Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said winning the Europa League would not be a mark of progress for Manchester United and believes trophies are “an ego thing” for some managers.
The United boss, speaking on the eve of the second leg of their last-16 tie against AC Milan, believes the club’s league position is a better indicator of the progress the team has been making in the last two-and-a-half years.
Solskjaer, who is looking to win his first silverware as United boss, appeared to aim a dig at former Red Devils managerJose Mourinho, who led the club to League Cup and Europa League glory, but saw his side finish sixth in the Premier League.
Speaking about United’s recent trophy drought, Solskjaer said: “I’ve been here for two-and-a-half of those years and, coming in, as I’ve said so many times, I felt a big rebuild had to be made.
“In the league position you see if there’s any progress. For me, that’s always the bread and butter of the season, that you see how capable you are of coping with ups and downs. Any cup competition can give you a trophy but sometimes it’s more of an ego thing for other managers and clubs to finally win something.
“But we need to see progress and, if we perform well enough, the trophies will end up at the club again. It’s not like a trophy will say that ‘we’re back’, no. It’s the gradual progression of being in and around the top of the league and the consistency, and the odd trophies. Sometimes a cup competition can hide the fact you’re still struggling a little bit.”
United have made it to four semi-finals under Solskjaer and failed to make the final on each of those occasions. The last time they picked up any silverware was when they won the Europa League against Ajax in 2017 when Mourinho was manager.
Previously, Solskjaer has said that winning a trophy was the next step in this squad’s development but, ahead of the game in San Siro on Thursday night, the United boss changed his tune and believes that their league position, where they currently sit second, is more of a marker of their progress.
“I think you have to say that, when you see the culture and what happens every day, I feel a lot of improvement in the everyday routine and every day work we do,” he said.
“The boys have taken on board what we want and it’s for others to assess how much of an improvement we’ve made. We are 12 points ahead of what we were at the same time in the league last season.
“Of course we’re aiming to win trophies but, as we’ve said, sometimes a trophy can hide the other factors in what’s happening at the club. In the league position you see if you’re progressing really and sometimes in the cup tournaments you might be lucky or unlucky with draws, games decided on different factors. Of course, we’re aiming to win, that’s why you play football, you’re aiming to win trophies.”
Source : goal.com