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Peter Schmeichel cannot see beyond Solskjaer for permanent Manchester United job

Peter Schmeichel cannot see beyond Solskjaer for permanent Manchester United job
© Reuters
Solskjaer is due to return to Norwegian club Molde after his United caretaker stint.

Peter Schmeichel cannot see beyond Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for the Manchester United job after he came up “smelling of roses” when faced with even the most unusual circumstances during his striking caretaker stint.

If eyebrows were raised when United turned to the 1999 treble hero in December, that sense of surprise has only continued given the way the 46-year-old has improved style and substance since replacing Jose Mourinho.

Solskjaer’s temporary role is due to end in the summer but few expect him to return to Norwegian club Molde as planned, with bookmakers’ odds shortening as on-field momentum grows along with public backers.

Schmeichel is among the supporters of his former team-mate, with the ex-United goalkeeper delighted to see someone with history and understanding of “the pedigree of Man United” at the helm again.

“He must be top candidate now,” he told Press Association Sport.

“I think with Ole it is kind of a free ride because he’s only there on a temporary basis, but he’s proven – and the Liverpool game was key for me – that his way of thinking, he’s a top, top, top manager.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has done a sterling job as interim boss
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has done a sterling job as interim boss (Martin Rickett/PA)

“I mean, we were trying to think about a game where three, actually four, players get injured in the first 25 minutes and you have to regroup.

“I can’t remember anyone ever being faced with that challenge and I thought he came out of that smelling of roses.”

Sunday’s 0-0 draw against Premier League leaders Liverpool was followed by injury-hit United impressively winning 3-1 at Crystal Palace on Wednesday.

That was a club-record eighth successive away win in all competitions, continuing a remarkable start to life at the helm that shows little sign of abating.

“I didn’t even see the announcement of Ole coming – it was a really big surprise that they picked him,” Schmeichel said, perhaps nodding to someone like Laurent Blanc.

“I thought they’d go somewhere else. You know, some of the former players who have had bigger clubs – who have been at the club but are from different, other parts of Europe.

“It was kind of a clever move because Ole’s worked with (Paul) Pogba, he’s worked with (Jesse) Lingard when they were in the reserves and they have huge respect for Ole. Everyone has huge respect for Ole.

Paul Pogba and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after beating Palace on Wednesday
Paul Pogba and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after beating Palace on Wednesday (John Walton/PA)

“His potential as a coach was very, very (clear) early on. It was very clear he would be a very good coach.”

Schmeichel caught up with Solskjaer after Sunday’s match against Liverpool at Old Trafford, where it has been confirmed the goalkeeper will return on May 26 to play in the Treble Reunion match.

The Dane will don his gloves for the United’s ‘99 Legends team against Bayern Munich Legends in the match raising funds for the Manchester United Foundation, exactly 20 years to the day since lifting the Champions League trophy in Barcelona.

Solskjaer scored the last-gasp winner that night at the Nou Camp and is now back at United in a key role, just as Schmeichel has suggested he would like to be.

Peter Schmeichel was a key part of the 1999 Champions League win
Peter Schmeichel was a key part of the 1999 Champions League win (Phil Noble/PA)

United are looking for a director of football as well as a manager and the 55-year-old said in December that he was “considering if I have the qualities” to fill that role ahead of a potential application in the New Year.

Schmeichel has confirmed he did not actively pursue the role, but it is clear he would be keen to help the club in whatever role they deemed fit.

“I mean, I’d do anything for this club, of course I’d be silly not to do that, you know? I’d be silly not to say, ‘of course I want to do it’,” he said.

Peter Schmeichel enjoyed a long, successful spell at Manchester United
Peter Schmeichel enjoyed a long, successful spell at Manchester United (Paul Barker/PA)

“Chasing the job, I think it’s different. I think I wouldn’t do that.

“My life and the work I do has great variety and it’s a difficult one to let go, if you know what I’m saying?

“But of course if I was asked to a job for the club, I would. I think we all would and that was basically my answer.”

:: Tickets for the Treble Reunion game are on sale now from £19.99 for adults and just £10 for under 16s. Hospitality packages are available from £99. For more information please visit: www.manutd.com/treblereunion


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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Liverpool31237170185276
2Manchester CityMan City30242479215874
3Tottenham HotspurSpurs30201957322561
4Arsenal30186663392460
5Manchester UnitedMan Utd30177658401858
6Chelsea30176750331757
7Wolverhampton WanderersWolves30128103836244
8Watford30127114244-243
9West Ham UnitedWest Ham31126134146-542
10Leicester CityLeicester31125144043-341
11Everton31117134342140
12Bournemouth31115154356-1338
13Newcastle UnitedNewcastle3198143140-935
14Crystal Palace3096153641-533
15Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton2996143242-1033
16Southampton3079143450-1630
17Burnley3186173559-2430
18Cardiff CityCardiff3084182757-3028
19Fulham3145222970-4117
20Huddersfield TownHuddersfield3135231857-3914

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