Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has parted ways with Manchester United. The announcement came on Sunday morning.
The Norwegian, 48, presided over yet another humiliating defeat as a 10-man Manchester United were routed 4-1 by a quicker, faster Watford side in the Premier League on Saturday.
A performance that demonstrated, yet again, United’s inability to impose themselves on a game of football despite possessing a squad brimming with both talent and youth.
One solitary EPL win in seven has seen United slip down the table and with seemingly no solution to a run that has had many calling for the head of the Norwegian.
Reports emerged after the match that the United board had been scrambled for an emergency meeting to discuss Solskjaer’s position. And on Sunday it was announced that the former striker has left the club.
Who will be the next Man United Manager?
Solskjaer’s recent downturn has seen the club begin to shortlist potential successors. Betting aggregator Oddschecker has Zinedine Zidane and Brendan Rodgers as the two frontrunners.
They also, perhaps bizarrely, have Cristiano Ronaldo at 25-1.
United’s poor run, exemplified by a 5-0 reverse at home against Liverpool on 24 October, has seen supporters lose patience with a man they revere for his past services to the club. Not only that, but Solskjaer’s much-lauded ‘re-set’ had at times seemed to be working to bring attacking football and flare back to Old Trafford after very mixed seasons since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013. But it gradually became tacitly accepted that the Norwegian did not possess the tactical acumen of his fiercest rival managers, and, since the Liverpool humbling, the joy of having a ‘United man’ in the dugout has lost its lustre.
Certainly where Zidane is concerned, the spectre of a new manager who has won back-to-back champions league titles will have glittering appeal to a team who have underperformed for nearly a decade, with little return on a substantial investment. But Rodgers also will spark interest, despite his previous Liverpool connection.
The drubbing at Vicarage Road
Joshua King Ismaila Sarr scored for Watford in the first half before a popular decision to substitute Donny van de Beek into the fray saw the underused dutchman pull one back with a header early in the second.
Joao Pedro and Emmanuel Dennis added goals for Watford in stoppage time after United’s Harry Maguire was shown a record card with 21 minutes remaining.
At the whistle, the manager led his players to the away section to applaud the fans, whereupon Solskjaer held up his hands in what appeared to be an apology.
“We’re embarrassed by losing the way we do,” Solskjaer said about his gesture. “Sometimes you’ve got to say sorry. And that was a ‘sorry for the performance.’”
Attacking midfielder Bruno Fernandes was also seen gesturing to the visiting fans that it’s not all on the manager. He pointed at the whole group and implied that the collective should be blamed. But the collective had 95 minutes to put that right, and one of the leakiest defences in the league proved horribly porous once again.
Captain Maguire’s second yellow dismissal in the 69th minute did nothing to help plug those sizeable gaps, and although Solskjaer made a case in his awkward post-match interview for the first yellow being harsh, the former Leicester player won’t be cupping his hands to his ears again any time soon.
The result left United in seventh place, 12 points behind leader Chelsea after 12 games.
An away trip to Villarreal in the UEFA Champions League beckons on Tuesday night. Assistant coach and former United midfielder Michael Carrick looks set to be given temporary charge of the team for this important away fixture, and perhaps a number of following matches until a more permanent solution is found.