By Alex Marrow
Last Updated: 15/03/19 6:46pm
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer resisted the urge to draw too many comparisons with Manchester United’s treble-winning season in 1998/99 but admitted that there are similarities.
United beat Chelsea and Arsenal on their way to winning the 1999 FA Cup, an achievement matched in this year’s competition already, and they face another tough game against Wolves at Molineux on Saturday evening in the quarter-finals.
Meanwhile in the Champions League, United fought back from a 2-0 home defeat against Paris Saint-Germain to progress to the quarter-finals last week, a late Marcus Rashford penalty sealing the win.
In 1999, comebacks were the hallmark of United’s success, particularly a Roy Keane-inspired recovery against Juventus in the semi-final and the 2-1 win over Bayern Munich that would cement Solskjaer’s place in the club’s history.
The Norwegian famously scored a stoppage-time winner that night in Barcelona and is now hoping to guide his former team to a fourth European triumph this season as caretaker manager.
“To win trophies you’ve got to win at least one or two really tough games, they’re defining moments,” said Solskjaer. “We beat Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal back then, and you think you deserve a little bit of luck in the draw next time.
“But Wolves away, what a difficult game that can be.
“A comparison with 1999? We’re not challenging to win the league this year but we are challenging to win the other two trophies.”
Twenty years on from that famous win in Barcelona, Solskjaer laughed at comments pointing out that his shirt number back then was also 20, saying that he doesn’t believe in fate.
“I believe that you get what you deserve in life, in sport,” he said. “If you work hard, show the right attitude, you can maximise your chances.
“We’ve shown against PSG that on any given day we can beat a top team, but then again there are so many variables and in these games things are decided by margins.
“With VAR, even though for me it’s a penalty, you could be unlucky and not get it and we could be out and no one would remember the PSG performance.
“We can go all the way, but you’ve got to be lucky and good.”
Defeats for Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and PSG have led to suggestions that the tournament is opening up, but with a quarter-final against Barcelona coming up and a free-scoring Cristiano Ronaldo still in the tournament with Juventus, Solskjaer wasn’t so sure.
“With Cristiano still in it, I don’t think it has opened up all that much,” said Solskjaer.
“It goes in cycles, Porto won it in 2004, Monaco got to the final, Ajax, you never know. On any day, anyone can beat anyone.
“You earn your luck, but sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.”