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Is Ole Gunnar Solskjær Man Utd’s worst manager ever?

Here, Peter Watton, from matched betting experts OddsMonkey, investigates whether Ole Gunnar Solskjær is the worst Man Utd manager ever, and takes a look at his odds for the future.

Times are tough for Man Utd supporters: the club’s form in the league has been poor and there’s endless gossip over their manager’s future. For a fanbase that’s used to competing at the very top table, things have been grim for a while now and fortunes don’t look like improving anytime soon.

However, there seems to be a conflict of opinions on why the Red Devils are in such disarray at the moment. On one side you have experts who think that Ole Gunnar Solskjær is simply a poor manager who is out of his depth. On the other hand, there are those who think he is a victim of circumstance, with the buck stopping with a board who have been mismanaging the club for years.

To get a better insight, I’m going to take a look at the statistics to see if the Norwegian really is as bad as people are making out, or whether he’s simply the latest in a line of doomed managers. I’ll also take a look at the odds for his future at the club.

What does Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s record tell us?

To get a sense of where Ole Gunnar Solskjær falls into the pyramid of modern Man Utd bosses, let’s take a look at his win ratio when compared to the club’s other Premier League-era managers (ratios correct at the time of writing).

  • Alex Ferguson (1986–2013): 59.67%
  • David Moyes (2013–2014): 52.94%
  • Louis van Gaal (2014–2016): 52.43%
  • José Mourinho (2016–2018): 58.33%
  • Ole Gunnar Solskjær (2018–present): 47.50%

As you can see, statistically, Ole Gunnar Solskjær has the worst win ratio of any Premier League era Man Utd manager. In terms of the number of games managed (40), he’s closest to David Moyes (52), who managed to win over half of the games he oversaw but is generally remembered as one of the worst managers in recent memory.

Looking beyond the Premier League, Ole Gunnar Solskjær is not the worst Man Utd manager. But to find a manager with a worse record you need to go back to the 1970s when the club was relegated to the old Second Division and underwent a barren period of silverware. During this time, Frank O’Farrell (37.04%), Tommy Docherty (46.93%), and Dave Sexton (40.30%) managed the team to worse win ratios than Ole Gunnar Solskjær.

Focusing back on the current situation, it’s possible to compare the Man Utd boss’s record to other Premier League teams. While Solskjær won 14 of his 19 matches as caretaker manager, his record has been abysmal since being appointed permanently in March 2019.

Just take a look at the bottom of the Premier League form table since that date:

  1. Newcastle Utd: P15 W5 D3 L7 = 18 pts
  2. Manchester Utd: P16 W4 D5 L7 = 17pts
  3. Southampton: P16 W4 D4 L8 = 16 pts
  4. Brighton: P17 W2 D6 L9 = 12 pts
  5. Watford: P16 W2 D4 L10 = 10 pts

The club’s form since Solskjær became permanent manager puts them right above the relegation zone which, frankly, should not be an issue for a club with the wage bill and transfer spend of Man Utd. According to Sky Sports’ summer 2019 spending table, the club spent £148 million on transfers, just £5.6 million short of the combined total of the three clubs below them in the form table.

Even if we limit the form to just this season, it’s the worst start the club has had in 30 years, when they picked up just seven points from nine games in the 1989–90 campaign under Alex Ferguson. That was the closest the now legendary manager came to the sack, but it came before the money and pressure of the Premier League era — Solskjær won’t receive the same amount of leniency.

What are the odds for Solskjær’s future?

At the time of writing, Solskjær is currently second favourite to be the next Premier League manager to get the sack, with odds of 3/1. He is only just behind Everton’s Marco Silva at 5/4, who seems to be edging closer to the door at Goodison Park by the day. If Silva goes, Solskjær will probably be the new bookies’ favourite to be moved on.

The bookmakers seem to think that Man Utd, in their current form under Solskjær, will not qualify for the Champion’s League, which is the minimum expectation at Old Trafford. They’re only offering odds of 9/2 on the club finishing in the top four behind Man City (1/1000), Liverpool (1/1000), Arsenal (5/6), Chelsea (10/11), Tottenham (7/5), and even Leicester City (7/2).

To put this into perspective, the bookmakers have Man Utd at 5/1 to finish in the bottom half of the table, which would be an unprecedented scenario for the club. In the Premier League era, the lowest that they’ve finished is seventh under David Moyes, who, as we mentioned, currently has a better win ratio than Solskjær.

Considering everything we’ve discussed, I think it’s extremely likely that Solskjær will be sacked as Man Utd manager before the end of the season. Despite being a fan favourite, the squad is simply too expensive and talented to languish in its current position. Yes, there are mitigating factors, but it’s results that count so, unless they improve rapidly, I can’t see a long-term future for Ole.

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