Manchester United interim boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says managers hold the power at clubs – and he is willing to use his “hairdryer” to enforce it.
The sixth-placed Red Devils visit Cardiff on Saturday in Solskjaer’s first game as caretaker manager.
The 45-year-old has been heavily influenced by legendary United boss Sir Alex Ferguson, who used the “hairdryer treatment” when he felt his team were not meeting the standards he set.
“I’ve got a hairdryer,” said Solskjaer.
“If I get disappointed, ask [children] Noah, Karna and Elijah – or some of the players I had at Molde. I am not afraid of laying down the law.”
It has been suggested Solskjaer is too nice for the task of reversing United’s declining fortunes.
While public condemnation of his players is unlikely, former team-mates have said the forward, who scored United’s injury-time winner in the 1999 Champions League final, was never afraid to deliver sharp words during his playing days if he felt standards were slipping.
“When your kids disappoint you, you don’t give them chocolate do you? You treat players how you treat your kids. You want the best for them. You want to guide them. You want to help them,” he said.
Cup of tea with ‘the gaffer’
Solskjaer is not sure whether Ferguson played any role in executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward calling him on Tuesday to offer him the chance of succeeding Jose Mourinho until the end of the season.
The Norwegian still refers to Ferguson as “the gaffer” and has spoken to the Scot more than once this week.
While United have five matches to play in a fortnight over the festive period, Solskjaer is planning a more personal chat at Ferguson’s house to go over some ideas.
“He is a big part of my life,” he said.
“I texted the gaffer when I got the call and I have been in touch with him quite a bit.
“At some point I am going to sit down at his house, enjoy a nice cup of tea, and discuss a few ideas.”
‘The manager has the power’
Solskjaer and assistant Mike Phelan were only involved with training for the first time on Thursday, but it is evident throughout United’s Carrington training ground that spirits have been lifted since Mourinho’s exit.
The question is whether the improvement in mood can be translated into results.
They have only won consecutive Premier League games twice, and encouraging results such as the draw at Chelsea and defeat of Juventus in Turin are far outweighed by the negatives, most recently the 3-1 defeat at Liverpool that marked the end of Mourinho’s two and a half years in charge.
Some have suggested the blame lies with United’s players rather than their former manager, and ex-captain Roy Keane told BBC Radio 5 live they had “got away with murder”.
Now it is Solskjaer’s job to enforce discipline, and he feels power within a dressing room still rests with the manager, not his players.
He said: “Football has evolved. The structure of a club has developed. But the power still rests with the manager. He picks the team. He decides the tactics and the strategy.
“I have told the players what standards we have, on and off the pitch.
“Being a Manchester United player is a privilege. I think all of them want to succeed here.”
Gomes and Garner in the squad
Solskjaer has given all of United’s players “a clean slate” as he prepares for his first match in charge.
But he is without striker Romelu Lukaku – ruled out after being given some time to return to Belgium, a decision taken before the new manager arrived – and forward Alexis Sanchez.
Angel Gomes, 18, and Jimmy Garner, 17, have both travelled, although it is not certain either will make United’s final 18-man squad.