Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has challenged his Manchester United players to prove they have come of age in Sunday’s £100million game.
Having endured their worst start to a league campaign for 30 years, United can end it back among Europe’s elite by making the Champions League.
Back in January, after a 2-0 home defeat to Burnley, United’s hopes of a top-four finish seemed over with Solskjaer’s side trailing Leicester by 14 points with 14 games to go.
But a 13-game unbeaten run in the league, aided largely by the January arrival of Bruno Fernandes, has seen the Reds storm up to third, a point ahead of Sunday’s opponents Leicester.
A point will be enough for United to secure Champions League football, while defeat would also see them clinch a top-four spot, provided Wolves beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
But Solskjaer, who has made great strides this season, wants his side to make a statement at the King Power Stadium and praised the progress his players have made as a team since the turn of the year.
“This is a journey for this team and this is one extra step on the journey for this team,” said Solskjaer.
“We’ve come a long way mentally, we’ve shown more robustness and resilience, when we lost the first goal in games.
“We’ve also shown the heights when everything’s flowing, which you can’t expect every time. I’m delighted with how the development looks.
“When you play football games and you win, you get good results, it’s enjoyable and you build momentum. Then you find one or two bumps along the way.
“It’s not going to go in one straight linear trajectory and, for us, we’ve reacted well to some games, being 1-0 down in the last three at home.
“We’ve come back and got results in all of them, which has been very positive. We’ve enjoyed away games – we didn’t enjoy losing against Chelsea [in the FA Cup semi-final]– but we got a result against West Ham and we’re in third.
“So it’s fantastic to see we’re growing as a team and a squad and it’s the last game of the season and be positive.”
Despite drawing their last two home games to Southampton and West Ham, and exiting the FA Cup, Solskjaer insisted confidence is high heading into their crunch encounter.
“I think confidence levels have to be high, because we’ve given ourselves a great chance going into the last game,” said the United boss.
“When the last game of the season is in front of you, you’d expect any players to have some bruises, aches and tiredness, that’s natural.
“This season has been a draining one for everyone, but we’ve got enough energy for 90 minutes, I’m sure.
“The belief, the confidence, the change of atmosphere, Bruno coming in, has made a massive difference.
“We’ve got our best players fit and raring to go. There have been many different reasons for the upturn, but it’s been down to the work.
“The players have trusted us, they believe and trust in what we’ve said and the boys have worked really hard.
“Of course we’ve had some hard times this season, some setbacks, but we’ve shown that this is a team going places.”