The winners and losers after Solskjaer's sacking at Manchester United

Cavani and Sancho will hope a new boss will give them a chance to shine but Fred and Ronaldo will be nervous about keeping their places: the winners and losers after Man United sacked Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

  • READ: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been sacked as Manchester United manager 
  • A crushing 4-1 defeat by Watford and other poor performances saw him axed 
  • There will be several winners and losers from the decision to change coaches  
  • Donny van de Beek will want more game time after the Norwegian departed
  • Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the biggest losers from the former player exiting

In the end, it all proved just a step too far for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. It was a tough sight for supporters, watching their club legend – a man who has brought them so much happiness – look truly beaten after the humiliating 4-1 defeat by Watford. 

From there, there was no going back. The confirmation arrived from United and, just as quickly as he was handed the caretaker job in December 2018, Solskjaer was gone. In truth, the writing has been on the wall for quite some time after a 4-0 hammering by rivals Liverpool and some poor results to set them off the pace in the title race.

Sources revealed to Sportsmail that a number of players doubted whether Solskjaer was the man to lead the club on to trophies, and believed he didn’t have the same tactical acumen as Pep Guardiola, Thomas Tuchel and Jurgen Klopp.

It was the humiliation at the hands of the Hornets that forced United’s hand. Joel and Avram Glazer held emergency talks with executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward and managing director Richard Arnold, and United have now pulled the trigger. =

The dressing room will be split into winners and losers from the sacking and here, Sportsmail takes a look at who goes where… 

There will be winners and losers from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s sacking at Manchester United

Joel (right) and Avram (left) Glazer were forced into the decision because of United’s poor form


Donny van de Beek

Throwing his chewing gum down furiously in the last-gasp victory over Villarreal, Donny van de Beek revealing everything that needed to be said about his frustrating spell at United. Time and time again, he has been left among the substitutes.

Whether it is an issue over trust or ability, boss Solskjaer never seemed likely to place his trust in the silky midfielder. Bruno Fernandes locked down the No 10 spot, of course, but it was inexcusable Van de Beek wasn’t tried more in a double pivot.

Now, under the new management, Van de Beek will be targeting increased minutes to finally make his move to Old Trafford worth it. Another few months spent on the touchline, wondering what may have been, will surely see him leave, however. 

Donny van de Beek rarely featured under Solskjaer and was expected to leave United soon

Edinson Cavani  

Veteran frontman Cavani and Cristiano Ronaldo briefly partnered each other in the dying embers of United’s win against Atalanta, although Solskjaer was forced into the gung-ho decision with his side trailing and in desperate need of a turnaround.

That has largely been the former’s role this season, though, and a striker of his vast experience and clinical nature deserves more, quite simply. Ronaldo is undroppable, admittedly, but Cavani is the perfect impact substitute and is rarely used. 

With a new coach, there is more hope for Cavani that he will be fielded from the off now, and United need his razor-sharp instincts as they bid to save their campaign. It is just disappointing Solskjaer, the ultimate impact player, failed to realise it.  

Edinson Cavani has been an impact substitute this season but now deserves regular minutes

Jadon Sancho

The first couple of months of Jadon Sancho’s career at United can be neatly summarised in one word – underwhelming. Brought in from Borussia Dortmund for a big fee, and after a year of waiting, the forward has not hit the ground running.

This may very well come down to the disjointed system he has been thrust into. A player who thrives on neat interchanges and movement around him, the confusion under Solskjaer has done nothing to compliment his enviable ability on the ball.

Instead, his displays have been mixed – searing, mazy dribbles combined with a short pass and a move breaking down. It will be down to Solskjaer’s replacement to bring out the best in him, and that will all start with bringing back incision up front. 

It has been a poor start to Jadon Sancho’s United career, and he struggled in Solskjaer’s system

Nemanja Matic

A classy performer, Nemanja Matic has impressed in each of his appearances at United this season. Unfortunately for him, they have been few and far between, despite the midfield woes which have dragged the club back into chaos. 

No longer capable of moving around the pitch, hoovering up loose balls and diving into well-time tackles for 90 minutes, Matic has been more of an enforcer, often brought on to help his team hang on to a result. He has done just that perfectly. 

But there is a sense of frustration around him, too. A classy holding midfielder, there is no reason why Matic would not compliment the likes of Paul Pogba, Fred or Scott McTominay and allow them to move further forward. He deserves more game time.

Nemanja Matic was brought on typically to see games out, but remains a classy performer

Eric Bailly

According to reports, Solskjaer was challenged by Eric Bailly over his decision to start Harry Maguire over him in the 4-2 defeat at Leicester, despite the club captain not being fully fit. On paper, and now in hindsight, it was a truly awful gamble. 

Maguire, so often resembling a dominant centre back capable of gliding across the penalty area to win the ball back, was instead reduced to a sloppy, lumbering mess. He was arguably at fault for each of the four goals United shipped that day.

Bailly has history against Leicester – with a video of him dragging Jamie Vardy to the floor in a challenge akin to a wrestling move often going viral. He may be erratic, but he is another player who will expect to be brought back in from the cold.

Eric Bailly reportedly criticised Solskjaer for starting Harry Maguire over him against Leicester


The Glazers

Another big decision, another backfire. It has, on the whole, been a more promising spell under Solskjaer’s management, but once again they have found themselves pulling the trigger while their rival clubs pull away at the top of the table. 

Much maligned before their latest sacking, the pressure is well and truly on the Glazers to make correct decisions and, if they don’t pan out, to stop hesitating over them and bring down the axe. They hesitated over Solskjaer for far too long.

It was a fever dream to ever imagine Solskjaer was a coach equipped with the skillset to win the Premier League or Champions League. Instead, he has built a formidable team and improved United’s foundations, but once again the Glazers look like fools. 

The Glazer family have again been made to sack another manager after this season’s struggles

Ed Woodward

The European Super League debacle appeared to have been one dilemma too much, and soon after the fallout, it was announced that Ed Woodward would be stepping down from his role as United’s executive vice-chairman at the end of the year.

Unsurprisingly, the news was well received by supporters. Woodward has become synonymous with the failures at the club post-Sir Alex Ferguson – poor transfers, scattergun approaches to managers, and a failure to communicate with the fanbase.

It remains to be seen whether Woodward does indeed leave his role when planned, and if he does, he will do so after presiding over yet another sacking. It was his decision to hire Solskjaer permanently, a big step which has ultimately proven rash. 

Ed Woodward (left) is set to leave at the end of the year, and brought the axe down on Solskjaer

Mason Greenwood

Just a day after the defeat by Liverpool, it emerged in the press that there has been a disconnect between Cristiano Ronaldo and Mason Greenwood. The superstar has reportedly become frustrated by the youngster failing to pass him the ball.

He certainly has a point to an extent. Greenwood struggled against Liverpool, as did every one of his team-mates, but it is difficult to judge his supposed selfish nature on the ball from that game. It is in games gone by that he has made the wrong choices.

At just 20 years of age, there is plenty of time for the starlet to flourish and work on moving the ball into the right areas at the perfect time. But Solskjaer has been crucial in his development, and there is no guarantee over his minutes now.

Mason Greenwood was fielded regularly under Solskjaer, but his game time is now guaranteed

Cristiano Ronaldo

Labelled as past his best and over the peak, Cristiano Ronaldo responded by scoring a hatful of goals for United this season. Told he doesn’t press enough to help his team, the talisman harried Atalanta’s players in the thrilling victory last week.

It is what he does; responding to criticism and silencing his doubters. This time, however, it may not be plain sailing for him. Solskjaer may have refused to drop him even when he was hampering attacks, but his successor might do just that.  

Ronaldo remains one of the best players in the world, one capable of grabbing every match by the scruff of its neck and turning it around, but he doesn’t possess the same energy and pace anymore. The No 9 position at United is not nailed down. 

Cristiano Ronaldo has been criticised for his work rate, and his No 9 position is not nailed down


Still a conundrum, Fred manages to both enthral and frustrate United supporters in every fixture. Capable of a line-splitting pass one second, and then guilty of a poor touch the next, it is little wonder that the team struggle to create through him.

He is not a bad footballer, per se. There are often glimpses of a very accomplished midfielder in his performances, but his inconsistency, rash decision-making and tendency to be outmuscled hurt United, and damaged boss Solskjaer, regularly.

With a change in leadership, there may be no more patience extended towards him. There is a blatant hole at the heart of United, one which needed fixing last summer, and if another big-name signing is brought on, it is Fred who is likely to drop out.

Fred manages to frustrate and enthral United supporters, and is likely to be dropped this year

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