Ole on Lingard, Diallo and the Gunners
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer faced Arsenal more times than any other team during his Manchester United playing days and the boss is looking forward to another managerial battle against the Gunners on Saturday and he is confident of seeing a positive reaction from his team following our midweek defeat.
United endured a frustrating night at Old Trafford on Wednesday as Sheffield United ran out 2-1 winners.
Ole admits the Reds didn't hit the performance levels we've seen of late, but, during his pre-match interview with Stewart Gardner, he says he fully expects a strong showing from his side at the Emirates on Saturday tea-time.
Firstly, you’ve let Jesse [Lingard] go on loan to West Ham – what was your thinking behind that?
"Jesse has been a part of the club for so long and of course he’s now at an age where he should be playing more football. It’s just not worked for him this season. He’s had a couple of issues and with the strength we’ve got in the squad anyway we felt we’d give him the opportunity to go and play and restart his career really because it’s been a long time without a football, more than half a season. Hopefully it’ll work out and he’ll come back in the summer the same Jesse.”
He’ll be playing at a high level too given what a great season they’re having…
“They’re having a fantastic season, they’ve done great. It’s a challenge for Jesse and he’ll have to go and prove how good he is so we wish him all the best.”
The U23s face Liverpool on Saturday – can we expect to see Amad Diallo play?
“Yes Amad will play in the game against Liverpool. He’s been training really well and settling in. He’s ready to get some game-time and match exposure. I’m looking forward to seeing him.”
It’s a nice little introduction against Liverpool isn’t it…!
“There you go… welcome to English football!” [Smiles]
It’s a year ago today since Bruno Fernandes signed for the club. It’s very difficult to get effective signings in January but we struck gold with him didn’t we?
“He’s had a fantastic 12 months with us and we’ve got to say we hit, if not the jackpot, then we made a good decision. He’s been worth every penny. He’s come in and really influenced the team in a good way and we’re just happy that he’s here with us for many years.”
You were obviously unhappy after Wednesday night but that’s only four defeats out of 34 since 1 February last year…
“Well, it’s the Premier League. It’s over the top when people really, really criticise us because Sheffield United are a good side with good players. If you look at the games they’ve had this season then yes the lack of points is there to be seen, but they’ve been in those games and they should have won so many of them. No game in the Premier League is easy. We just didn’t hit our quality and our levels, and they played well and deserved the win.”
There have been loads of weird results this season haven’t there…
“Yes. We’ve had to deal with setbacks many times this season and we’ve always bounced back, apart from after the last time we lost to Arsenal, we lost to Basaksehir if I’m not wrong. But after the other defeats we’ve really bounced back with a good performance and some good results.”
Arsenal have had ups and downs themselves of course, but they come into this game in very fine form, particularly in the last month…
“Very good form but, as you said, like every team this season they’ve had ups and downs and they’ve been impressive lately.”
You played more times against Arsenal than any other opponent – 19 times – and that was in the days when they were proper games and at the height of the amazing rivalry. What were those games like to play in?
“They were great games to play in. We had much respect for them, they were a good side and they respected us. It was us or them winning the league or the cups. There were some classic games and some sendings-off and some fights, that’s what it should be, rivalry but then again after the games we moved on.”
Do you still feel there is rivalry now?
“Of course and we’ve had some classic games away against Arsenal. Even in my first year here we did really well and scored a few great counter-attacking goals. We’re looking forward to this one. Of course we know we’ve got to play a good game of football and hit better levels than we did on Wednesday, and I expect a reaction to be seen.”
Finally, on the squad, Eric Bailly missed the Sheff United game and Anthony took a knock to the shoulder – how are they both?
“They’re okay. They should both be travelling down. We’re still a good group all working together. Once in a while we just hit a low like we did on Wednesday, but we’re good to go again.”