Every word from Ole's press conference
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has previewed our trip to face Atalanta in the UEFA Champions League.
The boss spoke to the media in his pre-match press conference before the Reds headed to Bergamo for the fourth of six matches in Group F.
The Norwegian was asked whether he will retain the formation and shape from the Tottenham game for the clash with our Italian opponents. He also revealed the latest team news and mused on the dismissal of Nuno Espirito Santo as Spurs manager.
Here's every word from the manager...
First of all, who is unavailable for the trip and when you’ve got talented players like van de Beek, Sancho on the bench not getting minutes, how do you get the best out of them? How do you get the rhythm?
"When you have a fully fit squad at Man United there’s always going to be good quality players not playing and that’s been happening lately. Some players have to do with a place on the bench. You have to take the opportunity when you get it, you have to train well and I can’t fault them. The attitude, the motivation, all has to come from within.That's always going to happen at Man United, players are going to go through difficult spells when you’re not playing. Your character is revealed and I’m pleased with most of mine. The training session this morning, everyone was there. There were a couple of little twinges in the training session but I don’t think it’ll be major."
Given you’re top of the group and you've got City on Saturday and the result on Saturday just gone: do you have to think about how you’re going to use Cavani and Ronaldo in particular or are they capable of playing three games in a week with really high intensity?
"I think you have to look at the next game, make sure you get a result in that one. Of course, as you say, we're in a decent position after winning our home games but you need a result away from home as well to go through in the Champions League. All focus is just on this one. Then you look forward to the next one after that. We haven't been thinking about that at all, we know this'll be a difficult game. We saw how close they were last time to get a 3-1 goal but David pulled some good saves out and we managed to turn it around. Everyone's focused, of course, we've worked on recovery since Saturday night. The turnaround is quick but let's see who we can choose from."
Given the week you’ve had last week after the result against Liverpool, the way you bounced back against Tottenham: do you feel you’re getting closer together as a group? Sometimes it can develop a siege mentality that can be positive going forward...
"It has to do. When you've got so many players, we don't have time for anyone to sulk or not give anything to the team. If you are not in the starting eleven, you are there to support your team-mates. You come on and you give your best when you come on. If you don’t come on then “what's the single most important thing you can do to help the team?” The attitude was spot on. Yeah, I understand that players, they want to play. No one's happy when they don't play but the squad morale has been really good and it has to be. It cannot be “we’ve done one game now” and everyone’s thinking about themselves. It's a team before any individuals.”
Question about tactics (in Italian)
"I cannot give you the game plan or the tactics, of course, but we have a squad to play many different ways. You can put any tactics out, systems, but it's the players within it and how they execute their roles. That was the difference on Saturday. The quality of what we did was more important than the system we played.”
You were under pressure to get a result against Tottenham and you got the result. Tottenham didn’t and now Nuno's out of a job. I suppose you have some sympathy with Nuno Espirito Santo today?
"You know, it's never nice to see nice men lose their job. He’s been working hard. I don't know what the situation is or has been at Tottenham, so I cannot comment too much but as a colleague you’re never happy when that happens. You try to get in touch with them and tell them your feelings."
You changed the system at the weekend, and it obviously worked for you. Has that set the standard for the rest of the season?
"As I say, we can play different systems, back three, back four, back five. We've got wide men, wingers, we can play 4-2-3-1, 4-3-3... We looked at the Tottenham game and to get more control in that game, we’ll play that system and it worked. What we'll do tomorrow night, I can't say, of course. The execution within the roles is more important than the system. The quality of the pass to Cristiano, the first goal. If that’s 4-2-3-1 or 3-5-2… That’s just individual brilliance. We were solid and of course very happy with the defending, aggression of the team. The reaction was more important, the individual reaction within their roles"
After the Spurs game, do you feel you've turned a corner now or is it too early to say that?
"Next one is the one that matters. We’ve been working to get the consistency right. When we get that consistency, we’ll get performances and results. As I said, one swallow doesn’t make a summer. It's important that we keep focusing on what we did well in that game and improve on what we didn't do too well as well. It's relentless, a game every three days, so it’s a chance tomorrow to prove that we can go again."
Question on Cristiano and Bruno having to prove themselves (in Italian)
"No matter what game Cristiano is playing or Bruno is playing they know they've got a winners’ mentality. They’re as highly motivated as a player or professional athlete can be. That’s why they get to the top level. It’s not about proving anything to anyone else but his team-mates, himself, his own club and fans.”
You've received a lot of praise and criticism during your time at Man United but even after a win over Tottenham like last weekend. I could see some critics on certain parts, how you set up defensively, not the United way et cetera. Do you feel that people just want you to fail no matter what and also is proving people wrong something that motivates you and drives you on?
"Criticism can make you doubt yourself or you can stand up for yourself. I’ve always enjoyed criticism, so that’s… Just keep that coming, that's fine. You know, journalists, pundits, experts, we've all got different jobs. It's their job to give their opinions and I’m not to fight with them or have a spot with anyone."
In Italy, we say Atalanta is the most "English" side in Italy with their pace, intensity and style. Obviously, you played them at Old Trafford a few weeks back. What makes this team so special, in your opinion?
"They have a special way of playing. A certain style with high tempo, intensity, they're aggressive, very attacking-minded and positive. The coach, I have to say, he shines that energy when he's leading his team. I can see why you think that’s English. Maybe that’s the old style of what English football is. It's also exciting to watch. We've followed them a while, of course, with Amad signing here. What they've done in a short space of time, the last three, four, five years has been remarkable. It’s a very nice club with with very good people that we were in contact with, of course, when we signed Amad.”
What do you expect from Atalanta?
"I think Atalanta are a team with a unique style of play. They’re very true and loyal to the style, believing in themselves. We got the game we expected. There's always some things they might try to do different to win any game. We’re the same as them. We always try to create problems for any opposition and they will create problems for any opposition with their style.”