MANCHESTER, England — Manchester United will need a miracle to challenge for the Premier League title next season, according to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
United head into the final weekend of the campaign 29 points behind leaders Manchester City and Solskjaer is not convinced the gap between Pep Guardiola’s side and Liverpool can be bridged over the course of one summer.
“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 at the moment points wise,” Solskjaer told a news conference on Friday.
“So next season, yes, we’ve got to close that gap. If we manage to get to February, March being close, that’s fantastic but if not this summer will also be about players who can last here for many years.”
Solskjaer has hinted United fans may get a look into the future on Sunday by handing Tahit Chong, 19, and Mason Greenwood, 17, their first senior starts.
Angel Gomes, James Garner, Dylan Levitt and Arnau Puigmal have also been involved in first team training this week.
Club captain Valencia will leave on a free transfer after 10 years at the club while Herrera is set to join Paris Saint-Germain after failing to agree a extension to his contract with United.
“Antonio has not been fit, five or six months I’ve been here,” Solskjaer said. “Unfortunately, he’s really struggled.
“But he feels that he could play a part, yes, and I would hope he gets through training and we can give him a nice send off.
“He’s been a fantastic servant to the club, he’s been player of the year, he’s been captain at the club and I think that’s only fair.”
“Ander might play.
“I don’t know yet, we haven’t picked the team and he’ll probably announce himself later where he’s going to continue his football.
“You never know in football. It might be the last game but it might be the start of some careers as well.”
Valencia and Herrera will lead an exodus over the summer that could involve a number of senior players.
Sources have told ESPN FC there could be as many as five new faces to replace those who leave.
“It’s a big summer,” Solskjaer said.
“There are players whose contracts have run out, some players will definitely come, there’s some young players coming in, I’ve worked with the club, recruitment, with the analysis department, we’ve identified some players we think will fit the Man United squad and let’s hope we can get some over the line.
“It’s not easy, it’s never easy even if players come they’re at clubs. We’re not going to talk names, it’s not like you just go into the shop and choose because there are clubs as well.”