Despite lofty pre-season expectations following the return of Cristiano Ronaldo, Solskjaer’s United side floundered after a hot start to the season, losing five of his last seven Premier League fixtures at the helm.
The 48-year-old’s departure was made official on Sunday evening AEDT, less than 24 hours after a calamitous 4-1 defeat at Watford.
“Manchester United announces that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has left his role as manager,” a club statement read.
“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.”
Former Manchester United midfielder-turned-assistant coach Michael Carrick will now take charge of the team before it appoints an interim manager to see out the year.
Solskjaer, who played for United from 1996-2007 under Alex Ferguson, was hired as caretaker manager to replace Jose Mourinho in December 2018 and was handed the job permanently after a promising start at Old Trafford, having rediscovered some of the team’s attacking verve and bringing calmness after a toxic ending to Mourinho’s tenure.
United finished third and second in the last two seasons in the Premier League, suggesting the team was heading in the right direction under Solskjaer.
However, the regression has been stark this season and he leaves as a nostalgia appointment gone wrong, his tactical limitations clearly apparent and the team’s inconsistent performances leading to ever-present doubts among some fans and critics about his pedigree as a manager.
Those doubts only grew louder in recent weeks — especially after the collapse at Watford.
The Norwegian had been able to ride out previous stretches of underperformance, in part because of his popularity with fans as a former striker who took on legendary status because of his ability to come off the bench to score crucial winners.
But even the traveling United fans seemed to turn against him when he came over to applaud them after the Watford game.
– With AP