Manchester United have finally sacked manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the club confirmed on Sunday morning.
Solskjaer was axed after Saturday’s 4-1 defeat at Watford continued a catastrophic run of results that saw the 48-year-old Norwegian lose seven of his last 13 games in charge.
First-team coach Michael Carrick has been installed as caretaker manager while United seek a replacement to take over until the end of the season.
Brendan Rodgers, Zinedine Zidane, Mauricio Pochettino and Erik ten Hag have all been touted as potential replacements.
A club statement read: ‘Manchester United announces that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has left his role as manager. Ole will always be a legend at Manchester United and it is with regret that we havereached this difficult decision. While the past few weeks have been disappointing, they should not obscure all the work he has done over the past three years to rebuild the foundations for long-term success.
‘Ole leaves with our sincerest thanks for his tireless efforts as manager and our very best wishes for the future. His place in the club’s history will always be secure, not just for his story as a player, but as a great man and a manager who gave us many great moments. He will forever be welcome back at Old Trafford as part of the Manchester United family.
‘Michael Carrick will now take charge of the team for forthcoming games, while the club looks to appoint an interim manager to the end of the season.’
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been sacked as Man United boss after his side’s defeat by Watford
Cristiano Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes (right) were among the United stars beaten at Watford
Miserable Man United fans vented their fury at Solskjaer and his players at the final whistle
Solskjaer and United’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward arrived at the club’s Carrington training base on Sunday morning shortly before the news was confirmed.
The club held emergency talks on Saturday night, with owners Joel and Avram Glazer ultimately deciding to pull the trigger.
Pundits and former players have been reacting to the news that was in the pipeline for some time – with the Norwegian’s former team-mate Gary Neville paying tribute to him.
‘Thank you Ole. You did us proud,’ he wrote on Twitter. ‘The last two months were tough but before that you restored some soul into the club.’
Former striker Michael Owen, however, claimed Solskjaer failed to get the best out of his talented crop of players – including the likes of Jadon Sancho and Ronaldo.
Owners Avram (L) and Joel Glazer (R) have decided to pull the trigger on the beleaguered boss
‘The inevitable news has broken this morning,’ he said on social media. ‘There were bigger managerial names than him that tried and failed in recent seasons and he leaves the club with the most talented collection of players it’s had in a while. It’s the next managers job to get the best out of them…’
It brings to an end a managerial reign lasting just short of three years. Solskjaer was the surprise choice to replace Jose Mourinho in December 2018, initially on a caretaker basis when he returned to his old club from Molde. He was given the job on a permanent basis the following March, and signed a new contract at Old Trafford this summer.
However, after the signings of Cristiano Ronaldo, Raphael Varane and Jadon Sancho were followed by a bright start to the season, the wheels have fallen off spectacularly in the past month.
United suffered humiliating defeats to arch rivals Liverpool and Manchester City, as well as conceding four goals to Leicester and then Watford which proved the final straw. Solskjaer was jeered by United fans at Vicarage Road and his farewell wave seemed to indicate that he knew the axe was coming.
It’s understood that United thought Solskjaer – a club legend after scoring the winning goal in the 1999 Champions League final – had earned the right to turn things around.
The Old Trafford hierarchy were looking for a reaction after the international break, but the manner of the defeat at Watford was simply too much. He leaves the club in seventh place in the Premier League and still fighting for qualification for the Champions League knockout stages ahead of Tuesday’s trip to Villarreal.
United had hoped to see further improvement after Solskjaer finished second last season and reached the Europa League final, particularly considering the money that was spent on strengthening the squad. But results simply haven’t been good enough, and it became clear that the situation was getting worse not better. =
The United board had previously seemed determined to give Solskjaer a chance to turn around his side’s form and he showed signs of recovery by beating Tottenham and coming from behind to draw with Atalanta in their last Champions League outing.
But the respite was short-lived and Solskjaer, who was criticised for going to Norway during the recent international break, has now been relieved of his duties by the Manchester United hierarchy.
First team coach Michael Carrick (middle) will replace Solskjaer for the next games before the club appoints an interim coach for the rest of the season
In December 2018 Solskjaer was brought in by United on an interim basis, following the sacking of former boss Jose Mourinho.
Solskjaer scored 126 goals in 366 appearances for United between 1996 and 2007 and also managed the club’s reserve team until the end of 2010, before moving back to his native Norway with Molde.
He won his first eight games in charge on the way to an overall record of 14 victories and two draws in 19 games – amassing more Premier League points than any other club during that time and appearing to bring a feelgood factor back after the miserable end to Mourinho’s reign.
United’s thrilling upturn in form following Solskjaer’s arrival saw the club legend offered a full-time contract in March 2019, despite his only previous managerial experience being in his homeland with Molde and an unsuccessful spell at Cardiff City.
Solskjaer was appointed interim manager in December 2018 following Jose Mourinho’s axing
But the feelgood factor has gone and he leaves United having not won a single trophy
SOLSKJAER’S UNITED RECORD AS BOSS
Games in charge: 165
Strangely, Solskjaer has the third-highest win percentage of any manager in United’s history.
Solskjaer can point to a record that shows he has won comfortably over half his 165 games in charge at the Premier League giants.
Only Jose Mourinho – who he replaced – and the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson boast better records in charge.
Just weeks before Solskjaer was made permanent United manager, he oversaw a miraculous Champions League comeback against European giants Paris Saint-Germain, a 3-1 victory in the French capital.
A last-gasp Marcus Rashford goal secured a 3-3 aggregate scoreline and sent United into the last eight of the competition on away goals.
Solskjaer was promptly handed a three-year contract, which was renewed once again in June 2021. The fresh three-year deal was due to run until 2024, with the option to extend for a further year.
Despite initially failing to secure Champions League qualification in 2019 after succeeding Mourinho, Solskjaer oversaw consecutive third and second-placed Premier League finishes in his two complete campaigns.
But, following the huge summer outlay on Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane the inescapable truth was that Solskjaer was now expected to deliver trophies, and a strong challenge for the Premier League title.
That title bid already looks to be in tatters, and the closest he came to winning a trophy was a defeat on penalties by Spanish side Villarreal in last season’s Europa League final.
Expectance and pressure increased tenfold on Solskjaer following last season’s second-placed finish, after which he was heavily backed in the transfer market.
One of Solskjaer’s biggest results as manager came in Paris in early 2019, when United pulled off a stunning comeback victory over PSG which landed him the permanent job weeks later
But the closest he came to winning a trophy was the Europa League final defeat last season
MANCHESTER UNITED STATEMENT
Manchester United announces that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has left his role as manager.
Ole will always be a legend at Manchester United and it is with regret that we have reached this difficult decision.
While the past few weeks have been disappointing, they should not obscure all the work he has done over the past three years to rebuild the foundations for long-term success.
Ole leaves with our sincerest thanks for his tireless efforts as Manager and our very best wishes for the future.
His place in the club’s history will always be secure, not just for his story as a player, but as a great man and a Manager who gave us many great moments.
He will forever be welcome back at Old Trafford as part of the Manchester United family.
Michael Carrick will now take charge of the team for forthcoming games, while the club looks to appoint an interim manager to the end of the season.
He was given the funds to finally secure the two-year long pursuit of English starlet Sancho, who signed in a deal initially for £73million, rising to a huge £150m.
Sancho has yet to settle at United this season, attracting further criticism for Solskjaer.
The arrival of the winger has also limited the prospects of Ivory Coast teenager Amad Diallo, who signed last year in a £37m deal from Atalanta.
United also backed their manager with statement moves for the likes of Real Madrid stalwart Varane, along with an emotional re-signing of living football legend and all time United fans’ favourite Ronaldo.
Despite this, though, further criticism arrived at Solskjaer’s doorstep for the manner in which Ronaldo’s return has hampered his side and caused United to be less aggressive and forward-thinking in the defensive press.
United are now immediately turning their attentions to Solskjaer’s replacement.
Zinedine Zidane (right), an old ally of Ronaldo’s at Real Madrid, is a contender to take over
Brendan Rodgers (left) and Mauricio Pochettino (right) are also in the frame for the job
Zidane, the legendary French World Cup winner, guided Real Madrid to the Champions League three times and won the Spanish league twice before quitting in May, and is also readily available.
Rodgers in currently in post at Leicester City, where he has greatly impressed in twice coming so close to earning Champions League football and winning the FA Cup to help the club punch well above their weight. He also impressed at Celtic and Liverpool, until a decline late in his reign at Anfield.
Pochettino, who was a great success in five years at Tottenham despite never winning a trophy, is also currently employed, holding the reins at PSG.
The super-rich French club signed Lionel Messi last summer and, as he also boasts Kylian Mbappe and Neymar in a superstar attacking line-up, the expectation there is that Pochettino achieves nothing less than winning the Champions League.
Ten Hag would perhaps be the outsider in the race, but the Dutchman has impressed in creating a vibrant young side at Ajax, winning the league title twice, and rejected an approach from Tottenham last summer.
Despite his sacking, Solskjaer remains a United icon due to his feats as a player, including scoring the dramatic last-gasp winning goal in the 1999 Champions League final