Cristiano Ronaldo has wished Ole Gunnar Solskjaer "good luck" after the Norwegian was sacked as Manchester United manager on Sunday.

The Red Devils officially parted company with Solskjaer after a humiliating 4-1 defeat at Watford, one month shy of what would have been his three-year anniversary as manager of the club.

The loss at Vicarage Road on Saturday leaves the club eighth in the Premier League and 12 points behind leaders Chelsea.

Several United players took to social media following Sunday's announcement to thank their former boss and Ronaldo followed suit on Monday, posting two images of he and Solskjaer on Twitter, one as manager and player and another from their days as team-mates.

"He's been my striker when I first came to Old Trafford and he's been my coach since I came back to Man United," the Portuguese forward said. 

"But most of all, Ole is an outstanding human being. I wish him the best in whatever his life has reserved for him. Good luck, my friend! You deserve it!"

Ronaldo rejoined the club in August from Juventus, 12 years after leaving Old Trafford for Real Madrid, and has scored nine goals in 13 games in all competitions this season.

Manchester United's managerial post is vacant after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was sacked on Sunday.

Solskjaer had led United since December 2018 but failed to win a trophy, finishing runners-up in last season's Premier League and Europa League.

The lean spell has United desperate to return to their former glories with their next managerial appointment.

 

TOP STORY – ZIDANE NOT KEEN ON MAN UTD JOB

World Cup winner and ex-Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane is not interested in the vacant Manchester United job, reports BBC Sport.

Zidane left Madrid in May after failing to win LaLiga and has been linked with a host of roles since.

United have approached the 49-year-old about their vacant post but he is not interested in the position at this point.

 ROUND-UP

- Fichajes claims that reported United target Mauricio Pochettino would put Tottenham's Harry Kane at the top of his wishlist if he got the Red Devils job. The current Paris Saint-Germain boss is among those linked with the vacant post. The Telegraph claims that Pochettino is open to moving to Old Trafford at the end of this season.

- Ajax boss Erik ten Hag is United's second choice behind Pochettino reports Sky Sports, while The Sun claims the Red Devils have already approached Leicester City's Brendan Rodgers.

- Sport claims that new Barcelona boss Xavi wants to sign Al-Sadd's Algeria international striker Baghdad Bounedjah. Xavi coached Al-Sadd until taking over at Barca earlier this month.

- Tottenham may make a move for Roma midfielder Nicolo Zaniolo who is unhappy at the club, claims Calciomercato.

- Fichajes reports that Real Madrid have an interest in Mason Mount, who is currently in talks with Chelsea on a new deal. Manchester City and Bayern Munich are also interested in Mount's services.

Ajax head coach Erik ten Hag is focused on winning titles with the Eredivisie, insisting he has "heard nothing" about the Manchester United job.

Ten Hag has emerged as one of the leading contenders to fill the United vacancy after manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was sacked on Sunday following Saturday's humiliating 4-1 Premier League rout at Watford.

Ajax's Ten Hag has impressed in his time in Amsterdam, where he has delivered two Eredivisie titles and embarked on a memorable run to the 2018-19 Champions League semi-finals.

Ten Hag's side have been the entertainers of Europe this term, dazzling their way into the Champions League round of 16, while topping the Eredivisie ahead of rivals PSV on goal difference.

The 51-year-old Dutchman was asked about United's reported interest after Sunday's 5-0 demolition of RKC Waalwijk.

"I am focused on my team, we have a brilliant squad and we want to achieve a lot," Ten Hag told ESPN.

"We have a brilliant squad, we want to fight for titles. My focus is on Ajax, the rest only distracts.

"I expect from my players that they are focused on Ajax, so I have to give the right example for that too.

"You keep asking me [about my position as Ajax manager], yes it is a weird question. I heard nothing about [United's interest], so I can't think about it."

Ajax have scored 42 goals in 13 rounds this season, conceding just twice.

Ten Hag's Ajax have kept 20 clean sheets in the league in 2021, their most in a calendar year since 1997 (21).

Ajax have been led by Sebastien Haller, who has scored 17 goals in 18 appearances across all competitions.

Haller has scored the opening goal in the Eredivisie nine times in 2021 – the most for a player in a calendar year since Graziano Pelle in 2013.

Wayne Rooney is not anticipating being sounded out to take over Manchester United on an interim basis and slammed the commitment levels against Watford that ultimately led to the dismissal of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

United parted ways with club legend Solskjaer on Sunday a day after a 4-1 reverse versus the Hornets, their heaviest defeat against a promoted side since September 1989.

The result at Vicarage Road capped a turbulent period for Solskjaer, in which he oversaw a 5-0 loss against Liverpool – their largest margin of defeat against the Reds and the first time they had trailed by four goals at half-time in the Premier League – before a 2-0 humbling by Manchester City.

Saturday proved to be the final straw for Solskjaer and United, who have promoted Michael Carrick to take charge temporarily, are already searching for a new interim appointment until the end of the season when they will then look to make a permanent move for a new manager.

But Rooney is not expecting an offer from his former club as he insisted he is happy managing Derby County, who edged past Championship leaders Bournemouth on Sunday.

"I speak to people at Manchester United on a regular basis so I'm sure if they were to come calling it would have already happened," Rooney, who is United's all-time top scorer with 253 goals across all competitions, told reporters.

"I'm committed to Derby County and until someone says 'you're not welcome to be the manager here' I’m here."

Rooney collected 16 trophies during his time at Old Trafford, with most of those coming under Alex Ferguson who has seen United sack four managers since he stepped away from the dugout in 2013.

The former England international referenced those days under Ferguson as he questioned some of the United players' commitment levels in Solskjaer's final game against Watford.

He added: "Could the players have done more? 100 per cent.

"I was so disappointed watching that game at Watford. As a manager you know you can set the team up, prepare, shape them but there is no excuse for some of them performances.

"None at all. I've seen players waving their arms around, giving the ball away, blaming other people. It's not acceptable. I'd be very angry if that was my players doing that.

"When you look at a club like Manchester United it is one of, if not the, biggest club. Those players are in a privileged position to play for them. With the players they have, they have to show more. 

"I'm not saying they have to win the league or the Champions League, they just have to do more, show the fans they are working and playing for the club.

"That is the least you expect as a fan. Results may vary but you have to at least be willing to put the effort in.

"I remember Sir Alex Ferguson saying to me: 'the hardest thing to do in life is to work hard every day.' Whatever you're doing, it's so true."

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola wished Ole Gunnar Solskjaer well for the future but indicated the Norwegian's sacking came as no surprise.

It was announced on Sunday that Manchester United had officially parted company with Solskjaer, one month shy of what would have been his three-year anniversary as manager of the club.

Red Devils chiefs acted on the back of Saturday's humiliating 4-1 loss to Watford, which leaves the club eighth in the Premier League and 12 points behind leaders Chelsea.

The defeat at Vicarage Road was United's fifth in seven top-flight matches, a dire run that includes a 2-0 reverse at home to City a little over two weeks ago.

Given the often brutal nature of football, Guardiola claimed he could easily have been the manager to have been sacked had City lost that recent meeting with rivals United.

"I wish him all the best, it was a pleasure to face him," the Catalan coach said following Sunday's 3-0 win over Everton.

"He beat me more than I wanted, but he knows when you're in charge of a team like United you have to win otherwise you're in trouble.

"I'm sitting here because we won, otherwise it would be another person sitting here. I hope one day we can see each other again. I wish him all the best."

City's comfortable win over Everton, coming on the back of their victory at Old Trafford a fortnight ago, moved the reigning champions above Liverpool and back within three points of leaders Chelsea.

Raheem Sterling was handed just a fourth league start of the season for what was his 300th Premier League appearance, making him the fourth-youngest player to reach the milestone at the age of 26 years and 348 days.

The former Liverpool winger opened the scoring with a first-time strike after being picked out by a sublime outside-of-the-boot pass by Joao Cancelo, having early won a penalty that was overturned following a lengthy VAR check.

That was Sterling's first league goal since August and Guardiola is hopeful it will boost the England international's confidence.

"He needed that and in the first half he was an important player," Guardiola said. "He scored a brilliant goal, from an exceptional pass from Joao again.

"He played a good game in what could have been a difficult one, because they defended really well."

With a Champions League tie against Paris Saint-Germain to come on Wednesday, Guardiola handed Cole Palmer a full Premier League debut against Everton.

The academy product played in a false nine position and led the way for the number of shots (four), while nobody played more than his two key passes.

"The striker position is the most difficult but as the game went on he felt more comfortable," Guardiola said.

"It was a good performance. He now already has 90 minutes in the Premier League in his mind. It is an incredible investment for the future."

Rodri added to Sterling's opener with a remarkable 25-yard drive and Bernardo Silva capped City's eighth straight win against Everton with a simple finish late on.

"It was a really good win. We're very pleased," Guardiola added. "The last times we played against Rafa Benitez at Newcastle, we always struggled.

"We were better today, we conceded few chances and were patient."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer cleared his desk to make way for the next Manchester United manager as he challenged the out-of-sorts Red Devils to "kick on" and shake themselves out of their dismal slump.

After almost three years in charge, Solskjaer was sacked on Sunday, the 4-1 defeat to Watford a result from which there was no coming back.

It came on the back of excruciating manhandlings by Liverpool and Manchester City at Old Trafford, with United having now lost five of their past seven Premier League games.

Many will consider the Norwegian to have been badly let down by a talented squad, but Solskjaer departed by describing the players he left behind as "top lads, top people... such an enjoyable bunch to work with".

He intends to return to his native Norway and spend time with his family but said he would "probably" return to work in football.

"I'm going to leave by the front door, because I think everyone knows I've given everything for this club," Solskjaer told United's in-house television station MUTV. "This club means everything to me and together we're a good match, but unfortunately I couldn't get the results we needed and it's time for me to step aside."

Solskjaer said he was "very, very proud" and "so honoured and privileged" to have managed the club he played for with distinction during Alex Ferguson's glory years as manager.

"It's been a ball, it's been absolutely enjoyable from the first to the last minute," he said, "so I have to thank all the players because since I came in, they're top lads, top people. Some have come, some have gone, but all of them, they've been such an enjoyable bunch to work with."

Some players have given Solskjaer many headaches along the way, but the emotional 48-year-old was not minded to look at the dark times as he gave one last interview before departing.

He said he hoped he was leaving United "in a better state than when I came" and has confidence the squad improved during his tenure.

"I know the foundation is there, I know they're ready to kick on, and I'm sure they will," he said. "I'm sure we'll see them puff their chest out and they'll go on a run.

"As I've said to them this morning as well: 'Trust yourselves, you know we're better than this.'"

Solskjaer's side lost 11-10 on penalties to Villarreal in last season's Europa League final, goalkeeper David de Gea missing the final spot-kick.

Reminded of this, he repeated a familiar trope from his reign, that it is "not always the trophies all the time that is the be-all and end-all".

Doubtless, Solskjaer would have wanted to depart with silverware though, and his inability to deliver that will ultimately mark his record as United boss.

He hopes United's next manager can deliver better results. The club are set to make an interim appointment, with a permanent boss to be named at the end of the season, or at least that is the stated plan for now.

"I want him to be successful," Solskjaer said. "Hopefully I've laid the foundations for that to happen because I know I'm good at what I'm doing. I'm 100 per cent sure to create a football environment, that's where I'm good at and at some point, I'll probably be back [working in football]."

He added: "I don't want to pre-empt anything, but the two times I've left Molde, they've won the league the year after, so all the best to whoever takes over – that's the expectation!"

Peter Schmeichel says the "Manchester United DNA must be brought back into the equation" when the Red Devils appoint a long-term successor to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Club legend Solskjaer parted ways with United on Sunday in the wake of a humbling 4-1 defeat at Watford, a result that marked their heaviest defeat by a promoted side since September 1989.

The pressure had been growing rapidly on Solskjaer, particularly since a 5-0 humiliation at home to Liverpool last month – a match in that represented their largest margin of defeat against the Reds and the first time they had trailed by four goals at half-time in the Premier League – while they were also outclassed in the derby by Manchester City prior to the international break.

United have already confirmed an interim appointment will be made until the end of the season as they search for a permanent successor, with Solskjaer the fourth boss to have been sacked since Alex Ferguson stepped away from the dugout in 2013.

Schmeichel, who collected five Premier League titles with United between 1991 and 1999, says the club must focus on appointing a manager who understands the ethos of the club and not someone who will seek quick fixes.

Speaking to Sky Sports, Schmeichel said: "It's a very sad day. It's the fourth time we've had to sack a manager. Clearly, there's something not going right at the club – hopefully the fifth time we'll get the right person in, get the club organised.

"Everyone is throwing names about. I want United to get back to being a winning club; not to win one trophy and [leave] two years later – someone to win the Premier League and Champions League every year, or compete for it.

"Build the club up. When one player finishes we want there to be a transition. I want someone there for the long-term who is willing to work with the academy, who is prepared to wait six years for a player to break through, not someone who just has a big network to pluck the best players from around the world.

"The Man United DNA needs to be brought back into the equation, and I think Ole was close to doing that."

Schmeichel, who was part of the same team as Solskjaer for United's famous Champions League final comeback win over Bayern Munich in 1999, also suggested his former team-mate has been hampered by decisions above him.

"I feel really sorry for Ole," he continued. "I think personally he's done a very good job. We only see what happens on the pitch, which is of course the most important thing.

"He's had to work with a big squad he hasn't picked. It's difficult for a manager to do that. I think he's done well, especially behind the scenes to organise the club. But then that's football – you don't get a lot of time. Hopefully he'll bounce back, and hopefully he's okay."

Spain head coach Luis Enrique moved to end speculation over interest from Manchester United as he questioned reporters whether it was April Fools' Day.

United announced on Sunday that they were parting ways with manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer following a 4-1 humiliation at Watford – their heaviest defeat against a promoted side since September 1989.

Pressure had been building on Solskjaer since a 5-0 crushing by Liverpool on October 24, which was United's largest margin of defeat at home to the Reds and the first time they had trailed by four goals at half-time in the Premier League.

Saturday's demolition, which followed a home humbling against Manchester City prior to the international break, proved the final nail, and United are now in the market for a new boss, at least on an interim basis until the end of the season.

Reports have linked the likes of Zinedine Zidane, Brendan Rodgers and, later, Luis Enrique to the role, with Cristiano Ronaldo said to want the former Barcelona coach to join him at Old Trafford.

However, the Spain boss has quickly quashed any talk of a move as he expressed his desire to stay with the national team, who qualified for the 2022 World Cup with a 1-0 win over Sweden in the final Group B fixture.

Questioned on the speculation by La Sexta, Luis Enrique replied: "Is it April Fools' Day today?

"I am already in the biggest team in Spain, the national team.

"We are 5,000 players, I have the players I want. What's bigger than that? The future changes in 15 seconds. Now we have to enjoy ourselves, and I am happy where I am."

Former midfielder Michael Carrick is set to take temporary charge of United, who travel to Villarreal in Tuesday's Champions League clash before visiting Chelsea on Sunday.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's near three-year reign as Manchester United manager was officially brought to an end on Sunday.

The Red Devils parted company with the Norwegian, who was appointed on an initial caretaker basis in December 2018, on the back of Saturday's 4-1 loss to Watford.

United's fifth defeat in seven Premier League matches leaves them with 17 points from 12 games – their second-lowest tally at this stage behind the 16 accrued in 2018-19, also under Solskjaer.

As United begin the search for a fifth permanent boss since Alex Ferguson retired in 2013, Stats Perform looks at the numbers behind Solskjaer's trophyless tenure.

 

SECOND ONLY TO FERGIE

Solskjaer was given the United job on a permanent basis following an impressive three-month spell as interim boss, which started with a thumping 5-1 win over former side Cardiff City.

That was the first of 109 Premier League games for Solskjaer, meaning only legendary figure Ferguson (810) has taken charge of more matches in the competition than the Scandinavian.

For comparison, predecessor Jose Mourinho managed 93 Premier League games during his time at United, while Louis van Gaal and David Moyes were at the helm for 76 and 34 games respectively.

In all competitions, the Watford humbling was Solskjaer's 168th match – 24 games more than next-best Mourinho was given – with the iconic striker departing with a win rate of 54.2 per cent.

That is a better return than Moyes (52.9 per cent) and Van Gaal (52.4 per cent) managed, but below Mourinho's 58.3 per cent.

SOLSKJAER'S FLAT SEMI RECORD

Despite being given more time than each of the four permanent bosses before him, Solskjaer was the only post-Ferguson manager at Old Trafford to fail to win a trophy of any sort, with even Moyes walking away with a Community Shield.

Solskjaer reached five semi-finals but won just one of them, seeing off Roma in last season's Europa League before falling to a penalty shoot-out loss at the hands of Villarreal in the final.

United also reached the last four of the EFL Cup last season, where they lost to Manchester City, while the 2019-20 campaign saw them fall one step short of the final in the Europa League (defeated by Sevilla), FA Cup (defeated by Chelsea) and the EFL Cup (defeated by Man City).

 

BEST OF THE REST

Solskjaer did at least improve United's league position year-on-year after finishing sixth in his first half-season in charge, the Red Devils ending third in 2019-20 and then as runners-up to Man City last time out, albeit with a 12-point margin on the champions.

Indeed, the 197 points garnered by United since December 22, 2018 is bettered only by Man City (244) and Liverpool (245), though the points difference only goes to highlight the true gulf between United and the Premier League's two leading clubs over the past three years.

THEATRE OF NIGHTMARES

Regardless of their lack of silverware, United had some high points under Solskjaer and recently set an English top-flight record for the number of away games without defeat.

Between February 2020 and September 2021, Solskjaer's side went 29 league games without losing on their travels, surpassing Arsenal's previous high of 27 games in a run that ended in September 2004.

In fact, two of United's longest away winning runs in all competitions came under Solskjaer's management, winning nine in a row (Dec 2018 – March 2019) and 10 in a row (June – October 2020) across two separate periods.

It has been a different story at Old Trafford, though, a ground so often considered a fortress, having lost six Premier League matches on home soil last season – only in 2013-14 (seven) have they lost more times in the competition, while the 28 home goals shipped was their most ever.

 

WOEFUL DEFENSIVE RECORD

After an inconsistent start to the 2021-22 campaign, the beginning of the end for Solskjaer was arguably the 5-0 home loss to Liverpool on October 24.

That thrashing by Jurgen Klopp's side set several unwanted records, including United's largest margin of defeat against their fierce rivals at home and the first time the Red Devils had trailed by four goals at half-time in the Premier League.

Two of the three occasions United have conceded five goals in a home Premier League game have come under Solskjaer, having also lost 6-1 to Tottenham in October 2020 and 5-0 to Liverpool in October 2020.

United quite simply could not keep out opposition teams, and the 21 goals they have conceded through 12 Premier League games this term is their joint-most alongside the 2018-19 season.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer can have no complaints about his sacking at Manchester United, which became "inevitable", according to club greats Gary Neville and Rio Ferdinand.

Solskjaer was dismissed on Sunday after a stunning 4-1 defeat to Watford in United's first Premier League match since the international break.

Big home losses to Liverpool and Manchester City had already increased the pressure on the 48-year-old.

Although only those two title-winning teams earned more points (245 for Liverpool, 244 for City) than United (197) during Solskjaer's tenure, the Red Devils have only once endured a worse start to a Premier League season.

That was also under Solskjaer, as United earned just 16 points from 12 games in 2019-20, compared to 17 points this term. Their 21 goals conceded at this stage represents their worst mark to date.

Seventh in the table, Neville believes United's announcement Michael Carrick will take temporary charge before the club name an interim manager until the end of the season shows they "don't have a plan".

"This is third time in eight years a manager has been given long-term extension and lost their job a few months later," he told Sky Sports, adding: "You have to ask questions."

But Neville accepts Solskjaer has reached "the end" following a dismal run of form.

"Every decision Ole has made in three years at this club were for best interests of United – he loves the club," Neville said.

"I have no issue with his commitment, but he couldn't get his side to play football in the past couple of months.

"There is a lack of leaders in the dressing room, irrespective of the manager. You hope they can find a second wind, but it didn't happen. Watford mauled them, messed them around, outfought them – when that happens, it spells the end.

"Managers deserve two or three years in the job. Ole can't complain – he's been backed in the transfer window. [David] Moyes had eight months and was kicked out.

"Ole can't complain about time or money afforded. He won't complain, but he'll be massively disappointed. He expected a lot more.

"Why has a club that has been progressing now look as though they can't pass to each other? The back five yesterday, and midfield two, have been together for a number of years. The confidence is just shot.

"Ole will reflect with sadness, but he should be proud with his previous work. He rebuilt the soul after the end of the Mourinho era.

"The players need to sort themselves out. They'll get battered in front of the whole country against Chelsea if they don't sort it out."

Neville added that "performances have been terrible, results have been shocking", describing the Watford display as "wimpish", and his assessment tallies with that of former United team-mate Ferdinand.

"This has been inevitable," Ferdinand told BT Sport. 

He added: "What we saw against Watford was terrible. I'm not surprised [by the news]. I'm disappointed, obviously, in the way the team's performed.

"It's unfortunate for someone like Ole, but it's the way football goes."

Gary Neville has thanked Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for "restoring some soul" at Manchester United after the Norwegian's near three-year reign at the club was brought to an end.

United confirmed Solskjaer's departure in a club statement on Sunday, a day on from a 4-1 loss at Watford that the club legend described as "embarrassing".

That defeat to Watford – United's fifth in their last seven Premier League games – proved to be the final straw, with Michael Carrick taking temporary charge of the Red Devils.

Solskjaer, who was appointed on an initial caretaker basis in December 2018, leaves Old Trafford with a win percentage of 54.2 per cent across his 168 games in charge.

That is the second highest of United's four permanent managers since Alex Ferguson retired in 2013, behind predecessor Jose Mourinho's 58.3 per cent from 144 matches.

While Solskjaer failed to win any silverware in three seasons at the helm, Neville believes his former team-mate deserves credit for other aspects of his work.

"Thank you Ole. You did us proud," Neville posted on Twitter shortly after Solskjaer's sacking was confirmed.

"The last two months were tough but before that you restored some soul into the club."

Since Solskjaer's first game in charge – a 5-1 win over former club Cardiff City – only Liverpool (242) and Manchester City (244) have collected more points than United's 197.

However, the 17 points United have collected from their opening 12 games this term is their second-lowest tally in the Premier League era, behind the 16 accrued in 2019-20, also under Solskjaer.

United, who are seventh in the table, return to action next Sunday with a trip to league leaders Chelsea.

Manchester United's 4-1 embarrassment at the hands of Watford proved to be the final straw for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The Red Devils have performed poorly this season, losing five of their past seven Premier League fixtures, with the loss at Vicarage Road their heaviest defeat against a promoted side since September 1989.

Saturday's demolition may have been the final nail, but a 5-0 crushing by Liverpool on October 24 seemed to make Solskjaer's departure a case of when, not if. 

The thrashing by Jurgen Klopp's side set several unwanted records, including United's largest margin of defeat against Liverpool at home and the first time the Red Devils had trailed by four goals at half-time in the Premier League.

Solskjaer only signed a new three-year deal with an option for an additional year in July, but disappointing results – including a home humbling by Manchester City since the Liverpool game – have forced the Norwegian out before a Champions League trip to Villarreal.

With Solskjaer through the exit door, Michael Carrick is in temporary charge. But who might take his spot and be charged with guiding United back to the top? Stats Perform takes a look at some of the favourites.

Zinedine Zidane

A free agent – and a particularly glamorous option – is Zinedine Zidane. The former France star's second stint as Real Madrid boss came to an end in May, and he remains available.

Zidane won the Champions League three times in a row in his first spell as Los Blancos head coach and also claimed two LaLiga titles over his five years in the role.

The 49-year-old is the record holder for most consecutive LaLiga away wins (13) and the longest unbeaten run in Spanish football (40 games) and United would surely see him as an upgrade on Solskjaer.

Zidane has also previously coached Cristiano Ronaldo and Raphael Varane, to great success, and might be the perfect candidate to get United's stars working together cohesively. And he just may persuade Paul Pogba to stay.

Brendan Rodgers

Brendan Rodgers is less decorated than the previous name on this list, but he has a wealth of experience in the English game and has done an admirable job in his current post as Leicester City head coach, guiding the Foxes to their first FA Cup triumph last season as well as successive fifth-placed Premier League finishes.

He also claimed back-to-back domestic trebles in his two and a half seasons with Celtic, but his association with United's rivals Liverpool may prove to be an obstacle, having come within two points of winning the Premier League in his second season on Merseyside.

Rodgers has been linked to the post but said this week the reports were "disrespectful" to Solskjaer "when you have a manager in place, a good manager and a good man, who is working hard at the club". He added: "I am here as the Leicester City manager, proud to be here, privileged to be here and fully committed to the players, the club, the ownership. That's about it, all the other noise around that is something we can't control."

Mauricio Pochettino

Pochettino has reportedly long been admired by United, being regularly linked with a move to Old Trafford in his five-year spell in north London, having taken Tottenham to a Champions League final in that time.

However, the Argentine only joined Paris Saint-Germain in January and signed a contract extension until 2023 in July, and he is coaching a team that includes Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, not to mention the rest of PSG's star-studded squad.

Never say never, but this deal would certainly be a difficult one for United to pull off given the timing.

Erik ten Hag

Erik ten Hag has impressed in his time at Ajax, winning two Eredivisie titles and embarking on a memorable run to the Champions League semi-finals in 2018-19, knocking Madrid and Juventus out before going out on away goals to Pochettino's Spurs.

Ajax have been entertaining and effective under Ten Hag in Europe this term and, ahead of Sunday's game in hand at RKC Waalwijk, are three points behind title rivals PSV after beating them 5-0 earlier in the season.

However, it remains to be seen if the Dutchman – who was also linked with the Newcastle United job that Eddie Howe now occupies – would be willing to leave mid-season.

Ralf Rangnick

Ralf Rangnick, who is working for Lokomotiv Moscow as their head of sports and development but is better known for his high-pressing philosophy as a coach and his influence on some of the Bundesliga's brightest minds, could be a short-term option for United.

The 63-year-old's managerial career dates back to 1983 when he started in charge of Viktoria Backnang but – despite spells with RB Leipzig, Schalke and Hoffenheim – the German remains relatively unknown outside his homeland.

Rangnick faced United in his time with Schalke, who were defeated by Alex Ferguson's side in the 2011 Champions League semi-final as the Red Devils made their third final in four years.

Manchester United have confirmed the departure of manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer following Saturday's Premier League defeat to Watford.

The pressure has been building on Solskjaer throughout the season, but the 4-1 loss at Vicarage Road – their fifth defeat in seven league matches – proved the final straw.

The former striker's future was reportedly decided during a long board meeting after the match before a mutual agreement over his exit was reached, with Michael Carrick placed in temporary charge.

A club statement released on Sunday read: "Manchester United announces that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has left his role as manager.

"Ole will always be a legend at Manchester United and it is with regret that we have reached this difficult decision. While the past few weeks have been disappointing, they should not obscure all the work he has done over the past three years to rebuild the foundations for long-term success.

"Ole leaves with our sincerest thanks for his tireless efforts as Manager and our very best wishes for the future. His place in the club’s history will always be secure, not just for his story as a player, but as a great man and a Manager who gave us many great moments. He will forever be welcome back at Old Trafford as part of the Manchester United family.

"Michael Carrick will now take charge of the team for forthcoming games, while the club looks to appoint an interim manager to the end of the season."

Solskjaer survived the 5-0 hammering by Liverpool at Old Trafford last month and the 2-0 derby defeat to Manchester City, with a 3-0 win at an out-of-sorts Tottenham and a Champions League draw with Atalanta helping to placate the club's hierarchy.

However, the apathetic nature of the performance against Watford, who started the match just three points outside the relegation zone, was too much to overlook for United co-chairman Joel Glazer, the man who holds final say over the hiring and firing of managers.

The result left the Red Devils eighth in the table with just 17 points from 12 matches, as they failed to beat a promoted side for the fourth game in a row, something that last happened when Solskjaer was a United player back in September 1997. This was also the first time they had taken as few as four points from seven consecutive league matches since December 2001.

United have now lost as many league matches this season as they did in their previous 43 games in the competition. Their two goals conceded in the first half against Watford took their tally this season to 11, the worst such record in the division.

Solskjaer took charge from Jose Mourinho initially on an interim basis and oversaw a marked improvement in performance while dispelling the toxic atmosphere that developed during the Portuguese's final weeks at the club.

He led United to sixth in his first half-season at the helm, before finishing third in 2019-20 and second in 2020-21, while his team enjoyed an English league record run of 29 away games without defeat.

However, he failed to win a trophy, reaching just one final, going down on penalties to Villarreal in the Europa League last term.

Manchester United have confirmed the departure of manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer following Saturday's Premier League defeat to Watford.

The pressure has been building on Solskjaer throughout the season, but the 4-1 loss at Vicarage Road – their fifth defeat in seven league matches – proved the final straw.

The former striker's future was reportedly decided during a long board meeting after the match before a mutual agreement over his exit was reached.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, it seems, is no longer at the wheel.

Following another drubbing, this time a 4-1 rout at Watford on Saturday, Manchester United have reportedly called time on Solskjaer's tenure.

After a lengthy meeting, the club great is set to be axed.

 

TOP STORY – SOLSKJAER TO BE SACKED

Manchester United have agreed to sack manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, according to widespread reports.

Having already been humiliated by Premier League rivals Liverpool and Manchester City prior to the international break, United's season hit a new low following Saturday's 4-1 rout at lowly Watford.

Amid a worrying slump, The Athletic, Manchester Evening News and Fabrizio Romano claim United have opted to part with Solskjaer amid links to former Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane, Leicester City's Brendan Rodgers and Ajax head coach Erik ten Hag.

 

ROUND-UP

- Sport says Raheem Sterling has told Premier League champions Manchester City he wants to join LaLiga giants Barcelona.

Barca and City are among the clubs interested in Arsenal forward Alexandre Lacazette, per Fichajes.

- The Sun reports Newcastle United are looking to sign Fiorentina star Dusan Vlahovic. The Serbia international, who scored twice to sink Milan on Saturday, has been linked with City, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Inter, Atletico Madrid, Tottenham and Arsenal.

Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid are set to go head-to-head for the signature of Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger, says Mundo Deportivo. The Germany international is a free agent at season's end. Bayern are also believed to be interested.

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