Manchester United paid the price for season-long struggle – Solskjaer

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Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer warned his players about their fitness levels.
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer warned his players about their fitness levels.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer concedes Manchester United have not been good enough over the course of the season to qualify for the Champions League.

United drew 1-1 at Huddersfield Town on Sunday, with Isaac Mbenza cancelling out Scott McTominay's opener, and can no longer finish in the top four this term, meaning Solskjaer's men will be absent from Europe's elite club competition in 2019-20.

Solskjaer replaced Jose Mourinho in December and oversaw an initial upturn in form, but a second slump leaves United in sixth place with one game remaining.

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And the United boss acknowledges that they deserve to be outside the top four on the basis of their performances across the entire campaign.

"We are where we are for a reason," the Norwegian told Sky Sports. "Over a long season, we haven't been good enough to challenge for the Champions League places.

"We've ended up with the last hope being taken away. It's not something that comes as a surprise, but we wanted to win the game obviously and show a better performance.

"We haven't taken enough points, we haven't won enough games, we haven't scored enough goals. There are all of these little reasons.

"It's always difficult when you lose the manager halfway through the season. We had a great start and then it's caught up with us towards the end."

And Solskjaer admits United have a lot of work to do in order to get back into the Champions League before they can consider taking on title contenders Liverpool and Manchester City again.

"It's never good news, but it shows us where we are," he said. "We're not living in fantasy land, thinking we can challenge the top two. They've run away with it.

"We've been chasing the pack, we've been close, and we're not that far away, but we shouldn't be talking about being far away from the top four at Manchester United.

"It's a fresh start next season and we need to really have a go because we want to get back into the top four.

"We are many levels [behind Liverpool and City] at the moment, but that's the size of the challenge. It's a great challenge for us and I'm sure we're going to make it."

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