Man United winning trophies not essential to show progress

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said Manchester United do not need to win the Europa League to show they are making progress, and insisted that winning trophies can be “an ego thing” for some managers.

United head to Milan looking to book a place in the last eight of the Europa League after a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford last week.

Solskjaer said he wants to win the competition but believes it’s not necessary to show he has got the club going in the right direction.

“We are 12 points ahead of what we were at the same time in the league last season and of course we’re aiming to win trophies but as we’ve said, sometimes a trophy can hide what’s happening at the club,” Solskjaer said. “In the league position you see if you’re progressing really and sometimes in the cup tournaments you might be lucky or unlucky with draws, games decided on different factors. Of course we’re aiming to win that’s why you play football you’re aiming to win trophies.”

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Since United last won the title in 2013, they have won the FA Cup under Louis van Gaal and the League Cup and Europa League under Jose Mourinho. It’s been four years since they last won a trophy but Solskjaer said the aim is to become champions, rather than just collecting silverware.

“I felt a big rebuild had to be made,” he said. “In the league position you see if there’s any progress for me, that’s always the bread and butter of the season that you see how capable you are of coping of ups and downs any cup competition can give you a trophy but sometimes it’s more of an ego thing from other managers and clubs to finally win something.

“But we need to see progress and if we perform well enough the trophies will end up at the club again.

“It’s not like a trophy will say that we’re back, no. It’s the gradual progression of being in and around the top of the league and the consistency and the odd trophies sometimes a cup competition can hide the fact you’re still struggling a little bit.”

Marcus Rashford was part of the squad which flew to Italy on Wednesday. The forward missed the first leg with an ankle problem and speaking at a news conference ahead of the trip to AC Milan, the 23-year-old answered questions about whether he could need an operation on an ongoing shoulder issue after this summer’s European Championships.

“To be honest I just focus on the next game at hand and that’s just the way I deal with it,” Rashford said. “What’s needed after we will deal with that after, my main focus is just being available for the games.

“I know my body and I know what I can do physically and that’s it. I take one game at a time. It’s the life of a footballer, we can rest when we retire and for now I’m happy playing as many games as I can.”

Solskjaer has been boosted by the return of Paul Pogba, Edinson Cavani, Donny van de Beek and David De Gea for the trip to Milan. Anthony Martial remains sidelined after missing the 1-0 win over West Ham with a hip problem.

Meanwhile, Milan boss Stefano Pioli said Zlatan Ibrahimovic could play against his former, but refused to confirmed whether the 39-year-old will start the match.

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