It is debatable he should ever have been given the job on a permanent basis, although there is a lot of retrospective criticism for that. His initial impact as caretaker coach was such that it was difficult for the club not to give him a chance.
From the outset there were echoes of when Liverpool called upon Kenny Dalglish to take temporary charge after sacking Roy Hodgson in 2010. Kenny did well and was given a contract six months later. The difference is Liverpool’s owners quickly decided to go in a fresh direction rather than let emotion cloud their judgement when results and performances deteriorated.
In contrast, United extended Solskjaer’s contract last summer – a decision which smacked of a club putting sentiment ahead of common sense.
The defeat to Villarreal in the Europa League final confirmed what, deep down, everyone in football already knew. Solskjaer was never going to be the man to go head-to-head with Europe’s elite coaches. In the final, he was out-thought by Unai Emery. How could he be expected to get the better of Guardiola and Klopp over the course of a Premier League and Champions League campaign?
Many have correctly pointed out that the mood around the club felt better under Solskjaer. Was that really because performances and results significantly improved, or more because everyone was happy to have a club legend and likeable good guy in charge?
We have seen how quickly the atmosphere at Old Trafford can turn toxic during the Glazer era, so when Solskjaer initially replaced Jose Mourinho he was a useful shield. The fans were never going to completely turn on him, no matter how much their reservations grew.
But you can’t tell me anything under Mourinho and Louis Van Gaal was worse than the last five defeats in seven Premier League games, United taking four points from the last 21. Mourinho won the Europa League and the League Cup, Van Gaal the FA Cup.
Let’s not rewrite history and forget that Mourinho finished second in the Premier League, even if his style of play was not considered suitable for United’s supporters. Yes, United were runners-up last year too, but only because Liverpool had no senior defenders for a season. They were in a false position.
In terms of results, the team has made no progress at all in the last three years.
Whoever takes over will inherit a similar situation to that of Solskjaer in 2018. Such are the finances at United, the resources will always be available for the right man to succeed. Things can always get better sooner rather than later.
That makes the fact United are prepared to go another six months without their long-term solution more extraordinary.
United are one of the biggest clubs in the world. It is about time they started acting like it.