How Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has used Roy Keane to motivate Manchester United players

It seems to have done the trick.

Three months ago, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looked like a dead man walking at Manchester United.

After being humiliated at home by Tottenham Hotspur – led by his predecessor Jose Mourinho – there were calls for United to dismiss the struggling Norwegian.

United looked adrift. Torn apart by Spurs, it seemed a matter of when, not if, regarding Solskjaer’s departure.

Yet the former striker has discovered a useful knack for getting himself out of a tricky spot. While Solskjaer was far from blameless in United’s exit from the Champions League group stage, he has overseen a hugely encouraging run of domestic results.

Since losing at home to Arsenal on November 1, United have embarked on a 10-game unbeaten run in the league, which has lifted them into second place.

Crucially, though, United now have the chance to move three points clear of Liverpool and take control of the early stages of the title race if they can beat Burnley in their game in hand.

United fans were given a lift on Monday, too, when former midfielder Darren Fletcher was added to Solskjaer’s coaching staff.

Fletcher, who had been coaching the club’s under-16s since October, made 340 appearances for United between 2003 and 2015, winning five Premier League titles, an FA Cup, two League Cups and a Champions League during his time at Old Trafford.

Solskjaer calls in Keane and Giggs

However, the former Scotland international is not the only familiar face who has been seen at United’s Carrington training base this season.

According to The Athletic, Solskjaer has brought in a couple of his former teammates to help foster a ‘family feel’.

“Former players, from Roy Keane to Ryan Giggs, are brought in to speak to young players about their experiences and there is a family feel among the Carrington staff, a mixture of those with United pedigree and outside specialists like Andrew Meredith, the head of data who came from St Pauli,” writes Andy Mitten.

Roy Keane fancies Manchester United’s title chances against Liverpool

Keane and Giggs certainly know a thing or two about gearing up for a title charge. The Irishman won 12 major trophies in as many years at Old Trafford and is considered by many to be the club’s greatest-ever captain.

Giggs, on the other hand, accumulated 22 major honours during his 24-year United career, during which he set the club record for appearances with a remarkable 963.

Speaking after Friday night’s win over Aston Villa, Solskjaer said he was pleased with the improvements his side have made over the last year, but was quick to distance United from title talk.

“Of course we’re very happy with the position we’ve found ourselves in,” said the 47-year-old.

“It’s such a big difference if you look 12 months back. You lose the chance to be there or thereabouts in the first 10 games, you can lose the chance to be in a title race.

“For us now, it’s a good position to be in but we need to improve, we need to get better. There’s going to be many tight games but if you can win games like tonight that’s going to make a big difference.”

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