Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who was relieved of his duties as Manchester United’s manager in November 2021, recently opened up about his time at the helm and revealed that there was one player who consistently posed challenges for him.
Solskjaer, a legendary figure at Manchester United due to his historic playing career at Old Trafford, returned to the club as the manager. However, despite his celebrated past as a player, his managerial stint did not have the same level of success. During his tenure, the team suffered 38 losses and played to 33 draws in 149 matches, resulting in a largely unsuccessful period.
While Solskjaer’s managerial reign did not yield any silverware, it did see the team reach the final of the Europa League, narrowly losing in a penalty shootout to Unai Emery’s Villarreal.
In his first in-depth interview since his dismissal in November 2021, Solskjaer disclosed that there was a specific opponent who consistently troubled him.
He recounted, “In my final season, we faced Liverpool at home. I believed the players were prepared, just as they had been when we had gone to City and secured a victory. We could have adopted a defensive approach and looked for counter-attacks, but I chose to go for it.”
The outcome was a devastating 5-0 defeat. Despite having near-equal possession and chances at halftime, Manchester United found themselves trailing 4-0. Solskjaer admitted, “I made the wrong decision, and that was, by far, the lowest point of my tenure as the United manager.”
He singled out Roberto Firmino as the player who had caused him the most difficulties as a manager. Although Firmino scored twice against Manchester United in October 2021, his true impact lay in his positional awareness and his ability to evade markers while facilitating the connection between midfield and attack.
This particular game occurred just five matches before Solskjaer’s departure, with a subsequent 2-0 loss to City at home only adding to the challenges. Liverpool maintained an upper hand over Solskjaer’s Manchester United side, with just one loss and four wins in eight encounters during a period that many Liverpool fans will remember fondly.
Similarly, Manchester City defeated Solskjaer’s team on five occasions, more than any other Premier League team. Nevertheless, Manchester United managed to exact revenge on four occasions.
Despite an initial improvement in results, Manchester United’s overall performance declined towards the end of Solskjaer’s tenure.