After Manchester United were sensationally dumped out of Europe by Seville, Reds manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has had to quell rumours of discontent and rumblings of dissent in his ranks.
Ole has been lauded for guiding the Red Devils into fourth place, and despite ending the season potless, Ole is still all smiles and quips. We caught up with him polishing Alex Ferguson’s old car parking spot at Carrington. Ole still doesn’t park in it out of respect.
A number of issues had sprung up from that European disasterclass including star penalty taker Bruno Fernandes laying into young competition winner, Victor Lindelof, for his part in the winning Seville goal. Could this mean Fernandes could be leaving? Can this dressing room rift ever be healed? Ole doesn’t seem to think so. He said:
"Of course, when the gaffer was in charge - Sir Alex - there were disagreements all the time. I remember one time during the '99 season when me and Ronny Johnson had an argument. He said: “Oi, you Norwegian prick, gis your shoes! It’s raining and I don’t want to get mine wet”, and I said: “Ok Ronny” and gave him my shoes. It was fighting spirit like that that kept us going."
Well, that answered nothing. So we pushed back, probing his defences like a slick Arsenal attack. He caved, blasting:
"Yorkey, Coley and Irwiny all had disagreements and were always pulling each other up. I remember one incident very vividly. It happened during our 2000 season. Irwiny and Becksy had been working on a new rap song, and were quite nervous about performing it in front of the lads. But I gave them some encouragement, saying “Lads, if I’d been nervous coming on against Bayern, I wouldn’t have scored, would I?” They said "no", and went out and performed the rap. It was shit but it shows what you can do with a bit of confidence, and that’s all Bruno needs in Lindy. I mean, he won’t get that as long as Lindy looks about as secure as a travelling fairground ride, but we can persevere.
Ole stood up and looked at the car park space. He smiled at his handiwork. Admiring its shine.
I’d like to think I’m bringing back the United way. Just like Sir Alex did in 99. The team spirit here is unmatched anywhere in the world. Look here’s Jamesy!
Dan James had appeared, and was frantically trying to get his car keys out of his pocket as his smiling manager approached him.
"Jamesy! How you doing, lad? Do you like what I’ve done to the car park spot? Jamsey?"
James had managed to get the car door open and had started the engine before he’d shut the door. Suddenly, Ole was upon him, foot in the car door as Dan James floored the machine into reverse.
"Jamsey? Did I ever tell you about the time me and Stamy played chess on the way back from an away trip to Chelsea? Jamesy?"
The car screeched into life, and Ole clung to the side for dear life. We watched as they shot off down the road, not even stopping to allow the barrier to lift at the entrance. As James sped off, we could just about make out Ole’s fading voice:
"Did I ever mention that Ray Parlour is the greatest opponent I’ve ever faced? In 99….."