Tag Archives: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Ex-Manchester United Player joins Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Coaching staff

Manchester United have confirmed that Darren Fletcher will become the latest ex-player to join their first-team coaching staff.

Fletcher, joined the United academy in 1995 and went on to make over 340 first team appearances for the Red Devils between 2003 and 2015. During that time the midfielder won five Premier League Titles, one FA Cup and the Champions League. He also scored 24 goals for the club. 

In addition, the former Scottish International won over 80 caps for his national team and scored five goals. 

The 36-year-old, who also played for West Brom and Stoke City, only retired in 2019 and has been working as pundit for Sky Sports. 

Fletcher has also been coaching the Manchester United under 16s since October 2020 and following his appointment to the first team staff said:

“It is a very exciting time for this young team and I am looking forward to taking the next steps in my coaching career by working with Ole and his staff.”

The Scot always planned to go into coaching once he retired and will join his former midfield colleague Michael Carrick in the Old Trafford dugout.  Fletcher also played alongside the Solskjaer for four seasons when the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson was at the helm. 

When asked about Fletcher’s appointment to his coaching staff Solskjaer said:

“Darren has the United DNA running through his veins and he knows exactly what it takes to be a Manchester United player.

“His experience both on and off the field will be a great addition to the coaching staff.”

Fletcher will be due step into his new role straight away with his first involvement on the touchline being Wednesday’s Carabao Cup Semi-final against fierce rivals Manchester City.

Do you think that Darren Fletcher has what it takes to follow in the footsteps of other former Old Trafford players into Management? Share your views in the comments below. 

Its back: Premier league weekend preview

After the final international break of the calendar year top flight domestic football is back and heading into the most hectic part of an already condensed 2020/21 schedule.

The Premier League has already seen plenty of shock results this campaign and as things stand the top of the table is delicately poised with a host of clubs vying for supremacy.

Here are your big match previews for the weekend…

Premier League

Newcastle United v Chelsea Saturday 12.30pm

Frank Lampard’s side were in fine form before the break and the Blues legend will be hoping his side can pick up where they left off as they head to the North East.

Lampard will be without Ka Havertz and Christian Pulisic for the clash at St James’ Park while experienced centre-back Thiago Silva is a doubt.

Steve Bruce’s Magpies have been typically inconsistent so far this term without setting the world alight. However with the attacking threats of Ryan Fraser, Allan Saint Maximin and Callum Wilson, they can be confident of stopping the visitors heading to the top of the table.

Tottenham v Manchester City Saturday 5.30pm

A huge test of Tottenham’s early title credentials as Jose Mourinho’s men look to seize the opportunity to reach the summit of the table, albeit potentially for just 24 hours.

Spurs have been a tough team to beat this season and with the likes of Harry Kane, Gareth Bale and Heung Min-Son in attack they pose a danger to any team.

Pep Guardiola, fresh off the back of a new contract, will be looking for more consistency from his side as they look to close the small gap to the league leaders. Gabriel Jesus is likely to be available whilst Sergio Aguero is a doubt.

Manchester United v West Brom Saturday 8.00pm

United went into the break on the back of a morale boosting victory over Everton, a victory that arguably saved Ole Gunnar Solskjær from a difficult conversation over this job.

Slaven Bilic’s Baggies meanwhile are desperate for points already as they flounder in the relegation zone without a win in their opening eight matches.

Leeds United v Arsenal Sunday 4.30pm

Perhaps evevery neutral’s favourite side to watch, Leeds United have made for enthralling viewing this season, unless you’re a fan of stout defending.

Marcelo Bielsa’s charges are a fast flowing bunch who always look to play on the front-foot, occasionally to their detriment. The Yorkshire side have already shocked the big boys this season, taking a point from the game with Man City.

Mikel Arteta’s Gunners could almost do no wrong until they came unstuck in a big way against Aston Villa before the break. The North Londoners sit 11th in the table and will be desperate to start clawing their way up.

Liverpool v Leicester City Sunday 7.15pm

Arguably the game of the weekend as the reigning champions host the current leagues leaders at Anfield.

Jurgen Klopp’s side come into this game with almost an unprecedented amount of injuries with Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez out for the majority of the season at least. Captain Jordan Henderson, Thiago Alcantara, Mohamed Salah and Trent Alexander-Arnold are all major doubts for the clash whilst Fabinho has returned to full training.

The Foxes, not without their own injury concerns, must fancy their chances of taking a positive result back to the Midlands as former Reds boss Brendan Rodger’s pits his wits against Klopp.

Wolves v Southampton Monday 8.00pm

The weekend’s action rounds up at Molineux as this seasons surprise package Southampton head to Wolverhampton hoping to continue their positive start.

Ralph Hassenhutl’s Saints sit fourth in the table heading into the weekend after a 2-0 victory over Newcastle before the international hiatus. The visitors are likely to be without talismanic striker Danny Ings however as he recovers from a knee issue.

Wolves meanwhile haven’t quite hit the heights perhaps many expected this term so far as they struggle to get going with a host of new signings in their ranks. Nuno Espirito Santo will be hoping this period can bring about a new level of consistency from his talented squad.

Other Fixtures

Aston Villa v Brighton & Hove Albion Saturday 3.00pm

Fulham v Everton Sunday 12.00pm

Sheffield United v West Ham United Sunday 2.00pm

Burnley v Crystal Palace Monday 5.30pm

Who has impressed in the EFL Championship so far?

The latest episode of the writers podcast features writer and Cardiff City fan Martin Townley.

We discuss his opinion on which sides have impressed in the EFL Championship so far as well as what he has made of the start to the Premier League season.

Link to the Writers Podcast below: https://soundcloud.com/adam-stephens-425096853/24-7-football-episode-8

In addition, we are also proud to announce that we have been ranked by Feedspot in their Top 40 UK Football Blogs

Manchester United vs RB Leipzig Match Preview

The second round of matches in the Champions League Group Stage sees Ole Gunner Solskjaer’s team host Bundesliga side RB Leipzig.  

United will certainly be looking to build on their impressive start to Europe’s Premier competition. On match day one they secured a 2-1 win against Paris Saint Germain at the Parc Des Princes. 

Since then, Solskjaer’s side were involved in a rather dull Premier League encounter at Old Trafford this past weekend, a 0-0 draw with Chelsea.

This subsequently meant that it was the first time the Red Devils have failed to win any of their first three home games in the League since the 1972-73 campaign. 

RB Leipzig, meanwhile, are coming into this match in good form having won four out of their last five games. They currently lead the German Bundesliga after the opening five games.   

In addition, Julian Naglesmann’s team began their Champions League campaign with a 2-0 over Turkish side Istanbul Basaksehir. Manchester City loanee Angelino scored both of the goals. 

Manchester United Team News

Solskjaer has suggested ahead of this game that there are a few knocks. Centre-back Eric Bailly and midfielder Jesse Lingard are likely to be the only absentees for their Group H clash.

French forward Antony Martial will also be available despite his domestic ban still being in force. 

One topic that enviably has come up in the pre-match conference is the lack of opportunities currently being given to the Dutch new signing Donny Van de Beek.  The 23 year old has yet to start a Premier League or Champions League tie for his new club.  

Indeed, Van de Beek has, however, looked impressive when he has been used from the bench so far, scoring in a 3-1 defeat to Crystal Palace on the opening day of the season, while he also involved in the winning of the last minute penalty that secured victory at Brighton.  

Both Sky pundit and former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher and also ex-Dutch international Marco Van Bastan have already questioned why Van de Beek moved to Old Trafford, with the former suggesting he would not get in ahead of Bruno Fernandes, while the latter has stated that his fellow country man will live to regret his £40 million pound move from Ajax.

Solskjaer has since said:

“When Donny has played he has played really well.  It says a lot about our depth of squad that we don’t have to use him every game. 

“It’s nice for some players and commentators to have a little go, but you have to know that you don’t have to start the first three games to be a very important player in the squad.”  

RB Leipzig Team News

Despite missing the goals and assists of Chelsea’s new attack Timo Werner that has not hindered RB Leipzig’s impressive development.

RB Leipzig coach Julian Nagelsmann will, however, likely be without both Lukas Klostermann and Konrad Laimer (both knee injuries) for the German side’s first ever meeting with United.  While both midfielders Tyler Adams and Nordi Mukiele are also doubts.

Former Crystal Palace striker, Alexander Sorloth would be available for Nagelsmann. Sorloth joined RB Leipzig in the summer from Trabozonspor and could partner Yussuf Pouslen up front. French defender Ibrahima Konate is also fit again.   

The Mangers Thoughts

When asked about building on that win against PSG in the pre match press conference Solskjaer said:

“We look at every single game as a chance to get three points and in the group stage of four teams, you’d think 10 points will get you through.

“To get 18 points though ultimately is the aim.”

When asked about Manchester United’s impressive result in Paris, Julian Nagelsmann said:

“When I analyse an opponent I do not look at the results.  I try to find out how they score goals, concede, and build up play, counter attack, counter press and other things. 

“We know that their (League) start was not that good, but at the end it is one of the biggest clubs in the world, a big name in European football and world football.

“I’ve never played in Old Trafford or been there. It will be a great experience.”

Key Player

For Manchester United Bruno Fernandes I reckon holds the key to them getting a result in this game. The Portuguese international is the Red Devil’s top scorer so far and ultimately has that ability to make things happen and provide the spark that could make the difference in what I predict will be a tricky encounter for Ole’s men.

The German side will be looking to their impressive young centre back Dayot Upamecano. Upamecano made his debut for France last month and was crucial in Leipzig’s quarterfinal victory over Atletico Madrid last season.

Match Prediction: Manchester United 1-1 RB Leipzig

I am predicting another draw at home for Ole’s side. I reckon this is a harder encounter for them then the one in Paris as the emphasis will be on the Red Devil’s to have more possession and try to break the German side down. This is something that United have traditionally struggled with over the past few seasons. For this reason I will go for a score draw.

Premier league 2020/21: WHO CAN WIN IT?

The new Premier League season begins this weekend, unbeleivably as it seems like only yesterday we were waving goodbye to the last season.

Ahead of the 2020/21 season, we have some questions surrounding the top of the table. Can Pep’s Manchester City rid themselves of last years frailties and compete for longer this time? Or will Liverpool continue their consistency and defend their title?

Let’s not rule out the possibility of Manchester United’s continuing their progression and it would be almost insanity to dismiss Chelsea, given their spends, wouldn’t it?

Here’s how I think the teams involved in the upper echelons of the Premier League title race will play out in 2020/21…

Liverpool

The reigning champions. Jurgen Klopp’s side may have ended the season in somewhat bizarre fashion as they rather limped over the line following lock-down and title celebrations. That should not take away from the sheer dominance the Reds imparted on the Premier League.

While many people question the business, or lack of business done by the champions up until now, its my belief only minor changes are required, if any at all.

Natural left-back cover for Andy Robertson was required and has been found in Greek international Kostas Tsimikas.

One saga, which rumbles on is the Thiago Alcantara links, now joined by the Gini Wijnaldum to Barcelona rumours. Whilst many Liverpool fans may argue why not have both? I’m not sure there is room both in the current group, a squad that already boasts a plethora of central midfield options and the two players are of a similar mould.

The main bone of contention continues to be the back-up options to the starting XI. Should Klopp face a long-term injury to his front-line options the understudies may not be of a level required, although in truth that is the case of almost every team in world football. Not many can be a suitable understudy to Virgil van Dijk.

Overall, I believe Liverpool will go on to retain their title, the relentless nature in which Klopp has his squad churning out results is very difficult to keep up with week on week. Don’t be surprised by the growing influence of some of the younger players, in particular Curtis Jones, and also Naby Keita may finally find his feet in English football.

Manchester City

The main contenders to take Liverpool’s crown, Pep Guardiola’s well furnished Man City side.

There is little doubt 2019/20 can be viewed as somewhat of a failure from a sky blue perspective in Manchester. As glorious a victory as the Carabao Cup may have been, a side comprised of such talent and expenditure is expected to finish closer than 18 points off the summit. Not to mention the dismal UEFA Champions League exit.

That, however, was last term, how about now? The arrival of Nathan Ake certainly plugs a crack in the issues faced at City, a forced to be reckoned with going forwards, just ask Watford, but defensively they were often found wanting, just ask Adama Traore. However, I’m not sure Ake is the answer, for one the Dutchman is very much a left-sided centre-back, similarly to Aymeric Laporte. On top of which, despite being a more than decent operator at Premier League level, he isn’t elite, and City are operating amongst that level.

Elsewhere, the club has seen the departure of David Silva from the Etihad, a fine servant to the football club who leaves with the knowledge he will be forever immortalised in statue form. On the field, in a more mobile capacity, Silva is likely to be replaced by the much praised but lesser seen Phil Foden.

Pep has also spent £20 million on former Valencia man Ferran Torres, a 20 year old right winger who arrives with plenty of plaudits and provides competition to the likes of Rihad Mahrez, Bernado Silva and Foden himself.

Whilst the transfer window remains open there is always the chance City could strengthen further, although the Lionel Messi links have now subsided, as things stand in the week of the season’s opening day they haven’t addressed the areas of the squad suitable to overcome an 18 point swing.

Manchester United

Despite the obvious improvement in the past six months, particularly since Bruno Fernandes arrived back in January, there are still areas of weakness at Old Trafford.

Ole Gunnar Solskjær is learning on the job somewhat and with that there is bound to come mistakes, certainly when up against seasoned campaigners over a prolonged period.

Despite the frailties, however, it should be another year of progression for the red half of Manchester, who have already bolstered their midfield ranks with the arrival of Donny van de Beek from Ajax. One or two more signings, particularly in defensive positions and they should find themselves cutting the gap to the top two.

Chelsea

Who haven’t they signed? One thing is for sure is the Blues are set to be an enthralling watch with the attacking prowess in their currently huge squad.

Boasting the likes of Kai Havertz, Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech, to name but a few, Frank Lampard’s side will give anybody a match on their day, but it’s consistency they may lack to begin with.

They shipped goals all too regularly to maintain prolonged title challenge last term and as things stand that won’t change too much, despite the arrival of the vastly experienced Thiago Silva, it’ll remain a difficult ask to breach the gap to the top two.

Any Other Contenders

Whilst the Premier League has seen Leicester City win the title against the odds, it seems unlikely 2020/21 will see another Claudio Ranieri and Jamie Vardy shaped fairy-tale, but you never know. The main protagonists would of course be Tottenham and Arsenal, although the rivals may be best focusing on breaking into the top four instead of harbouring serious title ambitions.

Outside of the North Londoners, perhaps Wolves could be considered for a tilt for a time being, however a 38 game threat seems unlikely at this stage.

With over a month left in the transfer window anything can happen (Messi), but for now it’s back to back Liverpool glory. After-all, top flight domestic titles are like Mersey Ferries, you wait 30 years for one and two come along at once….