Europa League Final: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer talks up ‘good omens’ before Manchester United’s date with destiny

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 (Manchester United via Getty Imag)
(Manchester United via Getty Imag)

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is not a superstitious manager, but even he can’t escape the feeling that fate is on Manchester United’s side as they prepare to take on Villarreal in the Europa League Final.

The date, May 26, means a lot to him and the club. It is Solskjaer’s wedding anniversary, while it is also the birthday of his wife and that of legendary Manchester United manager Sir Matt Busby.

Solskjaer has a long way to go to emulate the great Sir Matt, but on Wednesday night he can at least take a step forward by winning his first trophy as manager of Manchester United.

“My wife’s birthday is on the 26th; we got married on the 26th, so I have to believe in destiny,” he said.

“It’s a special number for us, for my family as well. I’ve got to take this as a good omen. I’m not very superstitious, but it looks like a good sign.”

May 26 is also synonymous with Manchester United as it was on that very day back in 1999 that they came back from the brink to beat Bayern Munich and win the Champions League.

It was, of course, Solskjaer who famously came off the bench to score the winning goal deep into injury time.

The victory was United’s first Champions League title under Sir Alex Ferguson - who incidentally has flown with the squad to Gdansk, Poland for Wednesday’s final - and came during a period of extreme dominance for the club.

Manchester United ruled English football for the best part of 20 years and Solskjaer believes a large reason for that was because success breeds more success.

“I think players when they get the taste for success, when they win trophies, when they win something, it can go two ways,” he said.

“It can go: ‘Oh, we’ve done it now we can relax’ or as I’ve felt a few times, it gives you more of that feeling, you want that feeling again, with your team-mates, with your club.”

Solskjaer believes his current crop fall into the latter category and hopes winning the Europa League could be the springboard for more honours.

The Norwegian has done well since taking charge at Old Trafford, securing back-to-back top-four finishes for the first time since Ferguson retired, but silverware has so far eluded him.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is bidding to win his first trophy as Old Trafford bossManchester United via Getty Images
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is bidding to win his first trophy as Old Trafford bossManchester United via Getty Images

“The players when they sign for Man United, they sign to win trophies,” said Solskjaer.

“They sign to accept the challenge of being the best because this is the best club in the world so that’s the pleasure of the pressure of Man United.

“These players are ready for this. It might be the stepping stone for something better to come.”

The task for United is not an easy one, not least because their captain Harry Maguire is expected to miss the final due to an ankle issue.

There is also the fact that standing in their way is a Villarreal side coached by the master of the Europa League, Unai Emery.

Wednesday night is Solskjaer’s first ever final as Manchester United boss. In contrast, this is Emery’s fifth Europa League Final in just eight years.

He has lost only one of those finals, that being with Arsenal back in 2019, and, while Solskjaer may believe fate is on his side, Emery will feel experience and history is on his.

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