Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is on the brink of winning his first trophy since becoming Manchester United manager 3 years ago. Standing in his way is Unai Emery, the manager with the joint most Europa League Titles.
MANCHESTER UNITED UNDER SOLSKJAER
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer won 14 out of his first 19 matches as interim manager in 2018. These results were the reason he was appointed as permanent manager. Expectations were high on the shoulders of the former striker. Those expectations have however not been met. United have failed to win any trophy in 3 years under Solskjaer. They have instead suffered 4 semi-final losses. They also surrendered their place at the top of the PL table to Manchester City who went on to win. In fact, United are in the Europa League because they failed to qualify from their Champions League group. These shortcomings have prompted questions about the mentality and quality of Solskjaer’s team.
Solskjaer has however finally led Manchester United to their first Cup final under him. The Norwegian will be keen to win his first trophy as manager of the club he spent 11 years playing for. Star players like Bruno Fernandes and Edinson Cavani will also be keen to win their first trophy with Manchester United. United beat Real Sociedad, AC Milan, Granada & AS Roma on their way to the Final. Villarreal presents the last hurdle to climb before winning the trophy they last won in 2017.
This is Villareal’s first ever major final in either domestic or European competition. Unai Emery has taken them to their first ever final in their 98 year history. The club have not won any major titles. Unai Emery on the other hand is in his 5th Europa League final. He won 3 of those finals with Sevilla but his Arsenal team lost to Chelsea in 2019.
Emery has had a mixed first season with Villarreal. His team broke the club record of 18 matches unbeaten after just 6 months in charge. Results however tumbled and they could only finish the season in 7th place. They can however qualify for the Champions League if they beat Manchester United and lift the Europa League.
Villarreal’s highlight of the season was their 2-1 aggregate victory over Emery’s former club Arsenal in the semi-final. They also beat Salzburg, Dynamo Kyiv and Dinamo Zagreb on their way to the final. Stars like Gerard Moreno, Paco Alcacer and Raul Albiol will be hoping to win their club’s first ever trophy.
HEAD TO HEAD
Villarreal and Manchester United are perfectly balanced going into the Europa League final. Both clubs have met 4 times in European competitions and have drawn all 4. All 4 games ended 0-0 meaning neither club has scored or conceded against the other.