Ole praises Cavani's 'team' mentality
Edinson Cavani is professional enough to put any off-the-field issues aside and focus on the task of overcoming former club Paris Saint-Germain, according to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
The 33-year-old forward, who is the Parisians’ all-time leading scorer, with 200 goals, notched a matchwinning brace at Southampton on Sunday, to secure a superb 3-2 comeback victory for United.
The Uruguayan released a statement on Monday, apologising for a social media post made in the aftermath of that win, but Ole is confident his no.7 can learn from his mistake and help the Reds in our bid to qualify for the Champions League knock-out stages.
“Edinson is ready to play. Of course, it’s his own club where he’s the top scorer, so that will affect him mentally,” Solskjaer told reporters. “From knowing him, that’ll give him energy and he’ll be ready.
“He’s so professional and experienced and, of course, he’ll work on his mindset today and tomorrow to be ready for the game.
“The same goes to the FA [situation]. He’s learned a lesson and it might affect him, but he’ll just have to put it to one side when the game’s on.
“The best players can put the problems away to the side and perform when they have to.”
Cavani has three goals in eight appearances for the Reds since signing on a free transfer at the beginning of October.
Ole concedes that, although he’s not been able to communicate closely on a personal level with the man they call the Matador – Edinson cannot yet properly converse in English – his attributes are already shining through, even if his parking at the Aon Training Complex leaves something to be desired.
“[He’s] an absolute top professional. I’ve not been able to get to know him really, really closely because of the language barrier,” the manager continued.
“We have to talk through someone else, but he’s so professional and meticulous. Everything he does, he does with the intention of being the best footballer he can be.
Match Centre: How Cavani changed the game
Watch Edinson's highlights v Saints in 2020 - including two goals, one assist, near-misses and some top challenges...
“He’s a very good team-mate, a team player and I’ve been impressed with his attention to detail with everything – apart from his parking!
“He’s parking too close to some of the players and coaching staff sometimes! He’s already learned two English words – ‘tomorrow off’. When we win a game, he wants a day off. He knows that one!”
When Edinson was still a PSG player, prior to the meeting between the clubs in the 2018/19 Champions League, Ole referred to him as a ‘Viking’ and a ‘warrior’ – and there was some relief from a United perspective when he was ruled out of the first leg due to injury, before playing a bit-part role in the second game.
Asked if those descriptions still rung true after working with Cavani for a number of weeks, Solskjaer reiterated that it was the former Napoli man’s work-rate and mental side of the game that had really caught the eye.
“We never give in, us Vikings. We never give up. We’ve got the right attitude and mentality. That was maybe not fair to Edinson but it was a compliment.
“I always look at the player’s mentality and the ability to play or do well, even though you don’t have a perfect day. You know you’ve got talent – I could have spoken about his predatory instincts as a striker and his movement, but what I always saw from him was his ability to work for the team and to be a team player.
“We’ve already seen it here with the work-rate he puts down.
“He’s at the top of the tree if you look at the running stats for strikers in the Premier League. He’s 33 years of age, so that says everything about his mentality.”