Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said Manchester United’s fixture schedule will be “physically impossible” for his players in the wake of their progress to the Europa League final.
Despite losing 3-2 in the semi-final second leg on Thursday, United secured their place in a cup final for the first time under manager Solskjaer with an 8-5 aggregate win over Roma.
United started with a strong side in Rome despite their 6-2 first-leg win, with Edinson Cavani scoring in each half to help the Premier League giants progress despite goals from Edin Dzeko, Bryan Cristante and an Alex Telles own goal.
The Red Devils must now return for a hectic run of three Premier League games in five days. They visit Aston Villa on Sunday, host Leicester City next Tuesday and tackle Liverpool next Thursday in a match that was postponed from last weekend due to supporter protests against the owners.
Solskjaer appeared resigned to the fact his players are unlikely to be able to play at their maximum against three tough opponents.
3 – Manchester United will face Aston Villa, Leicester & Liverpool in the space of five days between 9-13th May, the first time they’ve played three league games in five days since April 1992. Busy.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) May 5, 2021
“It’s unheard of,” he told BT Sport. “[The decision] was made by people who have never played football at this level. It’s physically impossible for the players.
“We have not been dealt a good hand. We are going to need everyone for these four games. It’s a short turnaround, but we have to be ready.”
United had lost their previous four semi-finals under Solskjaer, including in last season’s Europa League, and they needed Cavani’s goals and 10 saves from goalkeeper David de Gea to keep Roma at bay amid a somewhat erratic performance.
“It feels good to be in the final,” said Solskjaer. “We played one very, very good half at Old Trafford, which has taken us through. I’m disappointed we lost, especially the way we played in the second half.
“It could easily have been 8-6 to them. It was a strange game. We kept giving them the ball but luckily we have one of the best keepers in the world. We are in the final and are looking forward to May 26.”
2 – Edinson Cavani is the first player to score 2+ goals in both legs of a two-legged semi-final in a major European competition since Klaus Allofs for 1. FC Köln v KSV Waregem in the 1985-86 UEFA Cup. Bracing. #ROMMUN pic.twitter.com/CRqEIfg8Pw
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) May 6, 2021
Captain Harry Maguire accepted United gave up too many opportunities in the Italian capital and was full of praise for Cavani’s clinical scoring touch.
“It’s a great achievement to get to the final,” he said. “We didn’t win the game and that’s disappointing but we did the hard work in the first leg.
“We started the game a bit edgy. It was end to end like basketball and we gave them too many chances in the second half.
“Now we’ve got to go to the final and win it. Edinson scored two great goals and his movement and work rate without the ball is excellent.
“His second goal is typical of him and what he has done throughout his career.”
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