Solskjaer’s legendary status of Man U could not prevent dismissal | National professional sports

LONDON (AP) – Manchester United’s sacking of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on Sunday highlighted the strangeness of his appointment three years ago and the loopholes in the club’s determination to persevere for so long with a manager whose credentials were constantly being put doubtful because a large investment in players did not matter much. impact on the ground.

Even after correcting losses to fierce rivals Liverpool (5-0) and Manchester City (2-0) last month, United have remained loyal to Solskjaer.

As Aston Villa and Norwich took advantage of the two-week international break to fire and recruit new managers, United management waited after Saturday’s 4-1 collapse at Watford – a fifth loss in seven games at Premier League – to finally decide that a change was needed in the dugout.

“Ole will always be a legend at Manchester United and it is with regret that we have made this difficult decision,” United said in a statement.

It was only Solskjaer’s legendary status that earned him the job in the first place as Jose Mourinho’s successor and kept him in office for so long without winning a trophy.

There was so much that the taste of scoring the spectacular late winner of the 1999 Champions League final could shield the Norwegian from the criticisms that so often put his future on the line. The three-year contract extension granted to Solskjaer before the season by club owners, the Glazer family, has now been terminated.

“While the past few weeks have been disappointing, they shouldn’t mask all the work he has done over the past three years to rebuild the foundations for long-term success,” United said. “Ole leaves with our sincere thanks for his tireless efforts as a manager and our best wishes for the future.

“His place in the history of the club will always be assured, not just for his history as a player, but as a great man and manager who has provided us with many great moments. He will always be welcome at Old Trafford at within the Manchester United family. “

The sacking comes amid a period of uncertainty in the boardroom with the extended departure of Ed Woodward as executive vice president and no successor has been announced. General manager Richard Arnold, who has been linked to the club’s day-to-day leadership role, is like Woodward another executive with more business than football experience.

There is no clear succession plan after the departure of the fourth manager since Alex Ferguson retired in 2013. Instead, just like when Mourinho left, United turned to one of the former Ferguson players. United have said Michael Carrick, who was part of Solskjaer’s coaching staff, will take charge “of the matches ahead, as the club seek to appoint an interim manager until the end of the season.”

Carrick’s first experience as a first-team coach will be a trip to Spain for a Champions League match at Villarreal in the group stage on Tuesday before guiding United against Premier League leaders Chelsea on Sunday. United are seventh in the Premier League, which they haven’t won since 2013, already 12 points behind Chelsea and six in the Champions League after 12 of 38 games.

This is nowhere near enough for a team that finished second last season and were supposed to fight for the title after spending more than $ 500 million for players under Solskjaer, including the return of Cristiano Ronaldo in August. and the signature of Jadon Sancho.

Solskjaer, who played for United from 1996 to 2007 under Ferguson, was given the managerial post on a permanent basis in 2019 after a promising start at Old Trafford as a goalkeeper, having rediscovered some of the offensive verve of the team and bringing calm after the toxic end of Mourinho’s tenure.

“You gave the club a new lease of life,” former teammate Gary Neville said on Sunday.

United have finished third and second in the last two seasons in the Premier League, suggesting the team are heading in the right direction under Solskjaer. However, the regression has been brutal this season and it starts off as a sentimental date gone bad, its tactical limitations clearly apparent and the team’s inconsistent performance leading to doubts still present among some fans and critics about its pedigree. as a manager.

“When a manager can’t get a performance from his players and the results get as bad as they are, in this game you’re going to lose your job,” said Neville, who had resisted the use of his expert work on Sky. “He’s always had a result in the past that got him out of the quagmire when you thought it might get a little too hard for him, but this time the results just got worse and worse and worse and worse.”

Solskjaer had been able to overcome previous spells of underperformance, in part because of his popularity with fans as a former striker who gained legendary status due to his ability to come off the bench to score crucial winners.

But even traveling United fans seemed to turn on him when he came to cheer them after the Watford game when Donny van de Beek – a player he was rarely used to amazement – scored the lone goal after entering play as a substitute.

And there was a damning final review from goalkeeper David De Gea.

“We don’t know what to do with the ball,” he said. “We don’t know how to defend properly. It was embarrassing. “

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