Bruno Fernandes and Luke Shaw are adamant Manchester United do not need any form of motivation or inspiration from the club's iconic former manager Alex Ferguson ahead of Wednesday's Europa League final.

United face Villarreal in Gdansk as they look to win their first piece of silverware since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer replaced Jose Mourinho in December 2018.

Solskjaer's former boss Ferguson is staying in the same hotel as the United squad and has been particularly prominent in the media of late, granting numerous interviews after largely avoiding the press in his eight years since retirement.

Ferguson led United to two Champions League successes – among many other titles – during his storied reign at the club, therefore knows plenty about the pressures and emotions that come with such occasions.

But Shaw and Fernandes stressed they are in no need of any extra motivation or pep talks from Ferguson as they look to sink the Yellow Submarine.

Speaking to the media, Shaw said: "I wouldn't expect him to speak to us. I am sure we don't need people to inspire us for the game tomorrow, as much of a legend as he [Ferguson] is.

"Inside our group we need to do that ourselves. Of course, I'm sat next to the manager now and I am sure he'll be doing that tomorrow, so I'm not sure we'll be seeing too much of Sir Alex tomorrow."

Fernandes continued: "I think we have a coach who passed a lot of time with Alex Ferguson so everything he could say to us, he [Solskjaer] already knows. We trust our coach.

"The team is confident. We trust ourselves, we know what we have to do. This is our moment to do our best.

"We trained well the days before, we have another day to train. Make the job tomorrow, enjoy the moment – being in the final is not for everyone."

It will be United's first European final since the 2016-17 edition of this competition, when they defeated Ajax 2-0 under Mourinho – before that they had gone nine years without a trophy in Europe.

Even reaching the final this time around is something of a milestone, particularly for Solskjaer, as United's record in semi-finals prior to their two-legged tie with Roma was poor under the Norwegian.

The 8-5 aggregate win over Roma ended a run of four successive semi-final eliminations for United under Solskjaer, whose only other final as a manager was in the 2013 Norwegian Cup, and the club's players will relish the chance to end their trophy drought.

"We come to this club because we want to win. It doesn't matter if the club doesn't win for many years, the hope is still there," Fernandes said.

"Trophies are part of this club. Every player knows he will come to United to fight for trophies, to be a better player.

"If you look to history, you have to look to the history, pressure is part of your life. I like the pressure, that's good for me.

"The most important for us is to try to win the game. Everything can happen, but we can control some stuff. Most importantly, the team is growing up and tomorrow will be a sign of that."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hopes the presence of Sir Alex Ferguson will help inspire his Manchester United players to "take the next step" by winning the Europa League.

Legendary former manager Ferguson, who won 38 trophies in 26 years at Old Trafford, has travelled with the United squad to Gdansk ahead of Wednesday's final with Villarreal 

The Red Devils face Spanish side Villarreal seeking their first silverware since Solskjaer took over from Jose Mourinho in December 2018, initially on a caretaker basis.

It also marks just Solskjaer's second final as a manager, having won the 2013 Norwegian Cup with Molde, where he also lifted the Tippeligaen in 2011 and 2012.

After ending his curse of losing in four cup semi-finals as United boss, Solskjaer believes a first trophy for his current crop of players can be a springboard for further success.

"Of course, when players get the taste of success, it can go one of two ways," Solskjaer said at Tuesday's pre-match news conference. 

"Now we've done it, or how I felt before, it gives you that feeling of being hungry for more. You want that feeling again. 

"For this group, working hard for a year or two, it's a next step for them now to go and enjoy a game like this.

"These are big nights for us. It might be the stepping stone for something better to come. This team is a young team, a team that we've rebuilt. 

"Hopefully this is the start of something more. Sir Alex is with us, the 26th of May is Sir Matt [Busby]'s birthday. 

"When the players sign for Manchester United, they sign to win, to accept the challenge of being the best. 

"This is the best club of the world, this is the pleasure of the pressure. They wouldn't have signed if they weren't top players."

Asked about Ferguson's role in United's preparations, Solskjaer said: "He flew out with us yesterday. Some of us went to see his documentary.

"I sat there thinking about this special man. He's an encyclopaedia of football. When we eat in the restaurant, if the players wonder about something, they can ask him. 

"He's always available. I hope he's going to enjoy it as well. I owe most of my career to him and this club."

Wednesday's match will be United's eighth major European final, which is the second-most of any English club after Liverpool (14).

United, who have won five of those previous seven finals, are expected to be without key man Harry Maguire against Villarreal as the defender continues to nurse an ankle injury.

Maguire was included in United's squad, despite missing his side's final four league games of the season, but Solskjaer is not overly confident the centre-back will be ready to feature.

"We've prepared well," Solskjaer said. "Anthony [Martial] didn't make it, Phil [Jones] of course didn't make it and Harry is just probably going to jog up and down the sideline [in training].

"He'll probably try to join in the training session a little but apart from that we're looking quite good.

"It's always difficult to leave players out. But throughout the whole season, a final is a reward for what you've done the whole season.

"We'll enjoy the last training session and the players will learn the team tomorrow."

United rounded off their Premier League campaign with a 2-1 win at Wolves to finish in second place, 12 points behind runaway champions Manchester City.

Solskjaer is pleased with the progress made season-on-season and insists his players will be ready for the huge showdown with Unai Emery's Villarreal.

"I've got enough self-belief in myself, whatever circumstances I've been in," he said.  "I trust in the players, who I know are ready. I've seen in them something growing.

"I'm confident that we're ready for this now. Every player who goes into a final has the pressure to win. You have to play to win, we expect to win, but I'm sure Unai feels the same. 

"It's been a long qualification to get here and it's 50-50. I feel confident that we are ready for this. In a final, anything can happen and we have to be ready for everything."

United are facing Villarreal for a fifth time, with each of the previous four meetings – all in the Champions League between 2005-06 and 2008-09 – finishing goalless 

The Red Devils have faced Villarreal more times without ever scoring than they have any other opponent in their history.

While it will not be the main item on the agenda, it is fair to say that Manchester United's centre-back strength will be under the microscope in Wednesday's Europa League final against Villarreal.

Of course, any apparent issues at the back will be drowned out – at least initially – if Ole Gunnar Solskjaer guides United to their first piece of silverware during his tenure.

However, as the game approaches, it is at the heart of their defence where United's biggest problem lies, with Harry Maguire unlikely to be fit for the game.

Love him or loathe him, there is little doubt Maguire has been United's best – and certainly most present – centre-back since he joined the club in 2019, with the defeat to his former club Leicester City earlier this month the first Premier League game he had missed for the Red Devils.

He did not feature in any of the final four league fixtures and, even though he has travelled to Gdansk, a starting role seems highly unlikely.

Therefore, it will either be down to former Villarreal man Eric Bailly or Axel Tuanzebe to partner Victor Lindelof – either way, it is hardly the most convincing of partnerships.

If United are to bridge the gap to Manchester City, it has been a long-held belief of many pundits and columnists that centre-back is one of the few areas they have significant room for improvement in, with the options available in Maguire's absence highlighting that.

Up against them on Wednesday will be Pau Torres, a central defender who has been linked with some of the world's biggest clubs, including United. Could he be the long-term answer they are looking for?

The playmaker at centre-back

Maguire has enjoyed a solid season for United, his influence at the back made all the more notable in the two matches they have lost without him. The main question mark is over the man next to him, which is usually Lindelof.

For a period last year, it appeared as though United would try to bring in a left-footed centre-back to partner Maguire, who would be allowed to shift back to the right side of the pairing.

Nathan Ake seemed an obvious candidate given Bournemouth's relegation and the fact Solskjaer appeared to indicate his interest in the Dutchman after a game against the Cherries – his comments caught by a nearby television camera.

He went to Manchester City instead, but Torres has a similar profile in that he is a left-footed centre-back who is praised for his ability on the ball.

Playing out from the back has been a frequent aspect of United's play under Solskjaer, and Torres would certainly fit in – his tally of 747 forward passes in LaLiga this term were bettered by only Jules Kounde (918) and Clement Lenglet (812) in terms of fellow defenders.

Where he does better than both, however, is bringing the ball out of defence. His 432 progressive carries – movements that take the ball more than five metres upfield – is 42 more than any other LaLiga defender, while he has carried the ball 4,784.4 metres up the pitch, again a high for the league.

This has even translated into having an attacking influence, with his two assists at the end of a carry only bettered by Jose Gaya – a full-back – among defenders. In fact, he's the only centre-back to get more than one assist in this fashion.

It all demonstrates how useful and reliable Torres can be for a team that wants to build from deep. Stylistically at least, it would seem the Spain international could be a great fit for United.

Room to grow, or not enough of an upgrade?

Despite the acclaim Torres has received over the past two seasons, there are those unconvinced by some of his defensive skills.

He has been accused of being too prone to making snap decisions, which does not tend to bring positive results for him in one-on-one situations, while it has also been pointed out that his communication with a partner can be poor, especially when it comes to offside traps.

The other potential issue is, while Torres is undoubtedly a wonderful player technically and arguably the most gifted centre-back in that regard in Spain, his weaknesses are similar to those already seen from Lindelof during his time at Old Trafford.

The problem many have with Lindelof is that he too often appears uneasy in physical confrontations, while also looking uncomfortable against nimble forwards.

Torres is athletic – tall, quick and strong, but he still seems unsure how best to use those physical traits at times, and his defensive numbers are not an upgrade on Lindelof.

The Sweden international averages more aerial challenges (3.5) and aerial wins (2.2) per 90 minutes than Torres (2.7 and 1.7) in the 2020-21 season, while their frequency of being involved in duels is very similar: 5.8 for Lindelof and 5.5 per game for Torres.

Torres does win more of those duels on average (3.4 to 3.3), but the difference is negligible. As for their respective abilities to sniff out danger, Lindelof also comes out on top with regards to interceptions, averaging 1.1 per game to Torres' 0.7.

Such metrics can often be skewed when an individual – in this case Lindelof – is playing for a team expecting to spend more time in possession against most opponents they come up against.

It underlines that Torres is generally a passive centre-back, which is not necessarily a bad thing, as Maguire is rather different, but it is a key aspect United would have to take into consideration if they are to make a move for him.

The caveat for Torres' blind spots, however, is that he is still only 24 and 2020-21 is just his second full season in LaLiga – he does have plenty of time to develop.

His exceptional technical skills at least provide him with a solid platform to build from, but would the other side of his game mean he would be considered an upgrade over Lindelof?

The Europa League final will be his final audition and an opportunity to prove how his strengths outweigh any weaknesses.

For the first time under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Manchester United are preparing for a final.

The Europa League might not be top of the agenda for Solskjaer's United ambitions but, after four semi-final defeats as manager in three different competitions, he will be delighted to have a shot at what could be the Red Devils' first trophy since they won this competition in 2017.

Of course, this is also a momentous occasion for Villarreal: a first European final of any kind against a team who have been in these matches seven times previously. However, the Spaniards boast experience in coach Unai Emery, who won this trophy on three occasions while in charge of Sevilla.

Ahead of the first major final in European competition this week, Stats Perform examines the key Opta data...

The Coaches

When it comes to experience at this stage, Emery certainly has the edge.

The former Arsenal boss lifted this trophy three years in a row from 2014 to 2016 and could become the first coach to win either the UEFA Cup or Europa League four times.

Solskjaer, however, has contested only one final in his managerial career: he won the 2013 Norwegian Cup with Molde. Indeed, no Norwegian coach has ever won a major European trophy.

Emery and Solskjaer have faced off twice before in the Premier League, when the Spaniard was at Arsenal. The Gunners won 2-0 at Emirates Stadium in March 2019, ending Solskjaer's unbeaten league start at United, before a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford in September of that year.

However, it was Solskjaer who came out on top when they met in a knockout fixture, United triumphing 3-1 in north London in an FA Cup tie in January 2019. Their goals in that tie came from Alexis Sanchez, Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial - none of whom will be involved in Gdansk.

The Records

While Emery is chasing history of his own, Villarreal are hoping to become the 10th Spanish team in a row to defeat an English side in a European final - a run that includes United losing twice to Barcelona in the Champions League.

United have found it tough going against the Yellow Submarine in the past. In fact, the Red Devils have faced Villarreal more often without scoring than any other side in their history, with each of their previous four meetings ending 0-0.

However, United have won five of the seven major European finals they have contested (only Liverpool, with 14, have been in more among English sides). A win would secure the 67th trophy in their history, extending their lead over Liverpool (65) when it comes to England's most successful clubs.

The Star Names

All eyes will be on Bruno Fernandes in his first final for United.

The Portugal star has played 57 times this season, more than anyone else in Europe's top-five leagues, providing 28 goals and 18 assists. Only four players across those top leagues have been directly involved in more goals. His 137 chances created surpasses anyone else.

Wednesday could also see Mason Greenwood make his first career appearance in a final. Should he score, he would become only the second English teenager to do so in a major European final, the first being Brian Kidd, who netted on his 19th birthday when United beat Benfica in the 1968 European Cup final.

At the other end of the career spectrum sits Edinson Cavani, who has averaged a goal or assist every 35 minutes in this season's Europa League, the best return of anyone to play at least 200 minutes in the competition.

Cavani, who has 10 league goals in just 13 starts in his first season with the club, is bidding to become the third player aged 34 or over to score in a major European final for an English side, after Gary McAllister in the 2001 UEFA Cup final and Didier Drogba in the 2012 Champions League final.

Carlos Bacca has history in this fixture, having scored twice in the final six years ago for Sevilla. The Colombian could become the first player to score in a major European final for two teams from the same nation since Hernan Crespo, who was on target for Parma in 1999 and then Milan in 2005.

Villarreal's main threat will likely come through Gerard Moreno. With 29 goals and 10 assists in all competitions, he has been the most dangerous Spanish forward in Europe this term. Indeed, Lionel Messi (50) is the only player from LaLiga with more direct goal involvements.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insists he is "ever the optimist" but does not expect Manchester United captain Harry Maguire to be fit for the Europa League final.

Maguire hurt his ankle in the 3-1 win at Aston Villa on May 9 and missed his side's final four Premier League matches of the season.

The England international has had to use a protective boot during his recovery but has not been definitively ruled out of Wednesday's match with Villarreal in Gdansk.

However, Solskjaer admits it is unlikely Maguire will be able to come through a full training session in Poland in just 48 hours' time.

"I will wait for Wednesday," the United manager said after Sunday's 2-1 win at Wolves. "Maybe see if he can run on Tuesday but it is still a bit away. I don't expect him to be ready.

"Of course, he wants to play but it is going to be up to the doctor. I don't expect him to be ready. It does not look great but, ever the optimist, I am still hopeful.

"He has to train on Tuesday when we are over there. It is not many days. I don't expect him to be ready."

United's win at Molineux saw them become only the third different club to go an entire top-flight season in England without losing an away game, after Preston North End (1888-89) and Arsenal twice (2001-02 and 2003-04).

Solskjaer chose to rest several key first-team players ahead of Wednesday's final, handing starts to back-ups such as Brandon Williams, Nemanja Matic and Juan Mata, as well as youngsters Amad Diallo and Anthony Elanga, while Will Fish and Hannibal Mejbri made their senior debuts as late substitutes.

Elanga broke the deadlock with his first Premier League goal before Mata's penalty secured the win after Nelson Semedo had equalised.

Solskjaer said he may well have fielded a stronger side had United been able to play a day earlier, as Villarreal did.

"If we had played yesterday I would probably have picked a different team. I am glad I didn't because it's the first win I have had here," he said.

"Fair play to LaLiga, moving seven games just for Villarreal to have another day of preparation. They could have played tonight and rested players against Real Madrid, it could have been a different result and you never know what that would have changed.

"Good by them and we have to think about it ourselves, definitely. We did not ask the Premier League but of course, whenever we can help our own teams we should do it."

Even with Maguire likely to be sidelined, Solskjaer still hopes he can win his maiden trophy as United boss in what will be his first final since his return to the club in late 2018.

"You always feel pressure at Man United to win things, win trophies," he said. "That is one of the steps. Sometimes a trophy can hide other imperfections but the progress in the league, that we have been in loads of semi-finals, it shows progress.

"But the next step for this team is to win trophies and challenge the champions in the Premier League as well.

"When you win things, you just want to win more. You want to feel that sensation. I know my players will believe but when you get the taste of that first one, it is a big step in the right direction. It is that taste for it. The belief is there, for sure."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will discuss Juan Mata's Manchester United future with the Spanish playmaker after admitting he does not give him enough game time.

Mata earned a rare start in Sunday's Premier League season-finale 2-1 victory at Wolves, in which he scored the winning penalty on the stroke of half-time, as Solskjaer made wholesale changes with an eye on the Europa League final against Villarreal.

It was only Mata's 10th start and 17th appearance in total across all competitions this season and the former Chelsea star is out of contract next month.

Asked if talks with Mata are happening, United boss Solskjaer told BT Sport: "Yeah we are talking to Juan, we'll sit down and of course it's a bit what he wants as well. 

"I don't give him enough game time, he's such a top professional so we'll have that discussion."

For his part, Mata remains unsure as to the outcome of those contract discussions, but the 33-year-old is adamant he still has plenty to offer.

"I don't know, I don't really know. In three days we have a very important game which is where my mind is at the moment. I still feel I can give a lot for the team. That's my mentality," Mata said.

"It's not the moment now to speak about it. I know what I want, I'm happy with how I feel physically and mentally. I'm hungry to play football for more years, the club know that, so…"

With the Villarreal game to come on Wednesday, Solskjaer took the chance to rest his regular XI and mixed some of his more experienced pros with promising youngsters at Molineux.

Among those was Anthony Elanga, who impressed in attack alongside Adam Diallo and Daniel James for United and opened the scoring for his first United goal prior to Nelson Semedo's equaliser.

"I'm sure he will [remember that]," Solskjaer said of Elanga.

"He could have had two before, just being confident enough to get in there. I'm very pleased for him and he's got a bright future ahead of him."

It wasn't too long ago that the idea of Mason Greenwood getting into Gareth Southgate's England squad was farfetched.

After a stunning breakthrough campaign in 2019-20 that saw him score 10 times in the Premier League, 2020-21 got off to a difficult start for the teenager.

It took him until December to score his first league goal of the season, and it took him a little over four months to net again.

Although he was in England contention at the start of the season, such form had seemingly seen him fall well out of the reckoning. When he was unsurprisingly absent from the March selection, few eyebrows were raised.

After all, it was back in September when Greenwood – having just won his first senior cap against Iceland – was involved in controversy involving two local girls being brought to the team hotel. He and Phil Foden were subsequently sent home and left out of the next squad.

But Foden was swiftly recalled in November having impressed early on, and he looks set to take on a key role at the Euros such has been his influence at Premier League champions Manchester City.

It's a slightly different scenario for the similarly talented Greenwood, and the reality is he will probably miss out, but his return form has at least given him a chance.

Perseverance and focus

As previously mentioned, Greenwood's form really suffered in the first part of the season, and that seemed to linger well into this year.

When considering what went wrong, it's of course natural to look at his performances and on-pitch habits.

For example, shot map data earlier in the season suggested he has potentially been found out by defenders. He wreaked havoc in 2019-20 when cutting inside on to his left foot and shooting, but it looked as though opponents had become wise to this, forcing him outside more often.

That's one theory – another worth considering is the human side of football. Let's not forget, Greenwood – a teenager – went through a lot last year.

There was the death of a close friend, the controversy on England duty and subsequent vilification of him from certain sections of the British media. All of that would be difficult for anyone to contend with, let alone a kid of 18 or 19 years.

Perhaps then it was just a matter of time, patience and perseverance for him to get back to his best, which he appears to be on the evidence of the past six weeks or so.

The fact we are even talking about his chances of going to the Euros is a triumph for Greenwood in itself.

From drought to downpour

Greenwood went on a run of 15 appearances without a single goal from late January, but he ended that barren spell against Leicester City on March 21.

Life has been rather different for him since then, finding himself back among the goals in the Premier League on April 4, netting the late winner as United defeated Brighton and Hove Albion 2-1 with a diving header.

That's one of six league goals in a run of eight matches, more than any other English forward in that time, netting at a rate of once every 88 minutes – by comparison, Harry Kane's recent form has him scoring every 125.8 minutes in the league.

Greenwood is once again showing the kind of killer-instinct in front of goal that made him so feared in 2019-20, when he scored 17 goals across all competitions.

Ten of those came in the league from an expected goals (xG) value of just 2.9, meaning he scored 7.1 goals more than expected. No player in the division could match that xG overperformance.

This would generally indicate elite-level finishing or a player getting lucky. Greenwood's form earlier this season suggested it was the latter, but since April 4 his xG overperformance in the league is 2.6 – the next best in this regard is Danny Ings (1.9 overperformance).

However, the caveat is that Greenwood's expected goals on target (xGOT) of 2.7 is lower than his xG of 3.4, suggesting that he's actually been a little fortunate, benefiting from goalkeeping errors, for instance.

For example, against Burnley his goal took a deflection en route to goal, while his effort against Aston Villa went in off the hand of Emiliano Martinez.

In terms of the difference between his xG and xGOT, Greenwood actually ranks poorly when compared to his rivals for a place in the England squad since April 4, with Ollie Watkins' 3.95 xGOT better than his 3.0 xG, which suggests his four goals have come about via good finishing because he has outperformed the underlying quality of his chances.

Ings, Kane and Marcus Rashford have also done better than Greenwood in this area of late, however the counter-argument would be that the teenager perhaps creates his own luck with unpredictable play on the ball and his comfort with either foot.

Southgate will make his decision regarding the squad on Tuesday, and Greenwood is likely still seen as an outsider, but there's no question he has given the manager food for thought.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has called for two or three high-profile signings if Manchester United are going to challenge for Premier League glory next season.

United are second in the table, 12 points behind champions Manchester City going into Sunday's final match of the domestic season at Wolves.

Next week's Europa League final against Villarreal provides Solskjaer with the chance of his first piece of silverware after a season of progress.

But as United are linked to the likes of Raphael Varane, Pau Torres, Declan Rice, Jadon Sancho and Harry Kane, Solskjaer does not want the club hierarchy to make the mistake of thinking the last step to the top of the table will occur naturally.

"Of course we're planning as we normally do," Solskjaer said when asked about transfers. "That's an ongoing process.

"We're looking at the squad and I hope we're going to strengthen with the two or three players we definitely need to challenge higher up in the table. 

"We're still too far behind to think it's just going to come by itself.

"We've had a few players on loan that might come back in. There is interest in a few others going out – it's difficult to say, I can't see too many outgoings.

"You want to come out of the transfer window strengthened. We're not where we aimed to be. But we've got ambitions to move up one place.

"There's been steady improvement. Third last season, second this season, some more points. We've done really well away from home. 

"We know we had a difficult start to the season, losing three of the first six games and loads of them were home games, which put pressure on the team.

"The players have been very, very good."

Solskjaer confirmed Anthony Martial will not be available against Wolves or Villarreal, but Daniel James is in contention to feature in both matches.

Midfielders Scott McTominay and Fred "should be OK" for the continental final, though Harry Maguire is not expected to recover in time.

Changes are expected against Wolves ahead of the Villarreal clash in Gdansk.

United have lost just one of their past seven Premier League meetings with Wolves (W3 D3), going down 2-1 at Molineux in April 2019.

"Of course you want to go into the final with loads of energy," added Solskjaer. "We want to get minutes into a few who might need it going into the final, and to enjoy it.

"You want to go in with loads of energy but also confidence. 

"We'll make a few changes versus Wolves, freshen up a few, get minutes into legs of those who might need it."

If they avoid defeat, United will become just the fourth side to remain unbeaten away from home across an entire English top-flight campaign and the first since Arsenal's 'Invincibles' in 2003-04.

If selected, Marcus Rashford will be eyeing his 100th senior career goal (88 for Manchester United, 11 for England). 

Rashford has scored in two of his three starts against Wolves for the Red Devils.

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has revealed Harry Maguire is likely to miss the Europa League final against Villarreal.

Maguire suffered ankle ligament damage in an awkward collision with Anwar El Ghazi during the 3-1 win over Aston Villa on May 9 and subsequently had to be withdrawn.

Solskjaer said earlier this week that Maguire was feeling optimistic about his chances of being fit for the match on May 26.

But Solskjaer has now said he does not expect the defender to recover in time.

"He's walking, but it's a long way from walking to running, so to be honest I don't think we'll see him in Gdansk," said the United boss.

"I'm going to give him until Tuesday night, the last training session, to see if he can be out there.

"Ligaments take time to heal."

His absence is an unusual situation for United and Maguire to find themselves in.

The centre-back had played in every minute of 71 consecutive league games for the Red Devils – and in his final five for Leicester City before moving two years ago – until that injury.

In fact, Maguire has played for 9,615 minutes in all competitions since the start of 2019-20. At the time of his injury, that was almost 1,000 more than any other player across the top five leagues.

Solskjaer added: "He's a very important person in the dressing room and a leader.

"Before the fans came in you all heard him from the stands. He wants the team to do well, he's organising from the stands, which has been easy because it's been so quiet.

"He'll be in the dressing room and make sure everyone's ready for the final."

If Maguire is indeed out, United are likely to line up with Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly in the centre of defence, with the latter facing his former club.

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer refused to rule out signing another striker amid links to Tottenham star Harry Kane and Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland.

United re-signed Edinson Cavani for another season and the veteran forward was on target in Tuesday's disappointing 1-1 Premier League draw against relegated Fulham.

Despite Cavani's renewal, Solskjaer is open to further bolstering his attack as speculation mounts over Kane, who reportedly wants to leave Tottenham in the offseason.

"Yes Edi [Cavani] signs but how many good strikers have we had at this club," Solskjaer said during his post-match news conference.

"I can't say that we're not signing a striker. Of course not, because we're building, we're working towards a better squad. We're top three two years on the bounce, but still nowhere where we want to be. 

"So hopefully we will end up with the strongest squad when we start next season and be more consistent than the ones in front of us."

Cavani's stunning 15th-minute opener was cancelled out by Joe Bryan with 14 minutes remaining as a capped crowd returned to Old Trafford amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Paris Saint-Germain's all-time leading goalscorer Cavani became only the third United player to reach 10-plus goals in a single Premier League season while aged 33 or over at the start of that campaign, after Teddy Sheringham in 2000-01 and Zlatan Ibrahimovic in 2016-17.

Cavani also became the 25th different player to score 10 or more goals in a single Premier League season for the Red Devils – more than any other team in the competition's history.

"You know, we've already voted on the goal of the season, but if that was in the vote, I think it might have had a chance to win it," said Solskjaer. "It was composed.

"He had a chance like that earlier on in the season in the Champions League and he didn't score. And the way he took this chance was just amazing. So, very pleased for him very pleased for the Stretford Enders that they experienced that in their first meeting between them, between them and Edi."

United – second behind champions Manchester City – have dropped 10 points from winning positions at home this season, their highest ever such total at Old Trafford in a Premier League season.

Solskjaer's United have conceded 28 home goals in the Premier League this season – they last conceded more on home soil in a single league campaign back in 1962-63 (38).

As United prepare for the Europa League final against Villarreal on May 26 amid a three-match winless run, Solskjaer added: "We need to play better against Villarreal than what we've done in the last three games. But I think you've seen so many times this season when we've been backed into the corner, when we've lost, when we've been criticised, we've always come back stuck together.

"I think it might be a wake-up call because we tried to do the fanciest of the flicks, the extraordinary things like the things that please the fans. That's not what we're about. We should be more efficient. Have a look at Cavani. Have a look at how he plays the game. Just every single one of us just look at him. The back tackles, the runs, he scores. There is no fluff. And we cannot have fluff in a game of football."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer refused to talk about the possibility of Manchester United signing Harry Kane despite a disappointing performance in their 1-1 draw with Fulham.

Edinson Cavani's stunning 10th-minute lob seemingly had United on course for a routine win against relegated opposition that would have secured second place in the Premier League.

But a failure to make their dominance count saw them pegged back late on by Joe Bryan's header, meaning United are three games without a win.

United have now conceded 28 home goals in the Premier League this season – they last conceded more at Old Trafford in a single campaign back in 1962-63 (38).

Solskjaer's men have also dropped 10 points from winning positions at home, their highest total at Old Trafford in a Premier League season.

But United were arguably fortunate to claim a share of the spoils, Fulham finishing the game with a minor edge in expected goals of 1.0 to 0.8

Kane reportedly wants to leave Tottenham and has scored 22 league goals this season, outperforming an xG of 19.8.

But asked about the potential availability of the Spurs star, Solskjaer told Sky Sports: "I can't talk about players that are on other teams. I don't think that's respectful of any team, any players. I can't talk about that."

On United's display in front of 10,000 returning fans, he said: "I don't think we put on the performance that they wanted and maybe deserved. We had some good spells but not enough.

"We were too loose, giving the ball away too often, maybe it's because the crowd came in and we wanted to entertain them, maybe it would be more entertaining if we played properly and scored goals.

"We've lost eight points in a period where we should be bouncing going into the next game, looking forward to it, looking forward to the [Europa League] final, going into that confident, but we need to sort a few things out."

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is unsure whether Juan Mata will remain at Old Trafford beyond this season.

The Spanish midfielder has spent the last seven-and-a-half years at Old Trafford, racking up 271 appearances during that time.

However, he has struggled for minutes this season – featuring just 16 times in all competitions – and is due to become a free agent next month.

United have the option to trigger a 12-month extension in Mata's contract, but Solskjaer insists the player himself will have the final say over his future.

"I've kept the dialogue with Juan and we're due to speak again very soon," he said at a news conference on Monday previewing his side's home match with Fulham. 

"Of course, he's not played as much as he'd like and that's a decision that we'll make with him. He's in charge of his own future and he's been such a good servant for the club. 

"But of course, it's hard, as I've said so many times, to leave good players out, good people out of the team. 

"It's about what does he want as his next step in his career? Is it still play out his career here, or is it going somewhere else? We haven't made a final decision yet."

Mata's appearance in a much-changed United's 2-1 loss to Leicester City last week was just his fifth start of the season in the Premier League, not helped by injuries and family matters.

Prior to that rare outing against the Foxes, Mata had played just two minutes of top-flight football for United in 2021, coming on as a late substitute in February's 3-1 win against Newcastle United.

He has failed to score in the league since April 2019 but does have two assists in 2020-21, which equates to 0.42 per 90 minutes and is the best record of any United player to have played more than once this term.

Bruno Fernandes is next on the list with 0.33 assists per 90 minutes, albeit over a far greater period of 36 games compared to Mata's eight.

The 33-year-old also ranks highly for chances created, the Spaniard's 1.69 per 90 minutes behind only Luke Shaw (2.53) and Fernandes (2.81).

Serie A side Lazio are reportedly the favourites to sign the former Valencia and Chelsea man should he depart Old Trafford in the coming weeks. 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says Manchester United's recent loss of form could be partly due to off-field issues but is hoping supporters can give his side a lift against Fulham on Tuesday.

The Red Devils lost back-to-back Premier League home games against Leicester City and Liverpool last week in a little over 48 hours amid a backdrop of fan protests against the club's ownership.

Supporters forced the initial clash with Liverpool two weeks ago to be postponed late on after demonstrating inside and outside Old Trafford.

United had to alter their pre-match plans for both the rearranged clash with Liverpool and the loss to Leicester to ensure their players were in the stadium well ahead of kick-off.

Solskjaer admits the disruption affected his squad and, ahead of United welcoming fans to Old Trafford for the first time in 14 months, the Norwegian has called for unity.

"I didn't want to use it as an excuse because we lost two games but surely it's a reason behind the performances," Solskjaer said at a news conference on Monday.

"I'm not saying it didn't affect them, but I was impressed with how professional they were and how they went about it.

"I think the mood in any club and the relationship between the team and the fans is vital to what happens on the pitch.

"The players are all human beings, we're all human beings, and we will react to getting our supporters back in a positive way.

"They have always given us extra energy and hopefully the players will give the fans a reason to cheer and that's what we have to focus on. It's a big game for us in that respect."

Tuesday's visit of Fulham will see up to 10,000 in attendance for United's final home game of the season as coronavirus restrictions continue to be eased in the United Kingdom.

Victory for United would guarantee a second-place finish in the Premier League for just the second time since Alex Ferguson retired at the end of the 2012-13 season.

Jose Mourinho was in charge for that previous occasion and described it as one of his best achievements in management, but ​Solskjaer will not celebrate finishing so far behind Manchester City.

"The competition is a lot harder now than when I was a player," he said. "Of course, you have three, four, maybe five teams that challenge for the top two positions.

"The top two positions have been taken by two teams in the past few years and for us to move into them and divide them is a good performance, but it's not an achievement.

"You can't say it's an achievement. We've taken steps as a team, we're not where we want to be. We know we have some deficiencies as a group.

"There are parts of the game we need to improve on but I've felt we’ve made strides in most places.

"I've been very pleased with the players this season, I've got to say. I've been impressed by them, but we want to take the next step as well."

United have won 18 of their past 22 Premier League meetings with Fulham and are unbeaten in their last 12 against them in the competition, winning 10 of those.

Solskjaer's side follow up Tuesday's fixture with a trip to Wolves on the final day, before turning their focus to the Europa League final with Villarreal on May 26.

That game in Gdansk offers Solskjaer a chance to win his first piece of silverware as United boss, but he is not thinking about that game with two Premier League matches still to go.

"You know whatever team I pick against Fulham, it has to be a team that gives everything," he said.

"If you go into a game tentative, if you have something else in your mind, you don't fly into the tackles as you should, you don't sprint as normal, you don't maybe focus as much.

"There's more of a danger of getting hurt in that kind of position. We want to build momentum, we want to build confidence because of course we've lost the last two at Old Trafford.

"We don't want to go into an important game with bad momentum or a bad feeling, so we use these two games to get results but also to get confidence."

United have lost their final home league game of the season in just one of the previous 13 campaigns, doing so against Cardiff City in 2018-19.

The Red Devils have Daniel James and Anthony Martial back, but Harry Maguire and fellow centre-back Phil Jones are both out.

Harry Maguire is feeling optimistic about his chances of being fit for the Europa League final, according to Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Maguire suffered ankle ligament damage in an awkward collision with Anwar El Ghazi during the 3-1 win over Aston Villa on May 9 and subsequently had to be withdrawn.

It was an unusual situation for United and Maguire to find themselves in, as the centre-back had played in every minute of 71 consecutive league games for the Red Devils – and in his final five for Leicester City before moving two years ago – until that injury.

In fact, Maguire has played for 9,615 minutes in all competitions since the start of 2019-20. Prior to the defeat to Liverpool on Thursday, that was almost 1,000 more than any other player across the top five leagues.

That loss to the Reds came just two days after losing to Leicester, meaning United have been beaten in both games without their captain and Solskjaer was quick to accept that he will surely not play again in the Premier League this term.

Given United are already guaranteed to finish in the top four, their focus is now on facing Villarreal in the Europa League final on May 26, with Solskjaer hoping to end his wait for silverware at the club.

The manager offered an update on Sunday, insisting United will take no chances with Maguire's fitness.

"He's making progress," Solskjaer told reporters. "When I spoke to him this morning he was quite positive but, naturally, the day after it happened we were all down.

"We saw early on, or we decided that we have to focus, we have to be positive, and think that you're going make it until you have to say 'no'. I've always been an optimist, so we're positive.

"But we've consciously taken the route of not testing him out too early, too quickly, because we don't want to aggravate something. He wants this so much, so he doesn't want to take any risks, either.

"Hopefully we can have good news early, but I'll give Harry as long as it takes, because of course he has shown his importance.

"Hopefully he'll speed up the recovery and be ready for the final, but I'll give him as long as he needs, until he says 'yes' or 'no'."

Although Solskjaer needs no convincing of Maguire's influence, fans and pundits have not always been so kind about him considering United made him the world's most expensive defender when they bought him in 2019.

Maguire has missed 12 games for United in all competitions, most of them in the domestic cups, so comparing them directly with and without their captain is a pretty redundant exercise.

Examining his individual numbers offers a broader picture of his influence, though. He has helped United to 42 clean sheets in all competitions since joining, the most of any defender across Europe's top five leagues prior to the Liverpool loss. He was also directly responsible for by far the most clearances (391), headed clearances (244), duels won (645) and aerials won (432) over that same period.

Unquestionably a good stopper, he has also proved suitably adept with the ball. Maguire has made 6,152 successful passes in his United career, again the most of any defender in those top European leagues over the aforementioned period. Of those passes, 2,142 have been completed in the opponent's half, which is the best figure for any nominal centre-back.

Maguire can also claim to have had as much of an influence on United's patterns of play as any Solskjaer signing – barring Bruno Fernandes, of course.

In the Premier League this season, Maguire has started 24 open-play sequences that have ended in a shot, which again was the highest number among the division's centre-backs until his injury.

Maguire has not only made United's defence more resolute; he has directly impacted their use of the ball. His absence has already been keenly felt, but at least the United captain might start to be acknowledged as one of the most influential players in England – not that it was ever in doubt for Solskjaer.

"We've known it [his importance] all along, of course. But maybe some people open their eyes when he's not playing! I certainly felt I became a very, very good player when I was injured. People suddenly realised what I could do as a sub, or as a player," Solskjaer continued.

"Harry's been our leader, he's a captain. Ever since he's come in, he's been more or less ever-present, so of course he's a big miss at the moment."

Jesse Lingard has been named the Premier League Player of the Month for April, winning the award after also being nominated in February and March.

The attacking midfielder has thrived since joining West Ham on loan from Manchester United.

Lingard scored four goals and added an assist in four appearances over the course of the month as West Ham continued their push for a European place.

He has nine goals and three assists in 13 Premier League outings for West Ham so far since joining, having been out of the picture under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the first half of the season at Old Trafford.

The fine form he has shown earned Lingard an England recall in March.

Mason Greenwood was one of the other members of an eight-man shortlist which also contained Trent Alexander-Arnold, Stuart Dallas, Kelechi Iheanacho, Matheus Pereira, Allan Saint-Maximin and Chris Wood.

"I've been nominated for the past two months and even getting nominated is a great feeling for me," said Lingard, who recently received praise from Bruno Fernandes when the United playmaker labelled him the top-flight's best player over the past 10 games.

"I want to be up there as the best I can be and the best in the world.

"David Moyes has shown faith and given me the freedom in each game to go and perform."

Meanwhile, Newcastle United boss Steve Bruce is April's manager of the month.

He beat Sam Allardyce, Marcelo Bielsa and Solskjaer to the award after a month which saw Newcastle draw with Liverpool and Tottenham while recording wins over Burnley and West Ham.

It was a run of form that secured Newcastle's Premier League safety.

Bruce won the award for the first time after 19 years and 465 matches in the competition.

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