OGS: You know when people get a new job and they say it’s their dream job and they’ve always dreamt about or played for that club or managed a club. That’s more true to me than to anyone. This has been my ultimate dream all the time. Maybe a naive dream, but I’ve always had that dream in my mind to have this responsibility for this huge, fantastic family of a football club and I’m so honoured and privileged to be given this fantastic responsibility to lead us forward.
You’re properly at the wheel. How does it feel? You’ve achieved so much at this football club. How does this rank alongside that?
OGS: I don’t think proud is the right word. I’m happy, I’m honoured, because it’s a fresh start. It’s the start of something new again. Now, the hard work starts. Now, it’s the hard work, the enjoyable work, so it’s not the moment to be proud in that respect.
When Sir Alex Ferguson first took over he vowed to knock Liverpool off their effing perch…
OGS: Did he say that on his first day? I don’t think he did, did he!
Have you got a vow that may come back to haunt you?
OGS: You know, I’m just going to be myself as I’ve always been. I know the expectations of the club, the traditions of the club, the history we’ve got. Of course I want us to be successful. Of course I want us to lift trophies but I can’t wait to get on to the challenge of improving this great bunch of players. It’s a squad full of potential that I’m working with. I have worked with them for three months, or we have have worked for three months, as a staff, as a group. The improvement is there to be seen. We know there’s so much more to come from them. We can see so much more improvement. We see them every day in training and the attitude has been fantastic. But we know we’ve got a way to go. But lifting a trophy, I’m sure we’ll be successful.
OGS: We’ve got a chance, of course we have. It’s going to be tough one. It’s going to be a mountain to climb but we’ve climbed a few mountains before.
You are the permanent man now. What sort of targets have you been set for this season and what discussions have you had with those above with players coming in and what sort of budget you may have?
OGS: When I got the job we were 11 points behind fourth, now we have given ourselves a great chance to be in the top four, and even the top three, so that’s got to be the short-term target in the league. The Premier League is vital for us. And of course we’ve been discussing how to move the club forward. That doesn’t mean we’ve said X amount of money or X amount of players, but we’ve sat down and discussed. But now it’s easier to be clear on what we need to do. We will do some business this summer.
Is finishing in the top four going to shape the short-term future at Manchester United, in terms of having the kudos of being in the Champions League again and being able to bring in a better quality of player?
OGS: Of course. The lure of Champions League football might be important for some players, but to play for Man United, you know if you sign a contract for four or five years, you know you are going to be playing in the Champions League. We are in a great position to get into the Champions League, but that’s not decided until May 12th. We need to get going before then. Hold talks about players, with players, and who’s going to stay here. I still say the same, I love working with these boys, and the improvement has been there. The short-term priority now is to improve. Eight games to go. The next two, a quarter of what’s left of the season, against two fantastically improved teams, Watford and Wolves, so our focus is on those two games. It’s not been easy over the last few days, because all this has been going on, but I have to say my short-term focus is these games.
Have you spoken to Sir Alex since you’ve been confirmed?
OGS: Yeh, I have.
Any chance we can find out what was said?
OGS: I’m not going to discuss what we spoke about but it’s one of the first phone calls you make when things were decided.
Do you hope that your appointment will convince some of the players who you want to keep? Do you think that will convince them to stay?
OGS: You have to ask them. To know who the manager is next season is of course helpful for any player to decide where he wants to play. We’ve got a couple of players who we’re in talks with and hopefully we’ll get their futures sorted.
Everybody round here says the club has changed, almost over night, since you’ve arrived. What do you put that down to? What have you done?
OGS: What we’ve done. It’s about putting a smile on people’s faces. Whether you do it by winning games, or you go and speak to them. It’s creating an an environment everyone wants to be part of, feeling as though they can be their best self. I just want to be the best Ole. That’s the only promise I can give. That’s giving everyone in the club a responsibility and the freedom to be the best of themselves. When you win games, staff will be happy and supporters will be happy, and players will be happy. We were lucky and we were good, so we won the first few games which helped.
Now you’ve got the job full-time do you feel under more pressure?
OGS: It’s still not just me, we do this as a team. The staff have been fantastic. I’ve had some great backing from the owners, from Ed, we keep talking regularly. Communication is important. When you work with human beings it’s so important. Players have been great, staff at Carrington have been great. The supporters have made these three months unbelievable for me. But it’s up to us now to keep moving forward and keep making progress. We know there’s room for improvement and we have to improve because we’re too far behind where we want to be.
You won the biggest trophies as a player with this club. What do you think needs to be done this summer to give you the best opportunity of winning them as a manager? Not just in terms of spending, but getting the structure right behind the scenes at the club?
OGS: Everything is step by step. We won’t make radical changes. I can’t wait to get to a pre-season with the players. Each coach and manager has different ways of playing, different training systems and methods, but we are a huge club with loads of tradition. I know we will be successful but it’s about taking it step by step. It might be putting the right people in the right positions in different places in the club. But we can’t complain, can we? It’s a fantastically well run club.
If you achieve even half as much as a manager here as you did as a player, which would mean more to you?
OGS: Of course what’s in the future. What I have done before as a player or what I’ve done before as a coach doesn’t really bother me because I am always looking forward. On the day I leave here, if I can look back and have had success and lift trophies, as I did as a player, then that’s what I would be more happy with. As a player, it was fantastic of course to work under the best manager in the world with the best players in the world, but now I’m at the top working with these fantastic players, so I think that’s a bigger achievement.
Just over three months ago you were watching what was going on here from afar. Now you’re the main man in one of the biggest posts in club football. Can you really believe what’s happened here?
OGS: Yeh, of course, because it is happening. As I said, I’ve dreamt about it, maybe visualised it, as I did as a player, and we’ve had three months. Now I’m here permanent. The players have responded fantastically to us coming in and we’re just looking forward to working together.
Finishing third or fourth is the target for this season. It’s been six years since this club last won the Premier League. Is that part of your job?
OGS: Definitely. To lift the Premier League trophy again is what we expect, what we’re used to, what we have done so many times. We can’t wait too many years but we have to take it step by step. It’s not going to happen overnight.
You said you couldn’t wait for pre-season. Would you hope to have your transfer targets in by the start of pre-season or is that unrealistic?
OGS: There’s been so many players that have been written about that we’re interested in, and players and agents in touch with our administration who want to come here. I’m sure when we decide what we have to do hopefully we’ll get them by pre-season.
When you said you has visualised being Manchester United manager, what have you seen?
OGS: As a striker, I was always an optimist and thinking positive. You look back in your own memory bank and what it feels like to be a winner and a champion. I can’t wait to see these players getting that feeling.
What was the players’ response to your appointment? And how important has their support been, because there was a time this season when there wasn’t necessarily that cohesion between the manager and players?
OGS: Players are players. They want to come in and do the work, play football. We’ve had some good chats today, great chats, but most of them were about Watford. We’re thinking about that. We’ve got used to working together now. Now they know I’m staying for longer than was expected.
You’ve had a fantastic start since coming in but how do you now guard against complacency?
OGS: Players who get complacent, they never last at this club anyway. I am the same, I can’t be complacent and now rest on I have the job. It’s not me. We are looking forward and we have got to work harder. I want a Man United team that is one of the hardest-working teams in the league, one of the fittest teams in the league, and that then will bring results. I think the players know my expectations on the future.
How’s your staff going to look going forwards? Mike Phelan?
Mick is a key part of the set-up and they are talking to each other. I’ve voiced my opinion about the set-up we have now and I really hope that is going to continue. The staff we have work so well together which is key to having success and getting results.
And the same for Kieran and Michael?
OGS: Oh definitely. I’m not looking to make any changes. And they’ve not knocked on my door to say that they don’t want to continue.
What sort of long-term goals do you want to achieve with Manchester United?
OGS: The day I walk out of the doors, I hope it is with a smile on my face and I have given the supporters, the staff, the players, the club, a good time. That is all I can do, all I can promise, all I’ve promised to the owners, to Ed, everyone, I will always be myself. I am not going to change. I will be an optimist and positive guy and we will do this together. I just want to be the best Ole.
Have you served notice to Van Dijk yet?
OGS: No, I haven’t. We’ve got a contract there!