After an embarrassing loss to Watford, the Manchester United board have finally decided to pull the plug on the managerial reign of Ole Gunnar Solskjær. While not the most surprising move by any means, it still reflects a club that has been marred with chaos. It’s become clear that the club still hasn’t recovered from the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson almost a decade ago.


Ole’s time at United has finally come to an end to little surprise as this season has been a failure so far for a club of United’s scale. It is sad to see a club legend being sent packing after managing the club that they spent years playing for, similar to Frank Lampard’s time at Chelsea. While Ole was definitely out of his element and never showed that elite level of team management, his hiring and firing is only a symptom of a larger issue that has plagued the club for close to a decade.

Photo: Sky Sports

Since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013, the club has been struggling to build an identity and cohesive plan that would allow them to reach the heights that Ferguson brought them to. At every level from managerial appointments and transfers, failures have littered the actions of management. 

Taking a look at other management groups in the Premier League, it’s clear that the most successful teams in the league have an involved management. Chelsea is synonymous with their owner Roman Abramovich who has been active in the club’s running and has struck gold with some of his hirings in terms of running the club’s transfer policy. Liverpool and Manchester City follow a similar trend to Chelsea, with terrific hirings that help the owner and management form a cohesive plan.

United’s management has been slow to diagnose the problem at the heart of the team’s struggles which has been themselves. Management has seemingly been inactive and unwilling to step in and help deliver a strategy for the club, which has left the club in limbo. Until the club’s management either becomes more involved or finds people that can step up and help find the best path for the club, these struggles will continue to happen.


Since Ferguson’s retirement, United has been through six managers in nine seasons with no league titles and only one FA cup win. Managers have either been given no time or too much time which has never allowed for the club to develop a clear image.

The first managerial appointment was David Moyes whose time at the club was a failure with terrible results and his signings never gelling. While it did seem like the right move at the time to fire him, his subsequent time at both Real Sociedad and West Ham have shown that with the right amount of time he could be successful. Ryan Giggs would finish the season as interim manager as the club finished in a disappointing 7th place. 

Photo: Manchester United

Louis van Gaal is a serial winner who has shaped modern soccer with his Ajax teams of the 90s and seemed like the perfect successor to Sir Alex. His time at the club was definitely weird as he did have some success but overall the results were mixed. The best achievement of van Gaal was his usage of academy players and specifically the rise of Marcus Rashford.

José Mourinho was another managerial appointment at the time, as Mourinho has become an icon of the Premier League with his Chelsea sides. By the end of his first season, it seemed like United was finally on the right path with Mourinho’s side winning the Europa League. However after that high, Mourinho’s time would quickly unravel with him refusing to change his formation and his struggle to integrate new transfers.

Ole followed Mourinho and would lead United to upset PSG in the Champions League shortly after his appointment. While Ole did have some great results over rivals, it was clear over his time that he didn’t have the quality needed to manage a club of this size. Ole was over his head but his trust in his players and the academy brought back some good vibes to the club.


Like the managerial appointments, the transfer policy of the club has led to some great moments but some truly awful signings. There have also been signings that have struggled at United but have gone to great heights since leaving. 

On the more positive note, United have made some excellent moves with a few players reaching world class levels. The best signing United has made in the post-Ferguson era has been Bruno Fernandes, who came out of nowhere to become one of the best midfielders on earth and has helped carry United. Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimović were great signings who helped tremendously in the Mourinho era despite neither player reaching their pre-United levels.

There were some definite duds when it comes to some of the signings that have been made, while it may be too early to call it on some players still in the squad, there have been total failures. Morgan Schneiderlin and Bastian Schweinsteiger were total failures for the team despite the fanfare that accompanied their arrival. Fred has been another example of this but has had some good moments under Ole.

Photo: Reuters

The more concerning of the moves have been those that have struggled at United, but exploded elsewhere. This is concerning because it’s a reflection of the failures of management and coaches to get the best out of clearly talented players. Romelu Lukaku and Memphis Depay are two players who struggled at United but became top players with Lukaku becoming one of the best strikers and Depay a quality forward for any Champions League side.

While firing Ole was likely a good move, it’s equivalent to putting a band-aid on a large and  open wound. Nothing is being done to address the underlying issues that have plagued the club since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson. With nothing else being done, it’s unlikely that United will be able to properly challenge for the Premier League title. 

 

Featured Image: Ian Kington/Getty

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