Ole on bookings, Fulham and squad belief
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says the belief and resilience in the team is burning strong as his Manchester United players prepare for another Premier League away test.
On the back of a hard-fought draw at Anfield on Sunday, the Reds head to Craven Cottage on Wednesday to face Scott Parker's side looking to pick up another important three points.
Ole spoke to club media's Mark Sullivan about the clash with the Cottagers, the situation with players being one booking away from a suspension and the great belief within the squad...
Firstly Ole, how’s the squad looking ahead of the trip to Fulham?
“It’s only been two days since we played but they’re vibrant again, ready to go. We’ve not got the COVID tests back yet, the results of them, so hopefully they’ll all pass through them and there shouldn’t be many changes.”
It must be good to have a fit, robust squad to choose from at this time of the season?
“Yes it really feels like we’ve got the strength in depth. I have to leave some players even out of the [matchday] squad when they deserve to be in the squad but it’s a good challenge and conundrum to have for the right reasons.”
There are a few players one booking away from missing a game – does that ever come into a manager’s planning?
“No. You just have to take one game at a time because if you leave them out for one game then they might as well get a suspension for one game! [Smiles] There are a couple of games to go until the amnesty comes in [after 19 games], but it’s not in my thoughts.”
What’s your take on Fulham and how they’re playing?
“I’ve got to say I’ve been impressed. They’ve turned it around. I think they’re a club that is really well coached and well managed. Around about the time when the transfer window closed they made some shrewd, very good signings and you can see they’ve got a settled team. They’re hard to beat and hard to break down. They have some quick and clever players with individual quality and you can also see the organisation and the work they do on the training ground with Scott [Parker]. The coaches must be a high level.”
It’s nice to see them sticking by Scott Parker because he was under pressure earlier on in the season when they weren’t getting results…
“Yeah but that was probably under pressure from the media. Scott should never be under pressure given the job he’s done there, in my opinion anyway, although that probably doesn’t mean much in the Fulham world! They’ve stuck with him and I’ve got to say he and his coaching staff are doing a good job.”
Fulham have looked really competitive in pretty much every game and got draws against Liverpool and Spurs, beat Leicester and they were unlucky against Chelsea recently. They’ve produced in the big games, haven’t they?
“Yes and they’re one of the hardest teams to create chances against and have shots against, that shows in the stats. Also when you look at them they’ve got that team shape and organisation that is always going to be hard to break down."
The resilience of your team and strength of character is really, really good and a joy to watch as a United fan. The players are up for every battle and the league position isn’t false, we deserve to be there right now…
“Yeah and the league position isn’t something we think about either, we just go one game at a time. We know we have a strong squad. There will be some fresh legs in all the games; we’ve always got some fresh legs and players who want to go out there and show they want to play. We’ve looked stronger and stronger the more the games have gone on. We’re fitter and the belief is there in the players and the results have been okay. Of course we were disappointed not to get three points on Sunday. Now it’s another chance again and three points is the main focus.”
Finally, Craven Cottage is one of the most beautiful grounds in the country. Do you have some fond memories of playing there?
“Yes I do, both coaching and playing there. I scored a goal on the swivel in an FA Cup game, just outside the box, I remember that one. As a coach, last time we were there I thought our performance was top and Anthony [Martial]’s goal was one of the highlights and Paul [Pogba]’s goal too. It’s a traditional ground and a great place to go to. Hopefully we can enjoy it.”