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.
We were treated to a pair of very different but still aesthetically pleasing goals as the first legs of the third qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League kicked off on Tuesday.
Ajax, Shakhtar Donetsk and Monaco are three of the biggest teams playing at this stage of the tournament, with the first two playing today and one featuring in the goals in question.
[ MORE: Everton to land Gueye? ]
That was Ajax, as PAOK’s Djalma Campos took a walk around wandering Ajax goalkeeper Jesper Cilleseen and cut a goal home from a tricky, tricky angle.
The Dutch legends came back to draw 1-1, but gave up a quality road goal to its Greek visitors.
Romanian powers Steaua Bucharest found themselves a thrilling free kick goal in a 1-1 draw at Sparta Prague.
Nicolae Stanciu is the goal scorer in question, the 23-year-old who’s scored four goals in 7 appearances for the Romania national team since breaking through this season.
This is how he did it today:
Tuesday’s first legs
BATE Borisov 1-0 Dundalk
Ludogorets Razgrad 2-2 Red Star Belgrade
Sparta Prague 1-1 Steaua Bucharest
Partizani Tirana 0-1 Red Bull Salzburg
Viktoria Plzen 0-0 Qarabag
Rostov 2-2 Anderlecht
Shakhtar Donetsk 2-0 Young Boys
Ajax 1-1 PAOK
Dinamo Zagreb 2-0 Dinamo Tbilisi
PARIS (AP) French champion Paris Saint-Germain has signed attacking midfielder Giovani Lo Celso from Argentine club Rosario Central on a five-year deal, making him new coach Unai Emery’s fourth signing since replacing Laurent Blanc last month.
The 20-year-old Lo Celso, who operates best as a probing playmaker behind the strikers, scored twice for Rosario last season.
No financial details of the deal were given.
[ MORE: Everton to land Gueye? ]
In recent weeks, PSG has signed France winger Hatem Ben Arfa, Poland midfielder Grzegorz Krychowiak and Belgium right back Thomas Meunier.
Lo Celso says he hopes to “follow in the footsteps” of countrymen Angel Di Maria and Javier Pastore – who are key players for PSG.
Before joining up with his new teammates, however, Lo Celso will play for Argentina at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics next month.
If you’ve read this space at all, you’ll know PST is very high on Aston Villa box-to-box midfielder Idrissa Gueye.
Only N'Golo Kante registered more successful tackles than Gueye in last season’s Premier League, and that came on a Villa side which endured its first PL relegation.
[ MORE: Sounders, Schmid part ways ]
Gueye, 26, has a release clause of $9.3 million, and according to Sky Sports it’s now been met by two teams: Marseille and Everton. Reports say Gueye prefers to stay in England, so Ronald Koeman could have a huge addition to his squad.
It’s not overstating it to say Gueye could revolutionize the Everton squad, allowing players like Ross Barkley even more freedom and giving terrific cover. Gueye has a better offensive acumen than we saw with Villa, and is an invaluable part of Senegal’s set-up.
The underachieving Seattle Sounders have cost their legendary coach his job.
Sigi Schmid and the Sounders have agreed to part ways, the team announced on Tuesday, ending an eight-year run as the only coach in franchise’s MLS history.
Schmid, 63, is one of the most decorated coaches in MLS history, and has four U.S. Open Cup titles with Seattle after a pair of MLS Cup wins between Columbus and Los Angeles.
[ MORE: How did Yedlin, CCV play vs Juventus? ]
He also won three College Cup titles at UCLA between 1980-99.
Here’s Schmid, from SoundersFC.com:
“I want to thank Seattle Sounders FC for the opportunity to lead this club over the past eight years, with particular gratitude to Adrian Hanauer, Joe Roth and the rest of the club’s ownership group. I’d also like to thank my coaches and technical staff for the support they’ve given me, and most importantly I want to thank my players for their tremendous effort throughout the years,” Schmid said.
“I’m proud of the success we’ve achieved in winning five major trophies in Seattle, qualifying for the postseason for seven-straight seasons. My only disappointment is that we were unable to bring home an MLS Cup to our tremendous fans, who have always been supportive through good times and bad. In closing, I want to thank the Sounders FC organization, the club’s fans and the city of Seattle for this amazing run.”
Longtime assistant Brian Schmetzer takes over in the interim, tasked with finding a way to improve on the uninspiring Sounders’ 6-12-2 record.
The Sounders are 10 points out of the final playoff spot and haven’t won since June 22 (2L-4T). They’ve scored the third-fewest goals in MLS. Without knowing what’s going on behind the scenes, the players’ performances over the last few weeks raised serious character concerns. Hopefully a coaching change somehow eases those, as it did for Chelsea.