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Solskjaer ‘will always be a legend’, Manchester United fans say

It was the news many Manchester United fans knew was coming – but that doesn’t make it any easier.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was sacked as manager after Saturday’s 4-1 defeat at Watford and a dreadful run of results for the club.

It’s not just any football manager being shown the door though. The Norwegian boss holds a special place in the hearts of many fans.

“It feels like a break-up, you feel like crying. You don’t want it to happen but it’s for the best,” lifelong United fan Natalie Burrell tells Radio 1 Newsbeat.

For Natalie, a 29-year-old football YouTuber, Solskjaer’s legacy will forever be linked to the “greatest day as a Man United fan”.

That’s winning a historic treble of the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup in 1999 – with Solskjaer’s last minute winner securing United’s place in history.

“Those memories will always come to mind, he’s the baby-faced assassin. He’s a legend of this club we love him,” Natalie says.

17-year-old Charlie Wallwork hadn’t even been born when Solskjaer struck that winner, but his dad was in the stadium in Barcelona.

Charlie, who’s grown up supporting United with his dad, says winning the treble was “a massive part” of the club’s history – “and Ole really has contributed to that”.

It’s been pretty doom and gloom for the club in the past few months, but both Natalie and Charlie agree he’s created memorable moments as manager too.

Natalie was in Paris to see Marcus Rashford score a late penalty to beat PSG in 2019, in a game where everyone had written United off.

It was a moment of joy for Charlie, too.

“I’ve got a 10-second video of me and my dad just screaming after we scored that winner,” he says.

“It was like winning the lottery almost.”

Natalie Burrell is gutted but accepts the sacking is "for the best" (Picture by Natalie Burrell)
Natalie Burrell is gutted but accepts the sacking is “for the best” (Picture by Natalie Burrell)

Solskjaer became the sixth Premier League manager to be sacked this season. But despite the emotion, Natalie says it’s the right call.

“I think he had too much faith in certain players and they didn’t perform for him,” she says.

“It’s about managing big-name players and dropping one of them when they’re not playing well enough, rather than trying to fit them all in.”

Charlie says if managers don’t deliver results it’s the unfortunate reality that they can lose their jobs.

“That’s what has to happen for the betterment of Manchester United,” he adds.

Beyond being a legendary player and a manager who tried his best, it’s Solskjaer’s personality that stands out most for Natalie and Charlie.

Natalie has met him a few times and he always agrees to selfies, “no matter what”, she says.

“He’s so nice, so loving of the fans.”

Charlie adds that he’s “a very kind man” who “always had a smile on his face even with the criticism”.

Superfan Luke Sellers had a “nice embrace” with Solskjaer when he stopped to say hello to fans near the club’s training ground in Carrington, after he was sacked.

Luke, 23, tells Newsbeat he asked his hero to sign a tattoo of him on his leg before going in for the hug.

“I think we both needed it to be honest, it was an emotional day.” BBC News