Every word from Ole's press conference
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has spoken to the media ahead of our Premier League clash with Everton.
The Reds welcome the Toffees to Old Trafford on Saturday (kick-off 12:30 BST), when Rafa Benitez's team make the journey from Merseyside to Manchester for a battle for three points in the English top flight.
Our Norwegian boss faced the journalists' questions during a press conference on Friday (1 October). Among the topics were David De Gea and Cristiano Ronaldo's form, the challenge of being solid at the back while also being attacking, plus the quick turnaround from Wednesday evening's match with Villarreal to Saturday's lunchtime kick-off.
Here is every word from the manager...
How do you build on the ending of the game on Wednesday night? And a lot have people have said it might have masked a disappointing overall performance – do you give any thought to that?
“We've done that so many times at this club: come back at the end of tight games, difficult games. We played against a very good team and we dominated possession. We were a bit too open on the counter-attack, we've got to accept that. We have to defend better. But the boost and energy you get in the group after a win like this has to be built on. Then again, it's a very, very quick turnaround. It’s a different turnaround from last year when we when we played Wednesday night [against Istanbul Basaksehir in Turkey] and Saturday morning. Still, the players are not going to get caught out. We've got to start like we finished on Wednesday night.”
You mention there that you have been a bit too open on the counter-attack at times. It does feel, at times, that some teams, seem to be able to break from defence into attack with real speed and ease at times. How problematic is that for you, in terms of being dominant in the opposition half but also keeping the door closed at the back?
“That's the challenge that we’re facing more and more. That’s what we've got to be better at. We want to be in that position; that players give us that respect. We need to win the ball quickly, make better decisions, as I’ve said, win the ball back quicker... there’s so many things that you've got to do right. Lock it down, be organised behind the ball. The transitions game in football… with pitches, how nice they are now compared to 10-20 years ago, as well. The ball moves so rapidly up and down that pitch. Sometimes it looks like a handball game! It’s win it and rush forward, get a finish off and start again. As I said before the Villarreal game, the Aston Villa game had 45 minutes of effective playing time, which is one of the lowest I've seen in any game that we’ve played. We need to build more pressure in their half, [with] more movement, of course. There’s loads of things. We can discuss it all day long.”
“Oh yeah… That’s another one. What can you answer to that? What we speak about is between us, but we've not had that discussion, to put it that way.”
Donny van de Beek didn’t look too happy during the game against Villarreal and there was a picture of him throwing his gum when Fred was substituted on. Do you understand his frustration and where does he stand now in terms of playing time at Man United?
“You know, I manage a squad full of international footballers. Competitive footballers who want to make a difference, want to play. They all want to be on the pitch, of course they do. Donny was ready to come on, as all the players should be. I’ve been a sub more than anyone at this club, probably. I must have the record appearances as a sub. You have to be ready all the time. I've not been happy a few times. Alex was coming off as a left-back and Fred did that job well. I understand his frustration, of course. Every player is keen to play, but that’s got to be filled into energy and some determination for when you come on and then you show me. That's not just Donny but all the players. I got a squad full of internationals and if we are going to be successful together, we need to have positive energy. We can’t have sulkers. Donny has never, ever affected his team-mates negatively, I want to have that said. As soon as I see players affecting negatively, I’d probably be a bit firmer as well.”
I just wanted to ask you if there is any team news? Is there any fresh injury problems or is anybody back from the squad you had on Wednesday night?
“No. Luke [Shaw] feels better in himself. He's been ill but he has the shoulder injury, so we have to make a decision on him. Marcus [Rashford] trained fully again with contact this morning. There were tackles flying in on him but he seems okay, which was nice to see. Apart from that, Harry [Maguire] is still out and Amad still out. So we didn’t lose anyone on Wednesday night.”
Just one on Cristiano Ronaldo: having been here for such a short space of time, how is the impact he has off the pitch, on the players around him and the staff as well to an extent?
“He’s had a great impact, both on and off the pitch. How professional he is... Of course the goals, five goals in five games says everything. At his age he’s still fit and of course, you've got to manage him. We need to make sure that we can keep that going with this form. He’s been a very good example for everyone in how he conducts himself. It's been a very, very good impact so far, and it’s only been a month and long may it continue.”
De Gea seems to have rediscovered his form, which is great to see. I just wonder, from what you said about every player needing to be ready, what impact that has on Dean Henderson? He was obviously fighting for that first spot last season, is that the same scenario? Will you be able to give him the game time that he requires to continue his development?
“Both Dean and Tom are ready to play when called upon. The application in training has been very good. Of course, Dean has had problems with Covid, but he's past that now and played well against West Ham in the Carabao Cup. I’m very pleased with them. But David has really done well. As a manager, you'd like your goalkeeper not having anything to do, but when he’s had something to deal with, he’s done really well. I’m very pleased for him, very, very pleased.”
Seeing Liverpool play on Sunday, having played in the Champions League on Tuesday and you played on Wednesday and now you’ve got a game on 12:30 on Saturday... have you been given any explanation for that? You’re talking about the best part of 48 hours and a big disadvantage…
“Absolutely no explanation. Well, it’s TV. It’s absolutely no common sense at all. We had the same scenario last year when we were in Turkey, came back and played Everton. Of course, the players aren’t going to let that [the disadvantage] happen. We're not going to get that joy again [beating Everton] that we had last year [without working hard] – we have to make it happen. It’s not like: 'Well, we did it last year so it’s going to happen again.' The crowd’s got to help, that’s important, and I know they will. Chelsea played Wednesday night and we could easily have played Sunday and the Liverpool v City one should have been a Saturday one. Common sense might not be so common, unfortunately, but that’s for another day.”