Ole: Confidence is high ahead of Chelsea

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hopes his Manchester United players can maintain the important momentum which has been garnered in the last week after two excellent away wins at Newcastle United and Paris Saint-Germain.

The Reds have impressed in both games and now prepare for a week of home matches with Chelsea first up at Saturday teatime. Our form at Old Trafford has been disappointing thus far in 2020/21 but Ole is hoping the confidence and belief gained from the last two victories will stand his side in good stead for the coming eight days.

In a wide-ranging interview with MUTV's Stewart Gardner, the United boss reflected on the Newcastle and PSG triumphs, gave an insight in Edinson Cavani's performances in training and praised Axel Tuanzebe's impressive comeback in Paris...

Ole, it’s been a great week for the club and I’d imagine that’s exactly what you were after following the result before the last international break?
“Yes, of course. We know that these players are capable of getting results and performances. It was about getting into shape as quickly as we could. I’ve mentioned it many times that we were behind with the preparation because when you don’t have a pre-season, it’ll take time. Now it seems like it came together in the last week. We’ve used quite a few players which is also nice and you can see that the squad is working well together. The spirit and the mood is better, of course that happens with results.”

The players put a real shift in on Tuesday. Are there any injuries or problems from then?
“No, there is nothing that we’ve struggled with after the game. Of course, there’s tiredness of the travel and little aches and pains but I think everyone should be ready for the weekend.”

The lads who missed Tuesday [through injury] – Harry Maguire and Mason Greenwood and a couple of others – how are they looking?
“We’re still hoping Mason and Harry can be available in the squad. Of course, we have a training session today so they’re going to have to go through that. Eric [Bailly] won’t be available. Jesse [Lingard] won’t be available so we’ll manage without them for a few weeks I think.”

United v Chelsea: Ole's matchday Q&AVideo

It was Axel Tuanzebe’s first 90 minutes for a while – how’s he come out of that?
“A long while. He’s feeling a little bit tired of course, you do when it’s the first game for you for 10 months or something. And what a performance, it was fantastic from the kid. We know he’s capable of that, now it’s about getting consistently fit over a long period and we know Axel is a top central defender.”

How is Edinson Cavani shaping up? Is there a timescale for when we might see him?
“He might be ready for the squad as well for this weekend. He’s been training hard and been training well. He’s very meticulous. He knows what he wants and he knows what he needs and he’s been asking for special things… he wants to tick the boxes before he feels ready for the games and that’s the sign of a top professional. I think he’ll be available for the weekend.”

You know a lot about goalscoring but seeing him close up, is he what you thought he would be?
“I know he’s past 30 but he’s still fit and he’s still lean. It was just the sharpness he needed and you can see his movement is clever. He’s been around and played, and the desire and hunger to play football is great to see. He’s a proper centre forward.”

The competition for players is intense, which must be a nice issue for you?
“Yes that’s the nice thing when you go into the season and we’ve played a few games and players are getting match-time. Some are performing better than we maybe expected this early on and they’ve really knocked on the door to say I should be playing more. I feel I’ve got a strong squad and that we are capable of rotating now and we’ll have to because there will be so many games.”

Our away form has been peerless – a record 10 successive wins on the road. Are you now hoping to bring that to Old Trafford as well?
“Yes, we need to. We need to perform better at home. For whatever reason, we haven’t had performances at home this season. We need to find out if it’s the preparation or something else, so we’re going to have to look at that. But I disagree with that record because we lost to Sevilla and Chelsea and for me, even though the venues were neutral, it’s still away from home.”

United v Chelsea: Solskjaer's press conferenceVideo

Chelsea have been entertaining this season. What sort of game are you expecting on Saturday?
“We had four high-quality games with them [last season] and it's always a game between two good teams, who want to push up the table and challenge the top two from last season and the last few seasons. I expect two good teams to play against each other. They looked solid against Sevilla, we know all about Sevilla and a 0-0 against them is a good performance. It is what it is, a big game and we’ve had many, many big games against them in the last few seasons, in the cups and everything. We know more or less everything about each other and I’m looking forward to it.”

How big a factor is momentum after those two wins in the last week? Do matches just roll on to each other when you get into this sort of form?
“When you’re a footballer, you just want the games to come. If you win, you want another one. If you lose, you want to make it right but, when you win games, the whole group dynamic and you, as an individual, are more positive. You’re getting your confidence and you look forward to the games more and you play more freely and creatively and you trust yourself. Before Newcastle, everyone was really, really determined to put the last result right and now it’s important that we have the same mentality going into every game which is that we’re going to outfight and outrun teams which is what we’ve done in the last two games.”

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