Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at a Europa League press conference

Solskjaer: Europa League won't take precedence yet

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has ruled out prioritising European progress over domestic results as Manchester United prepare to face Partizan Belgrade.

Speaking in his press conference ahead of the match in the Serbian capital, the manager highlighted that we’re still in the early stages of the European competition.

“I think the Europa League is important for us and it’s a tournament that we won when we were last in it,” Ole told reporters. “But, in a cup tournament, you can’t rely on winning it.

“There might be [bad] luck, there might be injuries. The Champions League next season is an aim for us: whether [we qualify] through the top four or the Europa League, it doesn’t matter for us.

“We’re still in [October] and you're talking about us not being in the top four. I think you’re being a little bit early in that assumption.”

Solskjaer poses for fans' selfies in Belgrade.
Solskjaer posed for fans' selfies in Belgrade.

The Reds are in a strong position in Group L, having taken four points from our two games so far – a 1-0 win at home to FC Astana and a 0-0 draw with AZ Alkmaar in the Hague last time out.

After that match in the Netherlands, Solskjaer spoke about the importance of taking three points from home games and avoiding defeat on the road. However, he told the media in Serbia that he is keen to put an end to the Reds’ run of 11 away games in all competitions without a win.

“It’s a question we’ve asked ourselves,” the Norwegian admitted, when asked about the reasons behind our away form.

“After I came in, we won nine away games on the bounce, so it’s an issue that we need to sort out as soon as possible.

“We’ve got four away games now on the trot, so hopefully that statistic will turn.”

The manager is fully aware of the threats that Partizan Belgrade, nicknamed ‘The Steamroller’, could pose United. He revealed he’d already watch Savo Milosevic’s side play this season and said he had in-depth knowledge about one player in particular.

“Of course, I’ve watched many games in the lead up here and I also watched them when they played Molde, my old team,” said Ole. “It was a game that I was following very closely.

Zoran Tosic
Ole knows all about Zoran Tosic, having coached him for United's Reserves.

“Zoran [Tosic], of course, I had him in the reserves at Man United many times.

“He’s a fantastic boy with a great left foot, a great work ethic and it’ll be great to meet Zoran tomorrow. Hopefully we can stop his left foot because that is of the best quality!”

Partizan Stadium
Partizan Stadium, the venue for our third Europa League game of 2019/20.

Partizan top the group by virtue of goals scored, and recorded an impressive 2-1 win over Astana in Kazakhstan last time out, with on-loan Roma forward Umar Sadiq netting both strikes.

“We’ve seen the team and prepared our team against them,” Solskjaer concluded.

“They’re a team with some pace, a big, strong striker and there’s some talent in there - two or three really talented players.”

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