Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitted Manchester United’s season has not been a success following a second-place finish in the Premier League and losing in the final of the Europa League.
Solskjaer was disappointed with their performance against Spanish side Villarreal who triumphed 11-10 on penalties after the game ended 1-1 after extra time.
He reflected: “That’s football for you. Sometimes it’s decided on one kick – and that’s the difference between winning and losing.Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images
“We have to learn from that one, not savour this feeling but taste this feeling and make sure we don’t get it again.
“We didn’t turn up. We didn’t play as well as we know we can. We started alright and they got the goal, their only shot on target. We were disappointed to concede a goal on a set play.
“We pushed, we pressed, we got a goal. After we scored, we didn’t control the game or dominate as we wanted.
“They made it hard for us, they closed spaces. We had the majority of possession. They defended well. We didn’t create enough big chances.
“Now is not the time to point the finger at what I’d have done differently. But when you come out without the trophy you haven’t done everything right.
“We’re getting closer and closer and better. We were one kick away from a trophy and a good night.
“We have to have the desire to come back next year and improve. The only way to get the margins your side is to work harder and better.
“We need to get better, simple as. We’ve done really well this season coming through. The start was difficult. We had no pre-season and lost three of the first six. We pushed in the league, maybe got closer to the top than we thought, and we got to a final. But you need to win the finals to make it a good season.”
Solskjaer was asked does his side have the right characters.
“Yes, but we missed two big ones today with Fred and Harry [Maguire]. We have a strong, competitive squad. The spirit in the squad is good. They’re gutted in there. Now is not the time to analyse the whole season,” he said.
Marcus Rashford believes United will come back stronger following this setback.
He said: “We have to get rid of the disappointment and look back at the game and see what we did wrong.
“The team will not give up – no chance. The manager won’t allow us to give up. We will come next season with bigger desire.”
“People say a lot about Man Utd going downhill but, for me, the club, desire, hunger, talent, ability, the squad, we have everything to compete at the highest level. We just have to show it to the world and ourselves, show why we belong in the top places and why we need to win finals like this.
“Second doesn’t count for nothing. Manchester City won the league, we finished second. Doesn’t mean nothing. Villarreal won the Europa League, we finished second. For us it’s nothing.
“I don’t want to hear ‘they were so close’ because it means nothing. One winner, one loser. Today we lost. We have to find out why and make sure next time we don’t lose.
“I’m 100% sure [we can compete because of] sacrifice. To win big trophies you have to show sacrifice. I could walk you into the dressing room and show you five, six, seven players – and me – who have had injuries from the start of the season. We all stayed and fought to be successful for the club.
“We have to go away and clear our heads. When we come back we start fresh.
“When Ole came in we had a process. We believe in the process. Part of the process is ups and downs. Just because we lose today, I promise the fans no chance we give up.
“We will come back next season with more desire and hunger. We have to give 110 per cent.
“I know in every club they don’t have this sacrifice. In the top clubs they do. That’s why they win trophies. We’re close, I promise we’re close.”
Pundits Rio Ferdinand, Paul Scholes and Owen Hargreaves, all former United players, were critical of the Reds’ performance in Gdansk.
“To be brutally honest, United were not good enough on the night,” explained Ferdinand.
“As a whole, the season has seen improvement and the trajectory is in the right direction.
“They are slowly getting a winning culture but failed as they didn’t get the job done and to be brutally honest it was a failure.
“The club was all the place after Moyes, van Gaal and Mourinho with no direction and he has brought stability.
“He has done enough to go into next transfer window, but next year the demands need to be to win things.
“He has also lost in four cup semi finals and can’t get over the line to win silverware which he needs to do.”
Scholes, typically blunt, said the Reds were “not very good” and he questioned whether the players.
“Does losing hurt them? Bruno (Fernandes) and (Edinson) Cavani looked proper hurt, but I think there are players who are not hurting.
“Sometimes it feel as though it has become acceptable as we have seen in the last few weeks, even from the manager and we have become the club everyone likes.”
Hargreaves added: “To finish second in the Premier League and win the final would have been one heck of a season.
“This will be a tough blow for United and four years is too long not to win a trophy.
“When you get there, you have to get the job done. It is going to be a long summer.”