Manchester United have awarded manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer a new three-year contract.
Solskjaer had entered the final 12 months of his previous deal but United have tied him to a new contract until June 2024 with the option of another year.
The 48-year-old was initially appointed on an interim basis following the sacking of Jose Mourinho in December 2018 but was handed a permanent deal four months later after enjoying a remarkable honeymoon period in charge.
Solskjaer has yet to win anything during his two and a half years in charge and United finished last season empty handed after being beaten by Villarreal in the final of the Europa League in May.
It has increased the pressure on Solskjaer to deliver silverware and end United’s eight-year wait to win the Premier League title going into the new season. United have already signed England winger Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund for £72.9m and are expected to back the manager with more signings before the close of the transfer window next month.
But Ed Woodward, United’s outgoing executive vice chairman, said the club were “more confident than ever” that Solskjaer was the man to take them forward.
“Ole and his staff have worked tirelessly putting the foundations in place for long-term success on the pitch,” said Woodward, who is due to leave at the end of the year after resigning in the wake of the failed European Super League plot.
“The results of that have become increasingly visible over the past two seasons and we are all looking forward to seeing this exciting team develop further in the years ahead.
“What is especially pleasing is the way this progress has been achieved with a blend of young, homegrown talent and top-class recruits, playing attacking football in the best traditions of Manchester United. We are more confident than ever that, under Ole’s leadership, we are heading in the right direction.”
Solskjaer is convinced United are progressing on his watch. “Everyone knows the feeling I have for this club, and I am delighted to have signed this new contract,” the club’s former striker said. “It is an exciting time for Manchester United, we have built a squad with a good balance of youth and experienced players that are hungry for success.
“I have a fantastic coaching team around me, and we are all ready to take that next step on our journey. Manchester United wants to be winning the biggest and best trophies and that’s what we are all striving for.
“We have improved, both on and off the pitch, and that will continue over the coming seasons. I can’t wait to get out in front of a packed Old Trafford and get this campaign started.”
Solskjaer has been rewarded for 'cultural reboot', despite a lack of trophies
by Mike McGrath
With “Ole at the wheel”, to quote the lyrics of the terrace chant, the question has been whether Manchester United have been travelling on the right path and at the required speed under their manager.
After handing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer a contract to run until 2025, the answer was emphatic from executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward. “We are more confident than ever that, under Ole’s leadership, we are heading in the right direction,” he said.
Woodward will leave Old Trafford by the end of the year and will be remembered for the European Super League breakaway debacle but in the footnotes there will also be the “cultural reboot” that came with Solskjaer’s appointment.
There has not been a trophy during Solskajer’s two-and-a-half seasons as United manager but the club believe there has been progress after succeeding Jose Mourinho and initially stabilising the team.
His first full season saw him finish third and lose in three semi-finals. Last season United finished second and finally reached a cup final under Solskjaer, before losing to Villarreal in Gdansk with Europa League glory in their sights.
After that flat performance in Poland, the signs were that United still had faith in the Norwegian and that plans to offer him a new contract were still in place this summer. That he received three years plus the option of a further season may come as a surprise around Europe, where deals have become shorter.
Mauricio Pochettino has two years left on his deal at Paris Saint-Germain after getting an extension, while Nuno Espirito Santo also got two seasons at Tottenham. Pep Guardiola only committed to two further seasons when he put pen-to-paper last November. Solskjaer’s deal will run longer than Jurgen Klopp’s, should United trigger their option.
The length of the deal is a big show of the belief United have in Solskjaer. The reboot saw a different type of player arrive in the transfer window. They are still big spenders in the Premier League and the deal for Jadon Sancho means the £250million spent in the last three summers is more than any other European club in the same period.
But the players are of a different profile. Bruno Fernandes was a hungry player looking to prove himself on the biggest stage. Sancho, Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka homegrown talents, while Edinson Cavani proved to be one of the shrewdest free transfers of recent seasons.
The days of marquee signings are gone, with Paul Pogba the last remanence of the Galactico era.
Even the big signings have seen a degree of caution. United waited a year for Sancho’s price to reduce to the £73million they have landed him for. Mourinho wanted Raphael Varane but Real’s asking price was too high. The deal will still hinge on price but it will be significantly lower than three years ago when United were quoted £100million.
“What is especially pleasing is the way this progress has been achieved with a blend of young, homegrown talent and top-class recruits, playing attacking football in the best traditions of Manchester United,” Woodward added.
United will also have known the upheaval that would have come with making a managerial change at this stage.
Zinedine Zidane’s CV lists three Champions League, while Antonio Conte is a proven winner in the Premier League. Both are available and have a list of trophies that will be the envy of Solskjaer. Having come so far with Solskjaer, ripping up to start again would be costly and risky.
Getting to the next level is now what Solskjaer is aiming for. “I have a fantastic coaching team around me, and we are all ready to take that next step on our journey,” he said.
“Manchester United wants to be winning the biggest and best trophies and that’s what we are all striving for. We have improved, both on and off the pitch, and that will continue over the coming seasons.”