Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: Premier League can do more to help English teams in Europe

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says Villarreal’s game at the weekend being moved ahead of the Europa League final is the kind of thing the Premier League should be considering.

United face the Spanish outfit in the final in Gdansk on Wednesday.

While Villarreal’s final LaLiga match of the season, at Real Madrid, was moved from Sunday to Saturday, United concluded their league campaign by facing Wolves away on Sunday.

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Manchester United – Premier League – Molineux Stadium
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (left) during the Premier League match at the Molineux Stadium, Wolverhampton. Picture date: Sunday May 23, 2021.

The contest at Molineux had relatively little riding on it in terms of league position, with United already guaranteed to finish second and Wolves unable to rise higher than they were, in 12th.

Solskjaer, who made 10 changes to his starting line-up for the 2-1 win, was asked after the game if United had spoken to the Premier League about getting it rescheduled.

And he said: “We didn’t ask the Premier League, no, but of course whenever they can help their own teams we’d appreciate that.

“If we played (on Saturday) we probably would have played a different team. I’m pleased we didn’t because we won the game.

“But fair play to La Liga moving seven games just for Villarreal to have another day’s preparation and to make it fair in the league, because they could have played (on Sunday) and maybe rested everyone and it could have been a different result (in the title race), you never know what that would have changed.

“Good by them, and we have to think about it ourselves, definitely. Whenever we can help our own teams we need to help them.”

Triumphing on Wednesday would bring the first trophy of Solskjaer’s reign as United manager, which began in December 2018.

And the Norwegian said: “You always feel pressure at Man United to win things, win trophies. That’s one of the steps.

Solskjaer has been in charge at United since December 2018 (Nick Potts/PA).
Solskjaer has been in charge at United since December 2018 (Nick Potts/PA).

“I’ve said it before – sometimes a trophy can hide other imperfections. I think the progress in the league (United finished sixth in 2018-19, then third last season), that we’ve been in loads of semi-finals, I think it shows progress, and all my discussions with the club and dialogue, we see that we have improved.

“But the next step for this team is to win trophies and then hopefully challenge (to be) the champion in the Premier League as well.”

Solskjaer, whose men finished 12 points behind league champions Manchester City, added with regard to winning on Wednesday: “It can give belief, of course, but it can also give hunger 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.”

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After Anthony Elanga’s opener for the visitors was cancelled out by Nelson Semedo, a Juan Mata penalty in first-half stoppage time proved the winner as United completed their league campaign undefeated away from home.

Having converted the spot-kick, Mata pointed to the sky and blew a kiss, and the Spaniard said the goal was for his mother Marta Garcia, who recently died.

Mata said in quotes on United’s official website: “I have had the most difficult season in my life, for sure. I wanted to score for my mother and, thankfully, I did it.

“So this goal, and every goal that I score from now on, is going to be for her.”