It is a sign of how far Manchester United have fallen that the 2020/21 season is being regarded as a success at Old Trafford, despite the possibility of another trophyless season. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will attempt to win his first piece of silverware as United manager in Wednesday’s Europa League final against Villarreal.
Having helped United secure successive top-four finishes for the first time since Alex Ferguson retired after the last of the club’s Premier League titles in 2013, Solskjaer hopes to now end their four-year wait for silverware in Gdansk.
“You always feel pressure to win things at Manchester United. Progress in the league shows progress. The next step is to win trophies and challenge in the Premier League as well,” he said.
“Winning a trophy can give you belief but it can make you hungry for more. When you win things you just want to win more, you want to feel that sensation again of lifting trophies.
“I know my players will believe they can win it and that we can move on to better things, but when you get that taste of the first one, that’s a big step in the right direction.”
Solskjaer’s first four semi-finals as United boss ended in defeat, including a 2-1 loss to eventual champions Sevilla in last season’s remodelled Europa League.
United crashed out in the Champions League group stage this term despite winning three of their first four games, heaping pressure on Solskjaer as rumours swirled about a possible move for Mauricio Pochettino.
A return of 10 points from nine matches saw United off to their worst league start since 1986-87, but, remarkably, Solskjaer’s side became just the fourth to go through an English top-flight campaign undefeated away from home.
Should they fail against Villarreal however, the age-old questions will resurface, even if second in the Premier League and a trip to the final of Europe’s inferior competition is a reason to celebrated in the red half of Manchester these days.