Mon. Nov 29th, 2021

When Ole Gunnar Solskjær was appointed Manchester United’s interim manager, he was given the task of sorting out the mess that Jose Mourinho had left behind.

Solskjær later got the job on a permanent basis and did a lot of good work before he was finally fired in November 2021.

“The board and the owners have backed me up in bringing in good people, good players, and I think, or I know, I am leaving this club with a better squad,” Solskajer told MUTV in his farewell interview.

“Hopefully the next manager will come in and I will support him, I want him to succeed. Hopefully I have laid the foundation for that to happen because I know I’m good at what I do.”

We have taken a look at how the team he inherited in December 2018 compares to what he has left for his successor.


David de Gea was one of United’s unique players under Mourinho and won the Player of the Year award in 2017-18.

Despite allowing mistakes to creep into his game in recent seasons, De Gea retained Solskjær’s confidence and remained United’s No. 1 through most of his time as manager.

“He makes fantastic saves, he wins matches for us and I still think he is the best goalkeeper in the world,” said Solskjær in 2020.

After a couple of loan spells away, Dean Henderson returned to Old Trafford in 2020, replacing Sergio Romero as their back-up goalkeeper.

Lee Grant remains at United, and Solskjær also brought academy-educated Tom Heaton back to the club during the summer transfer window in 2021.

The Danish legend Peter Schmeichel

READ: Ranking of Man Utd’s 23 Premier League goalkeepers from worst to best


After converting to backs under Louis van Gaal, Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia became two of Mourinho’s most trusted pillars during his three seasons at United.

But the duo were considered surplus to the demands of Soslkajer, with Valencia leaving on a free transfer in the summer of 2019 and Young joining Inter Milan in January 2020.

Solskjær was clearly not happy with the defense he inherited and spent £ 177.6 million on it, almost half of his total expenses.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka was brought in from Crystal Palace on a £ 50million deal in 2019, and Alex Telles replaced Matteo Darmian a year later. Luke Shaw also got a fresh start under Solskjær, but Diogo Dalot remained on the edge of the first team.

After Mourinho unsuccessfully tried to sign Harry Maguire from Leicester City in 2018, Solskjær brought the English national team player to Old Trafford during his first summer as manager.

Upon Maguire’s arrival, Chris Smalling was sent to Roma, and Marcos Rojo returned to his native Argentina after playing only 12 matches under Solskjær.

Raphael Varane joined United from Real Madrid in 2021 and represents a major upgrade for Phil Jones, who has only played two Premier League matches since the start of 2019-20.

“We have great depth of international defenders and he will add his enormous skills and leadership to that group,” Solskjær said in August 2021.

“He [Varane] is a unique defensive player with a rare combination of top-level qualities that I know will infect our younger players. He has won everything there is to win, but I know he is still determined to succeed. “

Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly, who were both signed by Mourinho, are still at Old Trafford but are no longer first-choice center-backs.


Mourinho was the one who first recognized Scott McTominay’s potential and gave him his debut and then the award as Manager’s Player of the Year in 2017-18. The Scottish national team player is still at United and has now played 100 Premier League matches for the club.

Ander Herrera and Marouane Fellaini also established themselves as real favorites under the Portuguese, but they both left Old Trafford in 2019 and joined Shandong Taishan and PSG respectively.

Nemanja Matic is now in his fifth season at United, while Andreas Pereira fell into disfavor and is currently on loan at Flamengo in Brazil.

Despite sanctioning a £ 53 million deal to sign Fred in the summer of 2018, Mourinho did not appear to rate the midfielder. But he eventually turned things around and became one of the first names on the team list under Solskjær.

During Mourinho’s tenure, Paul Pogba struggled for consistency and was often compared to a move, so not much has changed in the last three years.

Solskjær bought only two midfield signings for United, and they have had very contrasting fortunes at Old Trafford. Bruno Fernandes joined United from Sporting Lisbon in January 2020 and has been a goal and assist machine for the Red Devils.

“He’s definitely a player who influences the results,” Solskjær said in 2020. “He creates goals, scores goals, he takes risks that any United player should be allowed to do, be brave enough to do. certainly a brave boy who sees the pass and takes moments.

“Sometimes I tear my hair out and say that there is an easier pass, but you can not take that from Bruno. You want the ‘X-Factor’. “

Donny van de Beek has fought for regular first-team opportunities at United, but unlike Fellaini and Herrera, he is known for his technical abilities.


Mourinho had Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez at the helm of his attack on United, but the duo fell into disfavor after Solskjær’s arrival.

After Lukaku and Sanchez joined Inter Milan, Mason Greenwood achieved a permanent promotion to the first team and has since developed into one of the best young talents in Europe.

While Marcus Rashford has gone from strength to strength since Mourinho’s departure, Anthony Martial is still struggling to fulfill his potential.

Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata both had to settle for roles during Solskjær’s reign and seem to be leaving the club with their contracts expiring in 2022.

Solskjær used the transfer market to add some experienced and proven goal scorers to the squad and got Edinson Cavani on a free transfer in 2020 before bringing Cristiano Ronaldo back to the club.

But the Norwegian also invested in United’s future, picking up three talented young wingers in Jadon Sancho, Amad Diallo and Facundo Pellistri.

More Manchester United

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