Read Ole's full matchday Q&A before Saints away
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is sure Manchester United's 'tremendous' away fans will do everything possible to help the team against Southampton on Sunday.
The boss is unequivocal in his opinion that United's travelling support are the best in the country and thinks that, on their return after 17 long months, they could prove key in silencing St Mary's on Sunday.
A positive result would see the Reds equal an all-time record and Ole was also asked about that in his exclusive pre-match interview with club media...
Ole, can I just start by asking about Denis Law and the sad news that was released last week. I think probably the whole football world has shown since what they think of him…
“He came to the game on Saturday and I met him as we were walking out from the ground and he was of course very happy with the result. He was smiling and was his bubbly self. It caught me by surprise and it’s a sad situation of course. But we know his family will look after him. We are his family as well and he’s going to come to games. I know there’s been research done about this terrible disease and hopefully we won’t see too many situations like this in the coming years as the youth football has been changing. There are rules or guidelines now even in the Premier League and development as well with the new balls. Hopefully that will make a difference.”
Looking ahead to this weekend, obviously you’ve had Raphael Varane here for a week training. How is he? Is he ready or is it a bit soon and how’s he getting on?
“He has been keeping fit, he’s a naturally fit lad and of course this week he’s had a good week so now it’s coming through the last session if that goes well he’ll probably travel with us, yeah.”
Has anything surprised you about working with him or is he exactly what you thought?
“He’s exactly what you think he is. Looking at him from afar you see there’s a professional lad, a humble lad, he’s a winner. He’s still asking questions, he wants to learn quickly about the way we want to play and he’s hard working. He wants to do the foundation first before he goes into a very intense season, I’m sure.”
And after his longer break, Edinson is back as well...
“Yeah, we’re a fully fit squad. Edi as always looks after himself. He’s had a couple of sessions now and he’s looking good.”
With these players back and Jesse and the Olympic lads as well, I suppose that gives you a lovely problem?
“Yeah a great challenge of course but that’s where we want to get to: a strong squad. Good starting XI and looking over in the stands, team-mates who encourage and support their team and want to come on and make a difference.”
Is Dean back as well after his COVID absence?
“Yeah, he’s been training. We have to gradually build him up again so he has started off on his rehab programme.”
The lads who are out, Marcus put on social media that he’d had successful surgery on his shoulder but from your point of view is it looking okay after that?
“He seemed very happy with the surgery. He’s working in the gym so we see him every day and he’ll be chomping at the bit when it gets nearer to the time when he can come back. Of course, any time you’re off with an injury is a hard time, but it’s also time to reflect and find yourself again. That’s what we hope is going to happen to Marcus.”
And is Alex Telles also on his way back from his rehab?
“Yeah, he is. Working really hard and another one who gets a setback but you can sit down and sulk or you can go back into the gym, work hard and make sure that when you’ve come back you’ve worked on different things. Alex has shown a tremendous attitude to the rehab.”
Quite a few lads have gone out, or are going out, on loan. Is there a lot of interest in others as well and do you expect some more to go before the end of the window?
“Yeah, we do have loads of good youngsters that need football. We do have teams wanting to take them. It’s about finding the right step, right team, right club, right manager, right way of playing that suits us. That’s something we think about all the time with the enquiries that we get.”
Is Anthony Elanga back fit yet?
“He’s not fully fit yet. He’s doing his rehab but he’s working hard on the grass. At least he’s out from the gym and outside in the lovely Manchester weather!”
The away end is back after a long time - what you’ve missed most about the away fans?
“You know we had a great season away from home last season. But to silence the crowd, manage the game and have your fans singing… we do have the best fans, never mind just the away fans, but the away support has always been tremendous. For me it started off as a manager against Cardiff and since then we’ve had a very, very good support. We always do and it’s great to have them back of course. I reckon quite a few have taken the trip down south.”
There were some amazing results and performances last season, I was just wondering if there was a game where you felt you really missed the fans? We didn’t see them last season but was there one match where you thought it would have been great if they were here today?
“There’s so many but especially the way we came back at Southampton with Edinson and his two goals. That was a big, big day for us.”
It could be an all-time top flight [joint] record if we don’t lose this weekend. That’s quite an achievement if we get there, isn’t it?
“Ifs and buts. We never think that way. Never, ever think that way at all. We’ve just got to focus on the performance and make sure everyone’s ready. Of course the boost and the adrenaline from the first league game is there and the energy is there, the confidence is there. This is a new game, a different challenge. You’ve got away fans, the home fans you’ve got to silence and the game starts on 0-0.”