Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insisted Manchester United are “getting closer” to winning trophies after they fell agonisingly short of winning the Europa League in Gdansk on Wednesday night.
David de Gea failed to save any of Villarreal’s 11 penalties before missing from the spot himself as United suffered heartbreak in a dramatic shootout. The result capped a season of highs and lows as United finished second in the Premier League, well shy of winners Manchester City.
Asked if his team was ready to win trophies next season, Solskjaer said: “We’re getting closer and closer and better. We were one kick away today from having a trophy and a good night, but we’ve got to have the desire to come back next year and make sure we improve, get better. The only way to get the margins on your side is to work harder and better.”
But asked further if the current campaign could be regarded as successful, he said simply: “No.”
Solskjaer told BT Sport his players were “quiet” as they digested defeat.
“It’s a disappointed dressing room,” he said. “That’s football for you. Sometimes it’s decided on one kick, that’s the difference between winning and losing sometimes. We’ve got to learn from that one, got to not savour this feeling, but taste this feeling and make sure you don’t get it again.”
Speaking in the studio after the match, former United defender Rio Ferdinand said the season showed positive signs, but ultimately the team failed in their objective.
“If you look at it as a whole, as a season, they’ve improved from where they were last season,” Ferdinand said. “You can see the trajectory is going in the right direction slowly but surely. This was an opportunity to form part of a winning culture at the football club and that was the acid test tonight and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his team failed. You have to put it bluntly, it’s a fact.
“You’re trying to create a winning culture, you’re trying to create an environment where you can see the players are becoming that unit and that team that are accustomed to playing in these situations. They didn’t get the job done. You get to a final, you’re there to win it and that’s it. If you don’t, to be brutal about it, it is a failure in that sense.”
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