Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Solskjaer: We're ready for the Christmas period

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says his players are “ready” for the hectic run of matches over the next two weeks and states the squad is in good shape for what's to come.

The United boss sat down with MUTV's Mark Sullivan to look ahead to the trip to Watford and the upcoming matches over Christmas. He also took time out to praise the fans for their support during his first year in charge...

Ole, it’s a year and a day in the job and what a year it’s been?
“It’s been a great year. It’s been an eventful year of course and for me and my family it’s been a proud year. Now I hope we can start seeing the improvement in results over this festive period.”

The festive period is so busy – you’ve still got to squeeze in three more games this calendar year?
“It’s great and I feel the squad is ready for that. I think physically we’re ready for it and mentally we’re in a good moment because we’re getting some decent results. And we’re getting players coming back so we’re getting more and more competition for places.”

As you say you’ve got a lot of players to choose from during this busy period?
“Yes and that’s important. That’s why we’ve been rotating early on and giving players minutes. When you have two games on Boxing Day and two days later you can make changes. We have Watford before that so we’ve got three games in six days so that’s quite demanding but we’re in a good position.”

It’s demanding, not just physically but mentally as well isn’t it?
“It is and it isn’t because it’s the best thing in the world for them and it’s what they like to do and enjoy to do. When you’re getting results and performances you just look forward to the next game. I think we’re all set for a good period.”

I guess any footballer would rather be playing games than training?
“Most of them yes, although one or two might say they’d like a day off! [Laughs] That’s what they’ve been dreaming off their whole lives, playing games. I remember myself when I was back home in Norway thinking I’d love to be in England over the Easter period or Christmas period, it’s a fantastic tradition. So even though players are tired they’re still good games to watch.”

Looking at the Watford game, what the team news ahead of that?
“We're getting players back in training and it's, more or less, a full squad training now. That's good to see. Who is match fit and who isn't is a different scenario. Diogo [Dalot] is playing tonight [Friday] and getting more game-time, to get more and more ready. It’s a similar squad to what we’ve had the last few weeks.”

Paul was ill last time we spoke to you – is he over that now?
“He’s training. He's back in with the team so we'll see how long it takes for him to feel ready to be part of a game. It's a similar squad to what we've had the last few weeks.”

When you’re playing teams like Watford who are fighting for their lives it’s a different kind of conundrum for you isn’t it?
“Yes you can say that but away against Watford is always going to be difficult, if they’re doing well or they’re struggling. Now they’ve changed their manager, a couple of times this season, Nigel’s Pearson] come in and he’ll make them hard to beat, disciplined but also tactically very good. It’ll be a difficult game. We saw them against Liverpool and they should have won or got something out of that game. That says something about what their performance was like so we won’t take anything for granted there, we know we have to perform.”

Nigel Pearson basically set up that Leicester team that went on to win the league didn’t he. He’s a good manager who will be relishing this chance he’s got?
“Definitely and when a new one comes in and he sets his demands and criteria you can see a response straight away with the players and I think we’ve seen that with Watford. We just have to make sure we’re better than them.”

There are a few United connections in that team aren’t there…
“Quite a few! I’ve had Ben [Foster], I’ve had Craig [Cathcart], I’ve had Tom [Cleverley] so it’ll be good to see them again.”

Finally, you’ve mentioned the fans plenty of times but how good have they been this year, particularly the Stretford End when you’re walking out at Old Trafford?
“I can hear them singing now! [Smiles] They’ve been unbelievable. I’ve not seen or heard any bad behaviour, they never turn on our players, it’s always about supporting them. We know we’ve been through a difficult season with ups and downs and they’ve been fantastic. Walking out at Old Trafford is unbelievable but then again I always remember the away fans as well and hopefully we can give them a reason to shout louder than the Watford fans on Sunday.”

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