What Ole thinks will inspire his players on Sunday
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes his Manchester United players will be inspired by our other cup semi-finals from this season when the Reds take on Sevilla in the last four of the Europa League on Sunday night.
The Reds have reached the latter stages of every cup competition we’ve been involved in this term, but, ultimately, proceedings ended in disappointment in both the Carabao Cup and FA Cup after semi-final defeats to Manchester City and Chelsea respectively.
Ole is delighted to see his side reach another last-four tie, but insists only winning competitions will do and he hopes the Reds will take motivation from the hurt experienced during our other cup campaigns.
“We’ve had two semi-finals before but we want to go to the next step,” the boss insisted during an interview with MUTV’s Stewart Gardner. “Reaching semi-finals is a good effort, decent, but it’s not good enough for Man United.
“The team has been developing and getting more and more hungry, and let’s make sure that hurt that we felt in the two other cups we went out of can maybe be the marginal difference, in that we want it more than them.
“When I lose a game or lose at something you don’t want that feeling again so I would think they’re ready for Sunday.”
The United boss also stressed the importance of mental strength at these points in tournaments, insisting that can often be the difference between glory and failure.
“Physically we’re fine, all the teams have played many games anyway. Now it’s about who is mentally strongest,” he explained. “You can look at the opponent and know they’re tired but you want them feeling more tired than you.
“You’ve got to be strong mentally, concentrated and focused, and any of these games can be, and will be, decided on a marginal decision or finishing. We’ve just got to keep them [the players] focused with the right attitude.”
Of course, in normal circumstances Sunday’s semi-final tie would be a two-legged affair with home and away matches. But such is the state of the world at present due to coronavirus, the Europa League has been condensed into a one-legged tournament in Germany and Ole maintains it’s just something we have to deal with.
“It’s like a European Championships or a World Cup, you don’t get a second chance and you just know you have to leave everything on that pitch which for me is fine,” he added. “It’s a different set-up to what we’re used to, we’re used to home and away, but for me this is the best scenario so that we can finish this tournament.”
The United boss also took time to praise the fans, some of which have made the journey to Cologne to show their support for the Reds.
“It’s brilliant. When we drove to the game on Monday night there were Man United fans with flags which is great for us,” he enthused. “We know they’re here with us in spirit and they’re a big, big part of this.”