GDANSK, Poland (Reuters) – Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hopes that winning the Europa League would be the start of “something more” for the club.
United take on Spanish side Villarreal in Wednesday’s final in Gdansk, looking to win their first trophy since a Europa League success under Jose Mourinho in 2017.
Having finished second in the Premier League this term – their highest finish in the Norwegian’s three seasons in charge – Solskjaer is aiming even higher as he looks to restore United to their former glories.
“These are big nights for us, it might be the stepping stone for something better to come,” Solskjaer told a news conference on Tuesday.
“It is a bright future for this team, a young team, it’s a team we’ve rebuilt over the last few years. Hopefully, this is the start of something more.
“When players sign to play for Man United, they sign to win trophies. They accept the challenge of being the best, because this is the best club in the world so that’s the pleasure of the pressure of Man United.”
Former manager Alex Ferguson, who won 13 Premier League titles and two Champions Leagues during his United tenure, travelled with the team to Poland.
Solskjaer is looking to lead United to glory 22 years to the day since his winner in the Champions League final against Bayern Munich completed an historic treble under Ferguson, and the Norwegian welcomed the presence of the club’s most successful coach in Poland.
“He’s a special man and he’s like an encyclopaedia of football, even though I got him on a quiz question yesterday,” Solskjaer added. “One of the players got the answer before him, I’m sure he’s not happy at that.
“Just to have him around when we eat, if the players wonder about something they can ask him, he’s always available for a chat because this is the club of his heart.
“I hope he enjoys tomorrow night because I owe most of my career to him and this club.”
However, Solskjaer remained tight-lipped on captain Harry Maguire’s fitness. The 28-year-old sustained ankle ligament damage at Aston Villa 16 days ago and was using crutches until last week.
“We’ve prepared well,” Solskjaer said. “Anthony (Martial) didn’t make it, Phil (Jones) of course didn’t make it and Harry is just going to jog up and down the sideline (in training on Tuesday).
“He’ll probably try to join in (training) a little.”
(Reporting by Peter Hall; Editing by Toby Davis)