Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has returned to Norway after initial talks with Aston Villa to find his current club Molde dealt a huge blow.
Solskjaer has insisted he is one of many names in the frame to become the next Villa manager after meeting owner Randy Lerner yesterday, when the American allowed the Norwegian use of his private jet.
The former Manchester United striker and wife Silje were collected from their home town of Kristiansund before flying to Birmingham for a four-hour meeting that also included agent Jim Solbakken.
Solskjaer said: “There were no negotiations, but an informal initial chat. They also have other candidates they want to talk to. I wanted to show respect for one of the biggest clubs in the Premier League by responding to their questions with an initial talk.”
Solskjaer will now prepare for his side’s Norwegian league game tomorrow at Sandnes Ulf, but with the focus of attention firmly on him.
It was magnified last night when Molde’s billionaire backer pulled the plug on his company’s 20-year support, which included building the club a new stadium in the late 1990s.
Businessman Kjell Inge Rokke, chairman and a major shareholder in industrial investment firm Aker, said Solskjaer had been asked to answer questions about his plans before holding talks with Villa, but had not provided answers.
Rokke said: “This is perceived as incompatible with the MFK [Molde football club] community that we are both a part of.”
Solskjaer was asked, on Aker’s behalf, whether he was considering leaving Molde before the end of the season, whether he would want to take support staff with him, and whether he would look to take players with him.
A statement released to newspaper Romsdals Budstikke on behalf of Rokke’s business said: “Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has not hidden the fact that one day he could go back to England. Nevertheless, Aker is surprised that he dropped Friday’s training, and headed to England in public for informal talks with Aston Villa before three major league games in a week.”
Molde reacted to the remarks from Rokke and Aker and said the club regretted the businessman and his company had taken their step.
In a statement on the club website, Molde said: “Rokke and Aker have for years been Molde Football Club’s most important and largest partner in several areas. Molde FK are eternally grateful for the contribution and support Rokke, his family and Aker have shown us over the years.
“Molde Football Club regrets that Aker has decided to reduce its involvement as a result of our manager’s actions. We confirm Rokke and Aker’s version of events and why Aker has decided to reduce their contributions.”
Club chairman Oystein Neerland said: “Molde Football Club recognises that current events have provided us with great challenges and put our reputation to the test. We will roll up our sleeves and work even harder to regain confidence.”
Solskjaer, 39, is seen as a young, progressive manager after taking Molde to the league title last season for the first time in their 100-year history, and at the end of his debut campaign in charge.