MANCHESTER, England -- Sir Alex Ferguson remains the manager who has had the biggest influence on English football, according to Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, despite Pep Guardiola's success since arriving in the Premier League.
Former England striker Gary Lineker said on Saturday that Guardiola "has had the most positive influence of anyone, ever on our game" after three trophy-laded seasons at the Etihad Stadium.
But as United and Manchester City prepare to meet in their Carabao Cup semifinal first leg, Solskjaer insists the Spaniard cannot top Ferguson, who won the English top-flight title a record 13 times.
"He [Guardiola] has had a big, big influence, and since he took over Barcelona, I have admired Pep's teams, but I have got to say I worked under the most influential one," said Solskjaer.
"You do see one of the best managers ever, and you can see where he [Guardiola] has taken his wisdom from. I had the pleasure of speaking and meeting Johan [Cruyff] back in the day when Jordi [Cruyff] was here, and you can see certain similarities."
Solskjaer has already masterminded one win over City this season and will aim for another when the two teams meet at Old Trafford on Tuesday night.
United were successful on the counter-attack during their 2-1 victory at the Etihad in December, and the Norwegian has called for more protection for his players -- particularly winger Dan James -- when they try to break quickly.
James was on the end of a heavy challenge from Fernandinho in the last derby that went unpunished by referee Anthony Taylor.
"We got past their press last time, and if you count the numbers of fouls, I don't think there were too many," said Solskjaer.
"That's a big thing, and sometimes I look at the referees and I look at our games, and even if they are just little fouls, there have been teams who have stopped us with them little fouls, which has stopped us showing how good we are when we attack.
"There has been a few fouls on Dan James, and I am better off not talking about it, but the referees have got to look at when players with his pace, even if they just knock the ball past them and they stop them in their tracks, of course it is yellow cards."