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Solskjaer: Title challenge by Man Utd next season would be miraculous

5:10 PM GMT+8 10/05/2019
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Manchester United 300319
The Red Devils boss is not expecting a side that missed out on a top-four finish this term to complete a stunning turnaround in the space of 12 months

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has effectively ruled Manchester United out of the 2019-20 Premier League race by admitting it would be “miraculous” for his side to be involved.

A member of the Red Devils’ 1999 Treble-winning squad returned to Old Trafford in December and was charged with the task of salvaging the current campaign.

Jose Mourinho had been relieved of his duties after seeing a side that finished as runners-up last season suffer another humbling tumble down the standings.

Solskjaer made a positive first impression to rekindle hopes of securing a top-four finish, but United are now destined to be without Champions League football next term.

With that in mind, the man at the helm feels it would be wise to temper expectations regarding a possible return to contention for the grandest of domestic prizes.

Solskjaer, who savoured six title successes in his playing days, told reporters: “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.

“So next season, yes, we’ve got to close that gap. If we manage to get to February, March being close, that’s fantastic but if not this summer will also be about players who can last here for many years.”

Solskjaer added on the competition which now exists in English football, with Liverpool, Tottenham, Arsenal and Chelsea all readying themselves for outings in major European finals: “That says everything about the competitive league we’re in.

“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.”

Solskjaer believes there are positives to take from the 2018-19 campaign, with it always a big ask for the club to recover from where they were to secure elite continental competition.

“It’s a mixture because 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,” he said.

“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.

“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, I’m just thinking about the players, how emotional it will have been for them - they started the season with one manager, finished with another one, they’ve had the highs and lows.

“I’ve been in football a few more years than these and I’ve had those emotions but I’ve looked forward to coming in every day, so have the players.

“Even though sometimes after games you’ve lost you feel that we’ve let ourselves down, overall it’s been an adventure for me so far. I’d absolutely loved it.”