Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s firing by Manchester United on Sunday underscored the oddity of his appointment three years ago and flaws in the club’s determination to persevere so long with a manager whose credentials were constantly doubted as a vast investment in players made little significant impact on the pitch.
Even after chastening losses to fierce rivals Liverpool (5-0) and Manchester City (2-0) in the last month, United stuck by Solskjaer.
While Aston Villa and Norwich used the two-week international break to fire and bring in new managers, United’s leadership waited until after Saturday’s 4-1 collapse at Watford – a fifth loss in seven Premier League games – to finally decide change was required in the dugout.
Former midfielder Michael Carrick, who was on Solskjaer’s coaching staff, will be in charge temporarily, starting with a trip to Spain for a Champions League match at Villarreal in the group stage on Tuesday.
United said it would look to then appoint a manager only until the end of the season.
“The inevitable news has broken this morning,” former Liverpool, Manchester United and England striker Michael Owen tweeted following Solskjaer’s dismissal.
“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 manager’s job to get the best out of them. It has to be the worst possible time for Manchester United to be looking for a new manager. Early in the season with hardly any top managers available.”Former Manchester United captain Gary Neville, who was criticised for refusing to call for his former teammate’s sacking in his role as a pundit, said Solskjaer “restored some soul into the club”.
Patrice Evra, who played for United between 2006 and 2014, believes the players have to take more responsibility.
“Thank you my friend for making us believe again in Manchester United. Unfortunately when you don’t get the results people forget what you done for this club but to all the players I’m coming for you now.” Evra said.
Andy Cole, who won a historic treble alongside Solskjaer in 1999, paid tribute to the departing manager.
“All the best my friend.. what ever people say you will always be a Manchester United legend. You have put your heart and soul into bringing the glory days back to Old Trafford,” Cole said.
Solskjaer leaves with United already realistically out of the Premier League title race, 12 points behind leaders Chelsea down in seventh in the table, and having exited the League Cup.
A run of five defeats in Solskjaer’s final seven league games contrasts sharply with the anticipation that surrounded the club in August when Cristiano Ronaldo made a surprise return to Old Trafford in the final days of the transfer window.