Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes winning the League Cup would be a “big step” in Manchester United’s development as he prepares for Wednesday’s semifinal showdown with Manchester City at Old Trafford.
United went out to Pep Guardiola’s men in the final four of the competition last season, before losing in the semis of the FA Cup and Europa League.
However, the Red Devils had a third-place finish in the Premier League behind City and runaway winners Liverpool to show for Solskjaer’s first full season in charge.
United have pushed on again this season in the league to find themselves level on points with Liverpool at the top of the table with a game in hand on the champions.
“A semifinal is a chance to get to the final, to get your hands on a trophy in the next round and for this team it would be a very, very big step getting your hands on a trophy,” said Solskjaer.
“We’ve developed a lot in the last six months, last 12 months since the last semi in the Carabao (League) Cup so of course it’s not just learning to win semis.
“We’ve also earned the right to feel we can go all the way with our performances. We are confident, we are going into the game with good form so there’s no excuses.”
– Trophy drought –
United have not won a trophy since last lifting the League Cup and Europa League in Jose Mourinho’s first season in charge, four years ago.
“You play football to win trophies, to get your hands on a trophy – even though when you win that trophy you move on to the next one,” added Solskjaer, who won 10 major trophies in his time as a player at United.
“But it gives you hunger to get more, so of course the squad is focused, we’re ready to give it a go. I think we’ve prepared well for this game.”
The League Cup semifinals are being played over one leg instead of the usual two this year due to the congested schedule as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
United are not expected to be busy in the transfer window this month, but Solskjaer has already made one new addition to his backroom staff, with former midfielder Darren Fletcher returning to Old Trafford.
“His experience of being here through both successful and difficult times, we felt it was right now for Darren to come in and give us that input,” said Solskjaer.
“I think it’s also important that we bring ex-players that have been somewhere else.
“I’ve been somewhere else after having worked under Mick Phelan, Sir Alex (Ferguson) and Carlos (Queiroz). We know one way of the coaching but they’ve been to different clubs and got different ideas.
“Fletch, with his ideas and thoughts will improve us in the backroom staff.”