Wenger bullish on Solskjær’s chances at Cardiff City

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Ole Gunnar Solskjær has not been officially unveiled as Cardiff City’s next manager, but after showing up with Bluebirds’ owner Vincent Tan for today’s match at Arsenal, the cat’s out of the bag. Once thought to be out of the running for the vacant post, the former Manchester United striker’s appointment is considered to be inevitable, with this weekend’s FA Cup match against Newcastle  expected to mark Solskjær’s debut.

Young and with no Premier League managerial experience, Solksjær returns to England as a popular if uncertain bet, but to Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger, Solskjær has already displayed the acumen needed to be a successful Premier League manager.

“He has already experience as a manager in Norway, so he has learned his job,” Wenger said after his team’s 2-0 win over the Bluebirds on Wednesday (as relayed by the BBC).

“He was an intelligent player, so he is an intelligent boy as well, and that will help him to be successful.”

Perhaps that’s just the way Wenger talks — saying Solskjær “will be” successful instead of qualifying the assessment — but it also reflects the common conception of the young manager’s potential. Seen as a possible Premier League boss since he retired at Manchester United, the former Norwegian international has been lauded for his intelligence and temperament, with his success at Molde lending credence to those early evaluations. Whether being an intelligent player necessarily translates into manager success isn’t clear, but to some who followed his career at United, Solskjær’s always been an obvious candidate for a Premier League squad.

Previously a candidate for Aston Villa’s managerial position, Solskjæar has been on Premier League radars for some time. Now, after three years managing in Norway, Solskjær’s ready to make the jump, electing to try to carry Tan’s well-funded squad away from a relegation battle.

While many have noted the eccentricities of Tan while arguing Cardiff’s not a good fit for Solskjær, Wenger still sees the Bluebirds job as an opportunity – at all young manager could ask for.

“It is a chance. Basically what you want when you are young is a chance, and you have to make the maximum of that chance.”

After Wednesday’s loss, Cardiff City have 18 points through 20 rounds, leaving them one point above the Premier League’s bottom three.

“Overweight” Costa comes to Mourinho’s defense

Diego Costa, Chelsea FC
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Diego Costa says he and his Chelsea teammates are to blame for Chelsea’s horrid start to the 2015-16 Premier League season.

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Speaking Thursday, during a bit of downtime over the current international break (Costa was left out of Vicente del Bosque’s squad for Spain’s final two EURO 2016 qualifiers this week), Costa placed the majority of blame at the feet of the entire team, but went on to most harshly critique himself for coming into the season unfocused and “overweight.”

Costa, on his lack of fitness and form to begin the season — quotes from the Guardian:

“We know we’re not in the form we were supposed to be at the beginning of the season. We need to blame the players because we came back from holiday very confident, thinking we could go back into how it was last season, and then realized the team was already in a bad situation.

“I’m going to be very honest: maybe a few weeks ago, five or six weeks ago, I was not on top of my game. At least physically. We talk within the players and we know that, maybe at the beginning, we were not 100 percent as we were supposed to be when we got here. I got injured at the end of last season and then I went on holiday. Maybe I got out of my diet and, when I came back, I was not the way I was supposed to be. I was a little bit overweight. That affected my game. You can be selfish and blame it on the manager but I’m not going to do that. I’m responsible 100%, and so are the other guys.

Given that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said on Thursday he doesn’t quite know what’s wrong with the defending Premier League champions, hearing someone — anyone — speak up and explain the club’s worst start to a season in 37 years will surely be a welcome sound to any Blues supporter’s ears.

[ MORE: Liverpool appoint Klopp as manager | Allardyce to Sunderland? ]

Costa, who is eligible to return from suspension next weekend when Aston Villa visit Stamford Bridge, has scored just one goal in league play this season (six appearances) after scoring 20 in 26 games last season.

Sam Allardyce to open talks with Sunderland

Sam Allardyce, West Ham United FC
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Now that Liverpool have selected and named their new manager, it appears Sunderland are finally ready to move forward with their own managerial search. (That’s clearly a joke, because it implies Liverpool and Sunderland ever duke it out for the same managerial candidate.)

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Anyway, the Black Cats will have to hire someone to replace the recently-departed Dick Advocaat at some point. We all knew that, despite the fact he’s probably earned a shot at that level, Bob Bradley was never really going to be considered for the job. With that in mind, if you’re not going to endear yourself to the entire United States of America with this hire, you might as well go for the best unemployed manager who’ll actually consider your approach.

That’s what Sunderland chairman Ellis Short appears to have done, as it was reported Thursday that despite an initial reluctance from Sam Allardyce — let’s be honest, he actually was holding out hope for the Liverpool job — the 60-year-old most recently in charge of West Ham United was willing and ready to enter into negotiations with the northeastern club.

One of the major sticking points during Sunderland’s courting of Allardyce is expected to be his demand for autonomy in the transfer market as well as a sizable transfer budget to sign his own players during the January window.

[ MORE: Advocaat: Sunderland squad too thin, chairman to blame ]

Allardyce seems like the no. 1 guy you’d like to bring in to steady a capsized ship — cough Sunderland cough — in any situation. Not only does he have a successful track record in the Premier League, but he’s the kind of no-nonsense leader a club like Sunderland so desperately needs as they find themselves in yet another relegation battle just eight games into the new season.

Short hopes to have Allardyce signed, sealed and delivered when the Premier League returns to action next weekend. In that event, Allardyce’s first game in charge of Sunderland would be a trip to West Bromwich Albion. His first home fixture? Home to Tyne-Wear derby rivals Newcastle United, a club whose boisterous fanbase still holds a great deal of disdain for Big Sam. Sometimes the football gods really are looking out for us.