Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has said he is ‘confident’ his team will beat Villarreal on Wednesday night to the lift the Europa League trophy, but insists any success is not about him or his ego.
This is the first final United have reached since Solskjaer was first appointed at the end of 2018, having fallen at the semi-final stage on four other occasions during that time. It would also be a first trophy since winning the same competition in 2017 should they be successful.
“Quietly confident, as I’ve always said. Trusting the players,” Solskjaer commented, via ManUtd.com, as he weighed up United’s chances of victory.
“These players are ready for this and that’s the main thing. I’ve seen in them something growing inside of them, more and more confident, more and more robust and resilient to setbacks. As a group, I’m confident that we’re ready for this now.”
Solskjaer said it hadn’t even crossed his mind that the final in Gdansk falls on the very same date – 26 May – as his own crowning achievement as his player, 22 years on from the 1999 Champions League final when his outstretched boot completed the third leg of the historic treble.
“I don't even think about that. Always think forward, always focus on making the right decision for the club, the players and this team,” he said.
“I never think of my own CV, definitely not. That's never been on my mind at all.”
Solskjaer also said ahead of the final that he is inspired by what Sir Alex Ferguson, who has travelled to Poland for the game, achieved for the club.
“He flew out with us and some of the players and staff went to see his documentary. I sat there thinking about what he’s done for the club,” the United boss is quoted as saying by the Daily Mirror.
"He’s a special man. Just to have him around when we eat in the restaurant, I’m sure the players, if they're wondering about something, can ask him. He’s always available for a chat because this is the club that's in his heart.
“I hope he enjoys it as well because I owe most of my career to him and this club.”
Harry Maguire will be a big loss to United. The captain hasn’t been fully ruled out just yet, but his absence from the last training session on Tuesday evening was telling. Solskjaer must also solve a selection dilemma that is likely to force him to leave one of Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood on the bench.