Following Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s explosive rant at football administrators over poorly scheduled fixtures, the ex-player, along with his Liverpool and Manchester City counterparts – Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola – are now strongly considering stepping in to fill in as their squads’ knees buckle under the pressure of injuries and packed match fixtures.
After a critical 3-1 win over Everton at Goodison Park, a victory which may have saved Ole’s job, the subject was at the core of the manager’s comments after the midday Saturday fixture. He might have had a point.
Encore for Ole?
Solskjaer and the United team were aboard a plane flying back from a disappointing Champions League appearance in their visit to Istanbul.
Allegedly only touching down on English soil at around 4 a.m on Thursday morning, the squad had about a day and a half to prepare for their next game. Injuries are starting to pile up and so the decision for the managers, despite all being in the forties and fifties, to take to the field once again might be the only option left to some of these sides.
Liverpool are currently in dire straits, having already had to find solutions to a number of major injuries to key players including Virgil van Dijk, Thiago Alcantara, Fabinho and Trent Alexander-Arnold. Van Dijk’s, a result of a poorly-timed challenge from Everton keeper Pickford marked the start of a bizarre run of injuries, now leaving Liverpool with one fit senior centre-back.
Solskjaer explained in a recent interview: “We have to find solutions because it’s so tough this year. This intensity is really difficult. We get it, we want to play football 100 per cent with all we have – we need to play football, it’s great for the people, it’s great for us, everything is fine. But [playing on] Wednesday night and 12:30 [Saturday] should not be allowed.”
Klopp played in a variety of positions as a player and at an impressive 6’3, he could prove handy meeting corners and physically dominating smaller attackers. If his imposing frame doesn’t do the trick, his startling, blindingly white teeth could also be used as a distraction technique.
Return of the king
Meanwhile, over in the Etihad Stadium, manager Pep Guardiola, once a technical defensive midfielder, may be forced to also step in to offer some composure in his midfield diamond if the pressure of numerous fixtures in the week, plus international fixtures, start to take their toll. The Spaniard is a strong supporter of introducing five substitutes over three, to better protect his players.
Currently, the three sides are all strong contenders for the title, despite the expanding injury lists. According to the latest football betting odds, Man City are currently the 6/4 favourites to defend their Premier League title, with Liverpool second at 13/8. Chelsea, after a strong run of form, are now 8/1 winners. That said, those odds can widen when the starting line-up starts to suffer.
All three managers are reportedly very excited to rejoin the players on the field, with the expectation that they will also take captain’s armband and all set pieces for the foreseeable future.
It’s unclear if the scheduling issues will be remediated given the criticism angled at the current situation, but for now, football fans may have to make do with a lot of football in a short space of time, a lot of injuries and possible sightings of Klopp, Guardiola and Solskjaer in full-kit for the foreseeable future.
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