In the golden dome between Gdansk’s imposing shipyards, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will try to usher in a new era of success at Manchester United.
Gdansk Stadium, on the northern shores of this Baltic seaport, is the venue for United’s Europa League final against Unai Emery’s Villarreal.
Solskjaer will be forever remembered as the man who sealed Champions League glory on a dramatic night at the Nou Camp in 1999.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants to add something to Manchester United’s silverware on Wednesday evening
On Wednesday evening, as United manager, he will try to deliver a trophy for the first time as he strives to add to the club’s three European Cups, one Cup-Winners’ Cup and the Europa League they won in 2017 under Jose Mourinho .
It didn’t work out for Mourinho at Old Trafford, but Solskjaer believes the win could open the door to even more success this time around.
“These are big nights for us,” he said on Tuesday. ‘We have five wins in Europe and it could well be the springboard to something better, a bright future.
United prepared for their Europa League final with Villarreal in Gdansk, Poland
United last won the Europa League when they were under Jose Mourinho in 2017 (photo)
WHY No. 26 IS HAPPY FOR OLE GUNNAR SOLSKJAER
On Wednesday it will be 22 years ago that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer dramatically won the Treble for United in Barcelona on May 26, 1999.
His wife is 26 years old, as is their wedding anniversary.
When he wanted to win his first United trophy on May 26, he told the club’s website that he ‘must believe in skjebne (the Norwegian translation of the lottery ticket)’.
‘This is a young team and it is a team that we have rebuilt over the years, so hopefully this is the start of something more.
“When players get a taste for success and win trophies, it can go either way:“ We’ve done it now and we can relax ”or it just gives you more of that feeling.
‘You want more, you always want it, you want the feeling again with your teammates, at your club.
‘I trust these players. I’ve seen something grow in them – becoming more confident, more robust, more resilient – and as a group I’m sure we’re ready for this now. ‘
Despite finally reaching a final after four semi-finals defeats and finishing second in the Premier League, Solskjaer was asked if the season can only be considered a success if United win on Wednesday.
“Yes, of course,” he replied. ‘After this final you can determine the season. So far we’ve improved, but we’ll only go home happy if we win.
Every player who enters a final has the expectation and the pressure to win. We prepare to win, we plan to win, we expect to win, but I’m sure Unai Emery feels the same way with his Villarreal team and players.
Solskjaer believes that victory could open the door to even more success this time around
He says it is a team that has been built over the years and that they are ready for more
When players sign with Manchester United, they do it to win trophies. They take up the challenge of being the best because this is the best club in the world, so that’s the pressure from Manchester United. ‘
Wednesday’s final feels like a date with a lottery ticket for Solskjaer – all the more because it falls on the 22nd birthday of his famous Champions League winner in Barcelona and what would have been Sir Matt Busby’s birthday.
The Norwegian and his wife Silje were also both born – and married on – the 26th of the month, all suggesting it should be his lucky number.
“If it’s something positive, you think it will work in your favor,” Solskjaer said.
‘I think it will bodes well for us, but the players have to do their job. Maybe we can honor Sir Matt’s birthday with another win. ‘
The memories of ’99 are not all good, it was revealed on Tuesday. Solskjaer grimaced when he recalled falling ill during United’s flight to Barcelona aboard the Concorde and compared it to a much smoother transit to Poland on Monday.
“It was an awful, awful flight,” he said. ‘Sometimes I also get seasick and it just rolls you back and forth. I was sick and had to go to the bathroom.
‘The flight on Monday was comfortable. We are at the end of the season, this finale is the last and we have to enjoy it. ‘
United, whose four European encounters with Villarreal have all ended in a goalless draw, will enter the final as favorites.
However, they have not forgotten a painful defeat in the semi-finals last season against Sevilla, who became the seventh Spanish winner of the Europa League in the last eleven years.
It built on Emery’s three previous successes with Sevilla and his remarkable affinity with the match, leading Arsenal to the final in 2019 as well.
The Europa League final falls on the 22nd birthday of Solskjaer’s Champions League winner
The European showpiece is played in front of 9,500 spectators (2,000 from each club)
“This team has grown up a lot and we have improved from that semi-final,” said Bruno Fernandes. “The team is getting better and being in the final is good, but to be perfect we have to win.”
The match will be played in front of 9,500 spectators, including 2,000 fans from each club.
Defender Luke Shaw said: ‘Of course we wish it was full, but we had a bit of fan tastes at Old Trafford and you got goosebumps walking away.
This finale will be the same. Hopefully we can give them an unforgettable evening. ‘