Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is delighted to have proved the critics wrong by doing it his way at Manchester United after they finished third in the Premier League.
United confirmed their place in the top four with a 2-0 win over Leicester City, meaning Solskjaer’s side will play Champions League football next season.
United also extended their unbeaten streak to 14 games in the Premier League with the win, which is their longest run without defeat in the league since April 2017. It caps a fine end to the campaign for Solskjaer, who has steered United back into Europe’s top competition despite only being in the top four for the last two matchdays.
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The victory gave great satisfaction to Solskjaer after United were tipped to miss out on the top four at the start of the season and his position as manager questioned at various points of the season.
“I don’t think many were predicting it, the predictions were for us to finish sixth or seventh,” he said.
When asked if he took motivation from those early season predictions, he replied: “I’ve always been made that way. If I’m getting criticised that makes me stronger in what I’m doing. Please don’t praise me too much as I’ll get complacent. That’s the way I’m made.
“I believe in what I do and believe in what I’ve been doing. We all have different ideas of management and I do it my way. That’s the only way I can do it. The players bought into it and have taken on board what we’ve been doing. I’m not going to say I’m not the man, of course, as I’m in the job. I believe in what I’m doing.
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“It’s a massive achievement by the staff and players. They are incredible. I had a chat with all of them today saying no matter what happened today we’d had a fantastic season. We’re building a culture. I’m very pleased and proud of their efforts. To win this game was massive mentally as we’ve lost two semi-finals.”
Bruno Fernandes has yet to taste defeat for United in the Premier League since joining from Sporting Lisbon in January.
Although he was on the edges of the game at the King Power Stadium, he took his tally to eight goals with the opening strike from the penalty spot and he has also made seven assists in his 14 appearances, meaning no player in the Premier League has more goal involvements (15) since his debut.
Solskjaer admits Fernandes’ contribution to United’s upsurge in results has been huge.
“We have to admit that he’s been a massive influence,” he said.
“A massive impact and he has been scoring and creating goals. But also his enthusiasm and mentality has helped. Maybe today you could see a tired Bruno but that’s natural as he’s played to much. You can see his passion and he was moaning a little here and there, we might have to take that away from him sometimes. But he stepped up, calm as you like and tucked away the penalty.”
Rodgers: We’re excited by Europe
A victory would have sent Leicester into the top four at United’s expense but it is the Europa League for them after they finished fifth.
Youri Tielemans, Demarai Gray and Harvey Barnes all went close, while Jamie Vardy hit the bar with a flicked header.
The Foxes still return to Europe after a three-year gap and their season remains a success despite losing a 14-point lead they held over United in January.
Boss Brendan Rodgers said: “Absolutely, we’re excited by that [Europe]. We finished in the second-highest league position in the club’s Premier League history. It takes us into Europe and I’m really excited by that.
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