Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insists semi-finals are ‘not good enough’ for Manchester United as the club prepare to meet Sevilla in the last four of the Europa League this weekend.
Manchester United have suffered exits in the last four of both domestic cups this season before progressing to the semi-finals of the Europa League with victory over FC Copenhagen this week, where the club will be hoping to reach a first major final of Solskjaer’s reign.
Standing in their way are the record five-time winners of the competition in Sevilla, the Spaniard’s unbeaten in 19 games and arriving in the last four having eliminated Premier League opposition in Wolves in the quarter-finals earlier this week.
Solskjaer, however, has delivered a rallying cry to his side ahead of Sunday’s clash in Cologne, insisting semi-final appearances are ‘not good enough’ for a club of United’s stature as they bid to win a second Europa League title in the past four seasons.
“We’ve had two semi-finals before but we want to go to the next step,” Solskjaer told MUTV. “Reaching semi-finals is a good effort, decent, but it’s not good enough for Man United.
“The team has been developing and getting more and more hungry, and let’s make sure that hurt that we felt in the two other cups we went out of can maybe be the marginal difference, in that we want it more than them.
“When I lose a game or lose at something you don’t want that feeling again so I would think they’re ready for Sunday.”
United head into the clash having been forced into extra-time following a laboured display against FC Copenhagen on Monday, whilst the Red Devils will also have to contend with the heat of August’s temperatures in Germany as they bid to progress to the final.
Solskjaer insists his side remain in fine physical condition despite a draining and pandemic-disrupted season and has urged his side to be ‘strong mentally’ as they seek to overcome the challenge of Julen Lopetegui’s Sevilla.
“Physically we’re fine, all the teams have played many games anyway. Now it’s about who is mentally strongest,” he explained. “You can look at the opponent and know they’re tired but you want them feeling more tired than you.
“You’ve got to be strong mentally, concentrated and focused, and any of these games can be, and will be, decided on a marginal decision or finishing. We’ve just got to keep them [the players] focused with the right attitude.”
The reformatting of European competition this seasons has seen one-leg encounters in neutral venues replace the traditional two-legged affairs, with Solskjaer warning his side they must ‘leave everything on the pitch’ with no second chances on offer.
“It’s like a European Championships or a World Cup,” said the Norweigian. “You don’t get a second chance and you just know you have to leave everything on that pitch which for me is fine.
“It’s a different set-up to what we’re used to, we’re used to home and away, but for me this is the best scenario so that we can finish this tournament.”