Ole Gunnar Solskjaer appointment as Manchester United boss is a welcome throwback

Solskjaer says he has Manchester United running through his veins. (AFP)
Updated 28 March 2019

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer appointment as Manchester United boss is a welcome throwback

  • Norwegian as new United boss reconnects the club with the fans.
  • Youth and being bold all part of the make-up of the Old Trafford club, something Solskjaer understands.

LONDON: When Sir Alex Ferguson retired six years ago it felt like, and in many ways was, the end of an era. Not just at Manchester United but for football in general. With “Fergie” went the days of giving youth a chance and allowing a coach time to create a side built for success. 

Since his departure the events at Old Trafford have been depressingly familiar: Hire a new manager, give him lots of money, sack him not long after. That is the script at every club now and the revolving door of calamitous coaches and big-money buys sometimes leaves fans alienated and detached from their team. 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s appointment as new United boss, therefore, seems like a welcome throwback. The Norwegian was not a big-name manager of the sort that invariably gets mentioned when a ridiculously monied club has a vacancy — think Zinedine Zidane, Carlo Ancelotti, Massimiliano Allegri or the latest bright young thing. He is also a former player who has made a big thing about wanting United to reconnect with the fans and promoting youth. 

Solskjaer’s appointment is as much to do with his reconnecting with the ethos of the Ferguson era as it is with all the wins and points. Under David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho Old Trafford had become a dour place, listless and joyless, devoid of the swashbuckling football United used to serve up. In the three months Solskjaer has been in charge he has restored the soul of the club, pride in the shirt and been bold. 

Ultimately, football is about more than just finishing in the top four and access to the riches of the Champions League. It is about connecting with the fans, giving them a reason to part with an ever-increasing amount of cash to see their club play week in, week out. As one supporter wrote on social media: “The last three months have been the best period supporting the club since Sir Alex’s final season in charge.”

Make no mistake, giving the job to Solskjaer is a gamble. But football is meant to be fun and the fact that the Norwegian gets that is the reason every football fan should be glad that he, rather than one of the big-name favorites, got the gig.


Raptors beat Bucks to reach first NBA final

Updated 26 May 2019

Raptors beat Bucks to reach first NBA final

TORONTO: Kawhi Leonard had 27 points and 17 rebounds to lead the Toronto Raptors into the NBA Finals for the first time with a 100-94 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday night.
The Raptors overcame a 15-point deficit to win the series in six games and will host the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday night.
Pascal Siakam scored 18 points, Kyle Lowry had 17 and Fred VanVleet 14 for the Raptors, who used a 26-3 run late in the third quarter and early in the fourth to turn the game in their favor.
Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Bucks with 21 points and 11 rebounds, but the NBA’s top team in the regular season saw its bid for a first finals berth in 45 years come to a disappointing end with a fourth consecutive defeat.
Down 76-71 to start the fourth, the Raptors tied it with an 8-2 run while Leonard and Antetokounmpo were both on the bench. Ibaka’s dunk with 10:32 to go tied it at 78.
Antetokounmpo returned after a timeout, but Leonard kept sitting. That didn’t matter to Toronto, with Siakam’s basket giving the Raptors an 80-78 lead, their first lead since it was 6-3.
Leonard’s one-handed slam after Lowry’s steal gave Toronto an 87-79 lead with 6:46 to go before the Bucks responded. George Hill answered with a layup, Brook Lopez converted a three-point play and Antetokounmpo scored to cut it to 87-86 with 5:19 to go.
Lowry and Lopez swapped baskets before Gasol’s 3 put the Raptors up 92-88 with 3:50 left. After another basket by Lopez, Leonard made a 3 to push Toronto’s lead to 95-90 with 3:04 to play. It was Leonard’s first 3 after missing his first seven attempts of the game.
Toronto made 12 of 27 3-point attempts, including four of eight in the fourth quarter.
Siakam, who missed a pair of free throws late in the fourth quarter of Toronto’s double-overtime win in Game 3, hit one to make it 98-94. Leonard grabbed the rebound on the second and was fouled. He made both, putting the Raptors up 100-94 with 3.9 seconds to go.
Brogdon and Middleton each made a pair from long range as the Bucks shot 6 for 9 from 3-point range in the first and closed the quarter with 10 unanswered points to lead 31-18. Toronto shot 6 for 19 in the opening quarter, missing six straight twice in the first 12 minutes.
The Bucks extended their lead to 38-23 on a 3 by Ersan Ilyasova with 7:46 left until half. Toronto cut the gap to 46-43 on a 3 by VanVleet with 1:07 left in the second, but Eric Bledsoe answered with a 3 and Antetokounmpo split a pair at the line, giving the Bucks a 50-43 advantage at the intermission.
The lead went back to 15 in the third before Leonard finished the period with a flourish. He had eight points in the final 2:01 and Toronto closed with a 10-0 run, cutting a 15-point deficit to 76-71.
Bucks: Milwaukee shot 4 for 16 in the second but three of its made baskets were 3-pointers. ... The Bucks had six points in the paint in the first half. ... Coach Mike Budenholzer was called for a technical foul on Milwaukee’s first possession of the second half. Leonard missed the free throw. ... Antetokounmpo shot 5 for 10 at the free throw line.
Raptors: Danny Green, who missed all three of his field goal attempts in 16 minutes in Game 5, had another rough night. Green shot 0 for 4 in 14 minutes. ... Leonard’s 17 rebounds were his most in any game this postseason. ... Lowry had eight assists.
Raptors fan and ‘global ambassador’ Drake sat in his regular seat adjacent to the Toronto bench. The rapper wore a black hoodie with ‘KAWHI ME A RIVER’ printed on the back.
The NBA Finals comes to Canada for the first time when the Raptors host the Warriors on Thursday night. Toronto swept Golden State in the regular season.