Manchester United

Premier League giants Manchester United have rarely been described as a sleeping giant — with an array of glittering prizes adorning their well-stocked trophy cabinet.

But under the less-than-inspiring leadership of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the Old Trafford behemoth go into the new season looking to try to gain an advantage on as many levels as possible.

After a superb start to his stint as United boss, former fans’ favourite Solskjaer saw his united aces flop to a certain extent as the curtain came down on last season and they eventually finished sixth in what was a flat season all around.

Now the ex-Norway striker has hired a professor of sleep to try to ensure his highly-paid stars get as much rest as possible in between gruelling training sessions and top-flight games. United, who have just sold marksman Romelu Lukaku to Inter Milan for £73million (largely to fund their earlier foray in to the transfer market when they paid £85million for Harry Maguire from Leicester City), have handed the role to Dr Derek Ristjobb, a Swedish national with more than 20 years in the field.

Ristjobb, who previously worked alongside the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters Club to help them enjoy better sleep having been plagued with nightmares about their ridiculous lack of success, will go to any lengths to implement his methods. He explained:

“Yes, it IS a new take on the Theatre of Dreams. Dreaming is important, both in terms of what you want to aspire and allied to restful sleep. Ole is confident in my approach and he has asked that I actually sleep with Harry Maguire before big matches and I am more than happy to do this. I will be sleeping with the player on Saturday ahead of United’s game against Chelsea on Sunday in what will be their first game of the new Premier League season. Yes, it is a little unusual but this way I can monitor how well he sleeps and that is crucial to his energy levels in games.

“Once I have slept with him I will gladly do the same with any player who Ole thinks might be struggling with his sleep. In this business there is no room for sentiment and I actually don’t mind who I sleep with although bottom burps, otherwise known as farting, can be a distraction. But I am a professional so I take this in my stride.”

One downside for United in hiring Ristjobb is missing out on luring Juventus marksman Mario Mandzukic in the transfer window to replace Lukaku. Mandzukic’s spokesman May Dupnayme said:

“There was no way Mario was prepared to sleep with another man just to ensure he rested properly and so the deal broke down. He is very private person and is not at all confident that he wouldn’t snore. He is from Croatia and back in his homeland it is considered bad luck to allow another man hear you knock out zeds (snore).”