Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford defiantly stated after the club’s Europa League final defeat to Villarreal that the players and manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer refuse to give up and has vowed that second place in any competition means ‘nothing’ and isn’t good enough.
Hoping to win a first trophy since 2017, United lost 11-10 on penalties to Villarreal in a tense shootout in Gdansk after 120 minutes of cagey action produced a 1-1 stalemate.
Rashford insisted United do have ‘everything’ to compete at the highest level and be successful and is adamant that the mentality in the squad is right because of the disappointment felt after losing the final and the sacrifice that players have put their bodies through all season.
“All I can say is the team will not give up. There is not chance that the team gives up. The manager will not give up, he won’t allow us to give up, and we will come next season with a bigger desire,” a clearly emotional and defiant Rashford told BT Sport.
“People say a lot about Manchester United...’they’re going downhill, blah, blah, blah, blah’. For me, the club, the desire, the hunger, the talent, the ability, the squad…we have everything to compete at the highest level. We just have to show it to the world and show to ourselves why we belong in the top places, why we belong in finals like this, why we need to be winning finals like this.”
Second place behind Manchester City this season matched United’s highest Premier League finish since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013, while the Europa League final was the first final of the Solskjaer era after four previous semi-final eliminations across all competitions.
But Rashford says it isn’t worth anything if United aren’t winning.
“In the league we finished second. Second counts for nothing. Manchester City win the league, we finish second, it doesn’t mean anything. Villarreal win the Europa League, we finish second, for us it is nothing,” the 23-year-old explained.
“There’s one winner and there’s one loser and we lost. We have to find out why and make sure that next time we don’t lose.
“To win big trophies you have to show sacrifice. I could walk you into the dressing room and show you five, six, seven players and me as well, who’ve had injuries from September, the beginning of the season. We all stay together as a unit and we fight to be successful for the club. This year it didn’t happen, but next year...
“When Ole came in there was a process and the players believe in this process. This isn’t the end of the process. Part of the process is having ups and having downs and we’ve had plenty of ups and downs every single season. Just because we’ve lost [the final], I promise the fans we won’t give up.”