26 omen gives Solskjaer and Man Utd mental edge in Europa League final

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is aiming to keep a recurring date with destiny on Wednesday night and lead Manchester United to Europa League glory.

United take on Villarreal, 22 years to the day since Solskjaer’s dramatic late winner clinched the Champions League and the Treble to earn him instant Old Trafford legendary status.

The 26th also has extra significance, with it being the birthdate of Solskjaer, his wife and also that of legendary late former United boss Sir Matt Busby.

Solskajer also got married on the 26th and is hopeful the special date will prove a lucky omen once again here in Gdansk and see him lift his first trophy as United boss.

United are looking to win their first piece of silverware under manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

“When it’s something positive, you think it will work in your favour, so I think it will be a good omen for us,” said Solskjaer.

“My wife’s birthday is on the 26th, we got married on the 26th, so I have to believe in destiny or ‘skjebne’ in Norwegian.

“It’s a special number for us, for my family as well. I’ve got to take this as a good omen. I’m not very superstitious, but it looks like a good sign.

“But the players need to do their job. Maybe we can honour Sir Matt’s birthday with another win.

“We know, of course Sir Alex is with us, we know the 26th of May is Sir Matt’s birthday, but the players when they sign for United, they do so to win trophies.

“They accept the challenge of being the best, because this is the best club in the world, and that’s the pressure of Manchester United.”

United’s last trophy came back in 2017, when Jose Mourinho led the club to Europa League success and with it a return to the Champions League, after finishing sixth in the Premier League that season.

With second place in the Premier League having guaranteed United entry to the Champions League next season, there is not that added pressure this time.

The 26 plays a significant part in Solskjaer’s life

But Solskjaer knows the importance of lifting the trophy tonight, to create a winning culture that can act as a springboard for United to start competing for the bigger prizes again.

“These are big nights for us,” said Solskjaer. “It might be the stepping stone for something better to come, a bright future.

“This team is a young team and it’s a team we’ve rebuilt over the last couple of years, so hopefully this is the start of something more.

“Players, when they get the taste of success, when they win trophies, it can go two ways – ‘we’ve done it now and we can relax’ – or, as I’ve had a few times, it just gives you more of that feeling.

“You want more, you want it all the time, you want the feeling again with your team-mates, with your club.

“This group of players has been working hard for a year or two together and it’s the next step for them now.”

Solskjaer’s indelible act as a United player was his winner against Bayern Munich, when he came off the bench to plunder the most important goal in the club’s history.

Tonight he can write another chapter in his glittering United story and, when asked what he had learned from 1999, Solskjaer told his players to adopt the mindset he had on that epic day.

“What I learnt was to trust your team, trust your gut instinct,” said Solskjaer. “I’ll tell the team and the subs they might have to play a big part for us, because it’s happened before.

“They can be disappointed and angry with me, but be ready when you come on. Whoever starts, enjoy it, because you don’t get to play too many finals in your life.”

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