Soccer-New Cardiff boss Solskjaer aims guns at Swansea

Reuters

* Norwegian takes over from sacked Mackay

* Solskjaer handed "rolling contract" (Adds quotes)

By Mike Collett

Jan 2 (Reuters) - Former Manchester United striker OleGunnar Solskjaer was named as manager of English Premier Leaguestrugglers Cardiff City on Thursday and told the fans one of hisimmediate aims was to finish higher than rivals Swansea City.

The 40-year-old Norwegian, who earned a place in United'shistory by scoring the winning goal in the 1999 Champions Leaguefinal against Bayern Munich, replaces Scot Malky Mackay who wasfired last week.

And just as he did as a player, Solskjaer hit the targetperfectly when he told a news conference: "I would like us tofinish above Swansea, that must be an aim...that will beimportant for everyone here."

Cardiff are fourth from bottom while Welsh rivals Swanseaare four places higher in the table.

Solskjaer also discounted suggestions in the British mediathat former United manager Alex Ferguson had tried to dissuadehim from taking the job.

"Absolute nonsense," he said. "He has given me his adviceand wished me all the best.

"It's a fantastic challenge to be here, it is the right stepfor me now," added Solskjaer.

"What Cardiff have shown in the last three or four years -being in the playoffs, being promoted and in a couple of cupfinals, they are ready for the next step and hopefully I will bethe one who can do that with my philosophy of football.

"One of the factors that intrigued me most about Cardiff isthe passion of the fans and that they love the club - thesupport they give their heroes.

"If you want to manage a football club you really want thatpassion."

Solskjaer said he had a "rolling contract" and wasunconcerned about the controversy surrounding Cardiff ownerVincent Tan.

He added that the biggest decision he had to make was touproot his family from their home in Kristiansund in Norwaywhere he has lived while managing Molde for the last threeseasons.

BIG TASK

Caretaker David Kerslake has been running Cardiff sinceMackay left and Solskjaer inherits a side one point above therelegation zone after losing 2-0 at leaders Arsenal on NewYear's Day.

The former Norway striker led Molde to the first leaguetitle in their 100-year history in 2011 and retained the crown ayear later.

They also won the Norwegian Cup last year.

The task Solskjaer faces now will be focused on survivalrather than titles as Cardiff battle to preserve theirtop-flight status, achieved last season under Mackay after anabsence of 51 years.

Mackay was sacked after falling out with billionaireMalaysian owner Tan in a series of public squabbles and despitebeing acclaimed by fans as the best manager the club has had.

Solskjaer, who sat next to Tan at Arsenal on Wednesday, willbe in charge for Saturday's FA Cup third round tie at NewcastleUnited.

"It is great to be right back in the thick of it, back inthe Premier League," he said.

"What assurances have I had? I have had great chats with(chairman) Mehmet (Dalman), I met the owner again yesterday andthey have convinced me they want me to be in charge and to takethe club forward.

"I don't really need any more confirmation than that." (Editing by Tony Jimenez)

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