Cardiff manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has dismissed suggestions that his former club Manchester United have lost their aura as he prepares to step into the opposition manager’s dug-out at Old Trafford on Tuesday night.
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Juan Mata’s high profile debut for United following his move from Chelsea may be the headline story on a night when Cardiff will look to haul themselves off the foot of the Premier League table, with Solskjaer certain to receive a rapturous reception from the supporters that worshipped him in his playing days at the club.
The Norwegian, who scored United’s dramatic winning goal in the 1999 Champions League final, has admitted he will need to keep his emotions in check as he takes on United, as he believes the temperament of his players will also be tested at Old Trafford.
When asked whether he agreed with the sentiment that United has lost the psychological edge they had over their rivals for much of the last 20 years, Solskjaer offered this response: “I don’t agree,” he stated.
“To go to Old Trafford is a dream for many footballers and sometimes that can be daunting as well for teams and players. Obviously it’s going to be my job to make sure that it isn’t too daunting for my players and also myself.
“I’m not too much of an emotional guy. I’m more professional than emotional. I’ll go there and of course I’ll enjoy it, but I’m not thinking about the surroundings, I’m thinking about my team.
“I’ve had had a great relationship with them [United supporters]. When we’ve watched the United games over the years back in Norway, I’ve nudged the kids and said ‘they are still singing about your dad.’
“I’m not that emotional as I said. It’s hard to say, though. You never know, sometimes it just catches you doesn’t it? Like when you do your wedding speech. I will focus on the job on Tuesday night though.”
Solskjaer believes United will continue to support manager David Moyes as he tries to rebuild the team he inherited from Sir Alex Ferguson, suggesting the stuttering nature of their displays this season were inevitable.
“It was always going to be like that, because when you come in, new ideas, even subtle changes, will take time,” said Solskjaer.
“Manchester United are a club that will give David Moyes time.”
Solskjaer went on to confirm that Cardiff are close to completing the signing of full-back Fabio from United, but he was not drawn on reports linking his club with a loan move for United winger Wilfried Zaha.