Solskjær stays, also in the media glare

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A decision by football star Ole Gunnar Solskjær to stay in Norway and keep coaching the Molde Football Club is such big news in the country that state broadcaster NRK and other media were intending to offer live coverage of his late-afternoon press conference on Wednesday. Solskjær has withdrawn his candidacy for a new coaching job at Aston Villa in the UK, according to an Aston Villa spokesman.

Businessman Kjell Inge Røkke, shown here during a presentation involving his company Aker ASA, continues to play a major role in the life and career of Norwegian football star Ole Gunnar Solskjær. PHOTO: Views and News

Solskjær reportedly cited family reasons for staying with Molde, but his decision came after a lengthy meeting over dinner Tuesday evening with Molde’s long-time benefactors, businessmen and investors Kjell Inge Røkke and Bjørn Rune Gjelsten. Røkke had sent a private jet to bring Solskjær and his wife Silje Lyngvær to Oslo for the meeting.

Both Røkke and Gjelsten were due to take part in Wednesday’s press conference, after Solskjær had concluded the day’s normal training session with Molde players. Top Molde officials Leif-Arne Langøy and Øystein Neerland were also expected to take part, reported NRK.

It was just last week that another private jet, this one sent by Aston Villa in Birmingham, had flown Solskjær over to the UK after he’d been approached by the British club that’s looking for a new head coach. The prospect that Solskjær might allow himself to be lured away from Molde so infuriated Røkke, who had brought the former star player for Manchester United to Molde in late 2010, that he threatened to cut off his company’s funding of Molde That set off a drama that’s been playing a leading role in Norwegian media for the past several days.

Now Solskjær apparently has been convinced he should stay with Molde, at least through the end of next year. Aston Villa’s hometown newspaper Birmingham Mail, and later Sky Sports, reported Tuesday night that Solskjær was no longer in the running for the coaching job at Aston Villa, while TV2 Sporten in Norway quoted Aston Villa’s spokesman as confirming that Solskjær had said “no thank you” to further negotiations with Aston Villa out of consideration for his family.

Solskjær himself didn’t want to talk about what’s been agreed with Røkke and Gjelsten and Molde officials until they all meet the press together. Newspaper Dagbladet reported that the agreement involves new funding for new players and a promise that Solskjær will complete both this football season and next year’s season, unless he gets an offer from the top club where he played for several years, Manchester United.

Solskjær has proven himself to be as hot a property as a coach as he was as a player. After his first season at Molde last year, a string of victories already propelled the club to the top of Norway’s premier league. This season is proceeding well also, with Molde even winning its latest match on Saturday despite all the turmoil around Solskjær.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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