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Man Utd title winner hauls pressure off Solskjaer, with important Villarreal reality check

Former Manchester United defender John O’Shea has rejected the notion that Wednesday’s Champions League tie is a must-win for the Red Devils and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

United come into their second Group F clash following defeat to Young Boys in their opening fixture. Longer-term, though, the club have lost three of their past four matches.

That run has seen them exit the Carabao Cup and lose at Old Trafford to Aston Villa.

The repeat of last season’s Europa League final against Villarreal is an opportunity for United to prove their progress.

They have made three significant signings since the loss on penalties, including Cristiano Ronaldo. United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is also under pressure to show progress, but O’Shea has taken some of the importance off the match.

“I wouldn’t say must win, because obviously the way the qualification works,” the ex-defender told talkSPORT.

“But, yeah, they’ll obviously be looking for a win especially at home and especially after the first game and the result out in Switzerland.

“Yeah they’ll be looking to bounce back after the weekend as well and I’m sure they’ll be fully focused on it and we all know Villarreal and Unai Emery – they’re no mugs either so it’ll be a tough one.

“They’ll want to bounce back and I’m sure they will.”

In his pre-match press conference, Solskjaer faced up to criticism from his former team-mate Gary Neville.

Neville insisted that Solskjaer’s United side look like a group of individuals winning games in moments.

Solskjaer hits back at Neville

But Solskjaer said of Neville’s further call for silverware at United before the end of next season: “The pressure is a privilege. To work in this environment you have to embrace it.

“I have got to say I have been backed and the progress has worked well.

“The backing I have got seems to me we are sticking to that plan. Expectations have improved with the better signings and performances. I am here to win, Gary knows that.

“We will get there, hopefully around April and May.”

United face Everton in the Premier League on Saturday after their latest Champions League outing.

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