Manchester United have confirmed the departure of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as manager following a dismal run of form that has left them 12 points off league leaders Chelsea.
Amid what has been a crisis period for the Red Devils, the final straw for the Norwegian proved to be Saturday’s shambolic 4-1 defeat to newly-promoted Watford at Vicarage Road, with there having been no noticeable improvement following the international break.
The club legend’s position was already under immense pressure, but the loss to the Hornets ensured a fourth defeat in just five league games, while they have now won just once in the top-flight in their last seven to all but end any hopes of a title challenge.
A further damning statistic is that Solskjaer’s side had conceded 15 in their last five league games, suffering a 4-2 defeat away at Leicester City, receiving a 5-0 thrashing at home to bitter rivals Liverpool, while also being outclassed by Manchester City on their own turf two weeks ago.
With United now also six points off a top-four spot, even securing Champions League qualification this season will be an uphill task, such a spectacular drop-off having been unthinkable after a summer that had witnessed the arrivals of the likes of Jadon Sancho, Raphael Varane and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Prior to this season, Solskjaer had largely done well to steady the ship after a turbulent few years following Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013, taking charge on an initial interim basis in December 2018, before being handed the reigns on a permanent deal a few months later after a sensational run of results that included that dramatic away victory in Paris.
While there was a noticeable dip following his announcement as Jose Mourinho’s permanent successor, he went on to guide the club to a third-place finish in his first full season in charge, albeit while slipping up in the last four of the FA Cup, Carabao Cup and Europa League.
There was again clear progression as United finished an albeit distant second to City last season, although they again slipped up at the semi-final stage in the League Cup, while memorably suffering defeat on penalties to Villarreal in the Europa League final.
That failure ensures that he will walk away from Old Trafford having been unable to win a major trophy, the club’s last piece of silverware having come under Mourinho back in 2017.
Confirming the decision to sack the Norwegian, Manchester United released a heartfelt statement to thank the Champions League winning ‘legend’.
“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.”
The likes of Zinedine Zidane, Brendan Rodgers, Mauricio Pochettino and Erik Ten Hag have all been linked with the position, and United confirmed that they are looking to appoint an interim boss until the end of the season
“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,” the statement concluded.
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