Old Trafford welcomes back a familiar face on Tuesday when fans’ favourite Ole Gunnar Solksjaer returns to the Theatre of Dreams for the first time with his Cardiff side, and the Norwegian can expect a rapturous reception.
The ‘Baby-faced assassin’ scored 126 times in 366 appearances for the club, and earned the reputation as the ‘super-sub’ for his remarkable predatory instincts for coming off the bench to score late goals, the most famous of which, came in injury time in the 1999 Champions League Final, when Solksjaer scored the winner to complete a stunning comeback and win United the treble. After replacing Malky Mackay earlier this month, Solksjaer’s appointment invites comparisons that he can take up that role again and rescue Cardiff, like he did so many times for United during his playing days.
The Norwegian faces a tough task to save Cardiff from the drop though, and is yet to register any points in the league for his new club, leaving Cardiff bottom of the league on goal difference, and despite two victories in the FA Cup against Newcastle and more recently, Bolton at the weekend, Solksjaer will be desperate to get some points, sooner rather than later. Cardiff secured a point when the sides met earlier in the season and any other season, a trip to Old Trafford would represent a daunting prospect, but it is no secret that David Moyes’ side have struggled this season, especially at home, having only won five of eleven home league games, and losing four in the process, and sit seventh in the league, while a Capital One Cup exit to Sunderland, has compiled further misery and pressure on David Moyes.
Yet, United have signed a saviour of their own this week, and will be buoyed by pulling off the transfer of Juan Mata, who joins from Chelsea, for a record fee of £37.1 million, as United bid to initiate a second-half of the season revival, pinning their hopes on the Spaniard to provide a touch of class and inject some creativity into the side. However, it remains to be seen, whether Mata will be involved in Tuesday’s game, despite David Moyes’ hopes that he would be available for a game, that either way, will be sure not be short of talking points.
KICK-OFF: Tuesday, 7.45pm
Cardiff 2 (Campbell, Kim) Manchester United 2 (Rooney, Evra), Premier League, November 2013
Manchester United 4 (Houston, Macari, McIllroy, Pearson) Cardiff 0, Division Two, March 1975
Cardiff 0 Manchester United 1 (Daly), Division Two, August 1974
Victory would make Manchester United the first club to earn 1,000 points at home in the Premier League - they currently stand on 998.
Thirty seven points from 22 matches is the lowest total United have mustered in any previous Premier League season at this stage.
United have already lost seven league games, a tally they have only previous exceeded in two Premier League seasons (they lost nine times in 2001-02 and 2003-04).
Cardiff have won none and lost six of their last eight Premier League away games.
Cardiff have scored 35% of their goals via headers - the highest proportion in the Premier League.
Five of Cardiff striker Frazier Campbell's last six league goals have come against Manchester United or Manchester City, and 42% of his overall total Premier League strikes have been against those two teams.
Manchester United to win: 1.27
Cardiff to win: 16.5
TV: Highlights on BBC1 on Wednesday at 10.35pm