Man U’s position in the EPL hasn’t changed, but everything else under Solskjaer has
Manchester United’s league position hasn’t changed. Everything else has under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Surpassing the great Matt Busby in 1946, Solskjaer has now opened his United reign with a club-record six successive victories after beating Tottenham 1-0 in the Premier League on Sunday. It was secured by Marcus Rashford’s first-half goal and 11 second-half saves by goalkeeper David de Gea.
“I am just doing my job every single day here until the contract runs out at the end of June, I think,” Solskjaer said. “I’ll have a holiday in there, so I’m not thinking about that whatsoever.”
United remains sixth in the standings, just as it was when Jose Mourinho was fired last month. But thanks to Arsenal’s struggles, United is now behind the London club on goal difference. Chelsea in the fourth and final Champions League place is only six points in front of United and Arsenal.
United is used to far loftier targets – winning the league a record 20 times – but it has failed to do so in the chaotic years since Alex Ferguson retired in 2013.
When Mourinho was fired last month, Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino emerged as favourite as the long-term successor. But Solskjaer is staking a strong claim to make his loan move from Molde permanent after winning this unofficial audition against Pochettino.
“It’s not ethical to talk about what he is doing or what I [am] doing,” Pochettino said. “It was a game and a battle between Tottenham and Manchester United, because if not, we would need to play him against me, one versus one on the pitch.”
Pochettino’s target is securing a fourth consecutive top-four finish to qualify for the Champions League in a season of disruption with the delay to move back from Wembley into the club’s new stadium at White Hart Lane.
But Tottenham has now lost back-to-back league home games for the first time since 2015 at the end of Pochettino’s first season. The team remains third in the standings, a point ahead of Chelsea, two points behind defending champion Manchester City and nine adrift of leader Liverpool.
City isn’t in action until Monday night against Wolverhampton Wanderers. There was one other Premier League game on Sunday, with Everton beating Bournemouth 2-0. Goals from Kurt Zouma and Dominic Calvert-Lewin gave the Merseyside club only its second win in nine Premier League matches.
It came at the end of a week when Everton majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri, while backing manager Marco Silva, told the annual general meeting that the season so far was “not good enough.”
Everton is now up to 10th in the standings, three points ahead of Bournemouth, which has lost nine of its past 12 league games.
MESSI SCORES 400TH SPANISH LEAGUE GOAL
Lionel Messi took his all-time Spanish league scoring record to 400 goals on Sunday after contributing to a 3-0 win over Eibar to keep defending champion Barcelona comfortably at the top of the Spanish league.
Messi scored Barcelona’s second goal shortly after halftime to reach a milestone in the competition after 435 league matches. In all competitions, Barcelona says the 31-year-old Messi has scored an astonishing 575 goals in 658 appearances.
Barcelona’s all-time top scorer got the landmark goal in the 53rd minute after Luis Suarez passed to him inside Eibar’s area. The Argentine did the rest by opening an angle around a defender and driving in a low left-footed shot.
It was also Messi’s league-leading 17th league goal and his 23rd goal over all this season.
Barcelona stayed five points ahead of second-placed Atletico Madrid, which edged Levante 1-0 thanks to a penalty from Antoine Griezmann, as the league reached its midway point.
Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea makes a save against Tottenham’s Harry Kane in London on Sunday. His 11 second-half saves helped secure the win for United.