Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on Man Utd's Champions League Hopes, Rotation & How They've Improved

Ross Kennerley
Avoiding defeat against Leicester will secure Manchester United Champions League football
Avoiding defeat against Leicester will secure Manchester United Champions League football / Pool/Getty Images
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There is no denying that Manchester United have made distinct improvements in recent months. From scrapping for a top six spot to being within touching distance of a Champions League berth, there is genuine cause for optimism at Old Trafford.

However, despite the upturn in performances, their hopes of qualifying for elite European competition will come down to the final round of league fixtures.

A tricky trip away to Leicester awaits United, who know avoiding defeat at the King Power Stadium will ensure they finish in the top four places for the first time in two years.

Ahead of Sunday's Premier League showdown, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer addressed the media in his press conference to discuss the challenges facing his side, as well as what has been key to their improvements of late.


On the Leicester Game & Securing a Top Four Finish

It's set to be a tense affair against the Foxes with both clubs knowing their fate rests in their own hands, and while a draw will do for United, Solskjaer insisted his side will head into the game in search of a victory.

"We’re looking forward to the game, we've given ourselves a good chance of Champions League next year but we can’t go in thinking about the outcome, we’ve just got to perform at a high enough level and get result," the Norwegian said.

"We want to dominate the game, we wanted to get to this position to go to Leicester and beat them. We want to go there and try and win the game.

"One lapse of concentration can hurt you. We’re going to go into it with a strong frame of mind. We have one more game this season, this is a journey for this team, this is one extra step on the journey for this team."


What Has Been Key to His Side's Improvements

While much of United's vastly improved displays can be linked to the addition of Bruno Fernandes, Solskjaer was key to mention on overall shift of attitude and commitment as the reasons why his side are beginning to gel.

Bruno Fernandes has come into the side and lifted the overall quality in the squad
Bruno Fernandes has come into the side and lifted the overall quality in the squad / Pool/Getty Images

"It’s been many different reasons for the upturn but it’s been down to the work, step by step belief and the boys have worked really hard, the fitness levels, the mental robustness is so much better than last season," he added.

"We’ve come a long way mentally, shown more robustness, resilience, lost the first goal in games, we’ve also shown the heights when everything’s flowing, I’m delighted with how the development looks.

"When you play football games and you win, you get good results. It’s enjoyable and you build momentum and going, then you find one or two bumps along the way, it's not going to go in one straight linear trajectory.

"Having been so far behind with the restart we had to go for it, go for goals, go for points and it’s been a great effort by everyone to get into this position with one game to go. If you look at that game against Burnley we should have won that one, that’s football and the Premier League. The belief, confidence, change of atmosphere, Bruno coming in has made a massive difference."


On Tiredness & Giving His Side a Break

Mason Greenwood scored the equaliser against West Ham last time out
Mason Greenwood scored the equaliser against West Ham last time out / Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

A noticeable trait of this new-look United side has been the pace with which they pass the ball around in the final third. Far more creative and fluid attacking phases have helped them secure the points needed to move up the table, but fatigue has started to creep into their matches and Solskjaer revealed his side need a break from playing after the league is wrapped up.

He concluded: "When the last game of the season is in front of you you expect any players to have bruises, aches, tiredness. Even though this season has been different it’s been a draining one for everyone.

"We’ve got LASK 5-0 lead so don’t have to go in that game chasing normally as you would two or three goal win. A few days off definitely.We’ll give some time off [before LASK], they need mental and physical time away from the place, effort has been fantastic. Recharge batteries for a few days then go again.

"Axel [Tuanzebe] and Phil [Jones] are out but the others I’ll give time to prove their fitness."


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