Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer established a reputation for being one of the era’s most prolific impact substitutes. Having been the face of Norwegian football for a decade during his spell at Old Trafford, the now 47-year-old was the catalyst in bringing the second striker role to the forefront of football.
Following his match-winning goal in the 1998-99 Champions League final against Bayern Munich, Solskjaer has inspired numerous players in Norway’s existing golden generation, including Erling Braut Haaland and, perhaps inadvertently, Martin Odegaard. So, let’s take a look at how both players may have moulded their games around the Manchester United manager.
Haaland’s time at Molde under Solskjaer
In many ways, the most natural Norweigian footballing comparison revolves around Haaland and Solskjaer. Interestingly, this inspiration has not only occurred through the Champions League-winning striker’s on-field contributions but also on the training field at Molde FK. In the 2017-18 season, the two Norwegians worked together in taking the club to a second-place finish in the Eliteserien. Moreover, this relationship saw Solskjaer give the young striker his professional debut.
By Haaland’s own admission, working under the Manchester United manager helped him to kick-start his career after admitting that the pair worked together on numerous drills in training, including crossing and one-touch finishing. Additionally, composure and positioning were also two of the skills that Solskjaer sought to integrate into Haaland’s playing style. In this regard, there are few better to learn from, as evident in the six-time Premier League winner’s famous Champions League goal in 1999.
Since leaving Molde in 2018, Haaland has developed into one of Europe’s most promising young talents. Across his two full seasons at Red Bull Salzburg and Borussia Dortmund, the 20-year-old scored 49 goals in 50 appearances across all competitions. In light of his free-scoring form at the Signal Iduna Park, Lucien Favre’s team are 33/1 to win the 2020-21 Champions League with NordicBet online betting, as of October 7th.
Similar versatility to Odegaard
Aside from the obvious comparisons between Haaland and Solskjaer, it’s also not beyond the realms of possibility that Odegaard also focused elements of his game around the former Cardiff City manager. As mentioned above, the 47-year-old wasn’t only deployed as a traditional centre forward under Sir Alex Ferguson. Instead, he adopted the role of playing behind the leading attacker as either a second striker or offensive midfielder. That said, when needed, the 1999 Champions League hero also played on the flanks.
Although Solskjaer isn’t the first player to add versatility to his game, the trait has undoubtedly caught on among Norway’s up-and-coming talents. According to Transfermarkt, Real Madrid’s Odegaard has a very similar level of competence as Solskjaer in regard to his on-field diversity. At the time of writing, the Drammen-born footballer has played 92 games as an attacking midfielder. Furthermore, he’s also featured 81 times as a right-winger and 12 as a left-winger throughout his career. Although Odegaard’s style differs from the United manager’s approach, it’s evident that his positional diversity has been somewhat influenced by Solskjaer.
A great of the game aiding Norway’s golden generation
Over the years, it’s clear to see that the United fan favourite has been a pivotal factor in the development of Norway’s promising young players. Whether that concerns on-field technique or adaptability, there are numerous indications that the 47-year-old has inspired a generation with world-class potential.