Ole-ole-ole-ole-ole, now bring on Spurs

Juan Mata being fouled against Reading in the FA Cup third round at Old Trafford. He scored United's opener from the spot kick given by the video assistant referee.
Juan Mata being fouled against Reading in the FA Cup third round at Old Trafford. He scored United's opener from the spot kick given by the video assistant referee.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Interim manager equals Busby's record with reserves, with goals from Mata and Lukaku


Manchester United 2

Reading 0

LONDON • Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been a breath of fresh air the past month, not only because Manchester United are winning games again, but also because of his humility. Following yesterday's 2-0 FA Cup third-round win over Reading at home, the caretaker boss has clinched his fifth victory from his opening five games - equalling the legendary manager Matt Busby's non-wartime club record.

It was a dream start for the Norwegian, but not once did he mention the record immediately after the win. It was all about looking ahead to the players' training camp in Dubai and the next Premier League match against Tottenham.

It was, in essence, all about the collective rather than the individual, and he also admitted that the win did not come easy even against a Championship side.

"Two-nil, a clean sheet again, and I have to say they made it tough for us. And probably I made it tough for us, because you know when you make nine changes, it's never easy for a team that's never played together. So I'm delighted we're in the next round," he said.

"We learnt a lot. We know we need some fitness work (in Dubai), and to work on relations.

"If we repeat that performance at Wembley (against Spurs), we won't have a clean sheet or any points."

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  • Goals Romelu Lukaku has scored in his last 14 FA Cup appearances, including netting six in seven for Manchester United.

United were hardly the well-oiled machine yesterday, playing with their second-string players.

Solskjaer kept only Phil Jones and Juan Mata from the team who started the 2-0 win over Newcastle and the disjointed display proved his point that he made it difficult.

Reading enjoyed enough possession early on to have the hosts defending deep though, when United clicked into gear, they carried a potent threat.



    Bournemouth 1 Brighton 3

    Burnley 1 Barnsley 0

    Chelsea 2 Nottingham Forest 0

    Derby 2 Southampton 2

    Everton 2 Lincoln 1

    Gillingham 1 Cardiff 0

    Man United 2 Reading 0

    West Ham 2 Birmingham 0

    Blackpool v Arsenal Late kick-off


    Man City v Rotherham Ch111, 9.55pm

    Newport v Leicester Ch111, tomorrow, 12.25am

    Woking v Watford Ch112, 9.55pm

    Fulham v Oldham Ch113, 9.55pm


    Wolves v Liverpool Ch111, Tuesday, 3.40am

    All on Singtel TV

They were soon ahead courtesy of the video assistant referee. As Juan Mata touched the ball off to Fred, Omar Richards took the Spaniard down. Fred found the net but was ruled offside but, after a rather lengthy consultation, the video official gave a penalty that Mata dispatched with aplomb.

The second goal came in first-half stoppage time. Alexis Sanchez threaded a pass to Romelu Lukaku and the centre forward left Reading goalkeeper Anssi Jaakkola a spectator and slotted home.

It was Sanchez's second assist in two games, but he was forced to be taken off due to what seemed to be a slight hamstring injury midway through the second half.

What followed prompted some laughs on social media when he accidentally sat on Solskjaer's seat when the manager was at the touchline. The Norwegian returned, laughed and gave Sanchez a light pat on the back before "kicking him out".

"Sitting on the gaffer's seat... he wouldn't have got away so lightly if it had been (Alex) Ferguson," wrote one user. "Sanchez out of position yet again," said another.

Solskjaer's first big test will come at Tottenham next Sunday and it remains to be seen if he will still be a happy man at the end of that game.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 06, 2019, with the headline 'Ole-ole-ole-ole-ole, now bring on Spurs'. Print Edition | Subscribe