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Manchester United's New Boss Cut His Teeth On Football Management Games

Illustration for article titled Manchester Uniteds New Boss Cut His Teeth On Football Management Games
Photo: Catherine Ivill (Getty)

Caretaker Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær has had an incredible run since taking over from Jose Mourinho, which has been a bit of a surprise considering how dreadful United had been until the switch, and how Solskjær’s last Premier League experience had been relegation with Cardiff City.

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He’s had success managing in his native Norway, of course, but still I don’t think many people outside of the most feverish United fans could have seen this coming. Of course it helps that Solskjær has at his disposal one of the most expensive squads in world football (including the $120,000,000 Paul Pogba), but maybe we can chalk a bit of it down to his lifelong obsession with managerial football simulations.

This 2013 Dagbladet interview with Solskjær—while he was manager at Norwegian club Molde, which is still technically his job since he’s only caretaker at United (at the moment, anyway)—has been dug up recently in light of his Manchester move, and it’s amazing.

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We’re used to modern footballers being obsessed with FIFA, and of Football Manager popping up in scouting folklore, but Solskjær’s love for managerial games is on another level, having begun on the Commodore 64 when he was a kid, and progressing through to a Championship Manager (whose dev team left and continued their work elsewhere as the Football Manager series we know today) obsession while he was a player at United through the 90s and 2000s.

At 45, he’s one of the youngest managers of a top European club, young enough to have been one of the first to have grown up playing video games. And they had a very specific impact: in the interview, Solskjær recounts how one of Football Manager’s hallmarks—discovering raw talent—left a mark on him, and impressed the need to give young players a change in his actual managerial positions.

The interview’s very cool to watch in light of recent events, not just to hear his thoughts on ancient video games and their impact on him, but to see him sit down with a contemporary version of Football Manager and start flexing his actual managerial muscles in the game.

Luke Plunkett is a Senior Editor based in Canberra, Australia. He has written a book on cosplay, designed a game about airplanes, and also runs cosplay.kotaku.com.

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Ole Gunnar is not just a United legend, but played manager sims too?