Manchester United: Is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer the Man to Succeed Sir Alex?

Aaron GalesCorrespondent IIDecember 10, 2012

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has enjoyed a great start in management.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has enjoyed a great start in management.EuroFootball/Getty Images

The person who will succeed Sir Alex Ferguson as manager of Manchester United when he finally decides to retire is always an issue that gets people in football talking.

When he almost retired in the summer of 2002, it was common knowledge that England manager Sven Goran Eriksson had been lined up to replace him in what would have been the most sought-after job in football.

Since then, Ferguson has given no hint as to when he might finally call it a day and is seemingly happy to carry on in charge as long as his health is good.

And why shouldn't he?

He is still doing a fantastic job in charge of the club, is six points clear at the top of the Premier League table and is arguably the greatest manager in the history of football.

At some point, though, Manchester United are going to need a new manager. Jose Mourinho is widely considered to be a favourite to get the post and Ferguson has recently spoken warmly about the talents of the controversial managerial superstar.

However, before the emergence of people like Mourinho and Pep Guardiola it was widely thought that the person who would follow in Ferguson's footsteps would be one of his former players. The list of potential names has been a long one. They include Bryan Robson, Steve Bruce, Paul Ince, Roy Keane and Laurent Blanc, among others.

After somewhat mixed successes none of these managers would now be considered for the main role.

One man, though, who is quietly building himself a very impressive CV is former United legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. One of Ferguson's best transfers, the baby-faced assassin scored 126 goals for Manchester United, including the last-minute winner in the 1999 UEFA Champions League final.

After retiring in 2006 after a long battle with various injuries, he immediately started to pursue his career in coaching. There had been hints that the Norwegian might be cut out for a life on the touchline.

When asked why he had been so successful when coming off the bench, he replied that he used to analyse everything from the sideline. He would look for the weaknesses of the opposing defence, so that when he did come off the bench he would know the best way to outsmart his opponent.

After starting his coaching badges he was put in charge of Manchester United's reserve team in the summer of 2008.

Admittedly, he had fantastic players to work with during this period, but his time in charge was an unprecedented success as he won four trophies with his young players. He knew, though, that he needed to leave the safety of Old Trafford where he had spent the last 15 years of his life and stand on his own two feet. He decided to return to his homeland of Norway and after turning down the role of national team manager, took over at Molde.

His reign got off to a poor start after they suffered a 3-0 defeat at home to newly promoted Sarpsborg 08. Since then he has never looked back and has now won the Norwegian League two years in a row. To put this achievement into some kind of perspective, Molde had never won the league in their history until Solskjaer took charge.

He has been linked with a number of jobs in England during the last two years and came close to taking the job at Aston Villa before deciding he didn't want to uproot his family again. It is clear that he will need to succeed in a league more challenging than Norway before he will be considered a serious contender to replace Ferguson.

He has time on his side though. Health permitting, it will be another three or four years before Ferguson retires, giving Solskjaer more than enough time to build his experience.

It may yet come too soon for him, but I would say it is inevitable that at some point in the future Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be manager of Manchester United.