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'He was always playing the computer game Football Manager'

Phil Neville always felt Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would become a coach.

New full-time Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
New full-time Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

OLE GUNNAR SOLSKJAER’S former Manchester United team-mate Phil Neville knew the Norwegian had the character to become a head coach, not just because of his training, but also his penchant for “always” playing computer game Football Manager.

United confirmed the permanent appointment of Solskjaer on a three-year deal on Thursday, rewarding him for his remarkable impact as caretaker manager.

Solskjaer initially took up that position in December, replacing the sacked Jose Mourinho when United’s chances of a top-four finish looked increasingly bleak.

But, having moved United to within two points of fourth-placed Arsenal, Solskjaer is now at the helm in a permanent capacity.

Neville played with him for nine years at United and often took note of Solskjaer’s interest in a particular football management game.

When asked whether he felt Solskjaer had the personality to be a manager, Neville told United’s website: “Absolutely. I mean, on bus rides and journeys to away games and hotels, he was always playing the computer game Football Manager, that’s been widely spoken about.

I was sat next to him a lot on the bench and he was a student. He understood football. He used to come on in games and get the pace of it straight away.

“He did that because he had great football intelligence. There’s the baby face and, yes, he’s a fantastic person, but there is also a steeliness about him as well.

I think I just love what he has done so far and what he has brought. It feels like I’m watching Manchester United – a club and a team that is enjoying itself, going for it and playing with the DNA of our football club.

“I think his press conferences every week are fantastic. He inspires and is carrying and inspiring a set of supporters who need inspiring.

“Alex [Ferguson] used to say to us: ‘Aim for the moon’, and that is what Ole has brought back to the club.”

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