Ole Gunnar Solskjaer sacked by Man United as shocking Watford display proves one defeat too far

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer sacked by Man United as shocking Watford display proves one defeat too far
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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been sacked by Man United, following a dismal run of form culminating in the painful 4-1 defeat to Watford.

The club have stood by the 48-year-old in recent weeks, despite pressure mounting to make the managerial change.

That was after a 5-0 drubbing at home to Liverpool and then a meek 2-0 defeat to Man City at Old Trafford.

Solskjaer kept his job over the international break, and ahead of the Watford match spoke of how united the club were behind the scenes.

But the heavy loss on Saturday, and the manner of it, proved too much for the Man United board to ignore, and they have now made to decision to sack Solskjaer.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

United were outplayed by Watford and were torn apart defensively again, with Harry Maguire’s red card capping off a dreadful afternoon.

Solskjaer went over to the United fans after the match and apologised, though Bruno Fernandes urged supporters to direct their anger at the players, rather than the manager.

On Sunday morning, the clubs stated: “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.

“Michael Carrick will now take charge of the team for forthcoming games, while the club looks to appoint an interim manager to the end of the season.”

Speaking after the match, Solskjaer admitted his side had hit rock bottom.

“The first half is the worst we’ve played and it’s hard for me to explain why we played the way we did and allowed them to get in our box from nothing,” said Solskjaer. “We were outfought.

“I am very hurt - when you play in the Premier League you have got to turn up against good players and good opposition like this.

“The boys are in a terrible place in their heads now - we have let ourselves down and the fans down. It’s hard to stand here and explain that but that’s football and we have to take the flack for it.”

 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

It remains to be seen who they appoint as their next boss, with likely target Antonio Conte off the market after Tottenham swooped to appoint him.

Zinedine Zidane is likely to be linked in the coming days, as is Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers.

Solskjaer joined United as caretaker manager in December 2018, following the sacking of Jose Mourinho, but was expected to only stay in the role until the end of the season.

However, he oversaw a change in fortunes and a change in mood at the club, and signed a three-year contract after winning 14 of his first 19 matches, including a famous win away to PSG in the Champions League.

The Norwegian led the club to third in the Premier League in the following season, as well as reaching the semi-finals of all three cup competitions.

Last season, United finished second in the league, and reached the final of the Europa League, where they lost to Villarreal on penalties.

There was real optimism around the club this summer going into the current campaign, particularly after signings the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho, and Raphael Varane.

Indeed, it was only last month that the club’s 29-match unbeaten run away from home in the league came to an end, after a 4-2 defeat to Leicester.

But a number of late comebacks were perhaps hiding deeper problems at the club, which have become increasingly apparent in recent weeks.

The defeats to Liverpool and Man City did the damage to Solskjaer’s position, and it was the Watford performance that proved to be the final straw.

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