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In memory of five of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s most significant defeats in the Manchester United government

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s time at Manchester United is up. The Norwegian was sacked just months into the new season after overseeing one of seven league wins to put an end to all hopes for a title challenge.

Despite grueling home defeats to both Liverpool and Manchester City ahead of the November international break, the straw that broke the camel’s back turned out to be a chaotic 4-1 loss to newly promoted Watford on Vicarage Road, a result that marked the position of the Club legend left untenable.

The 48-year-old is leaving the club after stabilizing the ship after a turbulent period in the wake of Sir Alex Ferguson’s resignation and having reached some remarkable heights in his three years of service – after initially taking over the management on an interim basis in December 2018.

That being said, he’s also leaving after failing to win a major trophy or turn the club into title contenders despite strong support in the transfer market, with his reign also littered with some notable lows.

Here’s a look at the five of the biggest losses during his tenure:

Seville 2-1 Manchester United

Europa League semi-finals, August 16, 2020

Solskjaer can look back on his tenure at United as a case of missed opportunities as his side collapsed so many times when it came down to it on the biggest stage when they fought to ever climb the big trophy.

After losing the last four games of the Carabao Cup and the FA Cup to Manchester City and Chelsea respectively in the 2019/20 season – his first full season as a coach – the Europa League offered one last shot for silver, with Manchester United beating Sevilla in Cologne in the one-legged semi-finals.

After the Red Devils had largely fought their way through the competition, they needed extra time – and a penalty from Bruno Fernandes – to get them past FC Copenhagen in the quarter-finals, as they last had a stuttering start to the pandemic-ridden period Mini-tournament in Germany.

Another Fernandes spot kick – the 22nd of the season – gave United the lead in the semi-finals before the La Liga side hit back through ex-Liverpool player Suso, with opposing defender Yassine Bounou fending off the Premier League giants in an inspired manner.

Almost inevitable after missing a number of chances, Solskjaer’s men were down with just under 15 minutes to go when substitute Luuk De Jong put his side in the lead without United showing any real resistance as the Norwegian made it up to 87. Waited minute to make a change.

While his options were few – Daniel James, Juan Mata and Odion Ighalo eventually entered the bout – the manager’s questionable substitution decisions continued to be an issue of his tenure.

RB Leipzig 3-2 Manchester United

Champions League, December 8, 2020

A few months later, United was just one point away at RB Leipzig to qualify for the Champions League knockout stage before suffering an implosion in the first half to get them back into the second European competition to send.

It was initially a good start to the group stage with a deserved 2-1 away win over PSG, followed by a massive 5-0 win over Leipzig at Old Trafford, but a bleak matchday three would seemingly derail Solskjaer’s men when they slipped to an embarrassing 1: 2 away defeat against tournament debutants Istanbul Basaksehir.

The sight of an aging Demba Ba clearly “snapping” after a student defended the guests will long be remembered by United fans, although they at least meticulously reciprocated with a 4-1 win in the second leg at the Theater of Dreams to have .

A loss to Paris Saint-Germain in the penultimate game meant the Red Devils need a draw in the final round to qualify backfired spectacularly.

A third from Justin Kluivert seemed to dash the visitors’ hopes before a Fernandes penalty and Ibrahima Konate own goal sparked a hectic final minute as United looked to make another comeback in the Solskjaer administration.

Without a decisive intervention from Peter Gulasci, they might have got the much-needed point, even though they crashed with a whimper as it was, the game was typical of the Solskjaer era – a shabby first-half ad followed by a gung-ho, Beware of the wind, late attempted setback.

Villarreal 1-1 Manchester United (11-10 pins)

Europa League final, May 26, 2021

That Champions League exit plunged the Old Trafford team back into the Europa League, with a relatively pristine knockout run that saw Solskjaer’s men advance to the final, where they were defeated by Villarreal and series winner of the competition, Unai Emery , met.

After finishing a distant second place behind rivals City in the Premier League, United were the unsurprisingly strong favorite for the winner in Gdansk as they finally wanted to end their four-year wait for a trophy – their final piece of silver arrived the competition under Jose Mourinho.

In a game without quality, Gerard Moreno used a typically shaky United defense to give the Spanish side the lead before veteran striker Edinson Cavani hit the rebound shortly after half-time to level his side.

Much like the loss to Sevilla a year earlier, Solskjaer came under fire again for hesitating to make changes as the game dropped into overtime. The Norwegian waited until the 100, although the English clearly disregard the pace.

With no sign of a winner, the game turned into a mammoth penalty shoot-out with Emery’s men eventually winning 11-10, with David De Gea’s miss – the only one on penalties – ultimately proving to be the deciding factor.

Manchester United 0-5 Liverpool

Premier League, October 24, 2021

The bottom line, however, came last month when United were brutally dismantled at home by fierce rivals Liverpool.

At the start of the game, after an entertaining comeback in the Champions League at Old Trafford against Atalanta in the second half, the hosts were in a pretty good mood, although – as club legend Paul Scholes predicted – the warning signs were there when the Red Devils were especially leaking in the weeks before.

Few, however, could have foreseen the surrender that would follow when United delivered four in the first 45 minutes at the Premier League-era Theater of Dreams.

United had the first chance of the game – who remained a threat all along attack – but Bruno Fernandes could only shoot over the crossbar before the visitors put up a collectively terrible defense to take the lead and then the game ruthlessly put out of sight.

A red card in the second half for half-time substitute Paul Pogba made things worse before the last half hour, although the away team took their foot off the gas almost out of pity to spare their opponents further misery.

Manchester United 0-2 Manchester City

Premier League, November 06, 2021

Even after the loss, the United players had shown at least some level of struggle against Klopp’s men, though it was a very different story against Manchester City when they surrendered limply to the champions just two weeks later.

Again the Red Devils squandered an early chance when Harry Maguire missed with a header, though that was a rare push forward as they spent the rest of the game in their own half for fear of being beaten again on home turf.

After the Liverpool debacle, Solskjaer had found some breathing space after overseeing a comfortable 3-0 away win at Tottenham Hotspur.

However, given an overall more dangerous opponent in City, the line-up was quickly reversed as the home side struggled to reach the field and were unable to alleviate their alarming defensive problems as they were overrun in midfield.

A typically rushed own goal by Eric Bailly had given Pep Guardiola’s side an early lead before a second strike from Bernardo Silva at halftime thwarted any hope of counter-defense as United presented little offensive threat in the second half.

While the result wasn’t quite as devastating as the game against Liverpool, the losing nature was just as bad, though it took another embarrassing loss to Watford to finally get the club’s hierarchy to act.

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