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Manchester United sacks Solskjaer after string of poor results

Red Devils’ 4-1 thrashing against Watford proves final nail in coffin. (Source: AFP)

LONDON: Manchester United on Sunday ended Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s three-year reign as manager at Old Trafford, one day after the club suffered a humiliating 4-1 Premier League defeat at Watford.

Solskjaer has overseen a disappointing start to the season, with the club sitting in seventh place in the Premier League. They have lost four of their past five league matches, including a 5-0 home thumping at the hands of rivals Liverpool.

Former midfielder Michael Carrick, who was part of Solskjaer’s coaching team, will take charge of the forthcoming games while the club look to appoint an interim manager till the end of the season.

“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,” it added.

The statement further added, “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.”

Solskjaer leaves with United already realistically out of the Premier League title race, 12 points behind leaders Chelsea, down in seventh in the table, and having exited the League Cup.

Carrick’s first game in charge will be a crucial Champions League trip to Villarreal on Tuesday. Another defeat in Spain would leave the Red Devils needing both results in the final round of matches in Group F to go their way to avoid crashing out at the group stage for a second consecutive season.

A run of five defeats in 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 handed Solskjaer a new three-year contract in July and also spent over 100 million pounds ($134 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.

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.

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