Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hopes to turn next season’s Europa League campaign into a positive for Manchester United after his side’s Premier League top-four hopes were ended by Huddersfield Town.
United’s poor run of form continued on Sunday as they were held to a 1-1 draw at the John Smith’s Stadium, meaning they can no longer finish in a Champions League qualifying spot.
Solskjaer conceded his side can have no complaints about missing out on a place in UEFA’s showpiece competition for the third time in five seasons, but he will use the Europa League – which United won two years ago – as an opportunity to bed in some of the younger players.
“We gave ourselves a chance to be in the Champions League and had so many opportunities to grab third or fourth but weren’t able to,” he said. “The Europa League was probably where we deserve to be.
FULL TIME Huddersfield 1-1 Man Utd
— Premier League (@premierleague) May 5, 2019
“We’re all disappointed not to be in the Champions League but I think that’s a true reflection. The table seldom lies.
“The kids will get chances to play in the Europa League, that’s for sure.
“You can use the Europa League as something positive as Chelsea and Arsenal have and we did ourselves by winning it a couple of years ago. We have to make something positive out of it, no matter what.”
United took the lead against Huddersfield through Scott McTominay’s strike eight minutes in, but they wasted a couple of chances and Isaac Mbenza snatched a point for the Premier League’s bottom side on the hour.
Solskjaer refused to point the blame at any individuals following this latest disappointing result, but he reiterated that some players will be on their way out of Old Trafford at the end of the season.
“Today wasn’t one individual that was disappointing, it was the whole team,” he said. “You might have seen the last of some of these players but I don’t want to talk about individuals.
“I’m an optimist by nature. I think the best way to approach a game is to smile but I think I was smiling more in the first 20-25 minutes but we weren’t able to capitalise on our chances and weren’t good enough in the end.
“The first 30 minutes we created more chances than we have for a while but when you can’t score you’re always in danger of giving the home supporters something to cheer.”
He added: “We didn’t perform to our level and gave them chances. We’ve conceded too many times from our own corners now and that’s something we will improve on next year.
“Effort and attitude was not the problem. The players were trying but we were just not good enough. We should have, could have played better, but Huddersfield started creating chances. We had good periods and very bad periods and we’ve paid for it.”
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) May 5, 2019
The point for Huddersfield ended an eight-match losing run in the Premier League and was a welcome reward for boss Jan Siewert, who replaced David Wagner in January.
“I believe in what I’m doing and it’s tough to change a playing style partway through the season,” said Siewert. “It was important that we stuck to it and we showed what we can do.
“We wanted to give something back to the chairman and the supporters and we showed it’s possible to get points against big teams.
“There is sadness and excitement at the club at the moment. We want to take the club forward and make the right decisions.”
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