Exclusive Q&A: Ole on fitness, Zlatan and Milan
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants more quality and intensity from his Manchester United players when the Reds step out at the San Siro on Thursday night to face an AC Milan side which could include Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
The former United striker has been deemed fit enough to play some part in the second leg of the Europa League last-16 tie and Ole knows his players will have to be alert to his quality.
The Reds must score at least once in Milan after the Rossoneri bagged an injury-time away goal last Thursday at Old Trafford.
Unfortunately, the Reds will still be without striker Edinson Cavani, but Paul Pogba, Donny van de Beek and David De Gea have all travelled. And, during his pre-match chat with club media's Mark Sullivan, Ole discussed what he's hoping to see from his side...
Firstly Ole, it’s great to see some big names back among the travelling squad…
“Yes, of course. We are happy to have Donny back, Paul and David. Big players. Unfortunately, it looks like Edinson has got a bit of a reaction to training [on Wednesday] and didn’t feel ready to travel.”
There are a couple of notable absentees in Eric Bailly and Anthony Martial…
“Eric is being assessed. He didn’t train this morning [Wednesday].
How are we looking generally fitness-wise given the gruelling schedule?
“I’m very pleased. We look strong in games and players are breaking records statistically, I know that doesn’t really mean a lot but, for example, in the game against West Ham, some of the players’ output physically was tremendous, and they’ve shown they can do it time and time again.”
How much are you looking forward to taking your team to the San Siro which is such an iconic stadium?
“It’s a great stadium, a historic stadium and unfortunately there are no fans, so the atmosphere will be different, but we’ll embrace it and hopefully we can score the goals that we need.”
What did you learn about AC Milan from that first leg?
“They’re a high quality, good team with loads of energy. We were prepared for it anyway but you don’t play against these players regularly, so they got a taste of it and we know we have to play well to beat them.”
They may have a couple of players back from injury, including Zlatan Ibrahimovic, so it could be a very different side you face on Thursday night…
“I think the two teams will be better. It seems like players are going to be back so, hopefully, it will be a better game as we felt we didn’t hit our top level against them. We need more intensity and more quality and, hopefully, we can put that on.”
Rashford & Solskjaer: Watch our press conference
Get ready for a huge European tie in Milan by watching Marcus and Ole's pre-match press conference...
Zlatan was obviously such a top professional when he was at United…
“Yes and he’s had a tremendous career, winning trophies everywhere he’s been. He’s been an influence and had an impact everywhere he’s been and a role model for so many. Playing at his age, at the level he is at, is also being a role model and being Zlatan. He’s never, ever stopped surprising or impressing people. Even just being back in the Swedish national team for the Euros just shows the hunger he has for football.”
AC Milan v United kicks off at 20:00 GMT.