Manchester United sacked manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær on Sunday, joining a growing list of clubs that have already let their managers go in the young 2021/2022 season.
Ole is a goner! rings the bell of good tidings for Old Trafford loyalists. Manchester United and Ole Gunnar Solskjær finally part ways after three years.
The club legend, and now ex-manager, left his position on Sunday after a prolonged poor run of form, and the club’s faithful finally got their wish.
Ole, who took the wheel from the special one, erstwhile manager Jose Mourinho in 2018, and steered the club to greener pastures, appeared to have lost control for a while now, failing to arrive at the desired destination, to the utmost dismay of edgy passengers. With the abysmal performances which kept dipping over the last seven footballing weeks, this outcome was all but certain, and the wimpish 1-4 loss at Craven Cottage was only a final nail in an already sealed coffin. A mere formality.
As it stands, while they search for a fitting manager to anchor the sinking ship, another loyal servant of the club, in the person of Michael Carrick, is set to act as interim coach, with the help of a former teammate, Darren Fletcher. In an emotional farewell interview, Solskjær gave props to his successor. “Michael, I have the utmost respect for. I love Michael to bits. I’m becoming emotional now…,” he said, fighting back tears. “He’s top. They’ll be fine. I’ll watch them and support them.”
It must be said that while Ole may not have reached the heights befitting of the club, he was nowhere close to a failure. To mention a few of his achievements, he saw the club to almost 30 unbeaten away games in the EPL, as well as 17 straight unbeaten games home and away, not to mention a couple of finals.
What other managers have been sacked this season?
Football management has to be one of the most challenging and “under-pressure” jobs known to man. The highly competitive and result-oriented game leaves almost no space for errors or slip-ups. This is made even worse by how money has taken over the heart of the game. With the many millions of pounds spent on player recruitment every now and again, you either win or get axed as a manager. The 2021/2022 football season in Europe is proving to be one of the most unforgiving in a long while. Over 15 managers have been shown the door already, and it isn’t even half-season yet. Here is a list of some of them.
Steve Bruce – Newcastle United (20 October 2021)
Fans and followers of the game won’t pretend to have been surprised by this one here. It was a writing on the wall. Bruce never really floated the boat of Newcastle since his appointment in July of 2019, and barely managed to remain in the topflight in the two seasons before now. With the clubs takeover by a group led by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund in early October, it was only a matter of time before Bruce got the sack. It finally came on the 20th of October and two weeks later, former Bournemouth boss, Eddie Howe replaced him, making a comeback to the EPL after his side relegated two seasons ago.
Ronald Koeman – Barcelona (27 October 2021)
The story of FC Barcelona, a once solid and revered football powerhouse, is, for lack of better words, a sorry one. To the shock of onlooking football enthusiasts everywhere, the club has gradually fallen from glory over the last few years, and it is hard to tell if there is light at the end of the tunnel. Many will argue that this decline started after the departure of Pep Guardiola in 2012, but it shouldn’t be too easy to forget that his legacy is too hard to replicate. Of all who have come after him, only Luiz Enrique has had any tangible achievements. The departure of Ernesto Valverde in 2020 after a three-year stint has been followed with nothing but pandemonium. His successor didn’t last eight months, and in came Ronald Koeman.
There is a thing about club legends; they always have a place at their club, should the need ever arise. Koeman left his job as the Netherlands National Team coach and took the labored Barca job in hopes of being the talisman who turns things around. That was not to be anyway, as the waters on which the club sailed were too troubled for captain Koeman to wade in. Eventually, on 27 October, after too many poor results and no noticeable progress, he got the sack. Yet another club legend succeeds him, in Xavi Hernandes. Time will tell if he is the one to return the club to grace.
Nuno Espirito Santo – Tottenham (1 November 2021)
Some jobs are a bad look for your CV, and such was the case of Tottenham for former Wolves boss, Nuno Espirito Santo. Looking back on how things have turned out, he probably rues his decision to take the job. When Nuno left Wolves after an impressive four-year run as the gaffer, what he said was that he wished to return to Portugal. Tottenham FC, who had parted ways with Jose Mourinho, were on the lookout for new hands at the helm. After failing to get their first two choices, they made a hasty move for Nuno, and he took the job.
In all fairness to him, it doesn’t seem he was given enough time, but the club owners won’t be wrong to think he didn’t seem to hold any promise. On 6 November, Espirito got axed, less than five months into the Spurs job, making way for Antonio Conte, the club’s initial first option in the summer window.
Mark Van Bommel – Wolfsburg (24 October 2021)
Not every good player will make a good coach. Better still, not every good player will hit the ground running as a coach. Elite football player Mark Van Bommel started his coaching career in his home country with PSV, only to get sacked after a little over a year. It wasn’t until over a year later that he got another job, this time in the German Bundesliga as VLF Wolfsburg’s manager. Though Van Bommel got off to a fine start with four straight wins, things didn’t go as planned. He was shown the door in the last week in October, after 13 games in charge.
Dean Smith – Aston Villa (7 November 2021)
Perhaps the most upsetting sacking in the EPL so far this season is that of Dean Smith. Some three years ago, Smith got Aston Villa performing well, saw them through promotion to the English topflight, and kept them up against all odds. And then, his first poor run of form puts him on the chopping table. In the club’s defense, a lot was invested in players over the summer, and even though quick adjustments may not have been demanded, a five-game straight loss did not help his case.
Interestingly, Dean Smith wasn’t out of a job for long as Norwich City hired him as Daniel Farke’s replacement.
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