Solskjaer says Europa League win would propel Man United to greater heights

United will take on Villarreal in the Europa League final on May 26 in Gdansk after beating AS Roma 8-5 on aggregate in the semifinals.

Solskjaer drew on his experience of lifting the Champions League in United's treble-winning 1998-1999 season, saying it instilled a sense of belief in the squad.   -  AP

Winning the Europa League this season would give Manchester United a solid platform from which to challenge for greater honours, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said on Tuesday.

United takes on Villarreal in the final of Europe's second-tier club competition on May 26 in Gdansk after beating AS Roma 8-5 on aggregate in the semifinals.

Solskjaer drew on his experience of lifting the Champions League in United's unprecedented treble-winning 1998-1999 season, saying it instilled a sense of belief in the squad that helped it reach greater heights in subsequent campaigns.

"When we won (the Champions League) in '99, of course, it made history," he told a news conference.

"It didn't make me a better player; it didn't make us individually better players.

"But as a group, we believed that we could go on to win more stuff and we comfortably won the (Premier) league the next couple of seasons. We couldn't repeat the Champions League, but it still gives you a lot as a group.

"Now we're in a final and I think we're ready for the next step. To get to a final is one thing; when you get to a final, you need to win it or you want to win it. You don't get a prize for attending."

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United has no major injury concerns ahead of the game, added Solskjaer, who has yet to win any silverware as the manager at Old Trafford.

"When you get to a final and have most of them (players) fit, you're in a good position," he said.

"The hardest bit is to win. We've had a long season. Manchester United has meant a lot to me throughout my life and to be able to lead a team out is going to be a proud moment for me.

"It's going to be great to see the players we've worked with for 2-1/2 years take a step into a final after the near misses we've had."

Players views must be respected

Solskjaer said the views of players had to be respected after Paul Pogba and Amad Diallo held up a Palestine flag following Tuesday's 1-1 Premier League draw with Fulham.

The ongoing hostilities between Israel and Hamas Islamists who rule Gaza are the most serious in years and there have been no firm signs of any imminent ceasefire despite international calls to end more than a week of fighting.

Leicester City's Hamza Choudhury and Wesley Fofana had also held up a Palestine flag after the FA Cup final on Saturday and Solskjaer said his players had a right to its own views.

"I think we need to have players from different backgrounds, different cultures, different countries, and I think we need to respect their views if they differ from someone else's," Solskjaer told reporters.

"If my players think about other things than football that's a positive thing and I think we've seen that with some of the players before that they do care about.

"Say Marcus Rashford, for example, the difference he's made. We respect their right to have a different view."

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