Stage set for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s maiden India tour

Ole Gunner Solskjaer
Ole Gunner Solskjaer (Source: X)

“The most gracious man in the room” – that’s how David Beckham described Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, his former Manchester United team-mate. The Norwegian, a bonafide United legend, played his football with dignity and managed the first team with geniality. He took over as United manager when toxicity had engulfed the dressing room under Jose Mourinho. He put smiles back on faces ‘when skies were grey’.

That’s what the ‘Baby-faced Assassin’ does wherever he goes, and now the United fans in India have an opportunity to experience it first-hand. ‘An Evening with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’ is a rare opportunity to connect intimately with the man who scored arguably the most important goal in United’s history – the match-winner in the 1998-99 Champions League final against Bayern Munich.

Solskjaer will be in Bangalore on February 9, Mumbai on February 10, and in Delhi a day later on February 11. These are meet-and-greet, dinner and live Q&A events and the tickets are exclusively available on Zomato Live. India is said to have a United fan base of 35 million and big turnouts are expected.

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Ahead of the three-city tour, Solskjaer greeted the United fans in India. “Hi everyone, all the great Man United fans in India,” said the 50-year-old former centre-forward, who scored 91 goals for the Red Devils in 235 appearances, via a video message. “I will be visiting your country, lucky enough – in Bangalore on the 9th of February, 10th of February, I will be in Mumbai, and to finish it all off, in Delhi on the 11th. So, make sure you are there. Hoping to see as many as possible of you. Let’s celebrate some good times.”

His maiden India tour has attracted serious interest, as 10 prominent brands have reportedly come forward to be part of the show. And credit goes to Tilak Gaurang Shah, the founder and proprietor of Ace of Pubs and a die-hard United fan, for making Solskjaer’s visit to this country possible. During an event in Manchester last year, Shah gave the idea to Solskjaer and received a positive response. Things developed from there. The former United player and manager was originally scheduled to visit India in December. Those who will be in attendance are expected to get a 1999 Champions League final shirt, signed by Solskjaer.

His time as United manager was a mixed bag. The team secured back-to-back top-four finishes in the Premier League and played the Europa League final under his charge. But things unravelled quickly during his final season after Ed Woodward authorised a vanity signing, then the club’s executive vice-chairman.

Solskjaer’s emotional farewell interview still causes many heartbreak. How did the club work under the Glazers and Woodward during his time as manager? Were his transfer wishes met? Did he approve of Cristiano Ronaldo’s second coming? Did he lose the dressing room? Solskjaer will certainly have many tales to tell.

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