'We hit a brick wall' - Brutally honest Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's grim verdict on Man United's season
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has warned it will take 'a long time' for his club to return to the top of the Premier League, after a final day defeat against Cardiff saw them finish a massive 32-points behind champions Manchester City.
A glum atmosphere at Old Trafford was a fitting end to a miserable season for United, with Solskjaer pulling few punches in his comments after a 2-0 home defeat against already relegated Cardiff.
"The last couple of months have been extremely hard for the team and for the club and for the players," said Solskjaer. "The only positive from today is that the season is over. We meet again 1 July and we’ll work back to where we belong.
"To reach the leaders it will take a long time. For ourselves the short-term focus in the league will be getting into the top four. We've got the Europa League, FA Cup, Carabao Cup to go for a trophy because Manchester United can’t go many years without winning a trophy. Jose (Mourinho) won the Europa League last and that is a realistic ambition.
"In the league, the points we are behind the top two, they have been excellent those two. Absolutely exceptional. And we are five or six points behind Arsenal, Tottenham, Chelsea. They are the ones we have to make sure we catch up and don’t let anyone closer to us.
"We'll need players in, we’ll need some characters in because today was not the problem. This game was not where our challenge lies, we have a long and hard way to be where we want to be.
"It will take some time to close in on the top, we finished five or six points behind third, fourth, fifth and that has to be our aim. The top two teams have set a standard higher than before and we have to take up the next challenge.
"The work starts now, everyone has the summer off but we have to come back with a different mentality and different attitude of being a Man United team.
"We have been poor and we hit a brick wall towards the end of the season. That is very disappointing. These are good players who have been going through a tough season mentally and physically. We have to do better."
Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku could be among the big names leaving United this summer, as the club plans a massive overhaul of a failing squad, with pressure on Solskjaer to start the season on a high after a disastrous final few weeks of this campaign.
"This club are used to challenging for the Premier League, but that won't happen quickly," he added. "The owners know where we are. We are too far behind where this club needs to be and we can all see that this is a rebuild.
"We won 5-1 at Cardiff when I first came here and now we have lost 2-0. That tells you something has gone wrong in the last couple of months and we know what needs to happen now.
"The last two games, we have not beaten two relegated teams. This is another reality check for everyone. It is a long way back, but we start the work now.
"I am not shocked by what has happened here. Towards the end, we had too many poor performances and you have to look at that and make some judgements based on what we have seen."