Ole explains approach to Atalanta clash
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants to see plenty of energy from his Manchester United players from the off against Atalanta tonight as the Reds look to build on our recent dramatic Champions League victory over Villarreal.
Cristiano Ronaldo's injury-time winner at Old Trafford sealed a vital three points for the Reds, who had been unlucky to lose out at the death, away to Young Boys in our opening group match.
Ole's men go into our latest European fixture on the back of a disappointing loss to Leicester City at the weekend, but during his exclusive chat with club media's Mark Sullivan, the boss explained how a high-energy approach coupled with the usual brilliant support from the OT faithful is what he's hoping to see...
Ole, we could see how disappointed everybody was at the weekend, so what have you, the staff and the players been doing to put things right?
“As you do every time you lose a game of football you quickly evaluate and look at what went wrong, and of course you’ve got admit that a few things went wrong. Then you have to focus on the next game and how to correct what we haven’t been good enough at. The focus has been good. The minds have been on this game, it’s a chance to make up for the bad start we had in the group with the Young Boys defeat. If you go into halfway point in the group with two home wins then you’re on the way.”
In your post-match interview, you hinted you needed to make some changes - what did you mean by that?
“When you lose games it’s obvious that things didn’t go as planned. It might be personnel or some injuries. We’ve got loads of good players and rotation is always going to be important. We have to go into every game with loads of energy so there will be changes in how we approach the game. We’re at home with the fans behind us, they’re the best fans in the world and I know how they are after the team have gone through a little bit of a sticky period. There is no better place to go [than Old Trafford] and to try to go for three points."
What’s the team news ahead of the visit of Atalanta, thinking in particular of Harry Maguire and Anthony Martial?
“Anthony joined in training [on Tuesday] but he’s still not fit enough to join us [for the match]. Harry’s not had a reaction so he’s fine and good to go. We didn’t lose anyone else from the game through injury at the weekend, so we’re more or less a full squad. Raphael [Varane] of course is not with us still. Edinson [Cavani] and Fred are back available which is good for us.”
We know Aaron Wan-Bissaka is available after our appeal to rescind his two-match ban was successful. You must be delighted with the club’s efforts there?
“Yeah we never thought that it was malicious or any bad intention with that tackle. We just put a few points across and got heard, and it’s great for Aaron and ourselves.”
We never want to second guess your team, but if David De Gea starts it will be his 50th Champions League appearance which is a really important milestone…
“There are milestones everywhere for these players and David has had a great career. He’s a top keeper and hopefully there will be many more [games] to come.”
It was great to see Marcus Rashford back in action and with a goal too – is he now fit enough to be in contention for a start?
“It was a big bonus for Marcus. He’s worked incredibly hard and has been focused to get himself back on the pitch; he looked like he’d never been out. He’s probably not fit enough for a 90-minute full game yet because he’s been out for a while. But he’s looking strong, fresh and eager, and he’ll be on the pitch at some point.”
Atalanta will be the seventh Italian team we’ve faced competitively and they’ve been on a meteoric rise. What are your thoughts on them?
“They’re a good team. We followed them of course when we signed Amad and what they’ve done in the last three or four years in the top three positions in Serie A… they play high-pressing and intense, and have loads of energy in the team and good quality with players who can hurt you. They’re a team with clear style, so it’s going to be another tough game as it always is. If I remember correctly, they beat Liverpool last year at Anfield so that says a lot about them and the quality they’ve got.”
They warmed up for the game with a 4-1 away win at the weekend and they’ve got an identical league record to ourselves which shows how close it could be…
“Yes in the Champions League you don’t expect anything else. They were the third seeds in the group and that shows how tough this group is. If you win your home games then that’s the key in the group stages and then if you can then get a result or two away then you’re through.”