Marcus Rashford

In Profile: Ole Gunnar Solskjær's Manchester United

Leicester City welcome Manchester United to King Power Stadium this Sunday for what promises to be fascinating conclusion to the season.
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Ahead of the weekend's clash, Ole Gunnar Solskjær's third-placed side are on 63 points, one point ahead of the Foxes in fifth, with only the final game of the season to play. 

As Sunday's encounter looms, LCFC.com caps off its regular series analysing City's 2019/20 opponents with an in-depth examination of the 20-time champions of England...

The manager

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Ole Gunnar Solskjær
Ole Gunnar Solskjær

Ole Gunnar Solskjær has overseen a remarkable period of form as Red Devils manager.

Ole Gunnar Solskjær was named permanent Manchester United manager in March 2019 after taking over as a caretaker following José Mourinho’s departure in December 2018. Solskjær’s first 19 games saw him record a stunning 14 victories and two draws, winning his first eight matches in charge and registering more points than any other team during that period.

An iconic striker for the Red Devils across an 11-year period, he netted 126 goals in 366 appearances under the management of Sir Alex Ferguson, who oversaw a trophy-laden 27-year spell in Manchester, and Solskjær famously scored an injury-time winner in the UEFA Champions League Final against Bayern Munich, after coming off the bench to help United win the treble in 1999.

Another memorable appearance from the substitutes' bench saw him score four times in 12 minutes as United beat Nottingham Forest 8-1 in February 1999, which was the largest away win in the history of the Premier League until Leicester City's 9-0 victory at Southampton 20 years later. He also starred on 67 occasions for Norway, netting 23 goals for his country.

Solskjær retired in 2007 and coached United's reserve team until 2010 before two separate spells at Norwegian club Molde – either side of nine months at Cardiff City – led to him winning two league titles and the Norwegian Football Cup.

Initially taking over at Old Trafford on a temporary basis in 2019, the 47-year-old then agreed a three-year-deal to become permanent manager. He won two of his remaining 10 fixtures in 2018/19 to secure a sixth-placed finish, but his side is currently unbeaten in their last 13 Premier League outings.

The Norwegian has also guided the Red Devils to semi-finals in both the Emirates FA Cup and Carabao Cup this term and his side are also in the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 ahead of a second leg tie against Austrian outfit LASK at Old Trafford next month. United won the first leg 5-0 back in March.

The squad

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Anthony Martial
Anthony Martial

Frenchman Anthony Martial is level with Marcus Rashford on 22 goals in all competitions.

Manchester United’s star-studded squad contains 2018 FIFA World Cup winner Paul Pogba and Spain goalkeeper David de Gea, among others, and includes several supremely talented youngsters.

The Red Devils also possess a wealth of English international experience, including attackers Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard, and former Fox Harry Maguire, who is now club captain. Wales international winger Daniel James, meanwhile, became the Red Devils’ first signing of last summer after moving from Swansea City on a five-year deal and has scored four goals in 44 outings.

James was followed to Manchester by the arrival of Maguire later in the summer, while England youth international Aaron Wan-Bissaka also joined the club from Crystal Palace.

United's excellent recent form has been spearheaded by the goalscoring exploits of Anthony Martial (22 goals in all competitions), Rashford (22) and Mason Greenwood (17), while winter purchase Bruno Fernandes has already netted on nine occasions for the Manchester club. The Portuguese's relationship with Pogba in midfield, meanwhile, has been among the primary reasons for their emergences as European candidates.  

In last weekend's Emirates FA Cup Semi-Final defeat by Chelsea, the starting XI was: De Gea; Bailly, Maguire (c), Lindelöf, Wan-Bissaka; Fred, Matić, Williams, Fernandes, James; Rashford.

However, this squad was much changed from their usual Premier League line-up and is likely to include the likes of Pogba and Martial, among others, in Leicester on Sunday.

The trophy cabinet

Manchester United’s unprecedented Premier League success has seen them crowned champions of England on 13 occasions since the league’s reformation in 1992, and 20 times in total. They have also won 12 FA Cups, with their latest coming in 2015/16 to set up a Community Shield clash with Leicester City at Wembley Stadium in 2016, and five League Cups.

On the European front, Man Utd have won three UEFA Champions League trophies, with the last coming in 2008 when they beat Chelsea on penalties in Moscow.

They have also won the UEFA Europa League once, in 2017, when they beat Ajax 2-0 in Stockholm thanks to goals from Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Alongside their memorable 1999 treble victory, they have won the domestic double a further two times – in 1994 and 1996 – and have won two European doubles, including their 2008 Premier League and Champions League triumph.

The stadium

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Old Trafford
Old Trafford

Old Trafford is affectionately known as 'The Theatre Of Dreams'.

Old Trafford, holding 75,000 seats, is the second-largest football stadium in England, with only Wembley Stadium boasting a higher capacity.

Manchester United’s home since 1910, Old Trafford was nicknamed ‘The Theatre Of Dreams’ by legendary Red Devils forward Sir Bobby Charlton, who in 2016 saw the south stand named in his honour. The north stand, meanwhile, is named after the most successful manager of all time, Sir Alex Ferguson, who over a 27-year period won 38 trophies, including 13 Premier League titles.

In 2016, the Foxes secured a 1-1 draw in Manchester, which following a 2-2 draw between Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur, was enough to see them crowned as Premier League champions.

The fixtures

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Nemanja Matić
Nemanja Matić

United's long unbeaten run in all competitions came to an end against Chelsea in the Emirates FA Cup on Sunday.

Aside from Sunday's 3-1 loss to Chelsea in the Emirates FA Cup, Manchester United have been in magnificent form since the Premier League's restart.

Following a 1-1 draw at Tottenham Stadium, the Red Devils have defeated Sheffield United (3-0), Brighton & Hove Albion (3-0), AFC Bournemouth (5-2), Aston Villa (3-0) and Crystal Palace (2-0), with the latter of those games coming after a 2-2 draw with Southampton.

Their penultimate game of the season was a 1-1 draw at home to West Ham United on Wednesday evening. In the top-flight, United's aggregate scoreline from their seven games of the restart stands at 19-5.

Earlier on in the 2019/20 campaign, on the other hand, the 20-time champions sealed a narrow 1-0 success over the Foxes at Old Trafford, courtesy of Marcus Rashford's eighth-minute penalty.

After facing Leicester at King Power Stadium on Sunday (4pm kick-off), they host LASK in the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 on 5 August (8pm kick-off).

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