Manchester United Should Sack Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. / DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/Getty Images

Manchester United just cannot catch a break.

Once they were the kings of England, if not all of Europe, almost guaranteed to bring home at least one trophy every season. Nowadays they're that team - they hang around in the bottom half of the Premier League's top 10, just barely clinging to their God-given spot in whatever European competition they can get get into each year.

None of the four managers that came into Old Trafford since Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement in 2013 have come close to filling the old Scotsman's shoes. Since David Moyes flamed out, each one has gone through the same cycle - hailed as the second coming of Ferguson, gotten hot early in his tenure only to be criticized for his team's poor form and limp attacking style (whether the latter is truly warranted or not), then shown the door.

None have fulfilled this cycle more painfully than Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

A product of United's glory days, Solskjaer strutted in to pick up the pieces left behind by Jose Mourinho's disastrous tenure. His team seemed to respond quickly, winning in his first six games and 14-of-19, earning him a permanent three-year contract, which he signed that March.

Almost the second Soskjaer signed on the dotted line, the team's performance slipped. United won only two of their last nine and fell from fourth to sixth to end the 2018-19 season. Changes needed to be made, and Solskjaer spent over £100 million to shore up his defense for the coming year, spending big money on Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka.

Just before the halfway point of the 2018-19 season, the fruits of the team's spending were unimpressive, to say the least.

By late September, the team found itself in no better shape than it had been the year before under Mourinho. They continually dropped points to teams they were well-equipped to beat, including losses to West Ham and Newcastle. Somehow, they've scored at a lesser rate than they had at this point last season under the infamously defensive reign of Mourinho. This came despite massive improvement on defense, to the point where they have the fewest "expected goals" (16.7) in the league - fewer than even Liverpool's 16.8.

The situation may have reached rock-bottom with today's 2-0 loss to Watford, where United were outclassed from start to finish by a last-place team. At this point, a roster with Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford, David De Gea, and a rock-solid defensive unit are mired in eighth, just out of the European qualification places. Other than on defense, it's hard to tell where things have improved under Solskjaer. In all other areas, United are no better than they were last year, if not worse, with mostly the same core group of players.

For Manchester United, that simply won't do.

The name Mauricio Pochettino has been thrown around as the fans' preferred choice for their next managerial hire. But given how Louis Van Gaal, Jose Mourinho, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer have failed to bring the club to the monumental heights of the 1990s and 2000s, it'll be hard to think Pochettino will do much better - assuming he even wants the role.

Still, a change in leadership - yes, another one - will be necessary. Not change for change's sake, but dynamic leadership to take advantage of the talent that is clearly at the club's disposal.