Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gives injury and fitness update for Manchester United ahead of St James Park clash
The appointment of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Manchester United makes a lot of sense and no sense, at the same time.
As a popular ex-player you can see why…but as a manager, his only relatively high profile job saw him a complete disaster at Cardiff City.
In his nine months in charge they only won five league games before he was sacked in September 2014.
His very first game as manager was actually at St James Park, Newcastle finding a way to exit the FA Cup in the third round despite leading, Cardiff winning 2-1. Newcastle’s final Premier League home match of that 2013/14 season saw them relegate Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with a 3-0 defeat for Cardiff.
He has had a generous start as Manchester United boss, having been given Cardiff away and then home games against Huddersfield and Bournemouth.
However, he couldn’t have taken advantage of these fixtures more impressively, Man Utd scoring 12 goals and picking up nine points.
If there is any small encouragement for Newcastle, maybe it is the fact that they have conceded in all three starts under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
The new Man Utd boss has been talking about the injuries and fitness of his team/squad ahead of facing Newcastle and he has made light of a shortage of defensive options.
Chris Smalling isn’t ready to return yet, Marcos Rojo is still out injured, whilst Eric Bailly managed to get sent off against Bournemouth and is suspended.
Which leaves Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with only Phil Jones and Victor Lindelof as fit and available senior centre-backs, the manager saying though ‘That’s enough isn’t it?’ when asked about his lack of options.
The Man Utd manager saying that full-back Matteo Darmian can provide cover for those two as an emergency centre-back if needed.
After scoring twice at Old Trafford and indeed it should have been at least two or three more, Rafa Benitez will be hoping his team can provide a similar threat on Wednesday night.
At the other end it is now looking a big challenge for Newcastle.
After the Mourinho negativity, Solskjaer has reaped the benefits of setting the players free, with already seven different goalscorers in his three matches in charge.
Paul Pogba has grabbed the headlines with four goals, whilst attacking players Rashford, Lukaku, Martial and Lingard have also had confidence boosting strikes under the Norwegian.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has now revealed that an extra threat is set to be unleashed at St James Park, with Alexis Sanchez now fit enough to be involved.
He came off the bench and scored the winner at Old Trafford as Man U came back from two down to win 3-2 in the final 20 minutes.
It looks a game where there is most definitely going to be goals but will Newcastle be able to get a big enough share of them to win a point or better?
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer asked about only having Jones and Lindelof available at centre-back:
“That’s enough isn’t it?
“It should be enough with two [centre-backs].
“We’ll have to look at it of course but we have got [Matteo] Darmian, who can definitely play centre-back.
“I don’t think Rojo will make it, so it will probably be Darmian as back-up centre-back.
“Alexis [Sanchez] has had some great training sessions over the last few days but we have had to manage him.
“He has been out for a month and he will be involved at Newcastle.
”He wants to play all the time, he is one of those characters.
“He made himself available [for Bournemouth on Sunday] but I think it was a few days too early for him.
“He has not had enough fitness work but he is champing at the bit.
“I think Alexis is a player that would benefit from the interchanging, rotation and movements and, of course, more chances.
“If we create more chances and get the ball in the final third, he will be an asset for us.
“On the floor, in between or in behind, I think he’s looking forward to it.
“Certainly, it’s looked like it in the session the other day when he scored quite a few nice goals and that was encouraging.”
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