Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insists Manchester United must get “stronger, fitter and more robust” for the challenges of the Champions League next season after beating Leicester 2-0 to secure third place in the Premier League on Sunday.
United just needed a point to consolidate their place in the top four at the King Power and did enough to edge a tense game with so much on the line for both clubs.
Bruno Fernandes’s penalty 19 minutes from time settled Solskjaer’s nerves before Jesse Lingard pounced on a howler from Kasper Schmeichel in stoppage time to end a difficult season on and off the pitch for the United midfielder on a high with his first league goal of the campaign.
United were 14 points behind Leicester when Fernandes arrived from Sporting Lisbon in January and the Portuguese international has been instrumental in a transformation in the Red Devils’ fortunes.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) July 26, 2020
“From where we were earlier in the season, to end up third is fantastic,” said Solskjaer. “We had our ups and downs and it’s come down to the last game, it’s a wonderful achievement.”
The riches from the Champions League are all the more important to United due to the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
And there were more signs of the rebuild that still lies ahead for Solskjaer if his side are to close the gap on rivals Liverpool and Manchester City next season as they again looked jaded after a blistering start to their return to action last month.
“It’s been a mini-tournament this restart and it shows. We are a bit tired, leggy, everyone can see we are not the same as earlier but we’ve had to go for it to catch so many points and so many goals and they’ve done it,” added Solskjaer.
“For this team it means better opposition next year and bigger games, we need to step it up. This season we’ve had Europa League and the chance to rest players, now we need to go for every game. We’ve got to get fitter, stronger and more robust.”