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03 Jan 2019 07:21
Manchester United interim manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer celebrates at the end of the match (Scott Heppell/Reuters)
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer joined Matt Busby in the Manchester United record books in his team’s 2-0 win at Newcastle on Wednesday and admitted he does not want to leave the club in the summer.
The United interim manager, in charge until the end of the season when he is scheduled to return to his Norwegian club Molde, has now won his first four games in charge.
In United’s history, only the legendary and iconic Busby has matched that achievement and Solskjaer celebrated enthusiastically with his club’s travelling supporters after goals from Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford secured the win.
“I don’t want to (leave),” said Solskjaer when asked about his future beyond this season.
“It is such a great bunch of players, a fantastic atmosphere. But it is the next game, the next game and I am doing my job for as long as I am here.”
United will now move on to much tougher challenges, starting with the Premier League visit to Tottenham a week on Sunday.
But, given the manner of Wednesday’s victory, Solskjaer has the look of a manager at the top of his game after his decision to throw on Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez, two of the biggest under-achievers under former manager Jose Mourinho, after 63 minutes.
Instantly, Newcastle keeper Martin Dubravka fumbled a 25-yard Rashford free-kick and Lukaku, with his first touch of the game, tapped the rebound home from five yards.
The game hung in the balance until the 79th minute when Newcastle, pushing upfield for an equaliser, were caught on the counter-attack.
Lukaku found Sanchez whose astute pass reached Rashford in space and the England forward showed great poise to curl the ball past Dubravka.
“It was a tough test,” said Solskjaer of Rashford’s performance.
“He gets kicked, and he gets tackled, he goes for headers, he wins, he challenges, he runs
“He is going to be a top, top number nine, definitely but then we’ve got Rom (Lukaku), so sometimes he’ll play on the right, sometimes on the left, sometimes through the middle.
“But I felt it was time to put Rom and Alexis on and, of course, it was a great shot by Marcus and Romelu does his job as a striker to be following in on the rebound. If you do that you’ll get five or six goals every season for free, really.”
United’s victory could have been even more emphatic after Paul Pogba raced clear in injury-time and rounded the keeper only to roll the ball into the side-netting.
But that hardly mattered on an evening when Solskjaer pulled to within one victory of the record five that Busby won in his first season in charge of the club in 1946-47.
“That will be in the books but it’s nothing I’m thinking of,” said Solskjaer of his record-equalling fourth win.
“I’m just thinking about the next game, because if you win four you can win another four with this club, that’s the challenge, that’s the standard we’re used to.”
“The ‘gaffer’ (Alex Ferguson) used to challenge us on them and when we’ve won four you can go onto the next four and think about them.”
The only slight concern for Solskjaer was an injury suffered by Pogba who was caught by an appalling late foul by Newcastle substitute Jonjo Shelvey which went unpunished by referee Andre Marriner.
There were also some anxious first half moments for Solskjaer thanks to some moments of poor defending although United eventually emerged with just their third clean sheet of the season and the first under their interim boss.
© Agence France-Presse
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