Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola wished Ole Gunnar Solskjaer well for the future but indicated the Norwegian’s sacking came as no surprise.
It was announced on Sunday that Manchester United had officially parted company with Solskjaer, one month shy of what would have been his three-year anniversary as manager of the club.
Red Devils chiefs acted on the back of Saturday’s humiliating 4-1 loss to Watford, which leaves the club eighth in the Premier League and 12 points behind leaders Chelsea.
The defeat at Vicarage Road was United’s fifth in seven top-flight matches, a dire run that includes a 2-0 reverse at home to City a little over two weeks ago.
Given the often brutal nature of football, Guardiola claimed he could easily have been the manager to have been sacked had City lost that recent meeting with rivals United.
“I wish him all the best, it was a pleasure to face him,” the Catalan coach said following Sunday’s 3-0 win over Everton.
“He beat me more than I wanted, but he knows when you’re in charge of a team like United you have to win otherwise you’re in trouble.
“I’m sitting here because we won, otherwise it would be another person sitting here. I hope one day we can see each other again. I wish him all the best.”
City’s comfortable win over Everton, coming on the back of their victory at Old Trafford a fortnight ago, moved the reigning champions above Liverpool and back within three points of leaders Chelsea.
Raheem Sterling was handed just a fourth league start of the season for what was his 300th Premier League appearance, making him the fourth-youngest player to reach the milestone at the age of 26 years and 348 days.
The former Liverpool winger opened the scoring with a first-time strike after being picked out by a sublime outside-of-the-boot pass by Joao Cancelo, having early won a penalty that was overturned following a lengthy VAR check.
That was Sterling’s first league goal since August and Guardiola is hopeful it will boost the England international’s confidence.
“He needed that and in the first half he was an important player,” Guardiola said. “He scored a brilliant goal, from an exceptional pass from Joao again.
“He played a good game in what could have been a difficult one, because they defended really well.”
With a Champions League tie against Paris Saint-Germain to come on Wednesday, Guardiola handed Cole Palmer a full Premier League debut against Everton.
The academy product played in a false nine position and led the way for the number of shots (four), while nobody played more than his two key passes.
“The striker position is the most difficult but as the game went on he felt more comfortable,” Guardiola said.
“It was a good performance. He now already has 90 minutes in the Premier League in his mind. It is an incredible investment for the future.”
Rodri added to Sterling’s opener with a remarkable 25-yard drive and Bernardo Silva capped City’s eighth straight win against Everton with a simple finish late on.
“It was a really good win. We’re very pleased,” Guardiola added. “The last times we played against Rafa Benitez at Newcastle, we always struggled.
“We were better today, we conceded few chances and were patient.”