Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has all the ingredients to help keep Cardiff in the Barclays Premier League, according to Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. “He has already experience as a manager in Norway, so he has learned his job. “He was an intelligent player, so he is an intelligent boy as well, and that will help him to be successful.” Solskjaer has enjoyed a successful spell in charge of Molde, guiding them to two Norwegian titles and a Norwegian Cup. The 40-year-old is said to have turned down the chance to become Aston Villa manager prior to the appointment of Paul Lambert at Villa Park, while he had also been linked with the current vacancy at West Brom. However, earlier this week it had been suggested Solskjaer had reservations about taking the Cardiff job following controversial owner Tan’s numerous disputes with Mackay over recent months. Nevertheless, Dalman remained confident he could convince the Norwegian to take over at Cardiff City Stadium with the promise of money to spend in the January transfer window and reassurances over the working structure at the club. Tan had not been scheduled to attend Wednesday’s game at the Emirates Stadium, but flew into London especially to try to push through the deal. Although the game at the Emirates Stadium could well prove to be the last in charge for caretaker boss David Kerslake – who was assistant to Mackay – and first-team coach Joe McBride, it will remain very much “business as usual” within the backroom staff until any changes are confirmed. Kerslake said: “Although Joe and myself and the rest of the staff know it is only temporary, the last thing I said to the players that they made me feel immensely proud of the performance they put in. “I am really unsure whether they knew or not (that Solskjaer was at the stadium). “There was no talk of it on the team bus and the hotel and in the dressing-room, so I would not totally unsure about that.” Kerslake added: “Whoever comes in, obviously there is an important month coming up, so if he can add to it, make the squad better, then all well and good, but I believe the team are good enough to stay in the Premier League.” There have been no indications as to whether any of Mackay’s former backroom staff would be kept on once a new manager has been appointed. “No, (I have heard) nothing at all,” said Kerslake. “I am contracted to the club until the owner or chairman tell me different. “I will be in work tomorrow as usual. “Coaches and managers in football know that it’s a precarious job and we just get on with it. There is no problem there, it is business as usual.” Former Manchester United forward Solskjaer, 40, travelled to London on New Year’s Day as talks stepped up over him replacing the sacked Malky Mackay. Confirmation of the appointment could follow on Thursday if negotiations between the Molde boss, Cardiff owner Vincent Tan and chairman Mehmet Dalman progress well after their meeting at the Emirates Stadium, where Cardiff were beaten 2-0 by a late brace from the Premier League leaders. Talks are set to continue in London, with any press conference likely to be held back in Cardiff once formalities have been completed. Wenger, who is now the longest serving manager in the English top flight, sees no reason why Solskjaer cannot make a success of what would be a first major managerial role. “I have seen him before the game, and they played like they knew he was in the stand,” said Wenger. “Cardiff has the basic ingredients to survive in the Premier League. “You would say if you look at their record they need to add a bit more goals offensively to stay in the league. “If he (Solskjaer) can find that in the final third something clinical like he was, then they will stay in the league because they have the basic quality to do it.” Wenger continued: “It is a chance (for Solskjaer). “Basically what you want when you are young is a chance and after you have to make the maximum of that chance. Press Association
What if USC had made the NCAA tournament?A silly hypothetical, I know. The Trojans were nowhere near qualified enough to make it to March Madness. They were an average basketball team at best, with an interim coach at the helm to boot.But it’s the last week of March — we have Cinderella teams like Florida Gulf Coast University, La Salle and Wichita State in the Sweet 16 after knocking out a couple of powerhouse squads. As brackets are busted across the nation, it’s the ultimate “what if” period for basketball junkies.So, let’s say the Trojans didn’t lose to the Utah Utes in the opening round of the Pac-12 tournament in Las Vegas. In fact, let’s assume USC went on a miraculous run and won the conference championship. How many teams could the Trojans realistically defeat with their newly minted automatic bid?Probably not many. USC finished 2-11 against teams that qualified for the tournament — its two wins were against the UCLA Bruins on Jan. 30 and the Arizona Wildcats on Feb. 27. Both of those teams entered the tournament as a six seed, which is a good indicator of the maximum level of competition this Trojan team was capable of pulling an upset against.Of course, as Florida Gulf Coast proved in its victory over second-seeded Georgetown, sometimes you can throw all the statistics in the world out the window. But, in general, this tournament has been devoid of major surprises, contrary to the Cinderella stories making headlines.The West region is all over the place with a nine seed (Wichita State) facing off against a 13 seed (La Salle) and a six seed (Arizona) taking on a two seed (Ohio State), but the rest of the tournament has gone pretty much according to plan. The East region still has its top four seeds intact. The Midwest features the top three seeds and 12-seeded Oregon, a team that should’ve easily been ranked higher. The South region is more of the same — three of the top four seeds remain.USC would have a fighting chance in its first matchup mostly because of its streaky shooting. Under interim head coach Bob Cantu, the Trojans scored 50 points in their first meeting against the Wildcats and 89 points in their rematch. If players like junior guard J.T. Terrell got hot early, it’s definitely not inconceivable to think the team could’ve at least made it interesting in the round of 64. Terrell is more than capable of dropping 25 points on virtually anyone. Temple’s Khalif Wyatt exuded that very quality, as the senior guard dropped back-to-back 31 point games and nearly brought the Owls to the Sweet 16.When you play the odds though, there are few teams you could pick out as easy wins for the Trojans. I would assume USC could defeat any of the 16-seeds, probably by double-digits. After that, nothing is guaranteed. The Trojans lost to some pretty average teams this year, including Nebraska and Georgia (albeit during the Kevin O’Neill era). On paper, they’re more talented than Florida Gulf Coast. They’re probably more talented than plenty of other double-digit seeds, especially mid-major squads who didn’t face off against nearly as much stiff competition. But that talent just didn’t seem to mesh during the regular season. Not only that — even a conference title wouldn’t save the Trojans from being one of the lowest seeds in the tournament. They’d likely get an unfavorable matchup against one of the best teams in the country. Other than that home win against Arizona, the Trojans were unable to beat a single ranked team in the regular season.Still, it’s not like USC was in the easiest conference in the world. The Pac-12 champion Oregon Ducks, woefully underseeded in the NCAA tournament, easily beat Oklahoma State and Saint Louis. The Arizona Wildcats, a team USC defeated, blew out Belmont and Harvard. The conference as a whole is 5-3 in the field of 68, one of the better marks in college basketball.When it comes down to it, even a dream scenario in which the Trojans swept through the Pac-12 tournament into March Madness just wouldn’t have ended well. A first-round upset would’ve been possible, but definitely not plausible. And beyond that, there would’ve been practically zero chance of a Florida Gulf Coast-esque run against some of the nation’s best squads. “The Fifth Down” runs Wednesdays. To comment on this story, email Alex at [email protected] or visit dailytrojan.com.