Belfast Telegraph

Solskjaer must win next 10 matches to be appointed Manchester United manager, says club hero

By Steven Beacom

Manchester United legend Norman Whiteside believes Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will have to win his next 10 matches to have a shot at the manager’s job at Old Trafford.

Solskjaer has transformed United’s fortunes since taking the reins last month following Jose Mourinho’s sacking.

The Norwegian, originally appointed until the end of the season, has won eight games on the spin as boss, sparking suggestions he could be offered the post on a long-term basis.

Whiteside, scorer of crucial goals in United’s FA Cup final successes in 1983 and 1985, is not so sure and believes they are looking elsewhere with Spurs supremo Mauricio Pochettino and ex-Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane among those in the frame.

Speaking as a guest of SuperCupNI, who yesterday announced Newry-based GPS performance tracking company STATSports as presenting sponsor in a four-year agreement, Whiteside stated that Solskjaer has changed the mood at his old club but needs to do more to become a genuine contender for the hotseat.

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Northern Ireland football legend Norman Whiteside and Alan Clarke CEO STATSports at the announcement of the new SupercupNI headline sponsor, STATSports at Belfast Castle.

“I’m pleased with United’s form. They are on a good run but I still think that the club have their minds made up to change manager at the end of the season,” said the Northern Ireland World Cup great.

“Unless of course Ole goes and wins the next 10 games and then United may be backed into a corner.

“If Ole keeps winning I could eat my words because they may have to give the job to him.

“Pochettino has been mentioned a lot but he won’t be the only one the closer we get to the end of the season. I expect Zidane will be in there and there will be others interested as well.

“Some of the big guns around Europe may get the sack or leave their clubs and it will be about who is up for grabs at the end of the season.

“United will then sit down and work out what Ole has done and see what big managers are available.

“I’m sure that the people upstairs will have their own names in mind and it will be interesting to see who they choose.”

While under Mourinho there seemed feelings of uncertainty and unhappiness, Whiteside says it is all change now.

“People are starting to run forward and pass forward and get into the box and do things that they weren’t doing,” stated the Old Trafford hero. “The reins have been taken off Marcus Rashford (below) and he is scoring goals for fun and creating goals.

“Paul Pogba is now getting in the box and making things happen and they have become like two brand new players.

“I’m only using them as an example because other players have also turned their form around overnight. You can make of that what you want.”

Whiteside, who opened the SuperCupNI in 2011, was back in Northern Ireland to support the tournament’s new deal with Fifa-approved STATSports.

The company has a fabulous client list that includes United, Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool plus top Italian side Juventus and international federations such as Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, England, Germany and Brazil.

At the launch in Belfast Castle, SuperCupNI chairman Victor Leonard said: “We believe this exciting partnership will help our event kick off a new era going forward.”

SuperCupNI, now in its 38th year, will be rebranded as the STATSports SuperCupNI. In addition, SuperCupNI has also contracted Global Premier Soccer to support in sourcing partnerships.

The US-based youth organisation has been integral in delivering the STATSports sponsorship.

This year’s STATSports SuperCupNI will kick off on Monday, July 29, with the traditional parade of teams and opening ceremony in Coleraine the night before.

Finals night at Ballymena Showgrounds is on Friday, August 2.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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