A better win ratio than Moyes, less trophies than Van Gaal and nowhere near Mourinho’s net spend… as Solskjaer enters a make-or-break run of tricky fixtures, how does he compare to the three Manchester United bosses sacked since Fergie?
- Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is now in a make-or-break spell as Manchester United boss
- Recent defeats by Arsenal and Istanbul Basaksehir have heaped the pressure on
- He could become the fourth manager since Sir Alex Ferguson United have axed
- How does Solskjaer compare to Moyes, Van Gaal and Mourinho at Old Trafford?
The sharks are circling at Manchester United as the clock begins to tick down on a fourth doomed managerial reign since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looks like he will become the fourth man since 2013 to be shown the door with an awful start to the season, compounded by Wednesday night’s defeat in Istanbul, shoving him closer to the edge.
Erratic performances, including wins over Paris Saint-Germain and RB Leipzig in Europe while winless at home in the Premier League so far this season, and no tactical cohesion perfectly sum up Solskjaer’s reign.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s position as Manchester United manager looks increasingly in doubt
The Norwegian could be the fourth manager sacked by United since Sir Alex Ferguson left
On Thursday it emerged the club had already sounded out Mauricio Pochettino over the possibility of him taking over and there is a risk they could miss out on the former Tottenham boss if they wait too long.
United have not been afraid to wield the axe if a manager is underperforming. David Moyes was gone before his first season had finished while Louis van Gaal went even after the winning the FA Cup and Jose Mourinho didn’t make Christmas in his final campaign.
But how does Solskjaer compare to those others who have tried, but ultimately failed, to take the club back to the heights of the glory days under Ferguson?
SOLSKJAER’S RECORD AS MANCHESTER UNITED MANAGER
Win percentage: 54.4
Trophies won: 0
Net transfer spend: £186m
Last 10 matches: 6 wins, 1 draw, 3 losses
David Moyes – hired July 2013, sacked April 2014
MOYES AT UNITED
Win percentage: 52.9%
Trophies won: 1 (2013 Community Shield)
Net transfer spend: £67.8m
Last 10 matches: 5 wins, 1 draw, 4 losses
Moyes was pinpointed as the successor to Sir Alex by the man himself after his stellar work over 11 years at Everton.
But the jump to one of the biggest teams on the planet was far from seamless and he was gone nine months later.
Things didn’t start off too badly, though. United beat Wigan to win the Community Shield and smashed Swansea in their first Premier League game but then the wheels quickly fell off.
Moyes had grand transfer plans, including Toni Kroos and Gareth Bale, but ended up signing just Marouane Fellaini in his first summer for £30m.
Early defeats by Liverpool and Manchester City heaped the pressure on Moyes and then back-to-back defeats at home to Everton and Newcastle in December really infuriated the Old Trafford faithful.
Juan Mata arrived from Chelsea for £40m in the January window but United were blown away again by Liverpool and City and a banner was flown over Old Trafford reading: ‘Wrong One – Moyes out’.
Despite his struggles in the Premier League, Moyes led United to the Champions League quarter-finals, where they were eventually beaten by Bayern Munich.
David Moyes was the chosen successor to Sir Alex but couldn’t even complete a whole season
Some United fans were so unhappy they flew a banner at Old Trafford calling for Moyes to go
But their form in domestic football failed to pick up and, after a 2-0 loss at Everton in April, Moyes was sacked. Ryan Giggs took over until the end of the season.
At the time of his departure Moyes’ United were 13 points off of fourth place and missed out on the Champions League for the first time since 1995.
Moyes managed 51 games as United manager and won just 27, giving him a win percentage of 52.9 per cent. He also lost 15 and drew nine.
That is slightly lower than Solskjaer’s current 54.4 per cent and the Norwegian has taken charge of around double the amount of matches Moyes did.
It is difficult to compare their net spends, given Moyes only had two transfer windows to try and strengthen his squad, but a failure to bring in the manager’s top targets is still a problem that haunts Old Trafford today.
United’s form over the final 10 games of Moyes’ reign is eerily similar to Solskjaer’s, which means the writing could be on the wall for the Norwegian if results don’t dramatically improve.
Louis van Gaal – hired May 2014, sacked May 2016
VAN GAAL’S RECORD AS MANCHESTER UNITED MANAGER
Win percentage: 52.4%
Trophies won: 1
Net transfer spend: £180m
Last 10 matches: 7 wins, 1 draw, 2 losses
After plucking Moyes from Everton and handing him the reigns of a substantially bigger club, United opted for a household name as his replacement.
In came Louis van Gaal, a vastly experienced coach who was a Champions League, LaLiga and Bundesliga winner.
He could not get to work immediately though as he was in charge of the Holland team about to compete in the 2014 World Cup.
Giggs stayed on the coaching staff as Van Gaal’s No 2 and there was a genuine excitement around Old Trafford when he finally got to work after taking Holland to third place in Brazil.
An expensive summer of recruitment also raised hopes with Angel Di Maria (£67m), Luke Shaw (£33m), Ander Herrera (£32m), Marcos Rojo (£18m) and Daley Blind (£15m) all joining the club.
Radamel Falcao also arrived on loan, a signing that has come to reflect United’s transfer policy in the years after Sir Alex.
There was also a number of high-profile exits with Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra and Rio Ferdinand shown the door, as well as Darren Fletcher, Anderson, Danny Welbeck, Shinji Kagawa.
Louis van Gaal replaced Moyes and spent big during his first summer transfer window
The excitement around the club didn’t translate to the pitch though as United were beaten 2-1 by Swansea on the opening weekend of the season. They were also embarrassed 4-0 by MK Dons in the League Cup and sat ninth in the table after 10 games.
A 5-3 defeat by newly-promoted Leicester showed that, for all the attacking talent in the team, there were big problems defensively and injuries started to mount. But their form did improve over Christmas as United won seven of 10 matches over the festive period.
Another strong run of form through the spring boosted United’s Champions League hopes and included a memorable 4-2 win over Manchester City. Despite losses to Chelsea, Everton and West Brom, United managed to hold on to fourth place and secured a return to the Champions League.
Van Gaal was handed another huge transfer kitty in the summer of 2015, signing fellow Dutchman Memphis Depay (£30m), Anthony Martial (£54m), Morgan Schneiderlin (£31m), Matteo Darmian (£16m), Bastian Schweinsteiger (£6m) and Sergio Romero (free).
Van Gaal’s hilarious touchline dive in United’s 2016 game with Arsenal was a classic moment
United cut their losses on Di Maria, who left for PSG, while Robin van Persie ended his time at the club. Javier Hernandez, Rafael, Nani and Jonny Evans all left as the squad Sir Alex left behind continued to break apart.
A place in the group stages of the Champions League was secured with a win over Club Brugge as United started the season strongly, even sitting top of the table in September.
But things quickly turned sour. United were knocked out of the Champions League in the group stages with a 3-2 loss at Wolfsburg and, despite a mini revival in the Premier League in the new year, a defeat by Southampton fuelled rumours Van Gaal was on the brink.
Then a 3-0 loss at Tottenham led to infighting within the camp as United slipped four points behind fourth place. United rallied in the final few weeks of the season but it was not enough as they finished fifth, missing out on the Champions League again.
Van Gaal won the FA Cup in May 2016 but missed out on the top four and was sacked days later
Van Gaal did manage to win the FA Cup final against Crystal Palace at Wembley, meaning he is ahead of Solskjaer in the trophy stakes, but it proved to be his final game in charge as he was brutally sacked two days later.
In total, van Gaal took charge of 103 games as United boss. He won 54, drew 25 and lost 24.
At 52.4 per cent, Van Gaal’s win ratio was slightly worse than that of Solskjaer and they have managed almost the same amount of games.
The Dutchman has also spent a similar amount to Solskjaer, a net spend of £180m, although the club managed to recoup some of the huge outlay in both summer windows with the sales of Di Maria and Welbeck.
Jose Mourinho – hired May 2016, sacked December 2018
MOURINHO’S RECORD AS MANCHESTER UNITED MANAGER
Win percentage: 58.3%
Trophies won: 3
Net transfer spend: £315m
Last 10 matches: 4 wins, 3 draws, 3 losses
Would it be third time lucky for United?
The club went all in for the former Chelsea, Real Madrid and Inter Milan manager. A bonafide winner who had only lifted the Premier League title with Chelsea a year earlier.
He left Stamford Bridge after a disastrous start to the 2015-16 season and was later sacked, meaning he had a point to prove at Old Trafford.
Again, there was a huge summer spending spree. Paul Pogba arrived for £89m, as did Henrikh Mkhitaryan (£37m), Eric Bailly (£34m) and Zlatan Ibrahimovic (free).
Schneiderlin and Depay both left as Van Gaal’s squad started to be disassembled by Mourinho. Like Moyes, Mourinho won the Community Shield with a win over Leicester at Wembley.
He also won his first three league games in charge against Bournemouth, Southampton and Hull before defeats against City and Watford halted their momentum.
Mourinho’s return to Stamford Bridge ended in a 4-0 humiliation but he quickly corrected things and United went 25 matches unbeaten in the Premier League between October and May, although 12 were draws.
Jose Mourinho arrived in 2016 and had a point to prove after being sacked by Chelsea
Defeats by Arsenal and Tottenham put paid to United’s hopes of returning to the Champions League but Mourinho managed to find another way in.
Dumped into the Europa League by Van Gaal, Mourinho smelt a chance for success and led the club to the title by beating Ajax in the final in Stockholm. He also lifted the League Cup in February after beating Southampton in the final.
Back in the Champions League, Mourinho added to his squad again in the summer of 2017. He spent big on Romelu Lukaku (£76m), Nemanja Matic (£40m) and Victor Lindelof (£31m) before adding Alexis Sanchez in the January window.
Six wins from their opening eight matches had United second in the table. But a defeat to City and three draws over Christmas widened the gap between them and City. Pep Guardiola’s side ultimately finished on 100 points, 19 clear of United.
Sanchez’s form after signing from Arsenal was woeful and the decision to hand him such an expensive contract, given his age and level of performances, was bewildering.
Mourinho completed a memorable first season by winning the Europa League in Stockholm
The Red Devils made it through their Champions League group with ease but were dumped out of the competition in the last-16.
A 0-0 draw in Seville gave them a promising chance but a brace from Wissam Ben Yedder at Old Trafford saw the Spanish side go through.
It was the beginning of the end for Mourinho, who exploded into a furious rant after the Sevilla defeat while he couldn’t get the better of former club Chelsea in the FA Cup final. It was a bitter end to a season full of promise.
Tensions between the manager and his squad continued to bubble under the surface but really went up a level in the early stages of 2018-19. Fred (£53m) and Diogo Dalot (£19m) were the only arrivals.
But a toxic atmosphere in the dressing room and a fallout with Paul Pogba affected progress
A slow start to the season, which saw United lose two of their opening three league games for the first time in 26 years – including a home drubbing by Tottenham – heaped the pressure on Mourinho.
There was growing speculation he could be sacked as early as October but he managed to cling on for a few more months despite abysmal relationships with his frustrated players.
But after a 3-1 defeat at Anfield, and just seven wins in 17 Premier League games, Mourinho was axed in December 2018.
Mourinho has the best win percentage of any of the managers since Sir Alex retired at £58.4 per cent, winning 84, drawing 32 and losing 28 of his 144 matches in charge.
He also managed to win three trophies, the most of any of the managers, but did have the highest net spend at a staggering £315m. The final 10 games of his reign were much worse than Solskjaer’s too.
What lies ahead for Solskjaer?
UNITED’S TOUGH RUN TO CHRISTMAS
Tomorrow – Everton (A)
November 21 – West Brom (H)
November 24 – Istanbul Basaksehir (H)
November 29 – Southampton (A)
December 2 – PSG (H)
December 5 – West Ham (A)
December 8 – RB Leipzig (A)
December 12 – Manchester City (H)
December 15 – Sheffield United (A)
December 19 – Leeds (H)
After games against Tottenham, PSG, Chelsea, RB Leipzig and Arsenal, the schedule does not get any easier for Solskjaer.
They travel to in-form Everton on Saturday and then take on Southampton, PSG, West Ham, RB Leipzig, Manchester City and Leeds before Christmas.
Those games could prove to pivotal if Solskjaer is going to keep his job but there is speculation he could go if United leave Goodison Park empty-handed this weekend.
Previous managers sacked by United have won at least four of their final 10 games in charge. Solskjaer has won three of his last seven meaning, if history is anything to go by, he needs to start winning immediately to avoid the chop.
His net spend of £186m is much higher than Moyes’, similar to Van Gaal’s but much lower than Mourinho’s.
It could have been much higher had United got deals over the line for Jadon Sancho or Erling Haaland, rather than free transfers for Odion Ighalo and Edinson Cavani.
Solskjaer’s win percentage is also the second highest behind only Mourinho but no clear signs of progress on the pitch, both in personnel and tactically, mean it counts for nothing as United continue to look well behind the rest of the ‘Big Six’.
Everton are one of the teams hoping to smash through into the European places after a good summer of recruitment and promising start.
They can go nine points clear of United with a win at Goodison Park and that may prove to be the final straw for Solskjaer as Manchester United manager.
A miserable Champions League evening in Istanbul has nudged Solskjaer towards the sack
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