Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has become the first Manchester United manager to be named the Premier League Manager of the Month in over six years. Solskjaer presided over three league wins and a draw during an unbeaten January as United closed the gap on the top four to two points. United could move up to fourth if they win at Fulham on Saturday.
Sir Alex Ferguson was the last United managerial recipient of the monthly accolade in October 2012, when United beat Newcastle and Stoke, and recorded only their second Premier League triumph at Chelsea this century. They still ended the month with a League Cup fourth round loss at Stamford Bridge.
Jose Mourinho presided over winning Augusts in 2016 and 2017 with United but was overlooked in favour of Mike Phelan of Hull – who lost to United that month – and Huddersfield’s David Wagner. United also won five and drew one in an unbeaten December 2016 but Antonio Conte steered Chelsea to six wins out of six.
Neither David Moyes nor Louis van Gaal guided United to winning months during their tenures and only two United players have taken the Player of the Month honour in the post-Ferguson era (Anthony Martial in September 2015 and Zlatan Ibrahimovic in December 2016).
United began January with a hard-fought 2-0 win at Newcastle before an uneventful defeat of Reading by the same scoreline in the FA Cup third round. United overcame Tottenham 1-0 in what is widely regarded as Solskjaer’s most significant result to date and then held on for a 2-1 success against Brighton at Old Trafford.
On his achievement, he said: “The more you know the culture of the club, the culture of the players and the way that we have been successful, that has helped me.
“I’ve got some fantastic coaches, I have to say, Kieran [McKenna], Michael [Carrick], they’re brilliant. Emilio Alvarez’s working with the best goalkeeper in the world and to bring Micky [Phelan] in with me is very reassuring because he’s so calm and experienced.
“You cannot be a good leader or a manager without good players, you can’t get results without the players, so ultimately it’s how they respond to what we tell them and they’ve been fantastic, so all credit to them.”