December 3, 2020

Man Utd ‘won’t go crazy’ if they miss out on Champions League – Solskjaer

January signing Bruno Fernandes (left) has helped Solskjaer’s United challenge for Champions League qualification

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says Manchester United will not “panic” if they miss out on next season’s Champions League.

Despite becoming the first side in Premier League history to win four successive games by three clear goals, United are still fifth in the table.

The top four qualify for the Champions League but fifth suffices if Manchester City’s European ban is upheld.

“The club wouldn’t panic or go crazy with plans we’ve already talked about for years to come,” said Solskjaer.

“But some short-term decisions will be easier to make if you get the Champions League.”

Despite impressive recent performances and their victory over Aston Villa extending their unbeaten run to 17 matches in all competitions, United face missing out on Europe’s most prestigious club tournament for a second consecutive season for the first time in 28 years.

It leaves the Old Trafford club’s well-publicised “cultural reboot” delicately poised.

For, while no-one at United has actually said a top-four finish is this season’s target, in February executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward told a fans’ forum the club’s stated aim was to be challenging in both the Champions League and Premier League – something they have not done since Sir Alex Ferguson left in 2013.

Apart from the £22.5m penalty clause in their 10-year shirt deal with Adidas, United would also find it harder to bring in the players Solskjaer feels would improve his side.

Borussia Dortmund’s England winger Jadon Sancho is on United’s radar but the vast financial gulf between the Champions League and Europa League – which could be as much as £55m depending on how far they go – makes planning tough.

And that is without the added problems created by the coronavirus pandemic, meaning clubs do not know for certain that the 2020-21 season will start on 12 September as expected, and are still waiting for confirmation of the dates when the transfer window will close.

“There is a lot of uncertainty of dates,” said Solskjaer.

“There is quite a lot of planning going on but when we start the league is determined by how far we go in Europe, so you can’t decide on the training programme.

“Transfers are out of our hands as well. If the team is going well, what do we need?

“You’ve got to plan for a lot of different scenarios but it is a little bit up in the air at the moment.”