Man United news: Solskjaer’s cynical foul against Newcastle in 1998 remembered

  • Rob Swan

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer celebrates his 48th birthday on Friday.

The Norwegian cemented his status as a United legend during his hugely successful 11-year stint as a player with the Red Devils.

Between 1996-2007, Solskjaer scored 126 goals in 366 appearances. Many of those appearances were from the subs’ bench.

Solskjaer would study games and then enter the fray as a second-half substitute before often making a decisive impact.

In one famous match against Nottingham Forest, which United won 8-1, Solskjaer came off the bench to score four goals in the last 10 minutes.

However, there was another sub appearance of Solskjaer’s which United fans also fondly remember - albeit for very different reasons.


The Red Devils were battling with Arsenal at the top of the Premier League table during the closing weeks of the 1997-98 campaign.

On April 18, 1998, United took on a very good Newcastle side at Old Trafford.

Andreas Andersson opened the scoring for the visitors in the 11th minute before David Beckham equalised shortly before half-time.

With the clock ticking down to full-time, Sir Alex Ferguson - or just Alex Ferguson as he was then - used his final substitution: Solskjaer on in place of Gary Neville.

United had a free-kick in the 89th minute and threw everyone upfront with the exception of sub goalkeeper Raimond van der Gouw, who replaced Peter Schmeichel early in the first half.

Newcastle broke away at speed and Rob Lee suddenly found himself with a clear run at goal.


However, before he could reach the penalty area, the Newcastle midfielder was cynically scythed down by Solskjaer.

Nobody knew the Baby-Faced Assassin was capable of such a foul.

“I had to,” he can be seen saying to David Beckham in the clip, which you can watch here…

The United fans stood and applauded Solskjaer for taking one of the team.

Referee Uriah Rennie had no choice but to show the Norwegian a straight red card.

Although the Old Trafford faithful clapped Solskjaer, Ferguson was raging.

“Never,” Solskjaer told FourFourTwo years later when asked if he would tell his players to do the same. “I would advise them not to do it, because I ended up with a fine and a hairdryer!

“I had to catch Rob Lee before he got into the penalty area. I made up some ground and thought: ‘I’m catching him!’ But I stiffened up in the last five metres and realised I wasn’t catching him…

“I was applauded off but I wasn’t applauded by the gaffer. He laid down the law with me and said: ‘At Manchester United we never win that way; we win by fair play.’ It was an eye-opener for me.

“Some managers would have said ‘well done, son’, but he would not accept that way of winning, which says everything about him.”


And how did Lee feel to be denied the opportunity to win the game for Newcastle?

“I was running through and I saw the Manchester United goalkeeper coming off his line,” the former England international said. “He looked really big and I did not know what to do with the ball, so I was actually quite pleased that Solskjaer brought me down! [laughs].

“There were no hard feelings about it. The game was all level at that time and he did the right thing to prevent his team from losing. If I were in his position, I would’ve done the same.”

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