skysports solskjaer manchester united 5048786

United’s trip to the King Power Stadium on Sunday isn’t to clinch a Premier League crown – as was often the case come the climax to a season in Solskjaer’s playing days – but it nevertheless remains an important moment for both the club and the development of their young squad.

“We want them to learn about the traditions and history of the club and what the players before them have done,” Solskjaer tells Sky Sports in an exclusive interview, before reflecting on how United beat Charlton in 2006, without Wayne Rooney or Ruud van Nistelrooy, to hold off Liverpool and secure the final Champions League group stage qualifying spot.

“[Manchester United’s former players] have played so many vital games at the end of the season – a cup final, a game to win the league, a game to get into the Champions League…

“I remember with Sir Alex, we had no strikers available the day before a game and we had to beat Charlton to get into second position. We won 4-0 and Giuseppe Rossi from the youth academy played a fantastic game. I’d been injured for ages and just hoped I could come on and help!

“So the players now are learning what the other players through history have been through. We’ve been doing well before as well, having setbacks and having to come back. But say, for example, Marcus [Rashford] or Mason [Greenwood], they’ve been in the academy for so many years, they’ve seen so many players having done this before them, so it’s a great learning for them.”

But when one result can have such an impact on the outcome of a team’s finishing position – third, best of the rest and back in the Champions League or fifth and facing another Europa League campaign if they don’t win it this season – perspective is vital.

Regardless of the result on Sunday, Solskjaer knows this United team still have a long way to go – but he remains a staunch defender of their potential.

“It would be a good boost and a nice boost for the team to finish third,” he said. “I know since October, after that international break, we’ve had the third-most points in the league. For a long, long spell now we’ve been the third best team, we just, in the start of the season, we were too inconsistent. Now we have got more consistency, more fitness levels, we’re more robust.


By Ian Dei

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