Football: Manchester United sack Solskjaer; Zidane favourite to succeed him

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had signed an initial three-year deal in March 2019, and signed another three-year contract in July.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had signed an initial three-year deal in March 2019, and signed another three-year contract in July.PHOTO: AFP

MANCHESTER (AFP/ BLOOMBERG) - Manchester United ended Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's three-year reign as manager at Old Trafford on Sunday (Nov 21) following a run of one win in seven Premier League games.

After a shock 4-1 defeat to Watford on Saturday, the Glazer family decided the club should begin negotiating the terms for Solskjaer's departure, multiple British media reported.

The Norwegian signed an initial three-year deal in March 2019, and signed another three-year contract in July.

Solskjaer, 48, spent 11 years at United as a striker and was nicknamed "the Baby-faced Assassin". He scored the injury-time winner in the 1999 Champions League final against Bayern Munich.

"Manchester United announces that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has left his role as manager," the club said in a statement.

"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 United midfielder Michael Carrick, who was Solskjaer's assistant, will take temporary charge of the team while the club seek to hire an interim manager until the end of the season.

A run of five defeats Solskjaer's final seven league games contrasts sharply with the anticipation that surrounded the club in August when Cristiano Ronaldo made a surprise return to Old Trafford in the final days of the transfer window.

United also spent over £100 million on Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane as they looked to build on finishing second in the league to Manchester City last season.

However, Solskjaer was unable to assemble the pieces of his star-studded squad into a collective unit despite Ronaldo's return of nine goals in 14 games.

"We don't know what to do with the ball, we don't know how to defend properly and we're conceding a lot of goals," said United goalkeeper David de Gea, whose double penalty save from Watford's Ismaila Sarr counted for nothing.

"It's not acceptable for this club and the level of players that we have. It's another nightmare."

Zinedine Zidane, who won three Champions League titles with Ronaldo and Varane at Real Madrid, is the bookmakers' favourite to succeed Solskjaer with Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers and Ajax boss Erik ten Hag also in contention.

But the decision to wait until the summer to make a permanent appointment could open up a wider pool of potential candidates, including Paris Saint-Germain boss Mauricio Pochettino, who has previously been linked with the job.