Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hopes to replicate the spirit of Manchester United’s treble-winners at Old Trafford as he plots a route back to the top for the club.
Solskjaer, last month appointed as the permanent United boss, famously scored the injury-time winner in the Champions League final when Alex Ferguson’s United side won three trophies in 1999.
The Norwegian, preparing his side to face Barcelona in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final at home on Wednesday, intends to build the side around the principles that worked so well 20 years ago.
“We challenged each other every day in training,” he told ESPN. “There were fights and there was an inner justice that I’ve not seen in too many teams.
“We never, ever accepted anyone being below par in training. We kicked each other and we had to win every single day. That moved over into games and we never gave in. There was an unbelievable team spirit.
“I want my players to really push each other and demand 100 per cent attitude from each other every single day. That’s the only way you can improve and it’s the only way you can win.
“We had something special. It’s a different group now and the challenge is, ‘How can I make these players winners as we were?’”
United are currently sixth in the Premier League but are just three points behind third-placed Tottenham and are still in contention in the Champions League.
United are the underdogs for the Barcelona tie but Solskjaer, who oversaw a stunning comeback victory over Paris Saint-Germain in the last round, is confident.
“We’re playing against a good team but there is something special about this group of players,” he said. “It will be fantastic.”
And the United boss is not worried that Manchester City could surpass United’s achievement in 1999 by winning a quadruple this season.
“United fans want us to win it (the Champions League) because they want to win it,” Solskjaer said. “I think we should look at what we can achieve and not what we can stop others achieving.”
Napoli Consider Renaming Stadium after Diego Maradona
Napoli are considering renaming their stadium in memory of Diego Maradona after the club legend died aged 60.
Maradona, regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time, forged a strong bond with the Italian club and its supporters during his seven-year spell between 1984 and 1991.
The forward, who inspired Argentina to World Cup glory in 1986, joined Napoli from Barcelona and won their only two Serie A titles – in 1987 and 1990 – along with the Coppa Italia and UEFA Cup.
Napoli president Aurelio de Laurentiis confirmed following Maradona’s death that the club will discuss renaming their stadium in his honour, combining its current title with his full iconic name, Sky reports.
“We can consider the idea of calling our stadium San Paolo-Diego Armando Maradona,” De Laurentiis told French sports channel RMC Sport.
Naples Mayor Luigi De Magistris supported the proposal that the city’s San Paolo Stadium be renamed for Maradona, who scored 81 goals in 188 appearances for the club.
“We are already putting it together this morning, taking the first steps to dedicate Naples stadium to Maradona,” De Magistris said.
The Mayor added: “We’re hoping to make it coincide with the resumption of games with fans.”
Fans gathered outside the stadium, which was lit in memory of Maradona’s time at the club, in the southern Italian city on Wednesday evening.
Tributes have poured in from the world of football and beyond, with three days of national mourning underway in Argentina.
Legendary Football Star, Diego Amando Maradona Dies at 60
Diego Maradona, one of football’s greatest-ever players, has died. He was 60 years.
The 1986 World Cup winner had surgery to remove a blood clot on the brain earlier this month. The Argentine Football Association confirmed he had died this afternoon.
“The Argentine Football Association, through its president Claudio Tapia, expresses its deepest sorrow for the death of our legend, Diego Armando Maradona. You will always be in our hearts,” they said.
Another of football’s greats, Pele, has led the tributes to: “Certainly, one day we’ll kick a ball together in the sky above.” Follow latest updates and reaction here.
Dr Leopoldo Luque, Maradona’s personal physician, said the former player had shown signs of improvement after a successful operation three weeks ago.
Dr Luque said Maradona “laughed” and “grabbed my hand” just a day after he had the procedure.
“Diego is without any type of neurological deficit, without any type of complication associated with surgery,” Luque said, addressing reporters at the clinic’s door.
“He has an excellent post-operative period, the laboratory parameters even improved.
“The first impression is it is favourable, but it is difficult to evaluate.”
Osimhen’s Recovering Well from Shoulder Injury – Agent
One of Victor Osimhen’s agents, Roberto Calenda, has hinted the Nigerian striker is on the mend after dislocating his shoulder in the Super Eagles 4-4 draw against Sierra Leone in a 2022 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers at the Samuel Ogbemudia stadium in Benin City, Edo State.
Osimhen missed Napoli’s clash against AC Milan on Sunday as he his currently undergoing rehabilitation and according to Calenda, the former Lille striker’s recovery is on track.
“Osimhen is recovering and we have to see day after day how the situation evolves. No predictions can be made on his return date,” Calenda told napolipiu.com.
“Patience is needed with these injuries. Napoli won’t force his return because they cares about the health of the boy and the whole team.
“The boy (Osimhen) is getting all the necessary care and he is getting better.”
The 21-year-old has played in all of Napoli’s Serie A matches this campaign and has two goals.
He broke his duck in the Italian top-flight against Atalanta in October and he scored the match-winner Napoli a 1-0 win away at Bologna just before the international break.