It couldn’t have gone better for Manchester United’s new interim manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær, winning 1-5 away to Cardiff in his first match in charge.
It’s been a whirlwind of a week for the Norwegian, who openly declared that he was supposed to be spending Christmas at his parents’ up until just a few days ago.
The former United forward is a club legend after spending 11 seasons with the Reds and earning numerous honours under the tutelage of Sir Alex Ferguson.
All the big hitters were present
It’s no surprise then that Solskjær has admitted to contacting Sir Alex not long after he was appointed interim manager stating, ‘I’ve already been in touch with him - there’s no one better to get advice from’.
In fact Solskjær hasn’t just sought out advice from Ferguson, who he’s no doubt likely to meet in the hallways of Old Trafford. He revealed that since a serious injury in 2003 how he kept a sharp eye out for how the Scot handled specific situations, no doubt with a view to emulating him as a manager. Well, this is his chance.
Solskjær has demonstrated how he’s a chip off the old block already in his opening match with United. His United team was the first since Ferguson to score five goals in a match. It’s surely no coincidence.
The Theatre of Dreams is poised and ready
But Solskjær himself has admitted that the result against Cardiff was all down to the players. He’s spoken of the unbelievable quality and the talent he has at his disposal, but also the importance of their work rate, which will be the key to success.
Incredibly, the game against Cardiff represented the first time that United had outrun their opponents in a match this season. All the big hitters were present with Lingard, Martial and Rashford all on the scoresheet and superstar Paul Pogba setting them up.
Now United fans await Solskjær’s managerial home debut. The Norwegian will make his inaugural walk down the Old Trafford touchline against Huddersfield on Boxing Day at 15.00 UK time. The Theatre of Dreams is poised and ready to be entertained.
- Wed 26 Dec: Man United vs. Huddersfield (15.00)
- Sun 30 Dec: Man United vs. Bournemouth (16.30)
- Wed 2 Jan: Newcastle vs. Man United (20.00)
Pochettino is keeping one eye on United and here’s why
Not many can doubt the immense strides that Tottenham Hotspur have made since the arrival of Mauricio Pochettino from Southampton in May 2014.
The Tottenham manager has instilled discipline, implemented positive, forward thinking tactical displays and recruited wisely in his time in North London.
It’s no wonder then the Argentine is attracting the attention of footballing giants Manchester United and Real Madrid. Both clubs have sacked their managers already this season, only to hastily appoint interims drawn from their own ranks.
That isn’t the only reason Pochettino will be keeping an eye on United
Ole Gunnar Solskjær, a former United forward, won numerous honours with the Reds during the 90s and 00s and has been installed as their manager until the end of the season and a suitable long term replacement can be found.
Likewise, Real Madrid terminated the services of former Spain national manager Julen Lopetegui back in October, only to replace him with Pochettino’s countryman and former Los Blancos midfielder Santiago Solari.
Both caretaker managers are largely unproven, especially in such high profile jobs, and Pochettino is no doubt at the top of their lists for long term replacements.
Such is fervour surrounding the Spurs manager that the club’s press representative was adamant in barring reporters from discussing Manchester United in particular in the pre-match press conference ahead of their Carabao Cup tie with Arsenal midweek.
Pochettino’s side are in fine form
But that isn’t the only reason Pochettino will be keeping an eye on United. The two clubs meet not long after the Christmas holidays. United will travel to Wembley on 13 January looking for revenge after the embarrassing 3-0 defeat at home to The Lilywhites.
Pochettino’s side are in fine form though following four straight victories in the Premier League. With United seemingly in resurgence under their new coach it could make for a fine spectacle of attacking prowess.
Spurs have one of the busiest schedules over Christmas. They host Bournemouth at home on Boxing Day, quickly followed by a visit from Wolves just three days later, topped off by a trip to Cardiff on the 2 January.
All eyes are sure to be on Pochettino and how his Spurs side navigate a tricky Christmas and New Year.
- Wed 26 Dec: Spurs vs. Bournemouth (15.00)
- Sat 29 Dec: Spurs vs. Wolves (15.00)
- Tue 1 Jan: Cardiff vs. Spurs (17.30)
Boxing day represents a busy day for everyone, and it won’t be long after the turkey’s been carved that you’ll be glued to your boxes again watching the Premier League action.
All but two Premier League sides will be in action on Boxing Day, all rueing a difficult but exhilarating set of fixtures that makes English football the centre of attention over the Christmas and New Year period.
Three games will be shown on Sky Sports on Boxing Day including Fulham vs. Wolves in the early kick off, and then Brighton vs. Arsenal, quickly followed by Watford vs. Chelsea in the evening.
Christmas is always a hectic period for English football and anything can happen with a heavy set of fixtures putting pressure on players and managers alike. Someone’s sure to slip up and the league table could look considerably different come January. Be sure not to miss it.
- Fulham vs. Wolves (12.30) - Live on Sky Sports
- Burnley vs. Everton (15.00)
- Crystal Palace vs. Cardiff (15.00)
- Leicester vs. Man City (15.00)
- Liverpool vs. Newcastle (15.00)
- Man United vs. Huddersfield (15.00)
- Spurs vs. Bournemouth (15.00)
- Brighton vs. Arsenal (17.30) - Live on Sky Sports
- Watford vs. Chelsea (19.30) - Live on Sky Sports
- Southampton vs. West Ham (Thu 27 Dec, 19.45) - Live on Sky Sports
*All kick off times are to UK standard time