Manchester United caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes embracing everything that comes with modern footballers is key to getting the best out of them.
It is a month since the Old Trafford hierarchy called time on Jose Mourinho’s turbulent tenure, with background backbiting compounding on-field struggles.
Few were sad to see the Portuguese go and the former manager spoke in-depth for the first time on Thursday, when he told beIN SPORTS that “in modern football there is a problem between the coach and the player”.
Solskjaer does not appear to have encountered such problems such his arrival, getting United playing with swagger and the team with a smile.
Asked if modern players need to be treated differently, the Norwegian said: “I think so. Times are changing.
“I’m old enough to have worked with older players than me and older managers, so I know that type of player and that type of management school.
“But I’m young enough and I’ve got kids, I’ve got an 18-year-old myself, and I’ve worked with young players back home. It is a different era.
“Those values, beliefs and principles don’t change.”
Mourinho made thinly-veiled digs at United during his interview, saying “people don’t know what is going on behind the scenes”.
There was clear discord with some key players, with Paul Pogba enjoying the starkest revival having gone from distrusted bench player to the star of Solskjaer’s side.
“I wouldn’t say (modern players are) more powerful, but it’s different with social media and the society they grow up in compared with what I did,” the caretaker boss said.
“I sound really old now, but it is such a different era. Now everything is on Facebook or Twitter or whatever it is straight away.
“It’s not malicious, it’s just the reality we live in. They still have to have the values of a team and know that you have to improve.
“No one deserves to be in a better team than what they give, if you know what I mean.
“If they want to help the team, they deserve to be here. If they don’t want to help the team, then they don’t deserve to be here.”
Like Pogba, Marcus Rashford has also thrived under new management, which could restrict opportunities for big-money striker Romelu Lukaku.
“He’s a big part of the squad, definitely, with his personality around the place,” Solskjaer said ahead of Saturday’s visit of Brighton.
“There’s no one scoring as many goals as him in training.
“There are the three who play the most but then you’ve got Rom, you’ve got Juan (Mata), you’ve got Alexis (Sanchez), so I’ve got a front six I can rotate with and Rom is definitely going to be playing games.”
Anthony Martial – a player Press Association Sport understands remains in talks over a contract extension – is another option, while teenager Mason Greenwood could soon get a look in.
The 17-year-old has flourished in United’s youth teams this season and was among the youngsters taken on the warm-weather training camping Dubai, along with Tahith Chong, Angel Gomes and James Garner.
“There are quite a few young kids coming through,” Solskjaer said.
“Jimmy Garner was there (in Dubai), Mason, Chongy and Gomes. So, there are players there coming through.
Solskjaer is keeping a close eye on the youth team as United reconnect with their roots, which the 1999 treble hero understands from his previous spell at the club.
The return of Mike Phelan, Sir Alex Ferguson’s right-hand man, as first-team coach has also helped.
“Mick’s absolutely brilliant,” Solskjaer said. “With his experience, his knowledge and personality around the place.
“Not just for the players and coaches, but the rest of the staff as well.
“We’ve been here so many years that we know people.
“We talk about a family and when you’ve known people for 25 years, it’s easier to create a good atmosphere.
“Mick’s tough but he’s kind. He’s got everything I would want in an assistant.”