Belfast Telegraph

Solskjaer opens 'informal' Villa talks

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has confirmed he has held talks with Aston Villa owner Randy Lerner about becoming the club's next manager.

Solskjaer and wife Silje flew into Birmingham on Lerner's private jet from the former Manchester United striker's home town of Kristiansund. After a four-hour meeting that also included Solskjaer's agent Jim Solbakken, the 39-year-old returned to Norway to prepare for Molde's Norwegian league clash at Sandnes Ulf on Sunday.

Solskjaer said: "I can confirm I've spoken with Aston Villa. There were no negotiations, but an informal initial chat. They also have other candidates they want to talk to. I wanted to show respect for one of the biggest clubs in the Premier League by responding to their questions with an initial talk."

Molde announced earlier on Friday they had received "interest and contact from Aston Villa", and said the Barclays Premier League club and Solskjaer "are talking together".

Despite Solskjaer's assertions, he is now the overwhelming favourite to become Lerner's third appointment in less than two years.

After failing with Gerard Houllier and McLeish following the exit of Martin O'Neill in August 2010, Solskjaer is young and progressive, even if lacking in experience.

Following an 11-season playing career at Old Trafford, Solskjaer took charge of United's reserves for two-and-a-half years prior to returning to Molde, a club where he spent two seasons in the mid-1990s before moving to Manchester. In his debut campaign in charge Solskjaer guided Molde to the league title last season for the first time in their 100-year history.

Although it would be a big step up in class to manage in the Premier League, Solskjaer has received the support of a trio of fellow former Norway internationals in Jan-Aage Fjortoft, Erik Thorstvedt and John Carew.

Former Swindon, Middlesbrough and Sheffield United striker Fjortoft, now a television presenter, said: "Ole has been a great leader for Molde. He always supports his team, and is clear in the demands of his players.

"He won't be Alex Ferguson, he will be Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, but very influenced by the life he has had at Manchester United. He has always been a learner, and he will be a great, great manager."


From Belfast Telegraph