Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admits that returning Manchester United to their former heights could take him years to achieve after their heavy defeat by Barcelona on Tuesday.
Looking to overturn a 1-0 first-leg deficit in the Champions League quarter-final, United started brightly at the Nou Camp and hit the bar inside the opening minute through Marcus Rashford.
However, they then made two mistakes that led to a quickfire double from Lionel Messi as Barca took control of the tie and went on to secure a 4-0 aggregate win.
Out of the Champions League and facing a difficult fight to make it into the top four this season, Solskjaer reiterated the scale of the rebuilding job.
We know there’s work to be done, said Solskjaer. I’ve said all along this isn’t going to change overnight and the next few years are going to be massive to get to the level of Barcelona.
We’re on with the job and we’ve spoken to the players about it as well. We need to create an environment of top, world-class attitude every single day.
We’ve got a lot of good players to work with but as I have said, we have a rebuilding job. It started with coaches, players and of course one or two additions in the summer.
Solskjaer rued early mistakes and missed opportunities at the Nou Camp as their bright opening counted for nothing.
When you get to this level you cannot slip up and make mistakes and you have to take chances you get yourselves, said Solskjaer.
We didn’t capitalise on our great start and then they scored twice with their first two shots on target and that’s game over then.
We did well to get here and we could see the difference between the two teams tonight. The quality of their finishing was absolutely outstanding.
We started well, the first 15 minutes you thought we have got something here, then in four minutes they scored two goals which made it so hard, but the attitude was right.
Solskjaer also praised Messi as an exceptional talent after he inspired Barca to victory with an excellent individual display.
He’s an exceptional talent. Him and Cristiano [Ronaldo] have been the best players in the world in the last decade and tonight he showed why we all think that and why he has won so many titles and why this team have also won so many Champions Leagues.
You can prepare as much as you like but if you give him space and time in and around the goal he will create chances and score goals. He’s a fantastic player.
Messi’s second goal came from an error from United goalkeeper David de Gea, who let a routine shot slip under his body.
Asked about the mistake, Solskjaer said: It’s unfortunate with goalkeepers that when you make an error it will get highlighted and that will be remembered tonight, but he has made some fantastic saves as well and his contribution to the team has always been good. Sometimes it happens, that’s football.
Ole’s ‘stick’ gift
Solskjaer received an odd gift after the defeat… the stick fans in Kenya is supposed to bring him luck.
While it did not work for United against Barcelona, Solskjaer accepted the gift and was then asked if there is anything he would like to say to the Kenyan fans.
See how Solskjaer responded in the video…
Attention turns to the top four…
United now return to their battle to keep Champions League football at Old Trafford next season, and go to Everton on Super Sunday from 12.30pm; Kick-off is at 1.30pm.
United have lost their last two Premier League away games – they’ve not lost three in a row on the road since January 1996.