BT Sport pundit Rio Ferdinand has revealed he could see qualities in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer that told him the Norwegian would become a manager during their days playing alongside each other at Manchester United.
Solskjaer was installed as the caretaker boss at Old Trafford in December following the sacking of Jose Mourinho, and has made an unbelievable start to life at the helm - winning ten league games from 12 since his appointment. United currently sit in fourth place in the table despite being 11 points from the position when Solskjaer was appointed.
United face an uphill task to progress in the Champions League against Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday - the French champions inflicted the only defeat on Solskjaer's United in the first leg of the last 16 tie - but Solskjaer's impact has been undeniable.
Ferdinand admitted his first impression of Solskjaer when they became teammates was that he was a "cheeky bastard" after a funny comment about his first touch, but went on to share that Solskjaer's tendency to study training in his later years told Ferdinand all he needed to know about Ole's future career path.
Speaking exclusively to 90min, Ferdinand said on the qualities he saw in Solskjaer: "I see that when you ask him a question, he'll give you a quick, cold and direct answer. There was no shirking of subjects or issues - he was like that.
🗞 @90min_Football EXCLUSIVE:— 90min (@90min_Football) March 4, 2019
🗣 "I think we're seeing a player who we had high expectations of and it's really starting to bare fruit."
📺 BT Sport pundit @rioferdy5 praises the impact of Victor Lindelof in Man United's run of impressive form.https://t.co/HPsd623C2M
"This 'baby-faced assassin' image and persona that he's got, there's a coldness and a steeliness behind that. You don't score as many goals in the situations that he did, coming off the bench, without having an intelligence, the right mindset, the right attitude."
Ferdinand joined Solskjaer at Old Trafford in the summer of 2002, and they played alongside each other for five years before the now 46-year-old's retirement. Ferdinand, though, is unsure of how successful his former teammate will be in the long term - but admits he has already gone above and beyond what anyone expected from his spell in charge.
"I see that when you ask him a question, he'll give you a quick, cold and direct answer. There was no shirking of subjects or issues - he was like that."
"Towards the end of his career, as he was getting more injuries, he became more of a student," Ferdinand added. "He was looking at a lot of things, making notes on training, things that [former Man Utd assistant manager] Carlos Queiroz was doing at the time, so I saw it definitely towards the back end of his career.
"How good he'll be? Listen. Who knows? Great players don't necessarily make great managers, but he's someone now who's almost fallen into a situation and gone beyond anyone's expectations - I'm sure even his own."
United travel to Paris to face PSG on Wednesday night, looking to overturn a 2-0 deficit from the first leg after a defeat at Old Trafford. And with Paul Pogba suspended after picking up a red card, the former England centre half was not optimistic about United's changes of progressing to the quarter finals.
Asked if he thought United would suffer elimination, Ferdinand said: "Obviously Pogba's out, there's a 2-0 deficit and even more injuries. It's an uphill struggle but a great chance to introduce some other players, younger players, maybe give them an opportunity to put themselves in the shop window.
"But nobody expected Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's team to win this game when it came out in the draw - so I don't think it has any bearing on Ole getting the job in the long-term."
Solskjaer is the strong favourite to get the United job full time following their run of form over the last 10 weeks, though the club are not expected to make a decision on the next permanent boss until the later stages of the season at the earliest.
BT Sport brings you the moments that matter this season, with exclusively live coverage of the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League. Watch live on TV and via the award winning BT Sport App. For more info visit bt.com/sport.