What Manchester United boss Marc Skinner thinks of legacy striker Karna Solskjær


Everyone has to earn their place at Manchester United Women – even if your father is Ole Gunnar Solskjær.

The former Red Devils boss and his wife Silje were smiling from the stands last weekend as they watched daughter Karna Solskjær make her first-team debut in United’s 2-0 FA Cup win over Bridgwater United.

But head coach Marc Skinner was eager to redirect the spotlight away from the famous onlookers, while stressing that his is a no-nepotism dressing room.

“The Solskjær family mean a lot to this club,” he said. “And so they should.

“They’ve been steeped in the history of this club and we all know Ole is a wonderful player, wonderful man and a wonderful manager.

“Of course you’re going to speak about his daughter who is very, very talented as well, it’s only right that we do that.

“But the only thing I wanted to make clear was that it’s not really about Ole at that moment.

“He puts his love, care, and attention towards everything his daughter does. He and his wife travel slowly to make sure that they’re supported in their sport.

“So for us, she’s a very, very talented player, and it’s something again [U21 head coach] charlotte [Healy] and her team have done to really promote the best talent to come up to us.”

The 19-year-old Norwegian joined United’s academy in 2019 and has scored 13 goals in 12 appearances for the U21 side this season.

Solskjær, brought on for Ivana Fuso late in the second half of the fourth-round contest, ultimately played just three minutes of normal time – hardly sufficient for fans to get a good look.

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But though Skinner was adamant the debutant deserved the spotlight to herself, he still marveled over one clear similarity between the young forward and senior striker, who scored 126 goals in his 11-year Red Devils career, including the Treble-winning strike in injury- time of the 1999 Champions League final.

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“Finishing for sure,” said Skinner, without skipping a beat. “She’s constantly finishing.

“She has a wonderful, wonderful calmness. I think Ole absolutely had that for the club.

“I think we call them natural goalscorers, but I think that does a disservice to the work that they do, because it only appears natural when you watch it, but actually it’s practiced.

“She has a wonderful finishing ability, she has a variance of it. Ella she knows what to do, how to do it, and that’s all credit to the work that they do, and credit to the coaches who have worked with her before.

“But more importantly to the player, because she’s got to take that on board.

“I mean, it’s not bad having someone like Ole as your support process, in that and your reference point.”

Still, I reckoned, all that built-in support might be mitigated by a less coveted heirloom: expectation.

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Added Skinner: “Surely there can also be some pressure on the back of her to finish like her dad.”

United sit in third in the Barclays FA WSL with 24 points heading into their away clash with league leaders Arsenal on Saturday—just three clear of fourth-placed Spurs and only one behind title-holders Chelsea in second.

Skinner will rely on stars like Ella Toone, who the gaffer lauded as “somebody who will fight with her own shadow, she’s that competitive” to secure the all-important win.

“That’s the real driving factor. All the special footballers I’ve known have a super competitive nature. She hates to lose. She’s got a special character, and there’s a lot of them that have that here.”

It might be too early to tell if Solskjær’s destiny will also involve any shadow boxing, but the boss feels confident there’s plenty of pugilism promoted in United’s player pathway.

“She’s a very talented player,” he reiterated. “We want to continue to develop the way Manchester United does, which is having our young players come and basically be the backbone of what we do.

“But that takes time. Ella she’s a great kid, great character as you’d expect from someone like her dad.

“It’s a nice story, but we’ve got lots of work to do.”

To follow the action and sign up for The FA Player’s live Barclays FA Women’s Super League coverage visit womenscompetitions.thefa.com




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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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