Solskjaer: Big games are what we love
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says don't join Manchester United if you don't want to be part of big games week in, week out as the Reds prepare for another important cup match on Sunday - an FA Cup quarter-final away to in-form Leicester City.
Hot on the heels of knocking AC Milan out of the Europa League, United will be aiming to inflict another cup defeat at the King Power Stadium when we take on the Foxes in our last-eight clash.
Solskjaer says these are exactly the types of tests you want at this stage of the season and it will be another great challenge of his side's physical and mental strength.
United, of course, had to go to Leicester last season on the final day and avoid defeat to guarantee Champions League football and we sealed a hard-fought 2-0 win. Ole is hoping for more of the same on Sunday as the Reds look to maintain our impressive recent momentum...
The lads who didn’t make it to Milan – Edinson Cavani, Eric Bailly and Anthony Martial – how are they looking for the weekend?
“We’ve not really managed to train as we were in late this morning [Friday] and we need to give them some recovery time so they’ve not really been on the grass yet. We’ll give them a chance to prove their fitness.”
Similarly with Marcus Rashford – how is he?
“We don’t know yet. He’s being treated and assessed. I doubt it but I hope so. He always tries to be available so we’re going to give him as much time as possible.”
Paul Pogba obviously had 45 minutes against Milan – how important was that in terms of his injury recovery process?
“We knew that we wanted to put Paul on the pitch, maybe not for 45 minutes but we needed to give him the start of something. These minutes will have helped him. He felt it of course because it was a game with high intensity and high tempo. He’ll be better for it and hopefully he’ll last maybe 45 minutes this time as well.”
Leicester have had a free week but we’re on a roll – which do you think matters more?
“I think if you manage to recover between [games] and you get your rhythm then that’s the best way. If we are to end up successful this season, next season, in two years or in five years from now then you have to get used to playing 45/50 competitive games a season at least, that’s what it should be for a Man United player and consistently. If you have five, six, seven players who can do that then we can challenge for trophies. I like to play games… we can drip feed and rotate of course. Maybe Leicester and Brendan have had time to tactically think about things, but we just carry on.”
Having big games every few days means you’re doing well and that’s what you want at this stage of the season…
“Yes. If you want an easy, comfortable life then you don’t play for Man United. You’ve got to be mentally strong and also physically strong and robust. To be successful you want to challenge yourself and these are the periods we want.”
Your experience of going to Leicester in a one-off, all-stakes game is very good after we had that at the end of last season – is that a good thing to think about going into this game?
“Yes that was a game that we needed a result in and we got it, so the lads know what we can do, but we have to turn up on the day. We know Leicester are in very, very good form. They’ve had some great results lately and we know we’re up against a good team.”
The draw has been made for the Europa League quarter-finals and we’ll face Granada – what’s your view of that?
“Well, it’s another difficult tie of course. They’ve done well in La Liga and we know we’re up against a team that will be technically very good and tactically very good. They beat Molde so they must be very good! [Smiles]
Have you got some insight into them after them beating Molde?
“Yeah I’ll ring them and get the reports as well but we’ll do our own homework. I know that the analysis side and the scouting side in Molde do a very thorough job as well and I’ll watch those two games back of course because I just want to see Molde play again as well!
Granada beat Napoli earlier on in the competition and are obviously having a dream ride…
“It’s the first time they’re in Europe and of course it’s a new experience for them and hopefully we can end it here. They’re a good side and we know that, as I said, technically the Spanish teams are so good and we’ve got to be so good defensively to win the ball off them.”
We’re away first and home second – it’s nice to have the second leg at home isn’t it…
“Sometimes it goes your way, sometimes it doesn’t. It’s just important that you get goals. Away goals of course are important and we want a good starting point from the first game.”
Confidence must be high after how we’ve done in the knock-out ties so far?
“The confidence is good. We’re playing loads of games but we’re building momentum and of course we’re very happy at the moment and looking forward to Sunday now at Leicester. Another difficult day but we’ll be ready for that one.”