The Red Devils’ 4-1 defeat at the hands of Watford on Saturday means the manager’s time at Old Trafford looks set to come to an end
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is set to be sacked by Manchester United after another Premier League defeat.
The club’s co-chairman Joel Glazer and executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward held an emergency meeting after the 4-1 defeat to Watford on Saturday afternoon where it became apparent Solskjaer’s position was severely under threat.
It is understood crisis talks were scheduled after the latest defeat, with that defeat meaning that United have lost five in their last seven Premier League games ahead of their Champions League game against Villarreal on Tuesday.
United’s board had continued to back Solskjaer through this run of bad form and, even after the 5-0 defeat to Liverpool, there was belief that the Norwegian was the right person to deliver the project they have been building for nearly three years.
Going into the international break after the 2-0 defeat to Manchester City, the United manager was not told that his position was under immediate threat. However, the board knew that it would be a big task to turn this season around.
There is now a growing expectation that Solskjaer will be sacked in the wake of Saturday’s defeat and it is understood he is not expected to be in charge for United’s next match against Villareal on Tuesday.
During a meeting on Saturday evening, conversations were held over which of Solskjaer’s staff would remain at the club if he were to be sacked. There were also discussions over the payout Solskjaer will receive for his dismissal, with those details still to be finalised.
Solskjaer is now expected to be sacked, with Darren Fletcher and Michael Carrick set to take charge of the team when that happens.
Solskjaer was asked in his post-match press conference if he believed he was still the best person to lead United forward.
He replied: “I always have belief in myself, of course, at the minute it’s a difficult time for us. I can see, I can trust every single one out there to give their all. Staff are fantastic. But the results are difficult. I believe we can turn this around.”
At full-time, Solskjaer went over to the away fans still inside Vicarage Road to applaud and put his hands up to apologise for another defeat.
Bruno Fernandes appeared to become annoyed with the reaction of some of the support, who booed the Norwegian. The Portuguese gesticulated with his arms, suggesting the supporters should be blaming the players for another awful performance.
It was a sentiment that was echoed in David de Gea’s post-match interview as the Spaniard says the players were to blame for the defeat.
Manchester United’s board decided to sack Ole Gunnar Solskjær at an emergency meeting on Saturday night and Joel Glazer, the co-chairman who heads the American family’s ownership, has agreed to rubber-stamp the move.
A meeting, which lasted several hours, was called after the team’s chastening 4-1 defeat at Watford. The plan is for an announcement to avoid describing Solskjær as sacked and refer to a mutual agreement. Compensation and other final touches were being attended to after the board completed their discussions.
Solskjær admitted after a fourth defeat in five Premier League games that his team were “outfought” by Watford and had let the fans down but insisted he was able to turn their fortunes around. The board disagreed, however, and decided to make a change.
The first-team coach, Michael Carrick, and the club’s technical director, Darren Fletcher – both successful former United players – are understood to be ready to take interim charge when Solskjær’s departure is confirmed.
Glazer backed Solskjær late last month despite the 5-0 humiliation by Liverpool after the executive vice-chairman, Ed Woodward, and managing director, Richard Arnold, joined Sir Alex Ferguson in throwing their support behind the manager. But the directors concluded there was no way back for Solskjær after the latest defeat and chose to act before Tuesday’s Champions League game at Villarreal.
United responded to the Liverpool result by winning 3-0 at Tottenham but have since scrambled a late draw at Atalanta in the Champions League and been comprehensively beaten by Manchester City and a struggling Watford whose only previous home league victory came on the opening day against Aston Villa.
The disastrous outing at Vicarage Road brought to 15 the number of goals conceded by United in their past five league games, and David de Gea described the performance as “embarrassing”. Solskjær was booed by United fans, some of whom also remonstrated with Bruno Fernandes, at full time.
“I always have belief in myself,” Solskjær said. “Of course at the moment it’s a difficult time for us. I can trust every single one out there to give their all. The staff are fantastic, but the results are difficult. I believe we can turn this around.
“Watford away from home, you need to give them a harder time than we did. They outfought us, we allowed them to put the ball in our box too easily. There are so many things that can go wrong in football and too many did in the first half.”
United were 2-0 down by half-time but their misery was compounded by late goals from João Pedro and Emmanuel Dennis, prompting a furious reaction from behind De Gea’s goal. “I understand fans who follow the club through thick and thin,” Solskjær said. “We’ve had a hard time since Sir Alex left and the fans who’ve been with us have been unbelievable. The signings this summer raised expectations, we hoped to kick on and at the moment we can’t seem to find our form.”