Man United challenging for title next season would be 'miraculous' – Solskjaer

Manchester United could finish 2018-19 32 points off the summit and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer thinks a title bid next season would be a miracle.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will try to ensure Manchester United finishes the season on a high with a win against Cardiff City on the final day.   -  Getty Images

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer thinks Manchester United has little hope of challenging for the Premier League title next season, convinced such an achievement would be "miraculous".

United can only finish as high as fifth this term after another underwhelming season in the post-Alex Ferguson era.

Its form picked up initially after Jose Mourinho was sacked and replaced by Solskjaer at the end of 2018, but since the Norwegian took charge permanently in March there has been a sharp downturn.

Any hope of Champions League qualification vanished with last week's lacklustre 1-1 draw at rock-bottom Huddersfield Town.

It could yet finish the season 32 points off the top of the table and Solskjaer is well aware of the job facing him.

"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 on Friday ahead of Sunday's final day visit from his former club Cardiff City.

"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 [transfer window] will also be about players who can last here for many years."

Earlier on Friday, United confirmed the permanent appointment of Mike Phelan as Solskjaer's assistant, having effectively joined the club on loan from A-League side Central Coast Mariners, for whom he worked as sporting director.

That role had led to him being linked as a potential candidate for the technical director position United are in the process of hiring for, but Solskjaer insists he is content with the structure in terms of recruitment ahead of what looks set to be a busy transfer window.

"The club will announce when they feel they've found the right man," Solskjaer added. "Until then we just work on the same structure we have now.

"I can say for me, Mick, we've been involved in loads of meetings about recruiting players and how we go forward.

"I'm happy with the communication and the targets we've put up and now hopefully we can get some over the line."

—Ander Herrera announcement soon—

Solskjaer expects Ander Herrera to make an announcement over his future soon, having been strongly linked with Paris Saint-Germain.

Herrera joined United in 2014 from Athletic Bilbao and won the club's Player of the Year award in 2016-17, but his contract expires at the end of the season.

He fell out of favour under Jose Mourinho, while he has struggled with injuries lately, but Herrera enjoyed a resurgence following Solskjaer's initial appointment in December.

United reportedly baulked at Herrera's contract demands, however, and PSG is reported to have agreed a deal with him for the start of next season, with Solskjaer expecting the 29-year-old to confirm what his future holds soon.

Speaking ahead of Sunday's visit of Cardiff City in the final game of the Premier League season, Solskjaer said: "Ander might play, I don't know yet.

"We haven't picked the team, and he's probably going to announce himself later on where he's going to continue his football."

United can finish no higher than fifth, with its chances of Champions League qualification over.

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