SPORT

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Fan-Ownership Advocate, Has Some Explaining To Do At Cardiff City

02/01/2014 09:30 GMT | Updated 23/01/2014 15:52 GMT
David Price via Getty Images
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 01: Cardiff City Owner Vincent Tan chats to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer before the match Arsenal against Cardiff City in the Barclays Premier League at Emirates Stadium on January 1, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

"I am honoured. I think it is important that the club remains in the right hands." Football changes even the most moral of men, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, nearly nine years on from publicly opposing the Glazer family's takeover of Manchester United, is about to embark on his first managerial role in English football under an owner who was "angry" at the lack of goals from Cardiff’s goalkeeper last season.

"I am absolutely on the supporters' side and think the club is in very good hands as it is today," Solskjaer added at the time of his appointment as Shareholders United patron. He can expect to be asked about his support for fan-ownership when Vincent Tan unveils him as Malky Mackay's successor this week, in what will be the first baptism of fire as he takes over at Cardiff City Stadium.

Solskjaer will have £25 million to spend in the January transfer window, as he is tasked with the job of keeping a flagging Cardiff side in the Premier League. The Bluebirds' late defeat at Arsenal on New Year's Day has seen them slip to 17th in the table, and however over-lauded Mackay was after four victories from 18, it is a gamble to entrust Solskjaer.

Solskjaer and Tan

The former United striker's stock has subsided since he rejected the chance to manage Blackburn, and then Aston Villa, in 2012 - Molde finished sixth in last year's Tippeligaen after back-to-back titles. The 40-year-old, a patient student of the game during the countless occasions he began matches on the United bench, does not seem such a logical choice for an unstable club whose owner was itching to hit the panic button as far back as the summer.

Solskjaer has joined a club where the head of recruitment was sacked and replaced by a 23-year-old Kazakh friend of Tan's son. Calamitously, Alisher Apsalyamov left the club last month over work visa issues. For Solskjaer, it is probably just as well.

He has joined a club whose soul has been ripped out by Tan. Red has replaced blue and a dragon now dwarfs the Bluebird on the club crest. Those Cardiff supporters who have followed the club's ascension up the Football League ladder might prefer they were in the Championship without Tan, rather than in the Premier League with him.

Cardiff fans promised a riot if Mackay was sacked, and while that is yet to materialise, Solskjaer will have to quickly win over supporters who have grown increasingly disenchanted with their pantomime villain of an owner.

Sir Alex Ferguson always advised his players with coaching ambitions to pick an owner, not a club. It is why Solskjaer rejected the risible Venky's owners at Blackburn, although Ferguson seemed to have no qualms fraternising with Tan in the Cardiff directors' box when United visited the Welsh capital in November. Ferguson, lest we forget, also heralded the Glazers as "brilliant owners", even though they have leeched off United for nearly a decade. Football is a business, and Tan is responsible for Cardiff's top-flight status.