As a player Solskjaer scored the winning goal in injury time of the 1999 Champions League final to seal one of the club’s most incredible victories, but as a manager he leaves Old Trafford with no sense of glory, having won no trophies in nearly three years in charge.
Pressure had already been piling onto the Norwegian manager amid his team’s poor early-season form and the embarrassing 5-0 home defeat by Liverpool, as well as losing to Man City, but the final straw was Saturday’s thrashing by Watford.
The race is now on to land the biggest job in English and perhaps world football – the early favourites to succeed Solskjaer are Zinedine Zidane, Brendan Rodgers, Mauricio Pochettino and Erik ten Hag.
The United board had previously seemed determined to give Solskjaer a chance to turn around his side’s form and he showed signs of recovery by beating Tottenham and coming from behind to draw with Atalanta in their last Champions League outing.
But the respite was short-lived and Solskjaer, who was criticised for going to Norway during the recent international break, has now been relieved of his duties by the Manchester United hierarchy.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been sacked as Man United boss after his side’s defeat by Watford
Cristiano Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes (right) were among the United stars beaten at Watford
Miserable Man United fans vented their fury at Solskjaer and his players at the final whistle
In December 2018 Solskjaer was brought in by United on an interim basis, following the sacking of former boss Jose Mourinho.
Solskjaer scored 126 goals in 366 appearances for United between 1996 and 2007 and also managed the club’s reserve team until the end of 2010, before moving back to his native Norway with Molde.
He won his first eight games in charge on the way to an overall record of 14 victories and two draws in 19 games – amassing more Premier League points than any other club during that time and appearing to bring a feelgood factor back after the miserable end to Mourinho’s reign.
United’s thrilling upturn in form following Solskjaer’s arrival saw the club legend offered a full-time contract in March 2019, despite his only previous managerial experience being in his homeland with Molde and an unsuccessful spell at Cardiff City.
Solskjaer was appointed interim manager in December 2018 following Jose Mourinho’s axing
But the feelgood factor has gone and he leaves United having not won a single trophy
Just weeks before Solskjaer was made permanent United manager, he oversaw a miraculous Champions League comeback against European giants Paris Saint-Germain, a 3-1 victory in the French capital.
A last-gasp Marcus Rashford goal secured a 3-3 aggregate scoreline and sent United into the last eight of the competition on away goals.
Solskjaer was promptly handed a three-year contract, which was renewed once again in June 2021. The fresh three-year deal was due to run until 2024, with the option to extend for a further year.
Despite initially failing to secure Champions League qualification in 2019 after succeeding Mourinho, Solskjaer oversaw consecutive third and second-placed Premier League finishes in his two complete campaigns.
But, following the huge summer outlay on Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane the inescapable truth was that Solskjaer was now expected to deliver trophies, and a strong challenge for the Premier League title.
That title bid already looks to be in tatters, and the closest he came to winning a trophy was a defeat on penalties by Spanish side Villarreal in last season’s Europa League final.
Expectance and pressure increased tenfold on Solskjaer following last season’s second-placed finish, after which he was heavily backed in the transfer market.
One of Solskjaer’s biggest results as manager came in Paris in early 2019, when United pulled off a stunning comeback victory over PSG which landed him the permanent job weeks later
But the closest he came to winning a trophy was the Europa League final defeat last season
He was given the funds to finally secure the two-year long pursuit of English starlet Sancho, who signed in a deal initially for £73million, rising to a huge £150m.
Sancho has yet to settle at United this season, attracting further criticism for Solskjaer.
The arrival of the winger has also limited the prospects of Ivory Coast teenager Amad Diallo, who signed last year in a £37m deal from Atalanta.
United also backed their manager with statement moves for the likes of Real Madrid stalwart Varane, along with an emotional re-signing of living football legend and all time United fans’ favourite Ronaldo.
Despite this, though, further criticism arrived at Solskjaer’s doorstep for the manner in which Ronaldo’s return has hampered his side and caused United to be less aggressive and forward-thinking in the defensive press.
United are now immediately turning their attentions to Solskjaer’s replacement.
Zinedine Zidane (right), an old ally of Ronaldo’s at Real Madrid, is a contender to take over
Brendan Rodgers (left) and Mauricio Pochettino (right) are also in the frame for the job
Zidane, the legendary French World Cup winner, guided Real Madrid to the Champions League three times and won the Spanish league twice before quitting in May, and is also readily available.
Rodgers in currently in post at Leicester City, where he has greatly impressed in twice coming so close to earning Champions League football and winning the FA Cup to help the club punch well above their weight. He also impressed at Celtic and Liverpool, until a decline late in his reign at Anfield.
Pochettino, who was a great success in five years at Tottenham despite never winning a trophy, is also currently employed, holding the reins at PSG.
The super-rich French club signed Lionel Messi last summer and, as he also boasts Kylian Mbappe and Neymar in a superstar attacking line-up, the expectation there is that Pochettino achieves nothing less than winning the Champions League.
Ten Hag would perhaps be the outsider in the race, but the Dutchman has impressed in creating a vibrant young side at Ajax, winning the league title twice, and rejected an approach from Tottenham last summer.
Despite his sacking, Solskjaer remains a United icon due to his feats as a player, including scoring the dramatic last-gasp winning goal in the 1999 Champions League final