Solskjaer: The final's not about me
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has played down the effect winning the Europa League would have on his own record.
The Norwegian is hunting his first piece of silverware since coming back to Old Trafford as boss in December 2018 and this is his maiden final with the Reds after four straight semi-final defeats.
But, as he sees his squad continue to improve, he feels that the game in Gdansk against Villarreal is more about his group of players taking the next step in their journey, rather than personal glory.
“It’s not about me. I’ve got enough self-belief, whatever circumstances I’ve been in,” Solskjaer told reporters at his press conference prior to the final.
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“[I’m] Quietly confident, as I’ve always said. Trusting the players. 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.”
The date of tomorrow’s game – 26 May – has received plenty of attention, coming 22 years after the night in Barcelona which has gone down as one of the most momentous in United’s history.
Solskjaer’s goal at the Nou Camp completed an unprecedented Treble on the 90th anniversary of Sir Matt Busby’s birth, but it’s 2021 and not 1999 which is foremost on the Norwegian's mind right now.
“No, I don't even think about that,” he added. “Always think forward, always focus on making the right decision for the club, the players and this team.
“I never think of my own CV, definitely not. That's never been on my mind at all.”
He then went on to discuss the team's preparations and how he addresses the difficult task of selecting his XI to take on the Yellow Submarine.
“I need to pick players that deserve to play and you need to make sure the team is ready. The coaches have been absolutely brilliant and the players have been ready for it.
“Just sit back and relax and, if you have to make decisions tomorrow, you have to do it. If it's been 10 minutes and Luke [Shaw]'s sleeping on the other side, that's his problem!”
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United, hoping to add a second Europa League trophy to our cabinet, have been labelled favourites going into the game, as Villarreal are competing in their inaugural major final.
And while Solskjaer says his side will feel like victory should be ours, Unai Emery's outfit will also fancy their chances in a one-off game, having gone through the competition unbeaten so far.
“Every player who goes into a final has the expectation and pressure to win.
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“You have to prepare to win, we plan to win, we expect to win but I'm sure Unai feels the same with his team and his players.
“That’s no different. It's been a long qualification to get here and it's 50-50 when you get to a final. I feel, as I've said so many times now, confident that we are ready for this.
“In a final, anything can happen, you can concede a goal in the first minute, you can get an injury, get someone sent off, so we just have to be ready for anything.
“That's the thing with a final, it's decided there and then.”