Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Read every word from Ole's pre-Newcastle press conference

Friday 19 February 2021 13:30

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was asked for his view on the Premier League title race ahead of Sunday's clash with Newcastle United.

The Reds head into the weekend 10 points behind league leaders Manchester City, but the boss still feels the battle isn't over quite yet.

Ole also fielded questions via link on the form of Marcus Rashford after he scored yet again in Thursday's 4-0 win over Real Sociedad, while the boss was asked who will start in nets against the Magpies and whether Donny van de Beek and Edinson Cavani will be fit to feature at Old Trafford.

Below is every word from the Norwegian during the first half of his media briefing...

United v Newcastle: Ole's press conference Video

United v Newcastle: Ole's press conference

Ahead of hosting the Magpies, the boss was asked about the latest team news, Rashford, Henderson and more...

You talk about having the X-factor and magic – how do you make sure you bottle that and use it game-by-game rather than just spark for 10 minutes?
"You know, every game creates opportunities, it creates problems. Teams give you spaces and it’s just a natural thing because the pitch is as big as it is. There are 11 players on each team and some teams give you space behind, some give you it in between, sometimes teams try to press high or press low. We have to learn to adapt to every single game, it’s about learning from every game. So, in the last [Premier League] game, for example, West Brom defended deep and it wasn’t good enough from us. We knew about the spaces on Thursday so we have to play the game correctly and it’s also about quality, when you create chances to take that last pass or last cross. It’s about getting better and improving all the time."

There are 14 games left in the Premier League. Is it City’s title to lose or can they be stopped?
"Well, I don’t think anyone would say they are not going to go for it. We’re going to go for a win in every single game we play. Of course, we are. Whatever other teams do – City, Liverpool, Leicester, Chelsea, Tottenham, West Ham – we can’t control. We have just got to control ourselves. We are in a position we are, we are second, and of course the ambition then is not to end any lower than that. We are going to have to get a good run together if we’re to put pressure on City and it should start on Sunday, of course."
Will Donny van de Beek and Edinson Cavani be back and are there any other players you could be without?
"Of course, Paul [Pogba] is out and Phil [Jones] is out. I don’t know how Scott is. I don’t know how Donny and Edinson will be either. They’ve got a chance, I think, so we’ve just got to give them until before training on Saturday as we need to pick a team on Saturday. We’ll see how they are and hopefully they can both be available."

Marcus missed a couple of chances before his goal is it just instinctive finishing that stops him from being a complete player?

"He is getting better and better, closer and closer. He’s improving all the time. The chances he gets because of his athleticism and movement. He was strong to hold him off for the first one but the goalkeeper came close to him and that was a hardish one. The second one, the goalkeeper comes out and that’s another one we’re working on. We had loads of practise on that yesterday actually. He’s improving and, of course, I can see we are still working. He knows what we want him to improve on and the goal was a good example of composure and technical quality."
Highlights: Real Sociedad 0 United 4 Video

Highlights: Real Sociedad 0 United 4

It was a four-midable display from the Reds in the first leg of our last-32 Europa League tie...

Are the defenders defending too close to their own line when it comes to set-pieces and that might be the reason you’re conceding the kind of goals you have or are you happy with where they are setting up from?
"You know, we work on this week in and week out, before every game and it’s about doing your job and being focused, being switched on, winning your challenge and dropping off at the right moment or stay up when we’ve decided. Sometimes, we haven’t won the first header and most of them have ended up in a chance against us. We have actually got quite a good record in the first contacts, to win them, but when we haven’t, there have been chances and, most of the time, goals actually."

Dean Henderson kept a clean sheet – what did you make of his performance and how far off is he getting another chance in the Premier League? Could he be in for a start against Newcastle?
"Of course Dean is in with a shout. We pick a team on Saturday and Dean was very solid, good kicking and he could or should have had an assist for Marcus, which is another thing we worked on. He was clean in his handling, clean in his short passes and it was a good performance. He is maturing all the time but I have a very, very good goalkeeper in David [De Gea]. He saved us against West Brom so I can’t say to you now. I always speak to the players first before I say who’s playing and they will know."

What's the situation with Edinson Cavani - will he be extending his contract at the end of the season?
"I can only say Edinson has done well. I’ve been impressed by him. He’s really gelled in the group and we’ll sit down and speak with him in the near future to see his plans and ours. It's a good discussion to have. We always speak to the players and, with the contract situation at the moment, we're very pleased with what he's done."

We'll hear more from Ole on Saturday night, ahead of the Newcastle game on Sunday.