Championship

TT Battles: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer vs Marcelo Bielsa

It has been a miraculous season for both Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Marcelo Bielsa, who have successively matched the lofty expectations of their respective clubs.

The former, who was managing Norwegian outfit Molde FK at the beginning of the term, could have hardly dreamt that he would be the man to succeed Jose Mourinho in December, returning to club where he achieved truly magnificent things as a player.

Whilst Bielsa, one of the most renowned coaches in modern history, looks set to reintroduce Leeds United to the Premier League for the first time in 15 years.

Solskjaer might have an inkling about the bitter rivalry between Manchester United and Leeds United, but Bielsa is yet to experience the ferocity and mutual detest shared by the two clubs.

At its base, the feud is said to be driven by opposing counties Lancashire and Yorkshire – that is, the War of the Roses. But its most recent hate-filled incarnation surely came from the days of Sir Matt Busby and Don Revie, and following that, hooliganism.

Fixtures between the two have been scarce with the two last facing in the League Cup in 2011, and fans and players alike will be frothing at the opportunity to reignite a bit of tribal hatred come next season.

It is a battle old versus new; the plucky newcomer taking on the wise; two mammoth clubs finally meeting after years of misery.

But who comes out on top?

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

What an appointment.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has lifted Manchester United fans from their doldrums and catapulted them into a state of sheer jubilation.

The result against Paris Saint-Germain was, in our mind, one of the greatest moments of their recent history; a true representation of what it is to support the club; pure, unadulterated entertainment.

And that has been the theme throughout Solskjaer’s reign – he has brought back some of the identity lost in previous years to the miseries of David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho.

Manchester United will feel like they can take on anyone now, and that is how it should be.

A record of 14 wins, two draws and one loss has only been made possible by playing the United way, and that philosophy has been enforced by their ‘caretaker’ boss.

TT Rating: A+

Marcelo Bielsa

Marcelo Bielsa joining Leeds United was a shock at the start of the season, but the more you consider it, the more it makes sense.

Leeds are a huge club, no doubt one of the biggest in the country, who have fallen on hard times since their drop in 2004.

They have the name, the fans, the history and the culture to succeed – they were just lacking the personnel to make it happen.

Indeed, such a fundamental part to a clubs successful is their ability to find the right individuals to carry them through, and in the Championship that is easier said than done.

To be successful takes a very particular kind of manager; one that is so gifted in man management and strategy that they can adapt at monumental rates to traverse frequent and unique hurdles along the way.

Bielsa has been that man: the one to bring back some fight to West Yorkshire.

TT Rating: A-

The Verdict:

An incredibly tough one given how relatively inexperienced the two are managing at the top level in England, but Solskjaer just edges it.

The Norwegian’s mammoth ascent has been truly remarkable, and made to look considerably better by the contrast in form.

Bielsa has been great since joining Leeds, yes; he has done everything asked of him and more, successfully manoeuvring patches of poor form and lifting Leeds back into the top spots.

But the Argentine remains unproven at Premier League level, and that is our major point of concern. Whether he can really drag a relatively poor side through the trials of the English top flight remains to be seen.

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