Manchester United’s troubled history with managers since Alex Ferguson’s retirement

Manchester United has changed four managers since the retirement of Alex Ferguson, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer becoming the latest to be sacked.  

Since Sir Alex Ferguson retired as manager of Manchester United, the football club has been unable to find a solid footing. And it has reflected in the performance of the team over the past few years. Since Ferguson left, the Red Devils have been unable to finish at the top of the Premier League.

The poor performance of the club has reflected in the way they have changed managers since Ferguson retired. In the 8 years, United has changed 4 managers. Ryan Giggs acted as a player-manager for a brief period between David Moyes and Louis Van Gaal. Now Michael Carrick has been put in charge as a caretaker manager till the club finds an interim manager.

While it is true that different coaches bring new ideas and strategies to the team, the continuous struggle of Manchester United is pointing towards a problem of a set strategy. One that has been in play till Ferguson was there and since his departure, the team seems to be suffering from the present because its players are stuck in the past-in terms of tactics and game play. Despite fresh - and quite expensive - new signings, the performance of the team has remained abysmal, and the coaches have borne the brunt of expectations, from the owners and fans.

Here’s a look at the managers that have donned the position since Ferguson retired.

David Moyes

July 2013 to April 2014)

After spending 11 years at Everton, Moyes was touted as ‘the chosen one’ after being hand-picked by Ferguson. Naturally, the burden of expectations was too heavy.

Alex Ferguson wrote in his book, Leading (2015), “He [Moyes] had been consistent in his job at Everton, had a good spell there – 11 years – and showed appetite.”

Manchester United’s troubled history with managers since Alex Ferguson’s retirement

Moyes signed a 6-year contract with United but his stint lasted around 10 months. He was sacked on April 21, 2014. Under his management, Manchester United played 51 matches and won 27. The team lost 15 and went on to draw 9 matches, with a win percentage of 52.94%. The club, under Moyes, failed to win any silverware.

Recently, Moyes said in an interview to Sky Sports, "My style would be to build a club, like I feel I did with Everton - and rebuild them. I didn't need to build Manchester United. I was following and I wanted to follow Sir Alex.”

Louis Van Gaal

July 2014 to May 2016

Van Gaal joined Manchester United on the back of an illustrious career, having managed the Netherlands’ national team, and stints with clubs like Barcelona and Bayern Munich. However, his nearly two years at United didn’t produce results much different than Moyes.

In the first year of his management, the club finished fourth in the Premier League table. In the following 2015-16 season, Manchester United exited from the Champions League group stages after a 3-2 away loss to VFL Wolfsburg, and finished fifth in the EPL.

Manchester United’s troubled history with managers since Alex Ferguson’s retirement

The club played 103 matches in the 22 months of his coaching and won 54 with a win percentage of 52.43%. United lost 24 matches in the period and 25 matches ended in a draw. In terms of silverware, the club won one trophy - the FA cup in 2016. Van Gaal was sacked two days after the victory.

In 2019, Van Gaal told the Guardian that he felt betrayed by the club. “At that moment I feel betrayed. I feel betrayed because what I hear from a lot of people is it was already done in December, January [the decision to fire him].”

Talking about Wayne Rooney in the same interview, he said he made Rooney captain to control his (Rooney’s) life outside the training pitch. “You can say nothing about his professionalism as a player in the training sessions or on a pitch. Outside the environment of the training pitch and the stadium is different. I made him my captain because I want to control that life outside.”

Jose Mourinho

July 2016 to December 2018

Jose Mourinho fared better than any of the coaches since Ferguson. During his stint, Manchester United played 144 matches and won 84 with a win percentage of 58.33%. The club lost 28 matches and 32 matches ended in a draw. However, the club won two trophies under Mourinho - UEFA Europa League in 2017 and League Cup.

Mourinho spent 430.8 million pounds for signing up 12 players during his stint, including Romelu Lukaku and midfielder Nemanja Matic. In the 2017-18 season, United exited from the Champions league in the round of sixteen stage. The club also lost the 2018 FA Cup final to Chelsea. But, United managed to secure the second spot in the Premier league, 19 points behind Manchester city.

Manchester United’s troubled history with managers since Alex Ferguson’s retirement

Mourinho was sacked midway during the 2018 season. At that time, United was placed sixth in the EPL, 19 points away from Liverpool after just 17 games.

Mourinho told the Independent, “The first club where I felt I need time and time was not given, because I felt that I left at the middle of the process, but I learn very early to respect decisions, which I did at United.”

However, his management of United was marred with controversies off the ground. Mourinho kept getting into trouble with referees. Mourinho had questioned the logic of appointing Anthony Taylor, who lives just 6 miles away from Old Trafford and is also reported to be a Red Devils fan, in duty for United’s high-voltage clash against Liverpool at Anfield in October 2016.

He was also involved in a tunnel incident after match with Manchester City, where he allegedly had a heated argument with City’s players which led to an FA (Football association) investigation, according to the Telegraph.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

December 2018 to November 2021

Gunnar was probably the only coach United hired who didn’t have as illustrious a career as his predecessors. He was sacked on November 21, 2021 after the club’s 4-1 defeat to Watford. With this, Manchester United has lost 7 out of the last 13 games.

During his reign, United spent 312.1 million pounds on signing new players, including Raphael Varane, Jadon Sancho, and the nostalgic return of Cristiano Ronaldo to the red devils’ side. This is 33 million pounds more than any other Premier League side and £196m more than City and Liverpool's combined.

Manchester United sacked Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on November 21, 2021.

Manchester United sacked Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on November 21, 2021.   | Photo Credit: Getty Images

However, the big spending did not translate into results. His results were only marginally better than Moyes and Van Gaal but below Mourinho, who led the side to two major cup victories as well. Under Gunnar, United played 164 matches and won 90 with a win percentage of 54.88%. The club lost 38 matches and drew 36. Further, Gunnar has no silverware to show for his tenure.

The Red Devils have already been eliminated from the Carabao Cup (League Cup) and have needed to come from behind in their last three Champions League matches this season.

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Printable version | Jan 22, 2022 6:04:13 PM |

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