Manchester United: 32-day calendar carnage could decide Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s long term fate

 foxsports.com.au  01/29/2019 01:50:00 

Eight matches since replacing Jose Mourinho at the Old Trafford helm, the Norwegian boss’ record remains perfect.

Solskjaer’s revolution has been swift as previously misfiring stars have returned to top form to propel the Red Devils back into top-four contention and into the fifth round of the FA Cup.

FA Cup: Saucy 5th round ties

FA Cup: Saucy 5th round ties

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Round 24

But will the interim manager be handed the reins full time?

With Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino continually linked as the top target for the role, a 32-day period is set to define Solskjaer’s chances of being appointed to one of world football’s most prized gigs.

Across that five-week period, United will test their mettle against PSG twice in the Champions League as well as facing an FA Cup clash with Chelsea and Premier League meetings with Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester City.

Talk about a rough draw.

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MANCHESTER UNITED FIXTURES:

February 13: United vs PSG (Champions League R16)

February 17: Chelsea vs United (FA Cup 5th Rd)

February 25: United vs Liverpool (Premier League)

February 28: Crystal Palace vs United (Premier League)

March 3: United vs Southampton (Premier League)

March 7: PSG vs United (Champions League R16)

March 10: Arsenal vs United (Premier League)

March 17: United vs Manchester City (Premier League)

'We're playing with a smile'

'We're playing with a smile'

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Ahead of a League clash with Burnley this week, Solskjaer no doubt got himself further on hand with supporters when he reiterated his team’s goal for this season. To win something.

“That is not the dream, though, to be top four,” Solskjaer said.

“For Man Utd you should always aim to win the league. We can’t do that this year, but we have to get back to the challenge. We’ve got the Champions League, we’ve got the FA Cup, we can’t just say we’ve got top four and that is it.

“We have to look at if we can win something this year. As I’ve said, I go into every game as Man Utd manager thinking we can win this game.”

In comparison, Pochettino’s almost polar opposite comments wouldn’t exactly have sent tongues wagging in Manchester.

“Again we’re going to have the debate whether a trophy will take the club to the next level,” the Spurs boss said this week.

“I don’t agree with it. It only builds your ego. The most important thing for Tottenham right now is to always be in the top four.”

Solskjaer has United’s players back in top form especially Paul Pogba (L)
Solskjaer has United’s players back in top form especially Paul Pogba (L)Source: Getty Images

Solskjaer’s ambitious claims will be music to the ears for of the Old Trafford faithful, but the aforementioned calendar carnage looms as the time for those words will be truly tested. Realistically, United’s chances of silverware could evaporate in the space of just four days during the aforementioned calendar carnage.

Should Solskjaer’s men find themselves upstaged by the French champions at home on February 13, their chances of Champions League glory would likely be over. And then on the 17th, it’s a rematch of last season’s FA Cup final in the fifth round where a loss to the Blues would end any chance of lifting the trophy in that competition.

However, should the Red Devils’ revival extend into that period and result in some monumental victories over big name opponents it could prove the catalyst for the Norwegian’s long term appointment.

As things stand, United are just three points out of fourth in the Premier League – a remarkably small margin considering just how dire things had gotten under Mourinho. And should Solskjaer’s revolution claim some big scalps across those 32 days, he could find himself signing a long-term contract come the end of the season.

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