The ups and downs of the Premier League management career

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will become the 70th man to handle 100 Premier League games when he takes his Manchester United side to Everton on Saturday.

Navigating hasn’t always been easy for the baby-faced assassin, with some doubting he’ll reach this milestone, but there have been plenty of peaks along the way that have helped him get there.

Let’s take a trip down memory lane to look at some of the ups and downs of Solskjaer’s first 100 games.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Solskjaer’s first league game ended in defeat | Stu Forster / Getty Images

Solskjaer’s debut Premier League game ended in a crushing 2-0 loss to a side West Ham who were also locked in a relegation battle in the 2013/14 season.

The visitors lost Guy Demel to injury and ended the game with ten men after James Tomkins was sacked, but even with the odds in their favor Solskjaer Cardiff was sad.

The Bluebirds replaced West Ham in the drop zone that day, and they never did.

Craig Bellamy, Wilfried Zaha
Zaha helped inspire Solskjaer’s first victory | Christopher Lee / Getty Images

Solskjaer had to wait four games for his first league win, securing a 2-1 victory over his compatriots fearing downfall Norwich City.

Cardiff fell behind from the start, but after some words of wisdom from Solskjaer they roared with two goals just after half-time to keep their survival hopes slim.

Not only was it memorable for Solskjaer, but this game meant something to debutant Wilfried Zaha, who won the equalizer assist in his first appearance for Cardiff.

Mark Dempsey, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Loss to Newcastle saw Cardiff relegated | Richard Sellers / Getty Images

Asked to try to save Cardiff, Solskjaer could do nothing but watch a 3-0 loss to Newcastle send his side back to the league after just one top-flight season.

The result was compounded as it came against a Newcastle side who were in such bad shape – six straight losses – that a large number of fans left St James’ Park in protest.

He would only manage eight more games for Cardiff, being relieved of his post in September 2014 after a poor start to life at second tier.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Solskjaer beat his old team | Stu Forster / Getty Images

Fate can sometimes be funny. Solskjaer was brought to United in December 2018, and his first game was against his former employers.

He needed a big win to shake off the misery left behind by Jose Mourinho, and that’s exactly what he got when goals from Marcus Rashford, Ander Herrera, Anthony Martial and a brace from Jesse Lingard (at when he scored goals for United) drew the Red Devils to a 5-1 victory.

Part of the reason for the victory was Solskjaer’s decision to recall Paul Pogba, who had been left on the sidelines towards the end of Mourinho’s tumultuous tenure.

Paul pogba
United were stunned by Cardiff | Dan Mullan / Getty Images

Life at United got off to a good start, but a 2-0 loss to Arsenal in March appeared to shatter the team’s confidence as the results began to fade soon after.

The worst result of all came on the last day of the season as already relegated Cardiff (hello again) clinched a comfortable 2-0 victory at Old Trafford – a result that made Solskjaer boil.

It was around this time that Solskjaer stopped pulling punches in the media, bluntly warning his underachievers that there would be no more free spins at United. I guess it was both a good and bad results?

To add to any positivity that might be there, it was also Mason Greenwood’s first start in the league, making him the youngest starter in club history in the competition.

Harry maguire
Harry Maguire’s debut was perfect | Matthew Ashton – AMA / Getty Images

United returned after the summer and were immediately drawn against Chelsea from Frank Lampard. It was the battle of club legends, and Solskjaer walked away laughing.

While not exactly a perfect performance, United managed to secure a 4-0 victory. Marcus Rashford stole the show with two goals, and Anthony Martial and Daniel James also had fun.

Not only did this make United fans celebrate, but it marred Lampard’s return to the club he loves. A double whammy for the Red Devils.

Phil jones
Solskjaer looked likely to be sacked | Alex Livesey / Getty Images

The 4-0 win over Chelsea was not the turning point it was meant to be, and by the time January 2020 arrived it looked certain that Solskjaer was going to be out of work.

A 2-0 loss to Burnley – the Clarets’ first league win at Old Trafford – was enough for fans to boo United off the pitch, and there was widespread speculation that Solskjaer’s header would roll by a second. to the other.

However, in another of those moments that could end up being positive, it was this lackluster performance that convinced United to shell out Bruno Fernandes, who has done extremely well since joining.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
United guaranteed Champions League football | Pool / Getty Images

The arrival of Fernandes turned United into monsters. Champions League football was a distant dream before, but the Red Devils were lucky enough to qualify for the competition on the last day of the season.

With Chelsea beating Wolves, it was up to United or Leicester to join them in the top four. Whoever wins this match would take the glory, and Solskjaer made sure it was United. Unsurprisingly, it was Fernandes who also opened the scoring.

Would Solskjaer still have a job if United had lost this game? It’s hard to know for sure.

Jose Mourinho, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Mourinho had the last word | Pool / Getty Images

Kept behind the wheel for at least one more season, United’s 2020/21 campaign could hardly have gotten a worse start.

A 3-1 loss to Crystal Palace in their opener was bad enough, but Tottenham’s 6-1 beating at Mourinho’s hands a few weeks later was the lowest on the low.

United had four goals and a man down at the break, and most fans felt the season was already a cancellation. Sack rumors were back.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Bruno Fernandes
United tied the league record | Laurence Griffiths / Getty Images

Slowly but surely, Solskjaer managed to win back the fans. A string of impressive results saw United roar to the top of the Premier League, and their offensive brilliance was in place as they tied the record for the biggest win in league history.

The 9-0 victory matched the record first set by United against Ipswich in 1995 and tied by Leicester against Southampton in 2019, and it was a sign of the devastating brilliance of United’s attack.

Five goals in the last 21 minutes had made United dreams of equaling their all-time club record – a 10-0 victory over Anderlecht in 1956.

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