In my personal opinion one of the best pieces of news this week was the return to football management of Ole Gunnar Solskjær, who has been appointed manager of Norwegian Tippeligaen side Molde Fotballklubb on a three-and-a-half-year contract.
Many football fans will remember Solskjær’s time in charge of Cardiff City, which ended in relegation from the Premier League and the sack following a poor start to the following Championship season, but prior to his time in the Welsh capital, the former Clausenengen, Molde, and Manchester United striker had enjoyed a very successful managerial career.
The Norwegian Striker, who scored twenty-three goals in sixty seven appearances for his country, began his managerial career in 2008 with Manchester United’s reserve team. During his three years in charge of Manchester United’s reserves, Solskjær led the team to cup glory in the Lancashire Senior and Manchester Senior Cups, and league success in both the Premier Reserve League North and Premier Reserve League titles in the 2009-2010 season.
Solskjær’s early success in management led to him being offered the Norway job following the resignation of Åge Hareide, however he rejected the approach stating that it was not the right time for him to say yes to such an offer.
It was inevitable that Solskjær was going to leave his post with Manchester United Reserves to take up the reigns of a first team squad, particularly if he wished to aid his development as a manager. Solskjær took this decision in November 2011, when he agreed to take charge Molde FK in his homeland, the team he played for before moving to Old Trafford as a player, though he agreed to remain in his job at Manchester United until January 2011.
Molde lost their first game under Solskjær, losing 3-0 to newly promoted Sarpsborg 08 Fotballforening. Despite the embarrassing opening day loss, Solskjær led Molde to the Tippeligaen title in his first season at the club. Under Solskjær, Molde retained their title the following season, and success followed in his third season too, as Molde defeated Rosenborg 4-2 to win the Norwegian Cup, though they finished a disappointing sixth in The Tippeligaen.
The success achieved with Molde did not go unnoticed throughout Europe, and in particular the English Premier League, where Solskjær was constantly being linked with any jobs that became available. In May 2012, Aston Villa were given permission to speak to Solskjær about their vacant managerial post, though the offer was rejected by Solskjær, who wished to remain in Norway.
With the constant links to jobs in the Premier League, it was again somewhat inevitable that Ole Gunnar would make his return to the league where he enjoyed so much success as a player, agreeing to take the managerial hot seat at Cardiff City at the start of January 2014.
Despite winning his first game in charge against Newcastle United in the FA Cup, Solskjær could not replicate the success he achieved with Molde. Despite their being much optimism surrounding his appointment in January, by the end of the first week of May, Cardiff City had been relegated to The Championship.
Despite suffering relegation, Cardiff City stuck with Solskjær for the start of the following season, which many people thought would see the club challenge for promotion. Unfortunately the club started the season in poor form and Solskjær was relieved of his role in September, merely nine months after taking the job.
Following his departure from Cardiff City, Solskjær returned to his native Norway, taking charge of Clausenengen FotballKlubb’s youth team, the club where he had started his playing career back in 1990.
In October 2015, Ole Gunnar Solskjær returned to Molde, signing a three-and-a-half year contract to become their manager for the second time in his managerial career. Supporters of the three-time Tippeligaen Champions will hope that their new manager can repeat the success of his first spell in charge. Things have certainly started well for Solskjær, with victories against Celtic in the Europa League and Ålesund in The Tippeligaen in his first two games in charge. Despite the fact that Molde will be unable to finish any higher than fourth this season – there are only two rounds of matches remaining in The Tippeligaen – optimism will be high heading in to 2016, on the domestic front, and maybe in Europe too.