Our interview was an emotional one with Ole and he got most emotional when mentioning you in particular, he welled up, so that shows the strength of your relationship. Does that probably make you being caretaker manager even more of a difficult job, although I’m sure you’ll do your utmost to succeed in it?
“Yeah, the first thing I did, the first thing that crossed my mind when I realised kind of how the situation was developing, I spoke to Ed [Woodward] and went straight to Ole and said look, it wasn’t easy to just think right, let’s move on, I’ll take this role and everything will be alright. My first thought was speaking to Ole about it and he was fully supportive, as you’d expect, as he is, but it wasn’t something I just took for granted because, in some ways, it didn’t feel quite right – me being here and not having him around. But, of course, as I said before, football is a business and as a club, it’s the way it is. You’ve got to move on quickly. I spoke to Ole late last night [Sunday] anyway but in between that, I had to flip my focus and concentration into a new role and almost had to put my emotions aside the best that I could. Of course, it wasn’t easy but, at the same point, there was a job to do. I have a responsibility to the club, for the players, to pull everything together and prepare the team for a big game on Tuesday night. I did manage to speak to Ole again late last night, which was nice, and obviously we’re friends and that will never change. I’ll catch up with him some time soon again when we get back.”
On the pitch, you took the responsibility of the jersey and wore it with pride every time you played, but how different will it be being sat in the dugout as caretaker manager in the Champions League?
“It’s a huge challenge and obviously one that I relish, to be honest. I’m looking forward to it. The initial emotion of why I’m here kind of wears off and now I’m in game mode, you know, and I’m looking forward to the game. Seeing the boys this morning and being around the lads, we’re doing everything we can to go over there and be positive, looking forward to the game. For me personally, and I don’t like talking about me personally to be honest, as it’s about the team. It’s a lot more important for the club than for me but, for sure, the position I am in is a huge privilege, an honour and a huge responsibility. I’m thankful that has been placed on me and will do the very best I can, as I always have since I stepped through the door.”