Manchester United’s Ole Gunnar Solskjaer visits Bengaluru; kicks off 3-day India tour
Nicknamed Baby Face Assassin, Solskjaer is on his maiden trip to India to meet Manchester United fans. He will be visiting Mumbai and Delhi next.
Manchester United legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer kicked-off his three-day India tour beginning with Bengaluru on Friday.
Solskjaer’s visit marks a historic moment for the team’s supporters in India, as the country is home to about 38% of Manchester United’s fan base, as per a report by YouGov.
“While I had only heard about the devotion of Indians towards Manchester United, getting the opportunity to experience it first-hand today was incredible,” said Solskjaer in a statement.
Recalling his days at the iconic English football club, Solskjaer, who was the manager of the club from 2018 to 2021, said that he might have at least one more managerial stint left in him. “I want to feel that pressure again. You know, when you see the games, you miss it,” he told the media gathering in Bengaluru.
Solskjaer joined Manchester United in the year 1996 under Sir Alex Ferguson. He eventually grew into his role, earning himself fame with the moniker baby-faced assassin–for his young look and the ability to clinch the win in the end.
His role was pivotal during the 1999 Champions League finals, having scored a goal in the last-minute for Manchester United, completing a historic treble—winning the English Premier League, FA Cup, and the Champions League.
Solskjaer spent most of his career by appearing from the benches, totalling about 368 appearances for the club, 152 of which were from the bench. He also scored the most-number of goals for the club as a substitute between 1996-2007, leading to fans and spectators referring to him as a super substitute.
“[On being a substitute] I obviously would have liked to have played more… but then I quickly realised that I am playing with some of the best players in the world, the best manager in the world, and the best club… so I felt privileged,” he said in response to a question posed by YS Life.
Attributing his mental toughness to his upbringing, particularly his father who was also a sportsman, he said, “In fact, he [his father] said that if I come on even for 20 minutes, that is my time to grow as much as possible.”
Solskjaer also said that substitutes have a greater impact on the game, given that they aren’t wringing it out on the field for the entire 90 minutes.
“The other thing is while the rest of them have been playing for 70 minutes, they are tired and I am fresh… so you have to definitely use this to your advantage.”
Changes at Manchester United
Solskjaer also spoke about the changes at Manchester United club over the years.
In December 2023, Sir Jim Ratcliffe, CEO of chemicals firm INEOS, purchased a 25% stake for nearly $1.3 billion, and joined the club’s management. The move was seen to bring changes for the club, starting from the sporting side, as Radcliffe’s entry would mean that INEOS Group would be taking over football operations from the Glazer family, which owned the majority stake in the club.
Referring to the debate on rebuilding Old Trafford–home to the Manchester United club, Solskjaer said he feels it might be time to move onto a newer stadium.
“We have to move on with the times and at the moment…it's either a renovation or a new stadium because we're falling behind if we are staying in the same place,” he said.
“It might cause a lot of divide among fans… but it looks like we need a new stadium,” he added.
Solskjaer’s visit to India is part of a series of meetups organised by Ace of Pubs, a quizzing community based in India.
Bengaluru was at the top of the list of Solskjaer's three-day India tour, and he will be visiting fans in Mumbai and Delhi next.
“By bringing Solskjaer to India, we have not only given fans the chance to meet their idol, but also been able to showcase the deep connection between the country and the club,” said Tilak Gaurang Shah, Founder of Ace of Pubs.
Ace of Pubs plans to bring more icons from the club and extend these opportunities to fans of other football clubs like Liverpool as well, Shah told YS Life.
(With inputs from Pranav Balakrishnan)
Edited by Megha Reddy