Ole Gunnar Solskjær has not been officially unveiled as Cardiff City’s next manager, but after showing up with Bluebirds’ owner Vincent Tan for today’s match at Arsenal, the cat’s out of the bag. Once thought to be out of the running for the vacant post, the former Manchester United striker’s appointment is considered to be inevitable, with this weekend’s FA Cup match against Newcastle expected to mark Solskjær’s debut.
Young and with no Premier League managerial experience, Solksjær returns to England as a popular if uncertain bet, but to Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger, Solskjær has already displayed the acumen needed to be a successful Premier League manager.
“He has already experience as a manager in Norway, so he has learned his job,” Wenger said after his team’s 2-0 win over the Bluebirds on Wednesday (as relayed by the BBC).
“He was an intelligent player, so he is an intelligent boy as well, and that will help him to be successful.”
Perhaps that’s just the way Wenger talks — saying Solskjær “will be” successful instead of qualifying the assessment — but it also reflects the common conception of the young manager’s potential. Seen as a possible Premier League boss since he retired at Manchester United, the former Norwegian international has been lauded for his intelligence and temperament, with his success at Molde lending credence to those early evaluations. Whether being an intelligent player necessarily translates into manager success isn’t clear, but to some who followed his career at United, Solskjær’s always been an obvious candidate for a Premier League squad.
Previously a candidate for Aston Villa’s managerial position, Solskjæar has been on Premier League radars for some time. Now, after three years managing in Norway, Solskjær’s ready to make the jump, electing to try to carry Tan’s well-funded squad away from a relegation battle.
While many have noted the eccentricities of Tan while arguing Cardiff’s not a good fit for Solskjær, Wenger still sees the Bluebirds job as an opportunity – at all young manager could ask for.
“It is a chance. Basically what you want when you are young is a chance, and you have to make the maximum of that chance.”
After Wednesday’s loss, Cardiff City have 18 points through 20 rounds, leaving them one point above the Premier League’s bottom three.