Manchester United take on Barcelona on Wednesday night in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-finals.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has spoken to ESPN about how heavily Sir Alex Ferguson has influenced him as a manager and the techniques he’s copied from our legendary manager.
When I came back here as the manager I thought a lot about what makes a winning team. What does it really take to win on the biggest stage? I’m not one to sit back, rest on my laurels and think: ‘That was a great time’ — it’s more thinking about what did we do to get there. What did the manager tell us? What kind of master team talks did he have? When did he speak to us? All these little things.
I’m quite lucky because I did write a few diaries. I did think a lot about football so I do have vivid memories of things that happened and I’ve written some things down. Towards the end of my career I was more focused on what the manager said. You learn that there was a pattern to what he was saying. There’s a pattern to how he builds his team up to believe: ‘We are going to make this.’
I’ve used some of his team talks. You’ve got to plan; you can’t just act on emotion. As I got to know him, I realised it’s not just emotion. When he went on one of his hairdryers or when he was hammering people, there was a reason behind what he did. He was maybe pointing at one player so that the 10 others would help him out. He would put his arm around someone or really go hard on someone to really get the best out of them. That’s what I learned from him the most — how he managed to get the best out of every single player.
Solskjaer has also spoken about the winning mentality his team mates had in the 1999 season and what he is doing to try and recreate that with the current players.
We challenged each other every day in training. There were fights and there was an inner justice that I’ve not seen in too many teams. We never, ever accepted anyone being below par in training. We kicked each other and we had to win every single day. That moved over into games and we never gave in. There was an unbelievable team spirit.
I want my players to really push each other and demand 100 percent attitude from each other every single day. That’s the only way you can improve and it’s the only way you can win. We had something special. It’s a different group now and the challenge is: ‘How can I make these players winners as we were?’