Solskjaer won't take Europa League lightly

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (Getty Images)
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (Getty Images)

Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is determined to take the Red Devils as far as possible in the Europa League this season, according to Manchester United insiders.

Solskjaer was hoping to steer United back to the Champions League last season after stepping in to replace Jose Mourinho in late December.

The early signs of his tenure suggested a top-four spot could be in reach after winning his opening six Premier League games, while they went unbeaten through 12 matches in the league.

But, United were unable to sustain that form long-term and they ended 2018-19 with just one victory from their final seven matches.

They finished the term in sixth place, five points adrift of Tottenham in fourth, and a spot in the Europa League was confirmed.

The Old Trafford boss knows his paymasters are bitterly disappointed to have failed to qualify for this season's Champions League and he is keen to impress by enjoying a strong run in the secondary competition.

He got a brief taste of Europe from the dugout last season as he oversaw a dramatic victory over Paris Saint-Germain but they were comfortably beaten 4-0 by Barcelona in the quarter-finals.

Much is certainly made of the amount of games and travelling involved before a team can go on to lift the actual Europa League trophy, giving plenty of clubs pause for thought on the domestic front.

Many have tried and failed in the past to team up a Europa League campaign with consistent form domestically.

Playing Thursdays in the European competition, sometimes with lengthy trips to the far reaches of Europe, has proven to be disruptive in the past.

However, Solskjaer and his United bosses certainly have the competition high up on their list of priorities, with automatic Champions League qualification as the ultimate prize.

Mourinho led United to Europa glory back in 2017 to steer the club back into the Champions League after sacrificing their form in the league.

The Red Devils finished sixth in the Premier League as they went on to beat a young Ajax side in the Europa Final.

It was obviously a huge gamble but one that paid off for the Portuguese to ensure they were back at the top table in terms of Europe.

English sides have fared well in the competition over recent years with Chelsea beating rivals Arsenal in last season's final.

Solskjaer is understood to feel that putting out strong line-ups in Europe this season can have a two-fold effect – giving United the best chance of being ultimately successful in the competition and also his team maintaining focus on the home front.

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