Solskjaer matches Busby as reborn United march on
London: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's dream start as Manchester United's interim boss continued at St James' Park on Wednesday as a 2-0 victory at Newcastle United saw him emulate an achievement set by the club's most legendary figure.
Matt Busby was the only other United manager to win his first four games in charge, way back in 1946, but the Norwegian, who has breathed fresh life into the team since Jose Mourinho's sacking, demonstrated his fresh-faced Midas touch again.
His second-half introduction of Romelu Lukaku saw the big Belgian score within 38 seconds and when Marcus Rashford slotted home the second, it meant United have now scored 14 goals and earned maximum points from their four matches under Solskjaer.
"You'd be happy with four wins from four - and finally we kept a clean sheet too," said a delighted Solskjaer, who reiterated his desire to turn his temporary appointment into a full-time job.
"We were slow in the first half but we controlled the game well, we concentrated and overall it was a very professional performance."
Manchester United were 11 points off the fourth Champions League spot when Solskjaer took over a fortnight ago but their gap behind Chelsea is now already down to six points.
While sixth-placed United were celebrating the start of what promises to be a rather happier new year, Chelsea suffered a frustrating start to 2019, being held to a goalless draw at home by Southampton.
Chelsea had hoped to cap off a big day having earlier announced the signing of Christian Pulisic, who will join them next season from Borussia Dortmund for 64 million euros ($73.2 million), making him the most expensive US player of all-time.
Instead, the Blues were held by Ralph Hasenhuettl's stubborn Saints and could only move on 44 points in fourth place, three behind Manchester City, four behind Tottenham Hotspur and now 10 behind leaders Liverpool.
"We did not move the ball very well and we need to improve," said Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri.
"We have to play every three days so I cannot think of next year, I have to think about the next match," he shrugged.
Unbeaten Liverpool will face champions Manchester City in what has all the feel of a pivotal top-of-the-table clash on Thursday.At the other end of the table, there was more misery for bottom club Huddersfield Town, who after taking the lead at home to Burnley through Steve Mounie's first goal since April tumbled to a 2-1 defeat with 10 men.