Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reflects on ‘disease of modern football’ he experienced at Man Utd

Former Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has claimed that he encountered a “disease of modern football” during his final months at the club.

Solskjaer had made a whirlwind impact when he was appointed caretaker successor to Jose Mourinho at the end of 2018, eventually landing a permanent three-year contract.

United then appeared to be heading in the right direction, securing successive top three Premier League finishes for the first time since Sir Alex Ferguson retired, as well as reaching five semi-finals in two seasons – including getting to the final of the Europa League.

Yet just over three months into the 2021/22 campaign, the wheels had seemingly fallen off and Solskjaer was sacked the day after an embarrassing defeat to Watford that capped a run of five defeats in seven Premier League games.

Ultimately, it turned into United’s worst in the Premier League era. Although not a lowest finish, it was a lowest points tally post-1992, as well as fewest league wins in a season since 1990 and most league goals conceded since 1979.

Solskjaer was sacked by Man Utd in 2021Solskjaer was sacked by Man Utd in 2021

Solskjaer was sacked by Man Utd in 2021 / IAN KINGTON/GettyImages

“Things had soured, the collective had been lost and that’s not Man United, where teams are built on the collective,” Solskjaer told The Athletic in a wide-ranging interview.

“Some players felt they should’ve played more and weren’t constructive to the environment. That’s a huge sin for me,” he added.

“When I didn’t start games I wanted to prove to the manager he’d made the wrong decision. Now, a lot of players aren’t like that. Agents and family members get into their heads and tell them they’re better than they are because they have a vested interest. It’s a disease of modern football.”

In the same interview, his first in-depth chat since leaving Old Trafford, Solskjaer also said: “Some [players] weren’t as good as their own perception of themselves. I won’t name names, but I was very disappointed when a couple turned down the chance to be captain. I was also disappointed when others said they wouldn’t play or train because they wanted to force their way out.”


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