me with everything," he said. "The way he dealt with people, the way he was the manager of the club, how he kept 25 international players happy and hungry, wanting to improve, but also the staff in and around the place.

Alex Ferguson and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.   -  Getty Images

 

"He's been my mentor. I didn't understand early on that he'd been my mentor. Ever since my injury in 2003 at least, I was making all the notes on what he did in certain situations. I've already been in touch with him because there's no one better to get advice from."

Solskjaer is preparing his side to face Cardiff City on Saturday, a match that Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez appear likely to miss due to injury problems.

With the gap to the top four standing at 11 points, the former Norway international is unwilling to lay down any targets for the rest of the season.

"First game, I think about getting my principles into the boys, get the players to understand how I want them to play and how we want to play as a team and let's take the results later on," he said. "This club has made up many, many points before but I'm not going to set that target."