Solskjær says United have no fear of Barcelona after Champions League draw
United caretaker manager believes it is of benefit to still be competing in the Champions League and FA Cup while targeting top-four finish
United caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: “The confidence in the players, it’s sky high. And the mood is good, the training attitude is good, so hopefully we can keep that run going.” Photograph: John Walton/PA Wire
United host Barcelona on April 10th, before the return the following week. Solskjær indicated United were not scared to face anyone having eliminated Paris Saint-Germain in the previous round when arriving at Parc des Princes 2-0 down from the opening leg. A stoppage-time Marcus Rashford goal from a penalty awarded on VAR clinched the comeback.
“We’ve shown against PSG that on any given day we can beat a top team,” Solskjær said. “Then again there’s so many variables and these games will be decided by margins. And of course with [our] VAR [decision], even though for me it’s a penalty, you can still be unlucky and not get it in the last minute. Then we’d be out and no one would really remember the PSG performance.
“So, yes, we can go all the way, but you’ve got to be lucky and good along the way. The confidence in the players, it’s sky high. And the mood is good, the training attitude is good, so hopefully we can keep that run going.”
For the second leg the Norwegian returns to the venue where his last-gasp winner against Bayern Munich clinched the 1999 Champions League for United.
“I’ve had so many texts from friends saying this year is going to be the year that we’ll get through because of my [shirt] number, 20, and it being 20 years ago,” he said. “We’re off to the Nou Camp again – it was the biggest night I’ve had in football. Of course, for all of us in that team, it was an unbelievable night. It’s a great stadium.”
Solskjær believes it is of benefit to still be competing in the Champions League and FA Cup while also targeting a top-four finish. United travel to Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday night for an FA Cup quarter-final.
His former United team-mate, Gary Neville, now a pundit, stated recently he thought it may aid Liverpool’s title challenge to be out of the competition, which their manager, Jürgen Klopp, bridled at.
“[It’s about] momentum – the more games you win, the more confidence you breed, the more hunger there is in the player,” Solskjær said. “Every single game that you win puts another layer on that, on the way to becoming the team that we want to be.
“So I don’t agree with Gary Neville when he says that teams should go out of this and this to focus on that.”
“I was judged [when] in [charge of Bayern] Munich in that way, so I will be judged here as well. My period in Munich was not good for most people because we didn’t get one final. We got semi-finals but we didn’t get a final, and we were judged. So I’m a lucky guy – my standards are high. I have to reach it.”
Liverpool face Porto, whom Klopp’s team beat 5-0 on aggregate in last season’s last-16 stage.
“I could not be further away from thinking it’s the best draw because it isn’t,” he said. “It’s the opponent we have to prepare for.”