And Solskjaer has won it! Ole's Manager of the Month
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's flying start to his role as Manchester United caretaker manager has been rewarded with the Premier League Manager of the Month award for January 2019.
The accolade follows what was a month of great success for the Reds. Speaking in an interview after receiving the trophy, and in his press conference on Friday morning, Ole was full of praise for the backroom staff that he has around him at the Aon Training Complex.
"Honestly, I’m a little bit against individual team awards for a team sport," he said, "but it means we’ve been the team of the month, so this is both for the staff and the players.
"We complement each other really well," he added. "The hours and hours that Kieran and Michael spend on planning the sessions, doing the sessions, working with individuals. We're a good group. We bounce off each other. Opinions are being thrown about in that office and in the end I'm the "lucky one" that has to make a decision on who to leave out or to play.
"We want to be winning games. We want to move up the table and this is the start of it."
The Norwegian took charge of the Reds for the first time on 22 December and has since led his squad on a 10-game unbeaten run in all competitions including eight consecutive victories. Ole becomes the first United manager in seven years to clinch the award; the last time the club won it, Sir Alex Ferguson was the recipient back in November 2012.
Solskjaer will also join his current colleague Mike Phelan as part of a select group of caretaker managers who have won the award. Phelan did it with Hull City, when he filled the void after his former Reds team-mate Steve Bruce left the Tigers' helm.
HOW OLE DID IT
Solskjaer's side won the first five fixtures in January, before drawing the final game of the month at home to Burnley. February started with last Sunday's 1-0 win at Leicester City, to continue a remarkable run that has seen the Reds whittle the gap to the top four down from 11 points to just two.
A highlight of the period was a hard-fought 1-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley Stadium, the club's first away victory over the North London club since March 2012.
That triumph meant Solskjaer became the first manager of the club to win his first six games in charge. Sir Matt Busby, the previous record holder, had won his first five but drew his sixth.
Other notable performances include our FA Cup fourth-round victory against Arsenal at the Emirates and the spirit shown to rescue a point against Burnley after being 2-0 down with less than five minutes to play.
WHAT'S TO COME?
A busy February schedule is under way, and it continues with Saturday's trip to Craven Cottage to face Fulham. Thereafter, the Reds will have four games in three competitions. On Tuesday, French heavyweights Paris Saint Germain come to Old Trafford; six days later, Solskjaer's men will be back in West London to face Chelsea in the FA Cup, the scene of a thrilling 2-2 draw earlier in the Premier League campaign.
United will host Liverpool on 24 February before the month ends with a midweek journey to Crystal Palace, where Nemanja Matic scored a sensational late winner last season as United came from 2-0 down to win 3-2.
PREMIER LEAGUE MANAGER OF THE MONTH WINNERS 2018/19
August: Javi Gracia (Watford)
September: Nuno Espirito Santo (Wolves)
October: Eddie Howe (Bournemouth)
November: Rafael Benitez (Newcastle United)
December: Jurgen Klopp (Liverpool)
January: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (United)