Football

Winning Europa League will mark Manchester United’s progress: Ole

Manager Solskjaer gunning for glory after third-placed EPL finish

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said the next step in his side's development would be securing a trophy, as they look to cap off a promising season by winning the Europa League.

United, who finished third in the English Premier League, hold a 5-0 lead over Austrian side LASK Linz heading into the second leg of their last-16 tie which will be played without fans at Old Trafford tomorrow morning (Singapore time).

ROUND OF 16, 2ND LEG
MAN UNITED LASK LINZ

"We're four games away from winning a trophy," Solskjaer told a news conference yesterday.

"The team have developed all through the season, we're delighted with finishing third (in the league), but the next step is winning a trophy.

"The players want to play, they don't want a break. It's not easy to say 'no, you're resting.' I hope the players need to win like I do.

"For me, we go into the tournament with players wanting to win and we won't be giving them a break."

United will be without defenders Axel Tuanzebe and Luke Shaw for the match, but midfielder Jesse Lingard, who scored his first EPL goal in 18 months in their final game - a 2-0 win over Leicester City - will start.

"Axel started getting niggles and had to have an operation in his foot. He'll be back early September. Same with Luke, he should be ready for when the (2020-21) league season starts," Solskjaer added.

"Jesse will be starting tomorrow, but the team won't be too different from LASK in March."

Solskjaer said he was delighted with the performance of defender Chris Smalling, who returned to the club after a season-long loan spell at Serie A side AS Roma.

"Chris has shown over his career at United how valuable he is. This season was about him being a regular. Chris has shown this season that he will be valuable," the Norwegian said.

But Solskjaer refused to rule out a move for a centre-back in the transfer window, after signing Harry Maguire for a world record £80 million (S$144m) last year.

"We're always looking to improve the team and the squad," he said in response to a question on a centre-back.

"We've been very solid at the back. Sometimes you might be exposed (when a player gets) in behind when you're pressing as high as we have done." - REUTERS

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