Seemingly ever since he was named head coach at Norwegian club Molde, former Manchester United striker Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been mentioned in connection with Premier League jobs. Perpetually thought of the ‘will make a good manager’ type, the push behind Solskjaer’s acclaim has never been clear. Do the media keep him in mind because those within the game are talking about him? Or is he just a guy who has stayed on the periphery of the conversation, his transition to reserves coach at Manchester United making him another potential Alex Ferguson “why not” legacy?
Between coaching United’s youth teams and his time with Molde, it’s not like Solskjaer has accumulated huge list of high-level accomplishments. Is he really better qualified to claim a Premier League job than those managing at higher levels? Yet in the wake of Malky Mackay’s departure at Cardiff City, his name has again popped up, with The Guardian going as far as to use Sunday’s match coverage to report the 40-year-old has turned down the job. This was an hour after The Telegraph said Solskjaer was still in Cardiff’s sites, with other outlets have also reported the Bluebirds’ interest in the Molde boss.
To his credit, Solskjaer has accumulated an impressive record at Molde. If there was any doubt as to whether he would make a good manager, he’s eliminated it in the very basic sense. One year after being appointed Molde boss (in 2010), Solksjear led the club to the Norweigan Premier League title, a feat he reproduced the following season. While Molde slumped to a sixth place finish in this year’s Tippeligaen, MFK did claim the Norweigan Cup. Whatever qualities those initial reports were relaying about Solskjaer’s managerial credentials, they’ve played on in his first managerial job, Molde having won 48 of the 90 league matches since his hire.
At this point, we’re beyond asking why Solskjaer has been mentioned in connection with the Cardiff job. It’s very unlikely all these sources are pulling the same things out of thin air. The more pertinent question is whether he is still in the running. The Guardian tried to make the case he wasn’t, apparently reading between the lines of a Cardiff chairman’s words. Other places are either chasing their reporting or going in a different direction.
All of which leaves us with questions about Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Cardiff. They’re different questions than we may have had when his name came up on Friday, but they’re questions nonetheless.
Bayern Munich midfielder Arturo Vidal has declared “ugly” Atletico Madrid unworthy finalists in the UEFA Champions League.
Bayern was eliminated in the Champions League semifinal by Atleti on Tuesday, with Diego Simeone’s Spanish side advancing on away goals.
[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s UCL coverage ]
However, Vidal believed Bayern were the better team in the second leg, saying Atletico played “ugly football” to get through.
Today ugly football – Atletico – played against the best football in the world. The only time they saw the ball was for the goal.
They are going to be dreaming about us right up to the final. They did not have the ball, they took on the best team in the world, they took their chances and got to the final.
The best does not always win in football, like today. They are not deserved finalists.
Bayern Munich controlled more than 70-percent of possession and had 33 shots compared to Atletico’s nine, but those stats mean little as Antoine Griezmann’s away goal was enough to send Atleti to the final.
[ MORE: Former England striker Joe Cole headed to NASL’s Tampa Bay Rowdies ]
Atletico may not play the most attractive football, but after eliminating Barcelona and Bayern Munich in consecutive legs, it’s hard to argue anyone deserves this more than Simeone’s men.
The second leg of the Europa League semifinals kick off tomorrow, with two La Liga sides looking to make it an all-Spanish final.
[ MORE: Premier League Playback ]
Villarreal holds a 1-0 lead over Liverpool, while Sevilla scored two away goals in their 2-2 draw at Shakhtar Donetsk.
Liverpool vs. Villarreal – 3:05 p.m. ET
Villarreal won first leg 1-0
Adrian Lopez’s late winner in the first leg has given Villarreal a slight lead, while the Spanish side did well not to concede an away goal. However, Liverpool have overcome deficits at Anfield before, including their memorable 4-3 victory over Borussia Dortmund in the quarterfinals. Emre Can is back fit for the Reds, as manager Jurgen Klopp will hope his fellow German can help the team to a cup final in his first year in charge.
[ RELATED: Liverpool preparing for another big Thursday night at Anfield ]
Sevilla vs. Shakhtar Donetsk – 3:05 p.m. ET
First leg ended 2-2 draw
Sevilla are looking to become the first team to win three consecutive Europa League titles as the two-time defending champions face off against Shakhtar Donetsk. Sevilla are in the driver’s seat after scoring two away goals in Ukraine, and will feel confident of advancing to the final with a great home record at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium.
In the latest Men in Blazers podcast, Rog and Davo celebrate Leicester City’s improbable Premier League title with Leicester’s own Arlo White.
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LISBON, Portugal (AP) Portuguese and European police say they have broken up a cell of an important Russian mafia group that allegedly laundered money through European football clubs.
Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency, said in a statement Wednesday the group identified EU football clubs in financial distress and infiltrated them with benefactors who brought much-needed cash.
[ MORE: Man City bounced from UCL ]
Once they were in control, the mobsters allegedly laundered millions of euros (dollars) through player transfers, TV rights deals and betting.
Portuguese and European police on Tuesday raided third-division Portuguese club Uniao de Leiria and arrested three key members of the Russian gang. Three other Portuguese clubs’ premises were searched.
Europol said the operation helped identify serious crimes in Austria, Germany, and the United Kingdom, though it gave no details.