Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been sacked as Manchester United manager after an “embarrassing” 4-1 defeat at Watford.
United have confirmed Solskjaer’s assistant Michael Carrick will be placed in temporary charge, with the club looking to appoint an interim manager until the end of the season.
Solskjaer signed a new three-year deal in July but leaves after overseeing five defeats in their last seven Premier League matches – a run which sees them 12 points behind leaders Chelsea.
The Old Trafford hierarchy had ignored increasingly vociferous calls to relieve Solskjaer of his duties in the wake of a humiliating 5-0 loss to rivals Liverpool and a 2-0 derby defeat to Manchester City in early November.
But his position was discussed by United officials on Saturday evening following the crushing defeat at Vicarage Road, before the announcement of his dismissal followed on Sunday morning.
A club statement said: “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.”
Solskjaer was booed by a number of the United fans in the away end at full time at Watford, although midfielder Bruno Fernandes appeared to try to redirect their frustration towards the players.
Goalkeeper David de Gea labelled the defeat “embarrassing” and “unacceptable”.
After the game, Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher described Solskjaer’s position as “untenable” but described the performance of the club’s players as “scandalous”.
Ole’s journey ‘at the wheel’ ends without a trophy
Former United striker Solskjaer returned to the club initially as caretaker manager after the dismissal of Jose Mourinho in December 2018 and immediately produced an upturn in United’s form – including the 3-1 win at Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League.
‘Ole’s at the wheel’ became a trending topic as Solskjaer was appointed on a permanent basis in March 2019.
He was unable to lead United into the top four of the Premier League that season but did achieve third and second-place finishes in his two full seasons in charge.
However, Solskjaer failed to deliver silverware during his tenure, with the defeat on penalties to Villarreal in last season’s Europa League final being their best effort.
How did Solskjaer compare?
The Norwegian departs Manchester United with an inferior win percentage to that of Jose Mourinho, the man he replaced. Here, we take a look at the numbers…
Saturday’s defeat to Watford was Solskjaer’s 168th game in charge of the club. In total, he won 91 of them, drawing 37 and losing 40.
Of Manchester United’s four permanent managers since Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure from the club, including David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho as well as Solskjaer, the Norwegian’s overall win rate of 54 per cent puts him second.
Mourinho’s win rate is the highest of the four at 58 per cent, while Moyes and Van Gaal trail on 53 per cent and 52 per cent respectively.
Overall, Solskjaer’s record against the traditional big-six – Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham – was mixed, with 14 wins, 10 draws and 12 losses.
Indeed, a big-six mini-league of head-to-head meetings since Solskjaer’s appointment puts Manchester United 18 points behind City and 23 behind Liverpool.
That, of course, is despite heavy investment in the squad. This summer, Manchester United brought in Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane at considerable expense.
Their latest round of spending pushed their net spend under Solskjaer to £312m – £33m more than any other Premier League side and £196m more than City and Liverpool’s combined.
Manchester United will now pin their hopes on a new manager to restore their former glories.