'Solskjaer has unblocked Mourinho's mind games' - Cruyff hails impact of Man Utd's interim boss

The former Red Devils winger believes a more considered approach to management is delivering rich rewards for a rejuvenated side at Old Trafford
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has freed the bodies and minds of a Manchester United squad which had lost its way under Jose Mourinho, says Jordi Cruyff.

The Red Devils had become stuck in a serious rut when the decision was taken to make another managerial change in December.

Mourinho was relieved of his duties after two-and-a-half years at the helm, with a fresh approach sought under the guidance of a familiar face.

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Solskjaer was handed the reins and charged with the task of rescuing United’s season – a challenge he has set about with gusto after overseeing a 10-game unbeaten run.

Key men have got their spark back under the Norwegian’s guidance, with the Red Devils considered to have rediscovered “the DNA” which made them so successful in the past.

Asked to explain the reversal in fortune brought about by an interim boss, former United winger Cruyff told BBC Sport: "The quality is there. They are good players. From the outside, he has touched their minds and put an arm around their shoulder.

"They really needed someone to stabilise things and give positive messages, outside and inside the club.

"When players are blocked, they cannot produce. Suddenly, there is an unblock, which probably comes more from the mind because Ole had no time to turn things around based on training.

"That tells you a lot about the players' state of mind."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Manchester United 2018-19

Cruyff added on a manager who has delivered 22 points from eight games: "After two or three days there was a huge turnaround without any training.

"His work has been more mental, talking to the players and pressing the right buttons to get the best out of them."

United are yet to make a decision on whether Solskjaer will be handed the reins on a permanent basis.

They are also in the market for a director of sport to work alongside their next manager.

Cruyff believes such an appointment is imperative for the future success of the Red Devils, with former goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar – who currently fills a similar role at Ajax – among those to have been mooted as potential candidates for the post.

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"The sports director role is vital,” said Cruyff.

"Managers decide training schedules, tactics, line-ups. But who makes the decisions about where to scout or the structure of the academy? The manager? There is no logic to that.

"If a manager loses eight games, unfortunately, he is out of a job these days. Why would you give the keys to the club to the person who is most fragile?"