The reality is that Solskjaer, who was supposed to hand over the reins to the Argentine more than two years ago, is only now saying goodbye. When Jose Mourinho was fired in December 2018, it was planned that Solskjaer would hold the ship as caretaker until the end of the season and let United prepare the approach to Tottenham for Pochettino.
United vice chairman Ed Woodward still insists that there wasn’t a defining moment that led the club to abandon decisions despite their 1-0 win over Pochettinos Spurs at Wembley Solskjaer in January 2019 didn’t hurt at all.
The Norwegian won his first eight games in charge but Woodward was also impressed with the way he handled consecutive losses arsenal and wolves in March. Woodward particularly liked the fact that Solskjaer had the courage to describe the 2-1 loss at Molineux as the worst performance of his tenure.
Woodward firmly believes that United’s original form under Solskjaer – 14 wins from their first 17 games – didn’t “force his hand” to appoint him permanently in March 2019, but sources have told ESPN that people were around the vice chairman believe it was he who was seduced by their friendly collaboration, a stark contrast to the stress of dealing with Mourinho’s constant demands.
Solskjaer was first brought in to “bring people’s smiles back” and the grin lasted until the bitter end. When the camera didn’t work at his video press conference after the 4-1 loss to Watford on Saturday, he was heard joking behind the black screen: “I don’t think they want to see me anyway.”
Popular, but it had no edge
Solskjaer was popular with the staff, and when United were kicked out of the Europa League Seville In August 2020, the travel department was nervous when they informed him that they were having difficulties organizing a plane to fly back to the team from Cologne at short notice. He told them not to worry and that the players just had to stay in Germany for another night. When the hotel is in Bern for a Champions League game Young boys in September did not meet the usual standards of the club, Solskjaer just laughed about it. “Jose would have gone ballistic if he was still in charge,” a source told ESPN.
Visitors to Solskjaer’s Carrington office were often surprised to find that he was the one making the tea or coffee while also insisting on having meals with his players rather than at the designated coaching table.
There have always been concerns that Solskjaer would not be able to keep up with elite coaches like Pep Guardiola and Jürgen Klopp (the conversation around Molde in December 2018 was whether he had done enough to earn a new contract) but Woodward said close colleagues that he had “played”. the part of “United manager very well.
It started on his first day as caretaker boss when Solskjaer insisted on ending the whirlwind 24 hours by attending the staff’s Christmas party. He gave a short speech and went onto the dance floor, even making sure he was dressed appropriately by wearing the club suit he’d left behind Daley blind, who was allowed to move to Ajax in the summer.
However, in the end, some players felt that he was too desperate to be liked and that the occasional angry streak that flared up wasn’t enough. Squad players regularly left meetings believing they were scheduled to play a number of team games, only to be back on the bench over the weekend.
Too much delegation and too many broken promises
Returning from a successful loan deal with Roma, defender Chris Smalling was told that he was part of Solskjaer’s plans for the coming season, only to be informed on the deadline that he had actually been in deal discussions the whole time. Smalling eventually secured a permanent move to Roma, which however almost collapsed because his representatives were given so little time to resolve the problem. “There have been too many broken promises,” added a source.
One player, meanwhile, was surprised to receive a call from United’s chief negotiator Matt Judge to discuss whether surgery should be performed to correct an ongoing injury. When asked why Solskjaer wasn’t the one making the call, Richter said it was delegated because it could be a “difficult conversation”.
The delegation became an integral part of Solskjaer’s blueprint, with the 48-year-old insisting on being “a manager, not a coach”.
A number of players were frustrated with the influence that first-team assistant coach Kieran McKenna had, despite his limited experience in senior football. He played a significant role in training and team selection, and often held team conversations in place of Solskjaer the night before games. One former United defender was convinced he wasn’t selected simply because “McKenna doesn’t like me”.
Steve Nicol is responding to reports Manchester United are expected to fire Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after losing 4-1 to Watford.
Solskjaer supported his employees until the end and agreed to owner Joel Glazer after the 5-0 defeat Liverpool they were “world class” while Sources told ESPN that he turned it down the offer to hire another proven coach. There were favorite players too, and his reluctance to turn became a problem in the locker room. Some players complained at the end of the 2019-20 season that the campaign ended with lackluster semi-final defeats Chelsea (FA Cup) and Sevilla (Europa League) because they have been overused.
Some of the crew believed by now Paul Pogba was given preferential treatment. Solskjaer tried to get Pogba to understand his defensive duties in central midfield but when that didn’t work he moved him France National player on the left rather than emphasizing the need to improve if he was to keep his place. The regular complaints from Pogba’s advisor Mino Raiola about his contract situation (it runs in 2022) also went unpunished.
The club tried to help Solskjaer break free of an image that they sometimes bordered on “nonsense”. When United noticed he occasionally landed in hot water by tripping over his words during early morning press conferences, United rescheduled them to the later time of 1pm. on a Friday to give him time to get used to English again after speaking Norwegian with his family at home every night.
Solskjaer didn’t like the picture either and was annoyed as an experienced goalkeeper Lee Grant gave a radio interview in which he suggested it was just Cristiano Ronaldo‘s return, which prevented the team from eating as much dessert as they wanted the night before the games.
However, the jokes eventually seeped into the locker room, and the crew laughed at how Solskjaer was the man to turn to for Netflix referrals, as he watched the reruns on an iPad in the dugout rather than at himself during games to dare the sidelines. He still had a number of older players on the team after the heavy loss to Liverpool and received messages of support the Monday after, but these evaporated after they were played Manchester city in the 2-0 defeat at Old Trafford two weeks later.
Mark Ogden explains why Mauricio Pochettino appears to be the lead candidate to replace Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Is it the right time to go?
Sources have told ESPN that Solskjaer, who signed a new three-year deal in July, began to fear for his job after the 4-2 defeat Leicester City on October 16th. He locked the players in the locker room of the King Power Stadium for 45 minutes after the final whistle and demanded an answer Atalanta four days later in the Champions League group stage. Despite the reprimand, United were 2-0 down within 30 minutes before saving the game with three goals in the second half to seal a 3-2 win.
Sources have told ESPN that even after being humiliated by Liverpool and Manchester City, the club felt Solskjaer deserved time to turn things around – just for the Watford loss on Saturday to “make it clear” the situation cannot be saved.
Solskjaer, meanwhile, believe his attempts to make United a more offensive team have proven their undoing. After a string of impressive results – especially against Guardiola’s Manchester City – backed up by playing on break, he told players over the summer that he would implement a style aimed at dominating more games. Ultimately, it didn’t work out, with United conceding 19 goals in the past seven games. Solskjaer also believes he had center-backs Raphael Varane – in his eyes the most important new addition in the summer before Ronaldo and Jadon Sancho – had been fit, United would have been a challenge at the top of the table.
Last but not least, Solskjaer is leaving United in a better position than when he took over and you can believe he did a good job and that it was time to leave.
He did not win a trophy, but for the first time since Sir Alex Ferguson’s resignation in 2013, he secured the first three consecutive placings and between January 2020 and October 2021 overseen an English record run of 29 away games unbeaten in games under Solskjaer, United scored ten times five or more goals compared to two times in 302 games for David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho.
In the end, Solskjaer achieved what he was called to do almost three years ago. But with the foundation, the next step was too far.