Partizan v United: Ole's press conference
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been addressing the press, 24 hours before the Reds face Partizan Belgrade in the third Europa League match of the season.
The Norwegian dealt with questions on the challenges the Serbians will pose and also gave updates on a number of injured players.
Here's everything the boss had to say in his pre-match press conference...
Ole, can you give us some team news? A few players haven’t travelled through injury. Has David been rested?
“David will be ready for [Norwich away on] Sunday but we didn’t take the risk of travelling with him, no.”
Ole, how important is it for United to do well in this season’s Europa League and to win it and guarantee Champions League football, given your position in the league?
“I think the Europa League is important for us and it’s a tournament that last time we were in, we won it. But, in a cup tournament, you can’t rely on winning it. It might be luck, it might be injuries. The Champions League next season is an aim for us whether it’s through the top four or the Europa League it doesn’t matter for us. We’re still in November and we’re talking about us not being in the top four. I think you’re being a little bit early in that assumption.”
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Last season some of your best performances came away from home. Now you’ve played 11 games away from home without winning. Is that because of the way opponents are setting up against you, or is it down to confidence?
“It’s a question we’ve asked ourselves. After I came in we won nine, or something, away games on the bounce. So it’s an issue that we need to sort out as soon as possible. We’ve got four away games now on the trot. So hopefully that statistic will turn.”
Ole, goals have been an issue since the first game of the season. Roy Keane said on Sunday there’s a simple solution: Go out and sign Harry Kane. What are your thoughts on that?
“Roy’s quite straightforward, isn’t he? No, for us it’s working hard. Getting Anthony [Martial] back is going to be a massive boost for us and I’m sure when Anthony’s back, that’ll help Marcus [Rashford] as well. With the forwards we’ve got, with their pace and their skill, I’m looking forward to that.
You’ve got the [Robert] Lewandowskis and the Harry Kanes, like the Alan Shearers and the Ruud Van Nistelrooys - they’re fantastic strikers, they’re different types of players. But I do have to say, I like a player who can finish a half chance and, of course, he does that. He’s one of the best. Harry [Maguire] has played with Harry [Kane], but he’s a Tottenham player.”
Back on the fans and the sort of chants that have been heard here. Have you spoken to the players about what you would do in the event of something like that happening? Is there a plan in place?
“In the aftermath of what happened in Bulgaria we had a meeting with the boys and, as Harry’s said, we’ve gone through the protocol. I believe in the good in people and the atmosphere here is going to be fantastic, I’m sure. We’ll try and keep them quiet by playing good football, but it’s down to us. We trust UEFA and like Savo [Milosevic, Partizan coach] said - I’ve seen his quotes. Hopefully it’s a celebration of good football.”
Ole, we’ve seen that Luke [Shaw] and Nemanja [Matic] have gone out to Dubai and Martial is here. What’s the thinking behind that? How long do you think it’ll be before they're back?
“Both have injuries - they’ve gone past the injury stage and they’ve brought staff with them to go really hard on them so they’re ready in, hopefully, not too long. I expect them back in Manchester for the weekend and we’ll see when they’ll be available.”
How hard have you studied your opponent for tomorrow? Are there any players you’d like to mention specifically?
“Of course, I’ve watched many games in the lead up here and I also watched them when they played Molde, my old team. It was a game that I was following very closely. I spoke to the coach in Molde to see what he felt. Zoran [Tosic], of course, I had him in the reserves at Man United many times. He’s a fantastic boy with a great left foot, a great work ethic and it’ll be great to meet Zoran tomorrow. Hopefully we can stop his left foot because that is of the best quality. We’ve seen the team and prepared our team against them. They’re a team with some pace, a big strong striker and there’s some talent in there - two or three really talented players.”
Just on the meeting you had with the players, did you feel you had any need to talk specifically to the likes of Marcus, Anthony, Mason and Aaron about what they could potentially face? Just on Paul, you said at the weekend he was going to be scanned on Monday - how is he looking? Will he make Norwich?
“We’ve spoken in general on subjects. Harry and Marcus that were in Bulgaria, they were free to talk about the atmosphere, how it was and what we can expect if it is the worst case scenario. And Paul - no.”
The club actually had to ban a fan yesterday. What’s the view at the club about this? Was it just a one-off? Are you concerned this may be a culture that’s taking root in the game? What’s the general view?
“I’m happy the club have identified him. That is something we feel strongly about and we’re going to stamp down as much as we can.”
Partizan Belgrade v United kicks off at 17:55 BST on Thursday.