Ole Gunnar Solskjaer issues instructions to his team during the Newcastle match

Can Solskjaer be the scourge of Spurs again?

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is excited for next Sunday's trip to Wembley Stadium and a reunion with a team he statistically excelled against as a Manchester United player.

Tottenham Hotspur were on the receiving end of seven Solskjaer strikes between 1996 and 2007, a tally that was only topped by West Ham United and Nottingham Forest conceding eight; the latter team, of course, shipped half that haul when Ole grabbed a quadruple to condemn them to an unforgettable 8-1 home defeat in February 1999.

But much has changed in the 20 years since of course and Solskjaer the caretaker manager will come up against a Spurs side who are genuine Premier League title contenders, a status they never achieved in the days when the Norwegian was netting goals and gathering medals. In the last three years, the North London outfit have not finished lower than third in the table - a spot they will still occupy at kick-off against United, after this weekend's break for the Emirates FA Cup in which Tottenham trounced Tranmere Rovers 7-0 away.
 
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in action against Neil Sullivan and Sol Campbell of Tottenham in December 2000
Solskjaer in action against Spurs' Sol Campbell in December 2000.
“Spurs at Wembley is a proper test so we are looking forward to that one,”
admitted Ole in a press conference after the Reds' own cup win, 2-0 over Reading.

“That game will give me more of a reference as to where we are against the top boys because we are not happy about talking about sixth, fifth or fourth place. In a year or two the club needs to move on and up the table.”
Moving on from supremacy over Spurs as a player to beating them as a boss would give Solskjaer the distinction of being the only United manager to win his first six matches in charge. But the Norwegian is not one for getting carried away, even if he has already matched Sir Matt Busby's 1946 feat of five triumphs on the bounce.

“Going down to Cardiff in the first game was not easy,”
reflected Ole,
“and then at home you are expected to beat Bournemouth and Huddersfield. But I have played in games before where we have lost games at home, so there are no easy games in the Premier League.

Solskjaer's post-match press conferenceVideo

“Newcastle away was a professional performance, and against Reading it was never going to be easy after I made nine changes, but we have won all of the [games so far].”


The work towards win no.6 has shifted from the English winter to a week of warm weather in Dubai, with the Reds flying out from Manchester Airport just hours after Saturday's FA Cup victory at Old Trafford. It will give Solskjaer his longest stint of consecutive training days and some good opportunities to select 11 players to start against Tottenham from the 25 he has fielded so far.

“Everyone is considered,”
said Ole, when asked if Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku could keep their places after the pair faced Reading.
“It is down to what kind of tactics we decide [to use], who does well [in training] and who is fit when it comes to Sunday. Of course we have some players now getting their fitness work in.

I know they are quality players and that’s three goals in three games now [for Lukaku], two as a sub and one today. I thought it was a fantastic goal, constructed by him and Alexis.


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