Within hours of Manchester United announcing the sacking of manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the hashtag ‘ThankYouOle’ started trending.
It was yet another reminder that, despite disappointing results, the club as a global brand seems to be as strong as ever, continuing to boast a social media following that is the envy of many sports entities worldwide.
No club in the Premier League, for instance, can come close to matching United’s Twitter following of 28.5 million people — league leader Chelsea comes closest with almost 10 million less.
But winning the social media race will offer fans little consolation, with Solskjaer’s departure coming at a time when the club is falling further behind its rivals on the pitch.
Last year’s runner-up is currently languishing in eighth after four losses in its last five league games and the team, particularly the defense, looks short of organization and structure.
Following a humiliating 4-1 defeat against Watford in Solskjaer’s last game on Sunday, United goalkeeper David de Gea summed it up by saying: “We don’t know what to do with the ball, we are conceding a lot of goals. It’s a horrible moment.”
Solskjaer was hired to bring the good times back to Old Trafford and, at times, he did so.
A Champions League win against PSG and derby victories against Manchester City have given fans memories to last but Solskjaer failed to deliver a trophy during his reign.
Performances this season have also looked particularly poor, with recent defeats to Manchester City and Liverpool demonstrating the growing gap in quality between United and those realistically challenging for the title.
In his first two seasons in charge, the manager could explain poor results away as the club being in a rebuilding process, but this season was different.
The board had backed Solskjaer in the transfer market with the signings of Raphael Varane, Jadon Sancho and Cristiano Ronaldo, and there was simply no room for excuses when you had a squad bubbling over with elite talent.
No one within the club has publicly questioned Solskjaer’s sincerity — Ronaldo himself called his former manager an “outstanding human being” in a post on social media Monday — but many have questioned his ability to coach at the highest level.
The job for the next boss is getting a tune out of a team of world class individuals.
“I think there is potential in this club. We all love the club, and we all want to see it continue,” Solskjaer said in his goodbye interview with the club, a video which attracted over 3.9 million views on Twitter.