(Corrects Maguire quotes attribution)
LEICESTER, England, July 26 (Reuters) - Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer heaped praise on his team after they sealed a place in next season’s Champions League with a nervy 2-0 win at direct rivals Leicester City on the final day of the Premier League season.
United, who at one point looked doubtful of clinching even a Europa League berth, finished third after winning six and drawing three of their last nine league games.
The result also confined fifth-placed Leicester to a place in Europe’s second-tier competition after goals from Bruno Fernandes and Jesse Lingard gave United victory.
“We’ve come from way, way behind teams and gone past them,” Solskjaer told the BBC.
“We’ve shown that we’ve got the consistency, the right mentality. We’re building a group and a performance culture here that we can be proud of.
“The players have shown their qualities as a group. They’ve taken on board what we want and they’re looking more and more like a Manchester United team on the pitch. The environment there is so much better than it was before.”
Centre back Harry Maguire, who became the Premier League’s most expensive defender when he joined United from Leicester for 80 million pounds ($102.31 million) in July 2019, said United needed to be more consistent.
“We were far too inconsistent at the start of the season, dropping silly points, the performances weren’t good enough in parts of the games and we’d get punished,” he told Sky Sports.
“As a club, that’s where we expect to be. We expect to be in the Champions League but the last few years have been tough.
“At the start of the season, the majority of people didn’t expect us to be in the top four come the end of the season. We’ve been a lot better of late and it shows the great character of this group.” ($1 = 0.7819 pounds) (Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic; Editing by Xxxxx;)