December 19 – Manchester United have named Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as caretaker manager until the end of the season, a day after sacking Jose Mourinho, but British media have little doubt who United’s long-term target is.
Solskjaer spent 11 seasons at Old Trafford, becoming a legend by famously scoring the winning injury-time goal in the 1999 Champions League final. But he takes charge with United sixth in the Premier League and way off the pace after the club’s fourth managerial change in five years.
“Manchester United is in my heart and it’s brilliant to be coming back in this role,” said the Norwegian. “This is an opportunity I had to take. I’m really looking forward to working with the very talented squad we have, the staff and everyone at the club.”
United sacked manager Mourinho on Tuesday following their worst start to a season for 28 years, culminating in a 3-1 loss to bitter rivals Liverpool on Sunday.
Solskjaer will be joined by Mike Phelan, who returns as assistant manager, having previously working alongside Sir Alex Ferguson for five seasons before leaving in 2013.
“Ole is a club legend with huge experience, both on the pitch and in coaching roles,” United executive vice chairman Ed Woodward said.
“His history at Manchester United means he lives and breathes the culture here and everyone at the club is delighted to have him and Mike Phelan back. We are confident they will unite the players and the fans as we head into the second half of the season.”
Solskjaer won six Premier League titles and two FA Cups to go along with the 1999 Champions League triumph at United but is widely expected to be a short-term appointment unless he manages to miraculously steer United into the top four.
Although he has had success in his homeland, the move for Solskjaer is something of a risk, even until the end of the season, given his limited top-flight managerial experience – an unsuccessful spell at Cardiff City in 2014. Ironically it is at Cardiff where he starts his United tenure.
Tottenham’s Mauricio Pochettino is reportedly United’s number one target in the summer to take over long term. Many newspapers reported that the Argentine wants to be considered for the job, though it would cost United £34 million in compensation.
The Spurs manager, whose contract expires in 2023, has gained plaudits for his tactical nous, style of play, bringing through home-grown players youngsters and producing results that belie his team’s spending compared with rivals.
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