United v Watford: Read Ole's press conference
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was asked about a range of topics during his latest pre-match press conference on Friday afternoon.
This week's football news has been dominated by updates on COVID-19 and transfers, and the Manchester United boss's media briefing ahead of the Emirates FA Cup third-round clash with Watford was no different.
Ole was asked about his opinions on playing through the latest national lockdown, the futures of two current first-team players, the latest team news and how the squad has reacted to Wednesday's Carabao Cup semi-final defeat.
Below is every word from the first half of Friday's press conference...
“Well, I think we have done well to follow the proper protocols as we have. We’ve had the odd case. Facundo Pellistri got a positive test. He reported that on his Twitter site. We don’t normally comment on who they are, but Facundo is well and hopefully he’ll be back with us soon. He’s been with the Reserves and the [Under] 23s and he wasn’t in our group over Christmas. But, apart from that, we have a full and fit squad.”
How has the reaction been amongst the group since Wednesday? How do you view this game on Saturday given that you have the chance to go top of the league on Tuesday?
“The reaction has been as suspected. Of course, you’re disappointed when you go out, you always are. We wanted to go one step further. But we’ve shown many times this season that we can react and bounce back to disappointments. We did it after the defeat against Arsenal. We did after we lost to Tottenham and when we went out of the Champions League. The boys have reacted well. So, I don’t envisage anyone with the mindset other than we go into the next one wanting to win. That’s what we have to do. We entered this competition wanting to win. That’s what we want to. There are a few players who had a few knocks and there will be a few changes, but we’ll still field a team that I feel confident in.”
“Odion, it’s special for him against Watford. He will be involved; he’s in the squad. He’s been training really well. I was just saying before, I don’t know how many goals he scored, but he was the top scorer by a mile in the round robin we just had in training. So he’s not lost any of his sharpness or his quality. It’s been difficult for him to be out of the squad as many times of course, because he did really well up to the summer. This season he’s not had as many opportunities, but he’s never let himself down as a professional and a human being. In training he always works hard and he’s been a positive influence in the dressing room. He’s in the squad and hopefully I don’t need to put him on that we need goals, but hopefully he can join in.”
As we talked about COVID, we’re seeing a lot of positive cases among the Premier League clubs at the moment. Do you feel safe with the guidelines at how they are at the moment? And do you feel comfortable with continuing to play?
“First of all, you’re worried about what’s happening in society and what’s happening in and around the country. It’s a big thing. I personally feel safe within our bubble. I think we’ve taken all the steps that we’ve have to. Following the protocols and the guidelines, the club have been good, the players have been following as well as they can. Of course, what’s happening outside at different clubs and in society is frightening, but we have a responsibility and a duty to try to do our best and stay with our bubble and the guidelines. I hope that we can continue playing because I feel that it is a positive impact for everyone in the lockdown to watch [football]. Even I feel it now when you’re at home and you don’t have a game to watch and you’re looking forward to watching a game on television. The mental wellbeing for football has been a big positive.”
Could I ask about Sergio Romero and Marcos Rojo? There were reports that they were back in Argentina. This January, everyone is talking about transfers, I just wondered what your thoughts are on that, and can we ever expect to see them in a United shirt again?
“Both of them have contracts until the summer and they're not going to be extended. We're looking for them to find clubs. Marcos has been given time to go home, so he’s still in Argentina. Sergio has been back home as well to see his family, but he’s back in England now. But they’re professionals, they’re working hard and they’re ready if they’re called in for us. I’m sure they’re ready. Of course, Marcos will have to travel and quarantine before.”
We’ve not even mentioned the new signing. How excited are you by Amad Diallo and how long will the process of integrating take so you can actually think about playing him?
“Well, he’s still not been in the training group with us into training group. The last bit of paperwork so that he can come in [has been sorted]. I’m excited by all new players coming in and we’ll give him time. Of course, I’ve seen there has been lots of expectations on Amad and rightly so. He’s an exciting player; lots of exciting attributes that I’m look forward to developing and giving him a chance to succeed here at United. It’s important that we give him time to settle in. If it’s going to be with the 23s that he plays his first few games, or if he looks so ready after he’s been training with the first team that’ll he’ll just go into that group, I’m not sure yet.”
The second half of Ole's press conference will be available from 22:30 GMT.