Man Utd sack Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: why club lost faith in manager, and who will be his replacement?

The Norwegian had overseen a poor run of form that included losses to major rivals Liverpool and Man City

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been sacked as Man Utd manager this morning, after his team fell to a 4-1 Premier League defeat against newly promoted Watford.

Coming amid a poor run of form that’s included losses to major rivals Liverpool and Manchester City, the Norwegian was already on the brink before football’s international break.

Sign up to our World of Sport newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

But the club’s board have now lost patience with the man who has been in charge of the club since 2018.

According to PA, the decision was made at an emergency meeting of Man Utd’s board on Saturday.

Former player Michael Carrick will now take interim charge of the club until the end of the 2021/22 season.

Man Utd manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer appears to be on the brink of being sacked (image: PA)

What happened in the Watford game?

Man Utd were put to the sword in the first half of the game against Watford at Vicarage Road.

The hosts flew into a 2-0 lead through Josh King and Ismaila Sarr.

The Red Devils’ substitute Donny van de Beek pulled one back for United but then the team’s captain Harry Maguire was sent off after 69 minutes having been booked twice.

Late goals from Watrford’s Joao Pedro and Emmanuel Dennis then put the game beyond Man Utd.

Watford put four goals past Man Utd in a performance that sealed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s fate (image: PA)

Following the defeat, United goalkeeper David De Gea described his team’s performance as “embarrassing” in an interview with the BBC.

“We don’t know what to do with the ball. We don’t know how to defend properly,” De Gea said.

“The first half was very poor – it’s not acceptable for this club and the level of players that we have.

“It’s another nightmare. There’s been some difficulties but I don’t really know what to say.”

How did Man Utd lose faith in Solskjaer?

While losing to Watford - a team in the midst of a relegation battle - was bad enough, there is a wider context behind why Man Utd have parted ways with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

First and foremost, the result has left the club languishing in seventh in the Premier League table after a run of five defeats in seven matches, including a 5-0 loss to Liverpool and a 2-0 loss to derby rivals Manchester City.

They currently sit six points off the top four, although their goal difference is inferior to that of West Ham and Man City, who both have 23 points.

United goalkeeper David De Gea described the defeat at Watford as ‘embarrassing' (image: PA)

And there is then the factor of the club’s outlook for the 2021/22 Premier League season.

Man Utd were thought of as title contenders at the start of the season after a significant outlay on major talents in the summer transfer window.

A net transfer spend of just under £100m brought in high-quality players like Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane, as well as global superstar Cristiano Ronaldo.

These factors and the manner of the defeat led to an emergency meeting of all the club’s senior figures, including owners the Glazers, on Saturday evening to discuss Solskjaer’s future.

What did Man Utd say about Solskjaer’s departure?

On Sunday morning, Solskjaer’s departure was confirmed.

A statement from the club said: “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.”

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Man Utd reign

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was appointed as Man Utd manager in December 2018 following the sacking of Jose Mourinho.

Despite initially being appointed on an interim basis, the Norwegian impressed with a run of six consecutive wins in his opening six games - becoming the first newly-appointed United manager to achieve the feat.

After 14 wins in 19 games, Solskjaer was given the job full-time.

But the club then lost five of his next seven games, which foreshadowed the inconsistency that plagued the rest of his reign at Man Utd.

Despite this unfortunate trait, United finished third and then second in the league under his stewardship and also reached last season’s Europa League final, where they lost on penalties to Spanish side Villarreal.

Solskjaer leaves the club with a win percentage of 54.2%.

While it means he outperformed predecessors David Moyes (52.9%) and Louis Van Gaal (52.4%), it puts him behind Jose Mourinho (58%).

None of these managers have been able to match the success seen under Sir Alex Ferguson, who had a win percentage of 59.7% during his 26-year reign at Man Utd.

A message from the editor:

Thank you for reading. NationalWorld is a new national news brand, produced by a team of journalists, editors, video producers and designers who live and work across the UK. Find out more about who’s who in the team, and our editorial values. We want to start a community among our readers, so please follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and keep the conversation going. You can also sign up to our email newsletters and get a curated selection of our best reads to your inbox every day.