Ole Gunnar Solskjaer returns to Cardiff City four years after getting The Bluebirds relegated
Manchester United fans needed an injection of nostalgia after such misery under Jose Mourinho - They've found that with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Problems at Old Trafford have continued to mount by the month, eventually growing into a toxic situation where the fault lay in the hands of either the players or the manager. As it's notably difficult - and horrendously expensive - to sack all twenty-six members of the Manchester United squad, the club opted to put their issues down to the style of Jose Mourinho, who was removed as manager, allowing former Man United striker Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to take his place within twenty-four hours of the decision being made.
He's spent the last three years in charge of Norwegian Eliteserien club Molde, currently sat at second behind Rosenborg after resulting sixth, fifth and second in previous attempts. Although a lot of Manchester United fans are excited to see The Baby Faced Assassin return to Old Trafford after several years away, this isn't the first time he's left Norway to manage in the Premier League, and it's hoped that this opportunity will play out in a far more enjoyable way.
Solskjaer's career remains haunted by the misfortunes of 2014
The demise of manager Malky Mackay saw him jobless at Cardiff City in December of 2013, with a lot of fans finding it to be the wrong decision and Mackay himself labelling owner Vincent Tan as 'The World's Thickest Machiavelli'. Turbulent times for a side who were only promoted months earlier continued to worsen, but The Bluebirds were expecting a change in fortunes when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was brought in to take Mackay's place, arriving with two league titles under his belt at Norway-based club Molde.
An opening defeat to West Ham United wasn't much to go by, facing further defeat against Manchester City and former club Manchester United. He was able to thwart Norwich City - who were perceived as being at a similar level to The Bluebirds - but failing to grab anything more than a point against Swansea City, Aston Villa, Hull City and Tottenham Hotspur saw even more despair. Solskjaer's Cardiff City went on to take two Premier League wins between this point and the end of the season, but the mere two draws and six defeats were enough to send Cardiff straight back to the Championship after their first season in the top tier.
Opting to show his prowess as a manager by turning things around in the second tier of English football failed to come into fruition, Solskjaer remaining at the club into the next season but finding himself sacked after seven games with a record of two wins and two draws. He returned to his old hunting ground of Molde, achieving passable but not entirely groundbreaking league finishes back in Norway. In returning to Manchester United, he leaves one team close to his heart for another, but the stage is set for an opening game back at Cardiff City, where he's given more than one point to prove.
Cardiff City v Manchester United odds and what the bookies say
Scheduled as the Premier League late kick-off on Saturday, Cardiff City are in a similar situation to when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took charge almost five years ago. They were promoted last summer, dovetailing between wins and defeats since finding promotion, but looking likely to return to the Championship even with their current sixteenth place position in the table. Manager Neil Warnock remains at the helm but he's likely to see an opportunity to capitalise in facing a Manchester United side going through tough times.
Current Manchester United odds price them at 4/7 to beat Cardiff City away from home, with a 16/5 price for the match to end as a draw, and odds of 11/2 for Cardiff City to win the tie. Bookmakers imply that the game will be full of goals, providing a 5/6 price for over 2.5 goals, with most bookies also favouring yes to both teams to score, odds of 4/5 overshadowing a 10/11 price that expects either side to achieve a cleansheet.
The encounter is likely to be full of goals and guided by passion, with our own Cardiff City v Manchester United betting tips backing up those claims in predicting over 3.5 goals at odds of 2/1. The match result itself is a tough one to call, with three different routes to take in order to cover every outcome. The first would see a win for Cardiff City, who are given the chance to beat a man who once relegated them and showed a sense of stubbornness and complacency in his managerial style. The second would be the safe option, assuming a draw between two teams who are heading for different fates and suffering from their own respective issues. As for the third option, Manchester United could find solace in seeing a man they once adored in the starting eleven as their new boss, prompting a win to inspire a far more promising second half of the season, possibly even triggering a battle into the top four ahead of close competitors Arsenal, Chelsea or Tottenham Hotspur.
Is it fair to assume Solskjaer's managerial quality based on Cardiff City's 2013/14 season?
Question marks continue to hover above the Cardiff City season back in 2014, with Vincent Tan's ownership being anything but reliable. He remains in charge of the club now, allowing veteran football manager Neil Warnock into pushing Cardiff City to the top tier again in the previous campaign, but things were very different four years ago. Despite beginning his tenure as owner of Cardiff City in 2010, his incapability within football after the club reached the Premier League several years ago was clear to see, falling out with Malky Mackay as he attempted to find stability in England's top tier.
The Cardiff City team from this season aren't a million miles away from the one in 2014 in terms of players and the ability throughout the squad, but with more stability among the manager and the club's owner, things are far brighter than their last attempt at the Premier League, helped by taking a lesson from their failings last time. As for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's Manchester United, he will be in charge of a side that are crying out for someone they can trust after being run by a man who led his side in a regimented and ruthless manner. It's assumed that Solskjaer's change in mentality and historical ties to Manchester United will prompt a far stronger set of results until the end of the season. Attempting to do the same for a relegation-threatened Cardiff City didn't end in the best of ways with clear issues behind the scenes; whether that ends up being the same problem with Manchester United is something that we're likely to find out in the coming months.
Upon finding Cardiff City relegated from the Premier League, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer held a now-infamous interview, where he was foolishly asked whether he thought Liverpool's title charge would result in victory for The Reds. His response, still priceless, summed up the troubles at Cardiff City nearly five years ago. The Red Devils will be praying that the morale boost of Solskjaer returning to Manchester United will work enough magic to reverse the effects of Mourinho's continued decline at Old Trafford.