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heartache Ole Gunnar Solskjaer offers up no excuses as he admits his players flopped against Villarreal

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Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. (Photo by Kacper Pempel - Pool/Getty Images)

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. (Photo by Kacper Pempel - Pool/Getty Images)

David de Gea of Manchester United mduring the UEFA Europa League Final between Villarreal CF and Manchester United at Gdansk Arena on May 26, 2021 in Gdansk, Poland. (Photo by Maja Hitij/Getty Images)

David de Gea of Manchester United mduring the UEFA Europa League Final between Villarreal CF and Manchester United at Gdansk Arena on May 26, 2021 in Gdansk, Poland. (Photo by Maja Hitij/Getty Images)

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Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. (Photo by Kacper Pempel - Pool/Getty Images)

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer stated this season cannot be classed as a success for Manchester United after admitting his players 'didn't turn up' as they lost the Europa League final against Villarreal.

United’s wait for their first trophy under Solskjaer continues after David De Gea saw his spot-kick saved at the end of a wild shootout that saw Villarreal crowned Europa League champions.

Questions will not be asked over Solskjaer's future as United manager as he had just one year left on his contract and when asked by BT Sport reporter Archie Rhind-Tutt whether he considered this season to be a success, he had a one word answer.

"No," he conceded. "We didn't turn up. We didn't play as well as we know we can. We started alright and they got the goal, their only shot on target. We were disappointed to concede a goal on a set play.

"We pushed, we pressed, we got a goal. After we scored we didn't control the game or dominate as we wanted.

"They made it hard for us, they closed spaces. We had the majority of possession. They defended well. We didn't create enough big chances.

"Now is not the time to point the finger at what I'd have done differently. But when you come out without the trophy you haven't done everything right.

"We're getting closer and closer and better. We were one kick away from a trophy and a good night.

"We have to have the desire to come back next year and improve. The only way to get the margins your side is to work harder and better.

"We need to get better, simple as. We've done really well this season coming through. The start was difficult. We had no pre-season and lost three of the first six. We pushed in the league, maybe got closer to the top than we thought and we got to a final. But you need to win the finals to make it a good season."

On this day 22 years ago, the Norwegian wrote himself into club folklore when turning home at the death as Sir Alex Ferguson’s side fought back to win the Champions League and complete the treble.

But May 26, 2021 did not provide another triumphant chapter in United’s success-laden story, with the match ending 1-1 and going to a penalty shootout after Edinson Cavani cancelled out Gerard Moreno’s opener.

All outfield players scored their spot-kicks, as did Villarreal goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli before saving De Gea’s penalty to win the shootout 11-10 and secure the first major trophy in their history.

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It was a heartbreaking end to a promising season for United, who finished as Premier League runners-up and showed clear signs of progress.

But defending set-pieces has been a problem throughout and Moreno opened the scoring when all too easily meeting Dani Parejo’s terrific free-kick.

Cavani levelled early in the second half after Marcus Rashford’s volley fell kindly for him from close range and Villarreal clung on for extra-time, which Unai Emery’s men edged before triumphing on penalties.

United legend Paul Scholes questioned whether the United players felt the pain of defeat enough, with an emotional post match interview from Marcus Rashford confirming he was hurting.

"The feeling inside is difficult to explain," said the England striker. "We came here to win. We've been working so hard all season and this was the opportunity to win a trophy and it didn't happen for whatever reason.

"We have to get rid of the disappointment and look back at the game and see what we did wrong.

"The team will not give up - no chance. The manager won't allow us to give up. We will come next season with bigger desire.

"We are close, I promise we are close. But close is not good enough. We have to be there."

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