As Manchester United slumped to a 4-1 defeat at relegation favourites Watford, an emergency board meeting was called to discuss manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s future.
Though it had been on the cards for a number of weeks, it seemed like Solskjaer’s sacking was imminent, though he insisted in his post match interview that, “I’m working for and with the club, I’ve been doing that for 18 years, we have a good communication and if they’re thinking of doing something, that’s a conversation between us, not you and me.”
Since 1996, Solskjaer has been a part of the club on and off in some capacity. At the time when Sir Alex Ferguson signed the young Norwegian striker, he was fairly unknown but just six minutes into his debut it became apparent just how special the 23 year old was. He came on as a substitute and made an immediate impact, scoring his first goal for the Reds against Blackburn Rovers.
Though many had thought he’d come to the club as a plan B to Eric Cantona, Ferguson made him a key figure in his United side in that first season. Scoring 18 goals, Solskjaer helped his side to lift the Premier League title.
The fanbase fell in love with the Baby Faced Assassin for his passion and his ability to put the needs of his team ahead of his own. He took one for the team in the game against Newcastle in his second season as he got sent off for preventing a clear goalscoring opportunity. United needed a point to keep up the pace of their rivals and Solskjaer tracked back to prevent Newcastle from clenching a winner.
It would be Solskjaer’s third season at the club where he solidified his status as super-sub and would go down in history as the club’s treble hero.
After helping his side to clench the Premier League title and FA Cup, he came on in the 81st minute of the Champions League final as the Reds trailed 1-0 to Bayern Munich. Sheringham, who had also come on as a sub, equalised in injury time giving the Reds hope. Shortly after the restart, from a David Beckham corner, Sheringham headed the ball across the face of goal where Solskjaer was waiting to poke it in. He had secured the treble for United and written his name in the history books.
The following two seasons following their treble win, United claimed the Premier League title, with Solskjaer being crucial to those victories as well.
In 2006 whilst still playing for the club he began his coaching badges, learning from the best – Sir Alex himself. He went on to coach at United’s academy and Norwegian side Molde but he came to United in 2018 with no managerial experience, just a whole lot of passion.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would forever be United’s hero… or would he?
In recent weeks as Solskjaer struggles as manager of the club he made his name at, fans have taken to social media to criticise the Norwegian with some suggesting these past few weeks have eclipsed and overshadowed all of his achievements as a player.
In his three years at the club, he may not have won any silverware but he has rebuilt a club that had lost its way, taken them to the Europa League final and second in the table.
This season has been nothing short of a catastrophe as the Red Devils crashed out of the League Cup early on and slumped to 7th in the Premier League after an array of embarrassing scorelines. But as his players jump to Solskjaer’s defence and the board are slow to decide a course of action, is it really fair to say that these past few weeks are solely the responsibility of Solskjaer? And even if that’s the case, is it fair to say these results tarnish the brilliant achievements he has celebrated at the club during his 18 years with them?
The time to leave may be now, but Solskjaer will always be a legend to fans old enough to remember his playing days and nothing he does in his management career could ever destroy that legacy.