Liverpool v United: Ole's press conference in full
All eyes were on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on Friday morning as the Manchester United manager held a press conference to preview Sunday’s Premier League match against historic rivals Liverpool.
A big game and there’s a big question mark over Marcus Rashford. Is he going to be fit?
“I can't tell you now. As I said with Harry a few weeks ago, of course we're going to give him the absolute amount of time to find out. We're going to do some more checks and treatment with him today. Yesterday of course was just a recovery day anyway and some treatment for him. I haven't seen him this morning, but I'm not going to hold my breath. I would probably think that he wouldn't be ready, but let's see. There's still 48 hours, more than that, so let's see.”
“We need a very, very good performance to go there and win, but we beat City last month, we had the PSG game. We need to get to the level of those performances, definitely, when you go away against the team that is top of the league. The last two performances we've had against Liverpool as well, to be fair, we've played them at Old Trafford twice, we've drawn twice and been closest to winning both of those games, so we've got some games to look back at and that will give us some belief, loads of belief, that if we perform to our best we've got a chance to win.”
Can you tell us anything about Bruno Fernandes, how that stands and if you're confident of bringing him in?
“I can't tell you about any players that play for other teams, no. We're focusing on this game at the moment and that is my only concern.”
“Well to be fair, I think it was for Ashley, you know, he is 35 in the summer and if he gets a two-year contract somewhere I think it's up to him to take that. We weren't ready to offer that. He's been a good servant for the club, he's been captain, he's won trophies, leagues, cups, but we've got players coming through. So it was time now. When Ashley's head and mindset was 'yeah I want to try this', so why not do it now?”
Who is your new captain?
“Harry has been wearing the captain's armband and he will keep wearing it. He's come in and been a leader in the group. I've been, not surprised, but I've been impressed by his leadership skills, so Harry will keep on wearing the armband.”
I don't recall any player, including Roy Keane or Eric Cantona ,or anybody, getting the captaincy quite so quickly?
“He's come in and everything about him tells me he is a leader. He's part of a group that we've had, that have been leading this young group. Ashley has been of course, Marcus is a young lad, but also David and Harry. So Harry will keep on wearing the armband now.”
“I've had both wins and defeats there I think at Anfield as a player, so of course you've got to look forward to these games. It's a great challenge for our players, again, to play against the leaders of the league. We've done well against them the last couple of times, but as you say away at Anfield is another matter. You can make sure you enjoy it, but it can be an intimidating place, but then we've just got to do all the preparations as well as we can, prepare some of these young players who will probably be playing at Anfield for the first time. I'm sure they'll be fine.”
These days Liverpool have Scousers in their ranks. United have always had Mancunians and Academy players you know all about the fixture. With that in mind, if Brandon [Williams] plays, will you have to have a word with him? He likes a challenge, but the atmosphere, he's a local lad, he's a Red, will you maybe have a word about how to keep cool?
“Does it look like I need to speak to him? I don't think so. I think he's been absolutely outstanding since he's come in. Every challenge we've put in front of him he's tackled head on. He's only 19. He's had 10 or 11 starts, but he reminds me so much of the mentality of Gary Neville and I think he'll enjoy going to Anfield, to put it that way.”
There were disgraceful scenes at Anfield when Manchester City's bus was attacked by the fans and they're planning a similar welcome. Do you have any safety fears on that?
“No safety fears, no, but of course they want to try and intimidate us. As long as it is within the boundaries, you know, I've been sat in a coach or a bus going into Europe or Anfield and whatever they shout or scream at you, then you don't really notice. That's just part and parcel of these big games.”
“Well the proof is in the league table, as in Liverpool have been the best team in the league, but City can outplay you. Liverpool can beat you in different ways. They're two different teams. I think they're two very good teams, but Man City give you a different challenge to what Liverpool does. They're two very different ways of playing football.”
Ole when Liverpool last won the title in 1990, I don't think anyone could have foreseen it would take 30 years until they were on the brink of winning it again. Can you see a similar situation here with United?
“That's what we're working hard to make sure doesn't happen and let that be a lesson for us. They've been close a few times and we can't let ourselves go another 26 years until we win the league and I'm sure we won't, because I believe in this club. I believe that we will rebuild now. We've started something that is going to take a little bit of time, but we'll get there.”
With Ashley going, is he going to be replaced? Brandon is doing very well, but Luke is injured again. Is that a position that you'll look to strengthen?
“Timothy is coming back as well and he's a right-back, he's played for Holland as a right-back at the age of 19, so we also want him back. Diogo is back fit, so in the full-back position I think we're quite OK.”
After the home game in October, Ole, Jurgen said United just defend when they play his team. Is that a fair accusation?
“I don't think it's an accusation, I take it as a compliment that we defend so well that they've not really created chances against us. When the opposition manager is frustrated that's a good sign for you as a manager that our boys have done well. I think we've been closest to winning both of those games, so I don't know what the problem has been.”
Your front three has outscored Liverpool's front three this season. Does that suggest that you're not as defensive a side that people make out?
“The front three that they've got have been playing together for ages, well not ages, but for seasons now, and you can see the rotation, movements, understanding between them and we're hoping that our three will get that understanding in a while. We've probably only started them once together, I think, the Newcastle one? So we've got a way to go to get to the level of the three, the understanding and consistency that Liverpool have had. But they scored four goals in that game, so it's probably something I've got to look at more often. So, I believe in ours, we're going to add to them, but in the years coming I'm sure we'll see lots of them three. Liverpool, they've scored more goals than us this year as well, outside of the front three, so I'm not going to say that ours are better than theirs, or theirs are better than ours. Sunday will be a game just by itself.”
Marcus is 22, Mason is 18, Martial has just turned 24, is that one of those encouraging, exciting aspects for you this season, that there are signs even now that there is enormous potential and scope for development?
“We can see them three and we've got them on long contracts and we can see them three developing into a very, very exciting front three. I was here when Ronaldo, Tevez, Rooney were here, that's what we want as Man United supporters. I'm a manager, but I'm also a supporter. You want to see them express themselves and go to places like Anfield and put fear into their defenders. But then we've got Dan James here in this club that adds to that, so I'm very excited about it.”
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