What the papers say
Fans rate the best and worst of the season so far – the stars, the flops and what needs to change in 2019
• Part one: Arsenal to Huddersfield
Manchester United’s money men put in the boot when their manager’s number was up. Politicians might like to do the same
Narcissistic, antagonistic, constantly special-pleading, always trying to play the victim. It’s tempting to see José Mourinho, sacked last week as Manchester United manager, as in some sense symbolic of our age.
The man who perfected the art of anti-football in an age lashed by the whip of anti-politics. “There are lots of poets in football,” Mourinho said after winning the Europa League in 2017 in a game that his opposite number, Ajax manager Peter Bosz, described as “boring”. But, Mourinho continued, “poets don’t win titles”.Continue reading...
Ole Gunnar Solskjær looked natty in club suit and tie as he posed for pre-game photographs, then he sat on the bench and had to wait precisely three minutes and three seconds to see the opening goal of his Manchester United tenure.
The Norwegian pumped both fists after Cardiff’s wall could do nothing to stop Marcus Rashford’s swerving effort from flying past Neil Etheridge in the home goal, then hugged his No 2, Mike Phelan, as Michael Carrick watched alongside them. Television pictures cut to Ed Woodward, the executive vice‑chairman, grinning in the posh seats. If Solskjær’s brief is to return thrills-and-spills fantasy football to United – and afterwards Wayne Rooney said he had texted his former teammate along these lines – then this was a dream start.Continue reading...
There is no question that Manchester United have identified the right man to fill the Old Trafford vacancy in Mauricio Pochettino; the Tottenham manager is an even more impressive candidate now than he was in 2016, when he was shortlisted as a replacement for Louis van Gaal but considered riskier than José Mourinho because of his lack of trophies.
If that has come to be viewed as a blunder, then United are in a position to correct it, even if it ends up costing north of £40m and Pochettino would be leaving a better team and more stable club behind at Spurs. The Argentinian has an extremely difficult decision to make but until he chooses his next course of action the list of alternatives merely forms a backup plan. Trophies or not, the fact that United and Real Madrid are both interested in the same manager says everything that needs to be said about Pochettino’s pedigree and potential.Continue reading...
The Ole Gunnar Solskjær era is up and running with smiles back on faces after Manchester United rediscovered their swagger of old with a victory that was every bit as convincing as the scoreline suggests. Free-flowing, re-energised and liberated, United swept Cardiff City aside with ruthless efficiency on a night when Solskjær’s name was sung loud and clear throughout the game.
Ahead inside four minutes when Marcus Rashford scored from a free-kick that had Solskjær clenching his fists, United never looked back. Victor Camarasa’s penalty, shortly after Ander Herrera had doubled the visitors’ lead, never threatened to derail United on an evening when Paul Pogba was restored to the starting lineup.Continue reading...
- Premier League updates from Solskjær’s first match as caretaker
- Live scores: all the goals from around the UK and Europe
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45 min: Pogba has a dig from 25 yards. He shanks it 25 yards wide. There will be three minutes added to this first half.
43 min: A free kick for Cardiff, in the middle of the United half. Camarasa hoicks it out left. Arter hooks it back in, and the ball lands on the top of the crossbar and bounces out for a goal kick. United have been quite magnificent in this half, but Cardiff have played their part in an entertaining game.
What a goal this is! Old-school United are back! Martial probes down the inside right. He flips a pass left for Pogba, who slips one to Martial’s right for Lingard. Finally Lingard pings it back to Martial, who saunters free into the area and slots the calmest of finishes into the bottom left! First-time brilliance!
39 min: Shaw threatens to break clear into the Cardiff box, but Manga does well to shut the door. United come straight back at the hosts, though, Lingard sashaying in from the left and whistling a low shot straight down Etheridge’s throat.
Camarasa to take. And he launches a wonderful spot kick into the top left, de Gea with no chance whatsoever! You’ll not see a better penalty than that all year. And the stadium erupts, the game suddenly back on!
37 min: Another chance for Gunnarsson to fling a throw into the area from the right. Rashford looks to run the dropping ball out of the box. He leans into it with his shoulder, and Michael Oliver points to the spot!
35 min: It’s all United. Pogba drives down the left and flicks the ball off Gunnarsson for another corner. Young hits it long for Herrera, the pair trying to replicate the famous Beckham-Scholes one-two against Bradford back in the day. Nope. As Cardiff clear, Shaw lunges in late on Murphy and is properly booked.
33 min: Young threatens down the right. Bamba is forced to clear for a corner. Cardiff are all over the shop as they try to defend it, Martial nearly prodding home at the far post, Morrison hooking away just in time.
31 min: Cardiff win a corner on the left, Murphy earning it off Herrera. It proves a non-event, though Murphy comes straight back at United down the left and reaches the byline. Unfortunately for the hosts, Murphy flashes an over-excitable cross high over de Gea and away from danger.
Well this is spectacular! But so simple. Pogba cuts in from the left and curls a pass to Herrera in the middle of the Cardiff half. From 30 yards, he aims for the top right ... and in it flies, Etheridge with no chance again! There’s a big deflection on Herrera’s shot, off the back of Cunningham. Not that Solskjaer cares, as he celebrates in the dugout with a look of sheer delight playing across his face!
27 min: Rashford runs into the back of Cunningham. It’s a common or garden free kick, but the Cardiff fans explode in anger anyway. Hey, it’s panto season. There’s a fine atmosphere in the stadium, both sets of fans giving it plenty.
25 min: From that, Young fizzes a ball through the six-yard box. Jones can’t quite get on the end of it. United’s bright start continues apace.
24 min: Rashford is barged to the turf by Gunnarsson. Young takes the free kick, out on the left touchline. He looks for Pogba at the far post; Bamba does very well to eyebrow the ball out for a corner.
23 min: Phil Jones goes marauding down the left wing. It’s a new era OK.
21 min: Bamba strips the ball from Lingard in the centre circle. He romps upfield and has Murphy in acres on the left. There’s no United defender covering that half of the field at all! Just like the second half at Anfield last weekend. But Bamba doesn’t see the pass and is eventually dispossessed. Martial goes up the other end, crossing from the left. Rashford’s snapshot is blocked well by Cunningham.
20 min: United are snapping into quite a lot of tackles, closing down a fair bit of space. It’s a conspicuous change in approach.
18 min: Lindelof turns back down the United right and very nearly plays himself into a bit of trouble, with Murphy and Arter hovering around. He eventually does very well to slip a pass back to de Gea, who blooters clear.
16 min: Paterson is back on his feet and by the looks of it he’s good to continue. Shaw’s back into the action as well; it’s all good to see. The game restarts, and Martial skins Manga down the left again. He cuts back in the hope of finding Rashford, but Camarasa has read the danger well.
14 min: Murphy makes good down the left and his low cross is hacked out by Jones. Centre stage again for Gunnarsson, who flings in one of those long throws. In the heat of an aerial battle, Shaw and Paterson nut each other in the full-on style. Paterson has come off the worst, and is lying on the turf looking very groggy indeed, a large ice pack pressed to his forehead. A long break in play.
12 min: Martial’s dribble down the left earns a corner off Manga. Young’s delivery is smacked clear by the head of Bamba. “I feel that, on the basis of these ten minutes, United have found their permanent manager and can bring their search to a close immediately,” writes Peter Raleigh. “What club do I support? I don’t see how that’s relevant.”
10 min: “I could never figure why Mourinho didn’t give Martial/Rashford/Lingard a run as a front trident similar to Liverpool’s,” writes Hubert O’Hearn. “So I give Solskjaer top marks already for satisfying my curiosity. My suspicion is that the experiment will work out very, very well.” The early signs are certainly good. Though not everything will be fixed immediately, of course. Jones makes a half-arsed clearing header, and is thankful that Hoilett’s attempt to latch onto the loose ball and move towards the area is similarly clumsy.
8 min: Lingard clumsily barges Gunnarsson to the ground, 25 yards out. Murphy looks to plant the free kick into the top right, but it’s always high and wide. A small foothold in the game for Cardiff, though, after United’s blistering start.
6 min: Shaw robs a dithering Hoilett near the centre circle. Rashford goes tearing towards the Cardiff box. The move eventually breaks down, but United are on the front foot alright. They’re swarming around their opponents in the new-fangled pressing style. A penny for Jose’s thoughts right now.
4 min: A suggestion that the free kick might have taken a nick off Paterson en route to the goal. But still, what a hit. In the stands, Ed Woodward smiles broadly, in full cat-cream mode.
Gunnarsson drags down Pogba as the United midfielder looks to spin into space, 30 yards from goal. A free kick in a dangerous position. Pogba steps over it, allowing Rashford to send a stunning, swerving effort around the wall and into the bottom right, Etheridge rooted to the spot! What a start to the Solskjaer era!
2 min: United ping it around the middle of the park awhile. There are already signs that they’ll have a more proactive attitude under the new regime, with Shaw and Young pushing up high on the wings.
Cardiff get the party started! The ball’s immediately launched long. Some head tennis, and then a chance for Gunnarsson to Delap a throw into the United box from the right. The ball’s flung into the mixer, and Jones passes the early aerial test.
The teams are out! Cardiff City are in their famous blue shirts, while Manchester United wear their storied red. A wonderful atmosphere in the stadium, a Christmas party in blue. We’ll be off in a minute!
A very cheery Neil Warnock speaks, and delivers a masterclass in expectation management. “We’re looking forward to this. We worked our socks off last year, against all the odds, to get here, so we’ll enjoy it. We’ll give it our best shot, that’s all the lads can do. They’ve been super. I know there will be players out to prove things on their side; we’ve been a bit unlucky in that respect following on from Southampton and Leicester, with the circumstances around those games, but we just have to get on with it. The crowd will be important, and we can’t concede early. We’ve got to be on our game. We think there are weaknesses and we’ve got to do our best to find them. It’s fair to say that if you look at the teamsheets, we’re miles apart, but that’s football, and you never know what’s around the corner.”
Pre-match reading. Here’s our man Ed Aarons on some of the most memorable caretaker reigns of recent times. Contains quite a lot of Chelsea and Newcastle United, as you’d expect.
In a pre-recorded interview with BT Sport, Manchester United’s new interim manager says he was on the receiving end of Sir Alex Ferguson’s famous hairdryer three times. “Sometimes you need it,” he explains with a smile, accompanied by a small shudder because, well, experiences like that never totally leave you. “You can’t get too complacent, too comfortable. But you want to be confident. It’s a privilege to have that talent [gestures towards players] and for them to be able to express themselves.”
Wayne Rooney is BT Sport’s special guest this evening. He’s asked whether getting shot of Jose Mourinho was the right idea. He says yes. “To be a successful football club, you need everything to be right, to be happy. That rubs off on the players. The relationships between some of the staff and the players wasn’t great. But the players are smiling again. It’s a good move for the club, and it’ll be fascinating to see how Ole sets the team up and how they play today.” He talks intelligently, does Rooney; he’ll make a good pundit one day if he fancies it.
Neil Warnock makes one change to the Cardiff City starting XI named in the 3-2 defeat at Watford last Saturday. Greg Cunningham replaces Joe Bennett.
The first Manchester United team picked by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has four changes to the one named for the 3-1 loss at Anfield last Sunday. Eric Bailly, Diogo Dalot, Matteo Darmian and Romelu Lukaku are replaced by Phil Jones, Luke Shaw, Anthony Martial and ... cue drum roll and fanfare ... Paul Pogba.
Cardiff City: Etheridge, Ecuele Manga, Morrison, Bamba, Cunningham, Gunnarsson, Hoilett, Victor Camarasa, Arter, Murphy, Paterson.
Subs: Peltier, Ralls, Zohore, Smithies, Reid, Mendez-Laing, Harris.
Manchester United: de Gea, Young, Jones, Lindelof, Shaw, Herrera, Matic, Pogba, Lingard, Rashford, Martial.
Subs: Bailly, Mata, Pereira, Fred, Dalot, Romero, Fellaini.
On the sixth of October 1945, Manchester United drew 0-0 at home to Everton in the Wartime League North. On the eighth of November 1986, they lost 2-0 at Oxford United in the old First Division. The managerial debuts of Matt Busby and Alex Ferguson there. From small acorns to mighty oaks.
Will Manchester United look back similarly on the 22nd of December 2018 in years to come? Let’s wait and see, huh, but safe to say the result of today’s visit to Cardiff City shouldn’t be treated as much of a signifier in the grand scheme of things. You only have to consider the 2-0 win over Wigan Athletic in the 2013 Community Shield, or the 2-1 victory over Leicester City in the 2017 version, to realise that. The triumphant managerial debuts of David Moyes and Jose Mourinho, like you needed to be told.Continue reading...
José Mourinho’s “respect, respect, respect” meltdown after Manchester United’s 3-0 loss to Tottenham was bizarre to witness for a reporter who has covered him since his first Chelsea tenure began 14 years ago. Mourinho can be curt and abrupt but had never been out of control. That was until the end of the post-game briefing at Old Trafford on August’s bank holiday Monday.
Mourinho claimed the home support had shown how happy they were with the result by applauding the side to the end. So this correspondent wondered, given that fans were being used as a barometer of contentedness, what the manager might gauge from the many who had left early. Mourinho got angry, quickly.Continue reading...
I still remember the day Ole Gunnar Solskjær was presented as our manager for the first time in 2011. To be honest, you felt a bit shocked and it was a bit of a “wow moment”. Obviously, we knew him very well from his playing career and knew what he had done with Manchester United’s reserves.
The way he worked on the training pitch was a bit of a shock, too. In most parts of Norway, they have sworn by the so-called “Drillo football”, stemming from the 1990s and the success Egil “Drillo” Olsen had with the Norwegian national team. That style of football was all about quickly going forward, being physical and work on set pieces. Solskjær completely ripped that apart. He wanted us to use the ball all the time. Pass and move, but always with an end product in mind.Continue reading...
In a strange twist of fate, Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s first match in charge of Manchester United is back at the club where he was sacked after only nine months in charge. That was in 2014 and few Cardiff fans could have imagined the Norwegian would return one day as the manager of United. Although this is an awkward game for Solskjær – Cardiff have won four of their past five at home – there is a sense that United’s players will feel liberated now that José Mourinho has gone. Stuart James
Saturday 5.30pm BT Sport 1Continue reading...
- Former captain says United ‘players got away with murder’
- Keane says players ‘hid behind’ Mourinho in scathing attack
Roy Keane has delivered a scathing appraisal of the attitude of Manchester United’s player towards sacked manager José Mourinho, claiming they have “downed tools” and “thrown him under the bus”.
Keane, who was speaking to Adrian Chiles on BBC Radio 5 Live, said the behaviour of players made it understandable why Mourinho had a fractious relationship with some members of his squad. “You would fall out with these players,” he said. “The players got away with murder. They hide behind the manager. They have thrown him under the bus.
Roy Keane, former #ManUtd captain, gives a scathing verdict on the players' behaviour over the Mourinho sacking, in an interview with Adrian Chiles.
"Shame on some of those players... The players get away with murder.”
“I can’t tolerate players that hide behind their agents.” pic.twitter.com/Z459MUrCYU
Ole Gunnar Solskjær insists that he is focusing on his first game, despite admitting that he would like to become the permanent manager at Manchester United when his interim period ends.
The club appointed their former striker as caretaker until the end of the season, following the sacking of José Mourinho on Tuesday.
United trail fourth placed Chelsea by 11 points and face Cardiff City on SaturdayContinue reading...
• ‘So many would love to be manager of United – I’m one of them’
• ‘I want the players to be the kids that love to play football’
Ole Gunnar Solskjær has admitted he would like to become permanent Manchester United manager when his interim period ends at the close of the season.
The 45-year-old was appointed as José Mourinho’s temporary replacement on Wednesday, with the club stating they will take between now and the summer to find a permanent incumbent.Continue reading...
Manchester United start life without José Mourinho, Burnley need to rediscover their grit and Southampton look to build
When Cardiff sacked Ole Gunnar Solskjær in September 2014 it seemed a stretch to imagine, little over four years later, he would be bringing Manchester United to a venue where – put lightly – things did not go especially well. In fairness to Solskjær it always seemed a case of wrong club, wrong time more than anything else but there are a few parallels with the situation he has walked into this week. At the time of Solskjær’s arrival, Malky Mackay’s conservative style had run its course and the Bluebirds needed fresh, forward thinking. That is certainly what United require and, in contrast to his time in South Wales, Solskjær inherits a squad capable of fitting the brief. It is time to put smiles on faces and, while Cardiff are these days more formidable than the team Solskjær struggled to remould, this looks the perfect opportunity for him to make a start. NAContinue reading...
• Paul Pogba among those out of favour under Mourinho
Ole Gunnar Solskjær has said he is focused on getting Manchester United’s players to “enjoy” their football again following the sacking of José Mourinho.
The former United striker, who has been placed in charge at Old Trafford for the remainder of the season, told MUTV in his first interview: “It’s great. It feels like coming home, I have to say. It’s been a few whirlwind days, of course, it’s been very hectic, but it’s just great to see everyone again.”Continue reading...
He may be maddening but no player can galvanise Old Trafford like the one who came to embody José Mourinho’s bleak reign
For any manager parachuted in to pick up someone else’s problems, the nature of the job is to make the best meal out of the ingredients left in the cupboard. Given his qualities, Paul Pogba should be one of the first things any new manager reaches for. The relationship between Manchester United’s marquee midfielder and Ole Gunnar Solskjær may not turn out to be a long one, but it can certainly be important.
Wherever you stand on the Pogba-José Mourinho enmity – whether you sympathised more with one, the other or neither during a deep frost that did neither of them any favours – there is no disputing that Pogba can be a major force for Manchester United. While Mourinho seemed to get a kick out of undermining him – a weird strategy to motivate an important player – outside this spiky chapter Pogba has been able to express his talent readily for Antonio Conte and Max Allegri at Juventus, and for Didier Deschamps with France. Clearly eking more from him than has been on show this season can be done.Continue reading...
A football journalist should never welcome the departure of a leading manager, particularly one as notable and quotable as José Mourinho.
The guy has been good copy over the last decade and a bit, and remained so right up to the end. Although Manchester United trail forlornly in Manchester City’s wake in most aspects of football relating to the pitch, if you could pick up points for entertaining press conferences or providing pithy replies to questions rather than attempting to defuse them the situation could well be reversed.
United no longer sells itself to a player before his agent even picks up the phoneContinue reading...
Today’s rumours are MSG-fuelled
What does every manager want? No, not a Christmas hamper. Every manager wants a WAR CHEST! Ole Gunnar Solskjær wouldn’t get through the winter nights without one and, once we’re into January, the new Manchester United caretaker manager is going to well and truly tuck in. He’ll have £50m to spend – which admittedly sounds more like a slimline wallet or store card than a war chest – and will lavish it on the players United need to look like a football team again. Toby Alderweireld? He’d be more useful than a jar of chutney or tin of shortbread. Douglas Costa? Rather him than a luxury panettone. Both men could be on Ed Woodward’s Ole Gunnar’s radar according to this morning’s reports, as could Porto’s go-getter Éder Militão, and he will supposedly be given a full say in the club’s dealings despite the temporary nature of his stay.Continue reading...
They say 24 hours is a long time in football but, even with his vast experience, Mike Phelan must still be pinching himself about Tuesday’s turn of events. Back in his home town while he takes a break from sporting director duties at the Australian side Central Coast Mariners, the 56-year-old took up an invitation to take a coaching session at Burnley College before answering questions from students about his experiences as Sir Alex Ferguson’s assistant at Manchester United.
“One of the students asked him what his dream job would be and he said it would be to be coaching in front of 70,000 people again, so whether he had already had that conversation I don’t know,” says Ash Aldersen, Burnley College’s academy of sport and elite athlete manager. “But it’s a dream come true for him. He said he’d come back from Australia just for Christmas, so I suppose he’s had an early present returning to United.”Continue reading...
José Mourinho is “safe from the sack for the immediate future”, writes Jamie Jackson (Manager safe for now…, 18 December). Can he please now do a piece suggesting Theresa May will remain prime minister and lead us out of the EU.
• Interesting that Manchester United should take on a former player as caretaker manager (Solskjær set to take United reins for remainder of season, 19 December). Surely there is one uniquely qualified candidate: Eric Cantona.
Ole Gunnar Solskjær has been appointed the interim manager at Manchester United, replacing José Mourinho until the end of the season. The Norwegian says 'it's brilliant to be coming back'. Here's a look at how he's faired so far in his managerial careerContinue reading...