Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admits title challenge would be a 'miracle'

United will see one of their great rivals - either Manchester City or Liverpool - crowned champions this weekend

Mark Critchley
Northern Football Correspondent
@mjcritchley
Friday 10 May 2019 12:34
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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer responds to Manchester United's draw against Huddersfield

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes it would be “miraculous” if Manchester United challenge for the Premier League title next season.

United will see one of their great rivals - either Manchester City or Liverpool - crowned champions this weekend, with both sides still in contention going into the final day.

Solskjaer’s side, meanwhile, sit 29 points off the pace with no hope of a top-four finish and a place in next season’s Champions League.

The gap between United and their north-west rivals has rarely been wider and Solskjaer said on Friday that it is unlikely to be bridged in the space of a single season.

“I think I’ve been quite honest that challenging for the title next year would be a miraculous season because we’re so far behind at the moment points-wise,” he said. “Next season, yes, we’ve got to close that gap.”

Solskjaer won 14 of his first 17 games in charge as caretaker manager, after replacing Jose Mourinho in December, but United’s form has turned since his permanent appointment.

A run of seven defeats and just two wins in 11 games has left United facing a sixth-place finish and a season of Europa League football.

“We were so far behind when we came in before Christmas, I could sense the positivity, when you start winning games. It was fantastic to be in that group.

“That showed us the potential and quality in the players. Of course we didn’t have the consistency, but it’s a competition here now.

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“The Premier League is the most competitive league in the world and we just fell that short of what would be a miraculous target of fourth back in December. It’s been a mixed bag for me but I can handle it.”

United are the only member of the Premier League ‘top six’ whose season will end on Sunday, with the other five all having another trophy to play for.

City will play against Watford in the FA Cup final a week on Saturday, while Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur will contest the Champions League final on 1 June.

Chelsea and Arsenal will also meet each other in the final of the Europa League, having booked their places in the Baku showpiece on Thursday night.

“That says everything about the competitive league we’re in,” Solskjaer said. “It’s not like when I used to play, that it was us or Arsenal that were going to win the league, then Chelsea came.

“Now it’s a very competitive competition and we’re challenging against the best teams in the world for these trophies and of course that tells us that it’s going to be a great challenge.

“We want to get back to where we used to be. We know as a club, staff, the players know that next season we’ve got a great challenge ahead.

“It’s going to be important we come together from the first day, pre-season is going to be important.”

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