(Reuters) – Manchester United would need a “miraculous season” to be in the running for the Premier League title next year because of how much their rivals have improved, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said on Friday.
United are sixth in the standings with 66 points, 29 behind leaders Manchester City and 28 behind Liverpool going into their final game of the campaign against Cardiff City on Sunday.
“I think I’ve been quite honest that challenging for the title next year would be a miraculous season because we’re so far behind points-wise,” Solskjaer told a news conference.
“Next season we have to close that gap, if we manage to get to February or March and still be close that’s fantastic. If not this summer will also be about players that can last here for many years.
“We want to get back to where we used to be… it’s going to be important we come together from the first day.”
The Norwegian said at the club’s end-of-season awards on Thursday night that they should invest wisely in the transfer market and nurture youth players to become competitive again.
“We’ve never been a readymade club. Cristiano Ronaldo was never readymade, Wayne Rooney was never readymade. Loads of the players that come here and developed into the top superstars that they have become,” Solskjaer added.
“That’s always going to be the model. We’ll develop players because I’ve got the best staff, the best environment and the best supporters because they love players that excite them.”
Midfielder Ander Herrera’s contract expires at the end of the season and British media reports have linked the Spaniard with a switch to Paris St Germain.
Solskjaer was unsure about Herrera’s future although he could feature on Sunday.
“I don’t know yet. We haven’t picked the team,” Solskjaer said. “He’ll probably announce later where he is going to continue his football.”
Club captain Antonio Valencia is set to leave at the end of the campaign in which he form and fitness have failed him.
“Antonio has really struggled but I have spoken to him and he thinks he can play a part on Sunday. We hope to give him a nice send-off. That’s only fair,” Solskjaer added.
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Keith Weir)