This time last year, Manchester United lost the Europa League final to Villarreal. The Red Devils were defeated on penalties, with David De Gea missing the crucial spot-kick. And Marcus Rashford’s comments in the aftermath of the loss, it would be fair to say, have aged terribly given their woeful season.
Manchester United lost to Villarreal after the game went the distance.
Gerard Moreno put the La Liga side ahead in the 29th minute, with Edinson Cavani then netting to force extra-time.
In the shootout, every candidate stepped up and scored besides De Gea – whose agonising miss gave Unai Emery’s team the trophy.
And Rashford, in the aftermath of the contest, insisted United were on the cusp of achieving success under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
“For me the club, the desire, the hunger, the talent, the ability, the squad, we have everything to compete at the highest level,” he said at the time.
“We just have to show [it]we have to show it to the world and show [it] to ourselves.
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“Show why we belong in the top places, why we belong to finals like this, why we need to be winning finals like this.
“In the league we finished second, second does not count for anything. It counts for nothing.
“Manchester City won the league, and we finished second but it means nothing. Villarreal win the Europa League and we finish second in it. For us it’s nothing.
“I do not want to hear ‘oh, they were so close’ because it does not mean anything. “There’s one winner and there’s one loser and today we lost and we have to find out why and make sure that next time we do not lose.”
He added: “To win big trophies you have to show sacrifice. I could walk you into the dressing room, I could show you five, six, seven players and me as well who had injuries here, from September, the beginning of the season and we all stayed together as a unit and we fought to be successful for the club.
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“This year it did not happen, but next year … we have to go away now and clear our heads and when we come back we start fresh.
“When Ole came in, there was a process and the players believe in this process and this is not the end of the process.”
Those comments, particularly the ones about United players believing in the process, now look rather bad.
Rashford was confident that United were on the right track to glory.
Yet after a season of issues under both Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick, that now does not appear to be the case.
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At the start of the campaign, hopes were high the Red Devils would be able to challenge for the biggest titles on offer.
Particularly after blockbuster deals for the likes of Jadon Sancho, Raphael Varane and Cristiano Ronaldo.
But, now, a new era awaits.
Erik ten Hag will be the new manager of United, having agreed to leave Ajax to lead the rebuilding mission at Old Trafford.
And he’s primed to overhaul the squad as he looks to secure a trophy at the first time of asking.
United are looking to make as many as six signings as they seek a quick return to winning ways.
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A new goalkeeper could arrive to replace Dean Henderson, while the club would welcome reinforcements at right-back to upgrade on Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
A center-back is also being pursued, at a time where Eric Bailly, Axel Tuanzebe and Phil Jones are likely to leave.
United are pursuing two midfielders to offset the imminent departures of Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba.
And the Red Devils also want a striker to ease the goalscoring burden on Cristiano Ronaldo, too.
Just a year ago, Rashford and his United team-mates believed ‘in the process’.
But, now, it’s set to start all over again.