The records of José Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, compared

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and curse of succeeding Alex Ferguson.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and curse of succeeding Alex Ferguson.
Image: Reuters/Carl Recine
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José Mourinho is out, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is in.

Solskjaer has been appointed the caretaker manager of Manchester United until the end of the season, a day after Mourinho was fired. So let us compare their records in the world’s most competitive soccer league.

In the Premier League, Solskjaer lost more than half the games he coached.

He was appointed to Cardiff City in January 2014, but failed to stop them getting relegated that season. He lasted seven more games in the Championship before being fired. He lasted nine months. Not the greatest record. His credentials as a manager comes from his home country of Norway, where he led Molde to the league title in his debut season in 2011 and retained it the following year. After being fired by Cardiff, he returned to Molde once more until United came calling.

Meanwhile, Mourinho’s many, many wins in the Premier League include three league titles with Chelsea FC.

They doesn’t include the many trophies he has won, including the FA Cup, three League Cups, and Europa League (with United), nor does it include his track record abroad, which reflects five more league titles and two Champions League trophies. He was three times manager of the season in England. Even with the worst start to a season in 28 years, which prompted his firing, Mourinho’s win record at United was a healthy 58%.

Solskjaer is beloved by the United faithful for his heroics as a substitute player over the years, none more dramatic than scoring the winning goal in the 1999 Champions League final. But as a manager, what is the logic of bringing him in midway through the season to replace one of the most successful managers of all time?

Perhaps that is why Solskjaer is only being given the title of caretaker manager—the kind of title that some managers, like Rafa Benítez, loathe for the lack of authority it confers. Solskjaer is also being assisted in his spell by Mike Phelan, who was the assistant to the great Alex Ferguson, whose shadow has loomed across all managers at the club since he retired in 2013—with 13 Premier League titles, two Champions Leagues, five FA Cups, and four League Cups.

Solskjaer’s first test as Manchester United manager is on Dec. 22—against Cardiff.