Instead of Jose Mourinho-style public putdowns, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is a fan of the private one-to-one to get the best out of his stars at Old Trafford.
The Norwegian is too polite to say whether there’s a right or wrong way to motivate players but this is his way and there were lots of confidential chats — the kind Solskjaer himself used to have with Sir Alex Ferguson — during United’s training camp in Dubai last week.
Though he refuses to see Sunday’s clash against Spurs at Wembley as an audition for him and Mauricio Pochettino to be United’s next permanent manager, the interim boss has a plan to maximise the talents of Paul Pogba, Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez.
‘It’s not about me and it’s not about him [Pochettino] ,’ said Solskjaer. ‘It should always be about the players, we don’t kick a ball, they do. We might make a decision here or there but it’s down to the players to perform.
‘I had quite a few individual chats with them [in Dubai] , both formal and informal. That’s how I do things because it’s probably easier for them to speak to me and not in front of a big group.
‘Every single player needs that eye-to-eye connection, I’m sure. They want to know what is expected of them and I want to get to know them, what they think they can give.
‘It’s not just me telling them what to do. It’s about their strengths, how they feel. That was the way I enjoyed being coached as well. I always loved one-to-one coaching with chats to the gaffer [Ferguson] , Rene [Meulensteen] , Carlos [Queiroz] , Steve McClaren, Kiddo [Brian Kidd] .’
There have been benefits already. United have won all five games under Solskjaer with Pogba turning in man-of-the-match performances and Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford back in the goals, but Tottenham will be their stiffest test yet.
United’s hierarchy will hope Sanchez will be the next in line for rejuvenation as he has scored only four goals in 32 appearances since the club made him the highest-paid player in the Premier League a year ago.
The Chilean should be involved at Wembley having been withdrawn against Reading last weekend as a precaution. Solskjaer said: ‘I don’t think players think about what they earn when they go on to the pitch. But of course, it’s a fresh start for him when me and Mick [Phelan] coming in.’
Does he see Sunday as an audition in front of the kingmaker, Ed Woodward? ‘No,’ he says firmly. ‘It’s not about me, at all.’
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