Reports: Solskjaer to be Man United’s interim boss

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer dug Manchester United out of many deep holes by scoring late goals in his playing days at Old Trafford.

[ MORE: Mourinho fired by United ] 

And now it appears United are turning to the Norwegian to rescue them once again.

Multiple outlets are reporting that current Molde manager Solskjaer will be appointed as United’s interim boss until the end of the current season after Jose Mourinho was fired Tuesday.

Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino is believed to be United’s first-choice target but the Red Devils believe there is no chance of Spurs chairman Daniel Levy allowing Pochettino to leave mid-season. Laurent Blanc is also said to be in the running for the interim position alongside Solskjaer.

[ MORE: Bookies odds on new manager ] 

With Michael Carrick taking training for the next few days, United have said an interim boss will be appointed in the next 48 hours and lead them until the end of the 2018-19 campaign.

It is believed that will give executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward time to totally rebuild the soccer operations at the club, with Mourinho said to not want to work under a technical director or other recruitment chiefs.

Solskjaer, 45, has had two successful spells in Norway’s top-flight in charge of Molde (winning the league twice and the cup in his first spell) but his move to the Premier League with Cardiff City in 2014 didn’t end well as the Bluebirds were relegated as the former United star arrived for the final months of the season.

[ MORE: Pochettino talks about United rumors

Why would Solskjaer leave Molde for an interim role at United? Quite simply, he loves the club. He was the reserve team manager at United from 2008-11 and is hugely respected by everyone behind the scenes.

Nicknamed ‘the baby-faced assassin’ during his playing days due to his clinical finishing, Solskjaer is a fans favorite. He scored 126 goals in 366 games for United, many of which came after coming on as a sub late in games, and won six Premier League titles, two FA Cups and a UEFA Champions League. He famously scored the winner in the UCL final for United against Bayern Munich in Barcelona in 1999.

Whoever takes over at United, it is all about creating a positive mood after the Mourinho era and trying to chip away at the current 11-point gap between themselves in sixth place and the top four.

The expectations for Solskjaer, or whoever takes charge for the rest of the season, are low and that could be a very attractive proposition as this group of players were clearly underperforming for Mourinho.

Asian Cup Wrap: South Korea clinches top spot in group, and more

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Heung-Min Son started, recorded an assist and went 89 minutes three days after arriving in the United Arab Emirates as South Korea finished off the group stage with a resounding, 2-0 win over China.

With the win, South Korea’s third straight, the Taegeuk Warriors advance to the knockout stages as one of the top seeds, where they’ll face a third-place team in their next match. Ui-Jo Huang scored on a penalty kick in the 14th minute to give South Korea the lead, and six minutes into the second half, Min-Jae Kim powered home a header off a Son corner kick to put the game away.

[READ: Goal-scoring Martinez re-signs with Atlanta United]

China won’t be too upset about the defeat. They finished in second place in Group C, and will open the knockout round against Thailand.

Elsewhere in Asian Cup action, Vitalij Lux scored a hat-trick as Kyrgyzstan beat the Philippines, possibly earning a spot in the knockout stages. It’s Kyrgyzstan‘s first appearance at the Asian Cup.

In Group D action, leaders Iraq and Iran, both enemies politically, perhaps finished with an appropriate scoreline. The two sides settled for a scoreless draw, seeing both advance to the next round. Vietnam, meanwhile, picked up its first win in a 2-0 victory over Yemen, potentially keeping its Asian Cup hopes alive for a few more days.

FOLLOW LIVE: Southampton v. Derby County

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Southampton and Derby County chase the final spot in the fourth round proper of the 2018-19 FA Cup with a replay at St. Mary’s on Wednesday.

[ FOLLOW: FA Cup scoreboard ]

The clubs drew 2-2 at Pride Park on Jan. 5, with a Nathan Redmond 2-0 lead going to waste for the Premier League visitors.

The victor gets a trip to the Crown Ground to face League One’s Accrington Stanley on Jan. 26.

Full fourth round fixture list

Jan. 25
Arsenal v. Manchester United

Jan. 26
Accrington Stanley v. Derby County or Southampton
Brighton and Hove Albion v. West Bromwich Albion
Bristol City v. Bolton
Doncaster Rovers v. Oldham Athletic
Man City v. Burnley
Middlesbrough v. Newport County
Newcastle United v. Watford
Portsmouth v. Queens Park Rangers
Swansea City v. Gillingham
Shrewsbury Town v. Wolves
Millwall v. Everton
AFC Wimbledon v. West Ham United

Jan. 27
Crystal Palace v. Spurs
Chelsea v. Sheffield Wednesday

Jan. 28
Barnet v. Brentford

Leeds’ Bielsa admits he spied “all the rivals”; How widespread is spying?

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Managerial darling Marcelo Bielsa spoke out Wednesday as fallout continues from a Leeds United scout caught spying on Derby County last week.

Bielsa says he’s spied on every team the club has played in the Championship this season.

[ MORE: Neymar praises Weah ]

How rare is this? And how big of a role has it played in Leeds’ 4-point lead in the race for automatic promotion to the Premier League? From the BBC:

“I observed all the rivals we played against and watched the training sessions of all opponents,” he said. “All the information I need to clarify, I gather it without watching the training session of the opponent, so why did I send someone to watch them? Just because I thought I wasn’t violating the norm. I gathered information that I can obtain in another way.

“We feel guilty if we don’t work enough, it [watching the opponents train] allows us to have less anxiety and in my case I am stupid enough to allow this kind of behavior.”

The 63-year-old Argentine has spent time at Lille, Lazio, Marseille, Athletic Bilbao, and Espanyol in addition to running the national teams of Argentina and Chile.

It does raise the question of how much spying is done in soccer. We know that the NFL’s New England Patriots cheated during a game against the New York Jets and that MLB teams try to steal signals, but sneaking around a training session… is that okay? Should it be?

55-goal Martinez re-ups with Atlanta through 2023

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Josef Martinez has signed a new deal with Atlanta United, with a contract tying him to the club through the 2023 Major League Soccer season.

Martinez, 25, has 55 goals in 61 games for the Five Stripes since arriving from Torino in 2017, a strike rate unlike anything the Venezuelan had been able to do in his career with the Serie A club, Young Boys, or Caracas.

[ MORE: Neymar praises Weah ]

That development has him happy to lock down a new Designated Player deal in Georgia, one that certainly would raise his transfer value. From AtlUtd.com:

“This means a lot to me because of the affection that the fans have shown me, that the fans show all of the players. It’s unique,” Martinez said. “They recognize the effort that you give and they know you did everything to win, and I think that’s why we love playing here. I have to thank everyone. My teammates, the city, my family and friends, because this is a dream I’ve always had. I’ve said before that I don’t want to go anywhere because this is my home. You can expect more work, more intensity, because that’s who I am. I want to win. I want to do everything for my teammates and for the city.”

With neither Newcastle nor Real Betis ready to meet Atlanta’s transfer fee for Miguel Almiron, the Five Stripes are in a bit of a bind with a reported deal for expected DP Pity Martinez despite having the league maximum three DPs in Martinez, Almiron, and Ezequiel Barco. Perhaps the European clubs are trying to force Atlanta’s hand.