Every word from Ole's pre-match press conference
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been speaking to the media ahead of our trip to face Arsenal in the Premier League on Saturday.
The Reds make the journey to the capital looking for revenge after the Gunners won the reverse fixture at Old Trafford back in November, thanks to a Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang penalty.
As normal on a Friday, the United boss took time to answer journalists questions ahead of the classic Premier League encounter.
Among the topics, Ole was asked about which lessons his side could learn following the defeat to Sheffield United in midweek and the prospect of facing Mikel Arteta's side. The boss also spoke about possible departures as the transfer window comes to a close and gave a powerful answer on what needs to be done to combat racist abuse on social media after this week's incident concerning Anthony Martial and Axel Tuanzebe.
Here's every word from the first half of Ole's media briefing...
You said the defeat the other day that there would be no major inquest. Have you worked out now why your team played the way they did now?
"Of course, you analyse the games as you normally do. I think a lot was made of it because it was top against bottom, but that’s the Premier League. I think people showed a lack of respect for Sheffield United, because they’ve been unlucky this season. This game, they got what they deserved so many times earlier this season. They have got players who can hurt you, they've got an organisation that can hurt you, for years with Chris [Wilder]. We [are] disappointed, of course, [it's a] setback. When you don't hit your level in the Premier League, against any opponent, you’re asking for a tough game and we got one. Unfortunately, we just couldn't work it out in the 90 minutes."
Obviously, before that game, you were in good form in the league. In terms of a warning for your side, what sort of warning was that result the other night? What can that actually do going forward, can it be a benefit?
"You never want to lose a game to learn from it, you want to learn form the games you win. We’ve been terrific, we’ve been consistent, but it's that kind of season. We didn't expect to go through unbeaten since 1 November, of course we didn’t. But we wanted to and we still want to start a new run. We’ve always bounced back after defeats before. This season, we’ve done remarkably well after most of the defeats. There was one, we lost to Arsenal and then to Basaksehir [Istanbul] just after. But apart from that, we’ve always bounced back with a good performance. I expect everyone to perform well and let’s hope the result comes thereafter. You can never control the result."
We're back in this sad situation again. Could you just give a club perspective and your reaction to Axel and Anthony Martial after Wednesday's game?
"It's just incredible that we have theses scenes still, or this abuse, still in 2021. We've been campaigning for a long time now in the Premier League and, to be honest, I think it's working but there are still some people that haven't got it. They hide behind social media, are anonymous and it's unacceptable. It's disgusting. Players and everyone, we've spoken to each other of course and they're fine, to put it that way. They're not Man United fans anyway when this happens. We're standing behind every single one of our players."
How are they? Especially Axel who is such a young player coming into the first team...
"Axel's fine, [I've] spoken to him. Obviously it's not nice. He's a strong boy, a strong character; he's got good support from his family. We're his family in the club, his team-mates are his family. It's something we don't expect to see now but you're not really surprised when it happens once in a while because, as we said, there are some people you feel sorry for. That's what you have to do for these individuals."
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Continuing on that theme, do you think more needs to be done to hold people to account? You can't say that to someone in the street, and you can get away with it if you say it on social media platforms?
"I think the social media platforms needs to be looked at, yeah. If you can create anonymous accounts, abuse people, of course it's not right. We'll work together with everyone to stop this nonsense."
Jesse [Lingard] looks set to join West Ham now and there's talk about Marcos Rojo; Sergio Romero as well. I don't know what the situation there is or if you can give any information on those situations?
"[It's] likely that Jesse's loan deal with West Ham is going through. It's likely that Marcos goes back to Argentina, a little bit of paperwork left to be done I think. Sergio, I've not heard anything apart from that he'll be with us for the rest of his contract."
In terms of bumps and bruises, [Eric] Bailly was a doubt. Anything to report?
"He's travelling to Arsenal. Apart from that, we didn't get any other losses against Sheffield other than the points. The boys are all fit, raring to go."
Arsenal against Manchester United - you had a sticky patch which you talked about with the two defeats, but since then both teams have bounced back impressively...
"They've been impressive lately, turned it around. Definitely after the Chelsea game, with lots of pressure on them, and since then they've been performing and got results. We knew they were going to bounce back. It's always great games against Arsenal. Away from home, I got a few good memories myself. Of course, we went down there in the cup [in 2019] and did well, and there have been some Champions League games. There have been some classic games. Hopefully we can put on a good performance and get a result."
So Arsenal now, it's almost impossible not to ask you about your fellow Norwegian Martin Odegaard. Do you see him as a good signing for Arsenal and what kinds of problems can he cause you tomorrow?
"Of course, Martin is a very talented young player and we know from the national team that he can cause any team problems. I just hope he's not finding his form on Saturday. I wish him all the best, he's a good boy, good attitude, right character, so I'm sure they've made a good signing there."
"We want Jesse to come back here revitalised and having shown at West Ham how good of a player he is, of course. He's just been unfortunate with a couple of issues, some periods he had to stay away form us with Covid and isolation, close contact. The rest of the team has done well. We've had little to no injuries and he's not forced his way into the team unfortunately. I want him to go there, enjoy himself, show how good a player he is and come back as a United player through and through."
Your team are second top scorers in the league but have conceded 27 goals in 20 matches, more than anyone in the top 11, down to Leeds in 12th. Does that number concern you?
"You’re not happy with conceding goals, of course you’re not. Six of them in one game, that was a big reason behind this, of course. You’re a Man United supporter, you’d rather win 3-2 than 1-0. Of course, we are getting goals at one end and sometimes you open up at the other end. But, we’ve been consistently scoring more than conceding. But you’d rather win 3-0 than 3-2 as well, so we’re working on the press high up, we defend as a team. I think we’ve got better and better over the year. Let’s hope we can be a compact unit against Arsenal as well."