Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer knows fully well that winning a first trophy as manager of the Old Trafford club could become something special. Signing for the club in the summer of 1996, the Norwegian won the Premier League in his debut season, which was the first of six Premier League titles won as a player at the club. The striker also won two FA Cups and the UEFA Champions League as a player in what was a special career for the Norwegian at the Theatre of Dreams.
Solskjaer is now chasing his first trophy as a manager at the club, missing out on the Emirates FA Cup after losing to Chelsea in the semi-final stages of the competition, However, in the UEFA Europa League, United could have the advantage in knowing that they have already qualified for the UEFA Champions League next season, so have nothing other than pride in their pursuit of winning the trophy for the second time in the clubs history, winning in under Jose Mourinho’s reign in the 2016/17 season. Speaking to The Mirror on the importance of winning his first trophy, he said:
“It’s massive. You can see when Sir Alex won the Premier League for the first time, that was the start of the Premier League era.
“When I won my first trophy as a player, it made me hungrier. You saw the highs of it and how much it meant to everyone.
“As a coach, I won the league with Molde, the first time for the club in its 100-year history, and since then they’ve won it four times in eight or nine years.
“We’re four games away. The team has developed throughout the whole season. We’re delighted with finishing third in the Premier League, but the next step for this team is getting our hands on a trophy.
“We’ve been to two semi-finals this season, in the Carabao Cup and FA Cup, and now we want to win something.”
If United did not achieve a third-placed finish in the Premier League this season, they would have needed to win the Europa League just to reach the Champions League next season, so with that inevitability off the table, personal and club pride will be on show. United will face Austrian side Linzer ASK at Old Trafford on Wednesday evening, a 5-0 victory in the reverse fixture means that this match will be just a formality, which could see Solskjaer rest many of his stars ready for the latter stages.
On the 12 March, the match was the first to be played behind closed doors for United with a trip to Tottenham Hotspur on the cards a few days later, in which time the season was suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic. Odion Ighalo, Daniel James, Juan Mata, Mason Greenwood and Andreas Pereira all scored in the match. Solskjaer can rest many big names giving United time to get ready for the latter stages, starting on Tuesday next week. The club will want to go all the way to the final on the 21 August, which is great to see. Solskjaer concluded by saying:
“The players want to play, they don’t want the break. They’re bothering me all the time, that they want to play.
“Hopefully, if we go through to the end of the tournament, we can get some help and start (the new season) a bit later. But it is what it is, it’s been a special year for the whole world.
“I’ll look after the players, we’ll give the players time off to recharge, maybe a couple of weeks. These boys look after themselves anyway in the breaks they have.
“I’ve always been impressed how they look when they come back, same now after lockdown, where we’ve been one of the fittest teams.”
Written by John Walker