The curious case of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Manchester United

Bertrand Traore

Manchester United suffered one of their most humiliating defeats under manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer against Liverpool last week. The Red Devils were humbled 5-0 at home by a very dominating Liverpool side.

The loss as well as the recent performance of Manchester United have brought the attention back to their manager. Many fans and pundits around the world think that the club should sack Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Manchester United and Ole seem to have bounced back with a 3-0 victory over fellow strugglers Tottenham Hotspur. Yet questions are being asked about the Norwegians ability to win the club trophies. From a beloved caretaker manager to a conflicted figure, What should United do with Solskjaer.


Ole is a legend of the club, most famously scoring the winning goal for Manchester United against Bayern Munich in the 1999 Champions League final. After his retirement, the striker went to the field of management but had an unimpressive spell with Molde and Cardiff City.

All this changed when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was put in the limelight when Manchester United sacked Jose Mourinho midway through the 2018/19 season. Ole was made the caretaker manager of a side that was underperforming and in need of a boost.

Ole did just that. He turned the mood around the club and most importantly won over the players. The dressing room soon became positive with the likes of Paul Pogba starting to perform well. This was reflected on the pitch as the team started picking up points. All this convinced Manchester United to make the move permanent.


But the biggest question asked by many has been if Solskjaer was the right person. The club seem to believe this as he was given the job. Backing with some key signings including the likes of Bruno Fernandes and Harry Maguire.

Solskjaer took the Manchester United side and made them regular contenders for the Champions League spots. During his first full season, the club managed to finish 3rd in England in 2019/20 and followed that with a second-place finish last season.

However, for a club like Manchester United, the most important criteria are the titles won. Yes, the competition in Premier League is very intense and the squad he inherited was not up to the challenge. But the main criticism faced by Ole is his inability to win titles.

Solskjaer was knocked out of three semi-finals since taking charge as the manager. This includes the Carabao Cup, FA Cup and the Europa League. This was followed by a group stage exit in the Champions League as well as a defeat in the Europa League final in the last season.

Such poor performance in the business side of the tournaments has been an issue for the Norwegian. This obviously has raised questions around his tactical abilities and his winning mentality as a manager. Manchester United is knocked out of this season’s Carabao Cup already, further escalating the pressure on the manager.


Till now Solskjaer could be defended because he had to rebuild a Manchester United side that was in pieces. The club has backed him really well this season by bringing in Raphael Varane, Jadon Sancho and Cristiano Ronaldo. This has put more pressure on the manager to deliver.

Yet the performance of the team does not reflect the quality the squad have. Ole has been very well in drilling his side to counter-attack, but have struggled when it came to breaking deep laying defences. The latest defeat to Liverpool showcased how far United are away from the top sides.

Manchester United and its fans are very much thankful for the work Solskjaer has done so far. He took a side that was spiralling to mediocrity and injected them with confidence. But, for the Red Devils, the time has come to say goodbye to him as they need a better tactician to win the titles.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is still highly respected and has the backing of the board. But his time is running out, with sections of fans already turning against him. The next few weeks will be vital in determining his future, especially with the Manchester Derby coming this weekend.

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