Ole reveals Champions League aims
Manchester United made the perfect start to our Champions League campaign last week in France with a superb victory over Paris Saint-Germain and, ahead of the second group game on Wednesday night, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has set out his ambitions for the competition in 2020/21.
The boss sat down with MUTV's Stewart Gardner to look ahead to the clash against RB Leipzig at Old Trafford, with Solskjaer insisting there is enough quality in our squad to go far into the latter stages of the tournament.
Our manager also spoke about the media reports surrounding Donny van de Beek and recalled European nights as a player...
Is it again a case of having to use the squad in these games?
“That’s what the whole season is about [using the squad]. It’s going to be the most packed and tight season ever with what’s going on, with the Euros after, even with the World Cup after that, so we’re going to have to manage the squad throughout the season and find moments to give players a rest if there are any doubts because you don’t want to take risks.”
We made a brilliant start to the group. How important is it to build on that after such a boost in Paris?
“It was a great result and a very good performance. We want to get to 10 points as quickly as we can, for me that’s the magic number really. Not many teams don’t go through with 10 points so it’s another chance now to get three more on the board and we’re just focusing on this game now.”
Solskjaer impressed by 'proactive' Nagelsmann
The boss is hoping to continue our excellent start to the Champions League in 2020/21 when we face RB Leipzig...
Leipzig were semi-finalists last year and look to be a really impressive side. What have you made of them?
“I would use the same word: impressive. They’ve got a very refreshing, impressive coach as well. He’s bright, he changes, he’s very proactive and it’s hard to prepare against coaches like Julian [Nagelsmann], but we’ve just got to focus on ourselves. He will come up with something and we will come up with something. They’ve had some very impressive improvement over the years and you see already they’ve started really well in the Bundesliga.”
They seem to play with different systems and a lot of fluidity – is it quite difficult to know what they’re going to do?
“Yes but it’s football. It’s 11 men out there and it’s not suddenly like you can put 12 or 13 out there. I think every coach thinks the same ‘what kind of problems will they give us because we need to solve them’ and ‘what problems can we give them’… and that’s for them to solve. I think we’re all quite similar in the same way of thinking.”
You’re a young coach but he’s 33!
[Smiles] “That’s young! I was still playing then. Thank you for saying I’m still young! When you get to 47 [like me] you’re becoming quite experienced after a while.”
We mentioned recently about getting some more wins at Old Trafford – how important is that?
“At the moment home or away is more or less the same because of course we don’t have any crowds. I know Leipzig can have eight and a half thousand in their games, so that’s a different scenario. But we’re at home, we feel comfortable at Old Trafford and of course we don’t have to travel. It would have been a completely different game with our amazing fans in there.”
It’s so strange not hearing a big roar at the end of the Champions League music before kick-off, isn’t it?
“Very strange and that was the thing I remember maybe the most on the Tuesday or Wednesday nights under the floodlights, walking out, the Champions League music and the crowd afterwards, especially when I was sat on the bench. It’s great to have Champions League football back at Old Trafford.”
You worked so hard to get there last season, you must want to enjoy it…
“Yes, enjoy it and make the most of it as well because we go out to win every single game of football that we play. We’ve got a good quality squad and I feel we can go into any game believing we can win it and I think that shows. We played one of the best teams in Europe [in PSG] and we beat them away from home, so why shouldn’t we aim for the final?”
The media narrative at the moment seems to be about Donny van de Beek, even though he’s played in seven of our eight games we’ve played. Do you have to speak to him about what’s said and written?
“No I don’t have to speak to him about what’s said or written. I speak to every player quite regularly. It’s a good thing for us that people see the depth we have in the squad and, okay, if Donny doesn’t play one game then there’s a good player that doesn’t play, but there are also other players there that want to play. Donny is adapting and is getting more and more used to us as a team and the way we want to play, and of course the Premier League is a different scenario to Eredivisie and we’ll see a lot of him, don’t worry about that.”