'Selling Fellaini proves Solskjaer has the mettle for Man Utd' - Ferdinand backs former team-mate for permanent job

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The Belgium international was a favourite of previous boss Jose Mourinho but was sold to Shandong Luneng in the January transfer window

Rio Ferdinand has banished the notion that his former team-mate Ole Gunnar Solskjaer lacks the steel to succeed as Manchester United's permanent manager, suggesting one of his first big decisions as Old Trafford boss highlighted his ruthless streak.

The smiling Norwegian has lifted the mood around United since he replaced Jose Mourinho as the club's manager in December, with Ferdinand revealing Solskjaer was a leader during his time at the club and should be handed a long-term contract to guide the club's future.

Speaking exclusively to Goal, BT Sport pundit Ferdinand has given insight into Solskjaer's winning mentality, as he suggested the decision to sell Marouane Fellaini to Shandong Luneng in January was evidence of his desire to make clinical decisions.

"With Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, we can all sit here and say he is the baby faced assassin, but that is just the guise he uses," states Ferdinand. "Behind that, there is a coldness to him. He won't shirk responsibility, he won't shirk a one-on-one to tell someone you are not for me.

"Look at Fellaini. He had been at the club for a number of years, and he has gone in the first window he had an opportunity to get him out. That was Ole's decision, you are not for me. He is not afraid to make those decisions and the top managers at the top clubs all do that.

"We have a manager who is respecting the history and traditions of the football club. It's a breath of fresh air."

Ferdinand revealed Solskajer was one of the leaders he looked up to when he first moved to Old Trafford from Leeds United in 2001, with his understanding of the club's ethos vital now.

"When I went to United, you had players that had come through the system and were integral to the team and also players who had been there a long time and been successful and Ole was one of them as well," he continues.

"You didn't need to told by Sir Alex Ferguson what's going on, what it means to be a Man United player. You were being shown on a daily basis what it takes to be a player at the football club, to stay there and be successful.

"They need to get that in this squad now. Paul Pogba knows what it means to be a Man United player, he grew up there. Jesse (Lingard) knows, (Marcus) Rashford and Ashley Young have been there long enough to know. These players need to instil it in those coming in to make sure they know what it means to lead by example.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Sir Alex Ferguson

"Players run football clubs sometimes and Sir Alex Ferguson delegated to players in his dressing room when he was there. You don't have to scream and shout all the time, but the experienced players set the tone. They just look and learn, they know. They have to put the work in, extra, extra, extra all the time."

Ferdinand is not expecting United to find a route back into their Champions League last-16 tie against Paris Saint-Germain after a 2-0 defeat in the first leg at Old Trafford, but he insists the outcome of that match will not affect the future of Solskajer.

"It would be a huge result, I think it would be a fantastic result, but I don't think this result will have any bearing on what judgement there is on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer," he adds of United's attempt to bounce back against the Ligue 1 champions.

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"When this draw was made, everyone said Man United were out and that's what will happen. When you look at it before, it was Man United looking down on Paris Saint-Germain in European football. Now, PSG will be seen as the bigger team. Not the bigger club, but the bigger team, so the shift is very evident. "

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