Favourite meets caretaker this weekend.

Solskjaer: Pochettino speculation is there for a reason

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  • 2019-01-11 05:10:13 1 years ago
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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer understands why Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino has been heavily tipped to take the reins on a permanent basis at Manchester United.

Pochettino has led Spurs to top-three Premier League finishes in each of the last three seasons while his brand of attacking football has earned plenty of admirers both in this country and on the continent.

The Argentinian is the favourite to be appointed the full-time successor to Jose Mourinho in the summer although Solskjaer, who is in caretaker charge until the end of the season, has made an encouraging case for retention.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer knows why Mauricio Pochettino is rated
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer knows why Mauricio Pochettino is rated (Martin Rickett/PA)

The Norwegian has equalled Sir Matt Busby’s record in winning his first five fixtures at the helm of United and he could further his cause when he pits his wits against Pochettino and Tottenham this weekend.

Assessing his potential rival, Solskjaer said: “He has done a very good job. That speculation is there for a reason – because he has done well.

“But it’s not my job to rate managers, my focus is on me and my team.”

Solskjaer rejected the consensus that Sunday’s showdown at Wembley marks the first acid test of his reign.

Pochettino is the favourite for the United job
Pochettino is the favourite for the United job (Peter Byrne/PA)

United have seen off Cardiff, Huddersfield, Bournemouth and Newcastle – all of whom are in the bottom half of the table – in the league while they defeated Reading in the FA Cup last weekend to extend Solskjaer’s perfect start.

Solskjaer said: “No we have had tests, Newcastle away is a test and first game how everyone reacted is a test, first home game with the crowd is a test, every single game you get tested.

“But this is against top, top side. If we want to go closer and get past them we need a good performance and a good result.”

The former Red Devils striker has been handed a boost with Paul Pogba set to return from injury.

Paul Pogba is fit
Paul Pogba is fit (Martin Rickett/PA)

Pogba has looked rejuvenated in recent weeks, with four goals in as many games under Solskjaer, but he sat out the win over the Royals after injuring the back of his right leg following a challenge by Newcastle midfielder Jonjo Shelvey last week.

Pogba initially remained in Manchester for treatment as his team-mates went to Dubai for a warm-weather camp before then jetting out to the Middle East.

Solskjaer said: “He looked OK towards the end there, so he’ll be fit.

“He did have some problems but he came through the last couple of sessions well, so he should be OK.”

There was more unwelcome news on Marcos Rojo, however, with Solskjaer revealing the defender has returned to his native Argentina to continue his recovery from injury.

Rojo has made just three appearances all season and is unlikely to add to that anytime soon.

Solskjaer added: “He’s gone back to Argentina for a while because of his injury.

“Mentally it was important for him to get away and then come back fresh again.”

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Solskjaer: Pochettino speculation is there for a reason

Solskjaer admits Poch deserves Old Trafford job link as Man Utd return home from Dubai training break

OLE SOLSKJAER says he understands why Mauricio Pochettino could break his heart at the end of the season.

The Manchester United caretaker boss comes face to face with Pochettino on Sunday as he takes his side to Wembley to face Tottenham.

 Ole Gunnar Solskjaer signs autographs after landing back from Dubai
 The Manchester United boss admits Mauricio Pochettino deserves to get the United job full time

The Spurs boss is still favourite for the Old Trafford hot seat which Solskjaer covets so much.

And Solskjaer admitted: “He's done a very good job. The speculation is there for a reason because he's done well. But it's not my job to rate different managers my focus is on me and my team.”

Solskjaer is doing a great job right now to change the boards focus and encourage them to stick with one of their own come May.

He has racked up five wins out of five games since taking the job and another one against Spurs will help add to the growing clamour amongst fans for him to be given the job permanently.

 Spurs boss Pochettino is believed to be the man United want to take charge this summer
 Marcus Rashford will be hoping to continue his rich vein of form against Spurs on Sunday
 Romelu Lukaku leads the way through arrivals after touching back down in Manchester
 Jesse Lingard still had his travel pillow around his neck as he made his way out of the airport

It would certainly save United money with it set to cost around £34million for them to get Pochettino out of Spurs.

Solskjaer said: “We are playing one of the best teams in the league and have to be aware of their strengths. But I have been brought up in a way where we need to attack teams.

PAUL TO PLAY FOR United boost after Pogba is declared fit to face Spurs

“That is our strength as well, going forward and attacking as a team.”

Solskjaer is understandably brimming with confidence after five wins from five after taking over as caretaker boss from Jose Mourinho.

But Cardiff, Huddersfield, Bournemouth, Newcastle and Reading are one thing - title chasing Spurs at Wembley something else.

Mind you under Solskjaer Manchester United are something different as well.

Solskjaer said: “We have had tests, Newcastle away is a test and first game how everyone reacted is a test.

“The first home game with the crowd is a test, every single game you get tested, but this is against top top side if we want to go closer and get past them we need a good performance and a good result.”

 Antonio Valencia looked to be in a hurry as he darted through Manchester Airport
 Paul Pogba is fit to face Tottenham on Sunday
 Ashley Young looked to be in relaxed mood after touching back down in Manchester

A fixture that three weeks ago will have filled Red Devils fans with trepidation now no longer holds such fears.

Because United are no longer playing with fear.

Indeed it is what they can do to the opposition that is paramount once more.

Solskjaer said: “You always adapt to any opposition. We are playing one of the best teams in the league and have to be aware of their strengths.

“But I have been brought up in a way where we need to attack teams. That is our strength as well, going forward and attacking as a team.

 David De Gea appeared to have splashed out on some duty free while travelling back from Dubai
 Phil Jones wheeling his case through the arrivals lounge at Manchester Airport

“We won't get as many chances to attack against this team as before so we've got to be ready when we got hold of the ball and play well use it because Wembley is a decent sized pitch.”

One that Paul Pogba should enjoy in a new free role.

He is fit again after suffering an injury against Newcastle and he is one of those benefiting from the shackles being released by Solskjaer.

Shackles released the goals are flying in once more there was five against Cardiff in Solskjaer’s first game.

Pogba then scored two in each of the wins against Hudderssfield, 3-1 and Bournemouth 4-1.

The last two-nil wins over Newcastle and Reading have been quite reserved in comparison.

Now they are ready to go again with Solskjaer believing that they are getting better the more time he has with them.

The four days warm weather training has given time and space to get more of his ideas in place.

 Angel Gomes did not look too happy to be back in cold after the warm-weather trip
 Diogo Dalot looked to be more welcoming to the winter chill than team-mate Anthony Martial
 Luke Shaw also appeared to be hating the winter weather upon touchdown in Manchester

Solskjaer said: “We had four good days of training so the boys enjoyed it, we got a few principles down, and they worked hard and I think they enjoyed working hard.

“Every single day and every single game will get us closer and we will get more understanding about how we want to play.

“The last five games haven’t been too bad but there is always things to work on, the relationship between players, the cohesion and the understanding so hopefully we will see a positive team.”

That is very much what Spurs are as well.

For all the attacking prowess United have, former striker Solskjaer recognises that Spurs have someone very special in their line up ready to spoil his Sunday afternoon.

Harry Kane is red hot right now, joint top of the Premier League scoring chart with 14 goals to go with four assists.

 Alexis Sanchez will be hoping for some match action against Tottenham at Wembley
 Ole Gunnar Solskjaer faces his toughest test yet against Spurs

And Solskjaer said: “He is not bad is he? He is a fantastic goal scorer and one of the best in the world but I have got a couple that I am happy to work with.

“He is a top, top professional sure who ever plays with him and plays and trains with him can talk more about him but from the outside he is a fantastic finisher, he never misses chances so let’s make sure he doesn’t get any against us.”

It is all set up for a cracker.

Not just a contest between two top clubs but between two managers who may well end up vying for the same job come the end of the season.

Mauricio Pochettino is still favourite to land the job permanently.

But victory at Wembley on Sunday and the clamour for Solskjaer to get it will continue to grow.


Southampton’s Charlie Austin handed two-game ban for gesture to away fans

The Southampton striker Charlie Austin has been handed a two-match suspension by the FA after admitting making a gesture towards Manchester City fans during the recent Premier League game at St Mary’s.

Austin admitted the FA charge after appearing to gesture towards the away fans as he was substituted during Southampton’s 3-1 defeat at St Mary’s on 30 December. The 29-year-old will miss Saturday’s Premier League trip to Leicester and the home FA Cup replay against Derby on Wednesday.

“Southampton’s Charlie Austin has been suspended for two matches with immediate effect following an independent regulatory commission hearing today,” the FA statement read. “The striker admitted his gesture in or around the 68th minute of the game against Manchester City on 30 December was abusive and/or insulting.”

Austin’s absence leaves Ralph Hasenhüttl with only two fit forwards for the trip to the King Power Stadium – Shane Long and the returning Sam Gallagher. Danny Ings and Michael Obafemi are both set to miss out with hamstring injuries, while Manolo Gabbiadini is set to join Sampdoria on a permanent deal.

The Southampton manager revealed during his pre-match press conference that he is targeting “long-term” attacking reinforcements in the January transfer window, and has also recalled attacking midfielder Josh Sims from his loan spell at Reading.

Hasenhüttl also confirmed that goalkeeper Fraser Forster and centre-back Wesley Hoedt are both available for transfer this month as the Austrian continues to trim his squad.

Watford’s Deeney charged over referee comments

The Watford striker Troy Deeney has been charged over comments he made about referee David Coote following his team’s 3-3 draw with Bournemouth.

Deeney was critical of Coote’s performance in the Premier League clash, and claimed in a post-match interview that the referee had “bottled it on a few occasions”.

“Abdoulaye Doucouré probably did get lucky [not to be sent off], but you can’t tell me that their boy [Dan Gosling] did not try to do Tom Cleverley,” Deeney said to the BBC. “They know it. We know. But the referee bottled it on a few occasions today.”

A statement from the FA read: “Troy Deeney has been charged following post-match media comments he made about the appointed match referee for Watford’s game against Bournemouth on 2 January.” Deeney has until 6pm on Tuesday to respond.

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