Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in Astana.

Solskjaer: Cups are the clearest route to glory

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says Manchester United have a ‘realistic’ chance of claiming silverware via the cup competitions this season.

United face Astana in Kazakhstan on Thursday having already secured qualification to the last 32 of the Europa League, and Ole sees no reason why we can’t go all the way and lift the trophy for a second time.

“I think the cup tournaments are realistic for us to challenge for trophies and to win something,” Ole told reporters at the Astana Arena.

“Of course, we’ve taken these games seriously. In the league, we’re too far behind the top and so it’s a chance for us to win something and we’re going to give our all.”

With Premier League games against Aston Villa, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City on the horizon, the Norwegian has taken a youthful squad to Nur-Sultan, with three players already confirmed as being in line to make their first-team debuts.

It’s the first time the Reds have ever ventured to Kazakhstan, and Ole said his first impressions of the country were positive, even considering the sub-zero temperatures which mean the match will be played indoors, on an artificial surface.

“It’s fantastic. We just arrived this morning your time [Nur-Sultan is six hours ahead of GMT] and we’ve had a good sleep,” the manager added.

“I’ve been walking around a little bit and in weather that makes me feel like I’m at home.”

Ole appeared at the press conference alongside goalkeeper Lee Grant, who is set to appear from the start for the first time since joining the Reds in the summer of 2018.

When a reporter asked what sort of game we should expect, Solskjaer said he hoped his inexperienced side would put on a show.

“I think this is going to be a very even and tight game,” he predicted. “Yes, we know we have some young players and if they’re going to learn to play these European games, this is a great start for them. I’m not expecting them to go there and dominate but I’m expecting them to go out and challenge against them. I think if we went with every first-team player we’d maybe have a better chance to win the game, but this is the right challenge for these boys now. I think it’s going to be a good game of football.

“Hopefully, my youngsters can create chances and score goals, and that Lee can keep it tight because so far we’ve had a great record defensively.”

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