Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 June 2019

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: It is not 'mission impossible' for Manchester United

Norewgian upbeat on his side's prospects despite two-goal deficit in Uefa Champions League last-16 clash in Paris

Manchester United imanager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, left, with defender Victor Lindelof during Tuesday's news conference. Action Images via Reuters
Manchester United imanager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, left, with defender Victor Lindelof during Tuesday's news conference. Action Images via Reuters

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took heart from recent Uefa Champions League shocks and Manchester United’s outstanding away form as he declared that his side do not face “mission impossible” against Paris Saint-Germain.

The French champions took a 2-0 lead back from the first leg at Old Trafford while United approach Wednesday’s return fixture without the suspended Paul Pogba and nine injured players.

But United have a 100 per cent away record under the Norwegian and, having mounted a comeback in Saturday’s Premier League victory over Southampton, Solskjaer believes another is possible against the Ligue 1 leaders.

“It’s never mission impossible,” he said. “It is a difficult task but we can do it. We need the first goal and we need to stay in the game until, if there is only half an hour left and only one goal in it, anything can happen. We need a good plan and we need to put it in place.

“As a club, we have done it. We have been fantastic away from home. We have beaten Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham, which has given us belief we can do this.

“Making history is not really the motivation. The motivation is going through. These players are not used to losing and are not happy with the way we lost the home game. We know that at our best we can match them.”

Paris Saint-Germain have their own experience of losing a first-leg lead, after beating Barcelona 4-0 and then being demolished 6-1 in 2017, a shock Solskjaer cited as proof United stand a chance still of reaching the quarter-finals of the competition.

“I don’t want to call the results in the Champions League in the last few years strange, but last year Juventus lost 3-0 at home to Real Madrid and suddenly they were 3-0 up after 90 minutes away,” he added.

“The year before that, PSG against Barcelona, we all remember those results. There are so many examples of teams that change results like this.”

Yet while Thomas Tuchel’s team may be stronger than they were three weeks ago, with Edinson Cavani back in training, United have seen Alexis Sanchez ruled out for a minimum of four weeks with a knee problem.

Their injury list already included Nemanja Matic, Ander Herrera, Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata, while Anthony Martial is not yet fit to return.

Solskjaer is likely to name a makeshift midfield of Scott McTominay, Andreas Pereira, Diogo Dalot and Fred while his 20-man squad contains eight academy products, five of them teenagers with a combined total of six United appearances.

Brandon Williams, Tahith Chong, James Garner, Angel Gomes and Mason Greenwood could be fast-tracked in a way Solskjaer’s first-choice striker was in 2016 and their manager added: “Every young player who plays at this club is dreaming about coming on and having the impact Marcus Rashford had. It could be a chance for some of the young ones.”

Another precocious talent proved United’s undoing in the first leg. Kylian Mbappe was one of their scorers and Victor Lindelof, who will have to halt the World Cup winner, said: “Everyone knows his qualities, but I’m looking forward to the challenge. He is a good player but you have to be alert for anything.”

Updated: March 6, 2019 08:26 AM

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