Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has challenged his squad to continue their great form and use it to march into the UEFA Europa League and lift the trophy for the second time in the clubs history. United won the trophy for the first time under Jose Mourinho three years ago and could be set to follow the same path under the Norwegian.
United have seemingly already earned a place in the last eight of the competition after a 5-0 thrashing of LASK in the 12 March, with the second leg of the tie just a formality, which will be played at Old Trafford on Wednesday 5 August 2020 with the quarter-finals starting the following week in Germany.
United will be tasked against either Istanbul Basaksehir or FC Copenhagen in a match that will be played in Cologne on Monday 10 August, which could see United continue their run in the competition with a two-legged quarter-final scrapped in favour of just one match. If United progress, they could play all matches in Cologne with the final being played there also.
The draw for the Europa League was completed on Friday afternoon and confirmation when then made that United will face LASK at Old Trafford on the 5 August, with the club travelling to Germany a few days later for the mini-tournament which will end the competition this season. Speaking to the official Manchester United website, Solskjaer said:
“Well, I don’t want to look too far because I just think we should focus on the next game.
“We’re in a position now where we’re just focusing on the league but, of course, when you look at the ties that can come – we could play Wolves, we could meet Ashley [Young] and Romelu [Lukaku, both of Inter Milan] so there’s definitely games to be looking forward to and we just have to keep on our run.
“Hopefully we can go through to the quarter-finals but again, as we said, it’s about finishing off the LASK tie first.”
With United 5-0 up from the first leg of the round of 16 match against Austrian side LASK, Solskjaer stated that he was looking forward to the competition this summer, which could act as a pre-season tournament ahead of the new season, which will probably start some weeks later. It will be like a World Cup or the Euro’s with the squad living together for their duration in the competition. Solskjaer continued by saying:
“I’m looking forward to it. It’s like a mini-tournament. I’ve been involved in a European Championship and a World Cup, so we’ll be living tight together abroad.
“We’ve got some staff here that have been involved in those kinds of tournaments, so we’ll prepare really well and hopefully we can last more than just the one game.
“I look on it the opposite way in that I think we’re playing well and getting to a high level and standard of football, and hopefully we can just carry that on into Europe and into next season.”
In separate news, Bruno Fernandes was voted as the Premier League Player of the Month for June, also getting the award for the Goal of the Month. Speaking about this, Fernandes gave a great statement about what will be on the table for United in the coming weeks, also stating that he wants to win every game he plays, which is great to hear. The Portuguese midfielder said:
“When you play for Manchester United, you know you need to win every game.
“It doesn’t matter who you play against when you play for one of the biggest teams in the world and you can beat everyone.
“We need to focus on beating everyone so, of course for me, the first point is winning against LASK.
“It doesn’t matter if you have five goals away, we need to win again and need to score five goals. It doesn’t matter – football is about winning.
“Winning gives you confidence, so we can’t stop in this moment in thinking about just playing against LASK.
“We’ll see when we’re playing against them, winning the game, and, after, think about Copenhagen or Istanbul. It doesn’t matter who comes.”