When holders United withdrew from the FA Cup, the beginning of the end for the ‘magic of the cup’

Ah. ‘The magic of the cup’. That old phrase that BT Sport and BBC recycle every year at the beginning of January for FA Cup third round weekend. The weekend that used to promise so much, but now, nothing. There are a few scares along the way, and usually one or two upsets, but something is missing. Something, somewhere, is absent. It says a lot that FA Cup weekend sometimes now even gets frowned upon on the same level as the international break does – a ‘bore fest’. Reserves are fielded, crowds are low, upsets are rare and if they do it is because the minnows are playing against a team of kids that have never played together. It is not disastrous, but it is far from magical, and ‘magic of the cup’ is a phrase that has to be entered into the cliché manual, because it is dying. Sadly.

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Why are Manchester United already unrecognisable under Solskjaer?

So why exactly do Manchester United appear such a different outfit under Solskjaer already? Why have they scored five goals in a match for the first time since the Ferguson era? Is it as simple as escaping the authoritarian clutches of evil dictator Jose and bounding into the warm loving embrace of a smiling Ole? Is it because they have played three teams that wouldn’t be out of place in the Championship? In all likelihood, it’s a combination of several factors – ‘the new manager bounce’ most definitely has a part to play. But there are already specific differences in United’s style of play and tactics that have become evident in the small sample of games we have seen so far. There seem to have been three key changes… Continue reading “Why are Manchester United already unrecognisable under Solskjaer?”

Advent Day 20 – Ole Gunnar Solskjær, the epitome of the ‘super-sub’

On Tuesday, it was announced that Jose Mourinho had been sacked as manager of Manchester United, after their worst start to a season for 28 years. Later, it was revealed that the board were to appoint a caretaker manager until the end of the 2018/19 season, before choosing a more long-term manager.

The following day, it was confirmed that the caretaker manager would be Ole Gunnar Solskjær, a Man Utd cult legend who scored 126 goals in his 366 appearances for the Red Devils. The Norwegian has had mixed success as a manager, with a stellar record managing Eliteserien team Molde FK, marred by a less than convincing nine months managing Cardiff City in which he only won nine games and was relegated, despite making 30 signings.

However tempting it is to speculate about Manchester United’s success under Ole Gunnar Solskjær, we’re here to talk about his success on the pitch for the club. Winning seven league titles, two FA cups and one famous Champions League, the ‘baby-faced assassin’ was quietly present and efficient in some of United’s most successful seasons.

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