Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been sacked as Manchester United manager.
The Old Trafford hierarchy brought the axe down on the Red Devils legend on Sunday morning in reaction to the devastating Premier League defeat to Watford less than 24 hours earlier.
Worrying reports of Solskjaer’s reign
However, before we gain too much distance from the Solskjaer era as United start to search for his replacement, the time is ripe for a retrospective on where things went wrong under the Norwegian.
And the Telegraph’s James Ducker has made that possible with a fascinating report that explains the inside story of how things became so bad at United that Solskjaer was relieved of his duties.
Ducker revealingly deconstructs how Solskjaer’s tenure was blighted by undulations between dizzying highs and disastrous lows before zooming in on the failures of the 2021/22 campaign.
Watford vs Man Utd match reaction (Football Terrace)
It’s revealed that one senior executive at a rival Premier League club ‘expressed astonishment’ when Solskjaer signed a three-year contract extension at the ‘Theatre of Dreams’ this summer.
But perhaps even more damning was said executive’s subsequent admission that it was “no bad thing for the rest of us,” as though Solskjaer remaining at United was advantageous for rival sides.
The 3-2 win over Atalanta is also cited as a turning point with United players reportedly challenging Solskjaer in a “frank exchange of views,” that suggested the squad was starting to lose faith.
It’s even reputed that Eric Bailly, who was benched in favour of Harry Maguire for the Leicester City defeat a few days before, asked Solskjaer why he had picked a centre-back “who was not fit.”
And there also claims of “disbelief” when Solskjaer decided to start the same team for the 5-0 defeat to Liverpool that had been carved open so easily during the Atalanta game.
Solskjaer also faced accusations of “favouritism” as members of the set-up allegedly challenged him about the constant exclusions of Donny van de Beek, Jesse Lingard and Nemanja Matic.
It’s said that blind faith in often underperforming players “tested patience and heightened tensions.”
Worrying Ronaldo details
Through it all, Cristiano Ronaldo and Edinson Cavani are said to have been model professionals with some players even feeling as though they’d learnt more from the pair than they did on the training pitch.
Ronaldo, in particular, is said to have been “alarmed by the drop in standards” since his first spell at the club and “feels some in the squad want it too easy.”
Marry that to claims that Solskjaer appeared to be a “lame duck” after the Liverpool loss and that United players had “checked out” weeks ago to get a pretty grim idea about the situation at the club.
Solskjaer refused changes to coaching team
The insight of Mark Ogden in a report for ESPN is also cause for concern amidst claims that Solskjaer rejected the chance to make potentially crucial alterations to his backroom staff.
This is despite the fact that some players were reportedly concerned that the training methods were “too one-dimensional and lacking in imagination,” and unfit for the modern game due to being “too British.”
Solskjaer is said to have reassured Ed Woodward that his coaching team was world-class.
Further damning details
And finally, Samuel Luckhurst of the Manchester Evening News gave a worrying look under the bonnet of Solskjaer’s regime by noting how “soft management” turned players against each other.
It’s explained that Solskjaer was so relaxed after the 4-1 Watford drubbing that someone quipped that the United manager might as well appear on Ben Foster’s post-match YouTube vlog.
And it’s damningly noted that Ronaldo had quickly figured out that United would not succeed as long as Solskjaer was manager despite encouraging teammates to remain professional and respectful.
Other remarkable details include concern from players that Daniel James had started the win at Wolverhampton Wanders to increase his resale value and that squad members resented Maguire’s hasty promotion to captain.
Diogo Dalot is also said to have been left wondering why Aaron Wan-Bissaka always started ahead of him.
A new era at Old Trafford
We could go on and on and on, but the fact of the matter is that the alarming details surrounding Solskjaer’s regime at United seem to be piling up higher by the hours – and it’s sad to hear.
Amongst all of these fascinating reports, there has been a consistent theme of just how much joy that Solskjaer did bring to the club at times with his sunny and positive outlook on things.
The worrying state of footballing affairs makes it understandable that United have decided to bring down the axe, but everyone is on the same page that Solskjaer will forever be a club legend.