Solskjaer rolls back years to help Cardiff promotion bid
Cardiff manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has turned to his old boss Alex Ferguson for inspiration as the former Manchester United striker bids to restore his club to the Premier League at the first attempt.
Solskjaer was a key member of the quartet of strikers, also including Andy Cole, Dwight Yorke and Teddy Sheringham, that inspired United's epic treble triumph in 1999 and the Norwegian is hoping his decision to replicate Ferguson's attacking philosophy pays equally generous dividends in south Wales.
After failing to halt Cardiff's plummet towards relegation when he took over in January, Solskjaer begins his first full season in charge of the Bluebirds desperate to make amends by firing his team back to promotion with a barrage of goals.
The lessons of Ferguson's commitment to attack have stayed with Solskjaer and the 41-year-old has signed Spanish forward Javi Guerra, Reading striker Adam Le Fondre and former United prospect Federico Macheda to complement his existing options of Nicky Maynard and Kenwyne Jones.
It looks a group capable of terrorising defences in the second tier and Solskjaer, whose side open the new Championship season at Blackburn on Friday, said: "I was part of a four or five man striking department at United and that is what I'm trying to create here at Cardiff.
"You need a group like that to help push each other on. The competition is very important particularly when it comes to forwards as I found out to my cost sometimes when I was playing."
But with the financial reward for reaching the Premier League now exceeding Â£100 million ($168 million), Cardiff will face fierce competition for the three lucrative promotion places from a cut-throat division boasting annual attendance totals surpassed only by the English, German and Spanish top tiers.
Fulham have responded to their first season outside the Premier League for 13 years by splashing Â£11 million on Scotland striker Ross McCormack, whose 29 goals for Leeds last season made him the division's leading scorer.
Yet despite that eye-popping acquisition, questions still remain about Fulham manager Felix Magath, whose disciplinarian style irritated some members of his squad last season.
Norwich, the third of the relegated clubs, surprisingly opted to retain caretaker manager Neil Adams on a permanent basis, and the new boss must hit the ground running, starting with a tricky opening weekend clash at newly-promoted Wolves.
"It's a tough league and it's a long season. It's key we get off to a good start," said Norwich's new midfielder Gary O'Neil, who won promotion from the second tier with QPR last term.
Derby, agonisingly beaten by QPR in the last minute of the play-off final, should also be among the promotion contenders if young midfielder Will Hughes continue to development under former England coach Steve McClaren's astute leadership.
Leeds finished last season in turmoil and not much has changed judging by the howls of anguish emanating from Elland Road supporters following controversial owner Massimo Cellino's decision to hire David Hockaday as boss despite his complete lack of Football League managerial experience.
Nottingham Forest, another sleeping giant yet to stir from its slumber, are also under new management in the form of club icon Stuart Pearce, who responded angrily this week when the club's Kuwaiti owners sold two talented youngsters to Newcastle against his advice.
The first ball hasn't even been kicked, but already the Championship soap opera is underway again.
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