Every word from Ole's press conference

Friday 24 September 2021 14:45

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has spoken to the media ahead of our Premier League clash with Aston Villa on Saturday.

The Reds are back in league action this weekend as Dean Smith's men make the journey from the Midlands to M16 for a 12:30 BST kick-off on Saturday. 

Among the topics during Friday's press conference were Edinson Cavani's fitness, Cristiano Ronaldo's impact and the proposed safe standing trial. 

Here's every word from the manager... 

United v Villa: Pre-match press conference Video

United v Villa: Pre-match press conference

Watch Ole answer the media's questions on Cavani, De Gea, penalties and more...

I wanted to ask you about David De Gea after his significant contribution against West Ham in the last Premier League game. He spent a bit of time out of the team last season, how much do you think that helped him in terms of redoubling his chances to get in the team and indeed was that, perhaps, an effort to redouble his chance to be your no.1? 
"He called me this summer to end his summer holiday earlier to come back and start his pre-season before [the squad returned]. He wanted to be ready, he wanted to be the best possible version of himself. Of course, last season was a challenging one for David as he didn't play as many games as he normally has done. That was because Dean [Henderson] came in and did really well. I'm fortunate to have those options, now Tom [Heaton]'s come in as well. David has really worked, he's been so focused. Physically he's better, mentally he's better and when you feel that you've done the work, you get personal bests on quite a few physical tests, I think that gives you confidence. It gives you motivation and inspiration. He plays behind a strong back four and to play in front of David when he's in this form, it's also good for them."

Dean Smith said he was excited to play against Cristiano Ronaldo because clearly it's a challenge for him, it's a challenge that he's excited about. How would that be a pattern over the next few weeks and months, that teams are desperate to stop a player like Cristiano Ronaldo and how would you have to manage those expectations as a result? 
"I think Cristiano has been used to that since he came to the club. In the last, say... 15 years of his career. In the first few years, everyone was trying to kick him because they wanted to stop him. Then he became such a top player that all the teams would have to have an eye on him. His record shows already what impact he's had on us and he's ready for that challenge. He's ready for that challenge, he's used to it, so no worries, we're a team. We know we're more than just Cristiano and the players I have got to choose from, I'm sure they would also enjoy if they [the opposition] had too much of an eye on Cristiano. It might be possibly space for others."

Edinson Cavani, where is he at the moment with his fitness? When is it possible that he might be able to play again? 
"He's in the squad tomorrow. He's been training and now he feels ready to contribute. Of course, he came on against Wolverhampton then he got a slight strain in the international break when we had a game. He's ready again. He's worked really hard, like he always does and hopefully he'll have an impact like he had last season."

On a wider perspective, it was announced this week that clubs will be allowed to trial standing at grounds from January 1, and Manchester United is in a position where you would be able to do that. Would you hope that. for Manchester United fans over the years having felt that there should be safe standing in place, that there should be an element of standing in stadiums now?  
"I know the club is supportive, we want to trial that. As long as the safety is in place, standing gives, sometimes for me, the atmosphere builds. When you're standing up, you're more passionate and emotional, so I'm looking forward to trial that if everything goes to plan."

Ole reveals team news for Villa encounter article

The boss provides an update on his squad before Saturday's lunchtime kick-off at Old Trafford.

Obviously Cristiano was involved in a couple of penalty incidents last week, a couple of mistakes by the referee I think and penalties that should have been given. Do you worry going forward, at all, that that might be something that will be going against him and that that is something that the referees think he will be looking for? 
"We just have to hope we get what we deserve. We should have had three penalty in the last three games. I don't know but there was a certain manager last year that started worrying about us getting penalties and after that it seems like decisions are more difficult to give. Surely, I've seen a big difference since then. We just have to leave it to the refs to make the right calls very soon."

The press conference coincidently fell on the same time that the Ryder Cup starts. Does that suggest you're not that interested? I thought you might have been with your compatriot being there in Viktor Hovland...
"Finally we got a Norwegian but it's too late for me to jump on that bandwagon! We're proud of what he's doing, of course but I won't be biting my nails for sure. I have got more things to worry about."

Cavani and Ronaldo link-up excites Ole article

The manager says Edinson and Cristiano could strike up a formidable partnership on the pitch.

Going back to Cristiano, considering the impact he's had already, has he made himself indispensable to you? 
"You know, we knew he was going to have a great impact on and off the pitch. He's still so professional, the discipline he's shown through his career to make the most of his career, is going to rub off on his team-mates, and scoring goals will only help that impact. He's a different man now compared to when I played with him, of course. He's been absolutely top, his work rate, his attitude in games. 
He knows he's not going to be able to play every game but that's a good chat for him to have with me when he feels he won't be ready."

With Edinson as well, at 34 with his vast experience as well, you couldn't have a more experienced and effective strike force almost? 
“Of course, it’s exciting and it’s exciting to see them two together. I'm sure that'll be a good partnership as well, [two players] wanting to be on the end of things. We’ve seen some teams dropping deeper against us, not giving us as much space in behind and that’s definitely two boys you’d like to have around the goal when that’s the scenario. I can see them two working well together.”

All nine of Ronaldo's goals against Villa Video

All nine of Ronaldo's goals against Villa

Cristiano Ronaldo has scored more United goals v Villa than against any other team. Watch them all here...

You've started the Premier League season and not lost a game so far, how would you assess it so far? I know it's early doors...
"Yeah, it is early doors but it's important the first two months ahead of the international break to get a head start. So far, 13 points, that's a decent return. We've scored quite a few goals. Still things to work on and there will be bigger challenges ahead but we've laid the foundation to build the momentum. That's' what we hope to do against Aston Villa. Their first game was a defeat, of course, but since then they've hit form and they deserve more point than what they have got."

You're talking about you're goalscoring, 14 goals from seven matches in all competitions, that's not bad but on the other side, you've only managed to keep one clean sheet in you last 15 competitive games and conceded 22 goals. Is that something that worries you and how do you work on that? 
"It shows the angle you're looking for and what others are thinking... I'd rather score four and concede one or score five and concede one, or two and concede one than win 1-0, of course. We've conceded four in the first five league games, not too bad. We're still working on cohesion with Raphael [Varane] coming in, so work it's a in progress. Of course, We want to have clean sheet to build performances on as well. We know we're going to score goals with the forwards we've got. Hopefully, we can answer with a clean sheet on the weekend, who knows? It is being worked on, of course."