What is Ole expecting on derby day?
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer fully expects a positive response from the Champions League disappointment this week, when derby day comes around on Saturday teatime.
The Reds suffered a hugely frustrating defeat to RB Leipzig in midweek, meaning we now have to settle for a place in the Europa League later in the season.
During his pre-match chat with club media's Stewart Gardner, Ole admitted it's been a tough few days, but he's been pleased with the response he's seen since in training from his players.
Up next for United is a Manchester derby meeting at Old Trafford - the last fixture when fans were present, back in March. Ole reflected on that memorable day, looked ahead to Saturday's big clash and had praise for Bruno Fernandes, following yet another individual award...
What does Ole think of Bruno's latest award?
The boss gives a great insight into our no.18's mentality and looks ahead to the derby...
Firstly Ole, what’s the latest team news? Anthony Martial and Edinson Cavani were missing in midweek, of course. How are they now?
“Anthony will definitely be involved and Edinson has been on the grass today, but I’m not sure if he’ll make it. Apart from that, we’ve had a couple of days of recovery and we should be ready.”
How have the last few days been? Has it been tough?
“Of course. It’s very disappointing to be out of the Champions League, but that’s the reality now, and you’ve just got to pick yourself up. We’ve got a massive game to look forward to and many, many games coming up. We are ready to go again.”
We’ve had four successive wins in the league, but is it still hard to shake off what happened in midweek?
“You have to. You have to get the mindset sorted straightaway. You can’t dwell too long on it, there is nothing you can do but, of course, it’s a natural reaction to be disappointed. There’s also a reaction needed or that will come. It’s so natural when you’ve had that disappointment that you don’t want to have that feeling again.”
Do you sense a determination to put things right?
“Definitely. Of course, they were quiet on the way back, we didn’t land home until very early in the morning, then they had a recovery day. But, since then, they’ve picked themselves up and we know that we have to focus.”
In many ways, this is the perfect game to have isn’t it and you have to be up for a game like this?
“Yes, of course, it’s a Manchester derby. Last time we had fans here, we had City visiting. It’s too bad they can’t be with us now, but we’ll do whatever we can to get the same emotion and same feeling.”
That last game against City was a really classic, raucous and rainy Old Trafford day wasn’t it and they’re days that we miss…
“We miss the fans in general. Of course, those games are the games that live in the memory of many and the players as well. We can recreate the performance because we are in good form. The boys have taken strides. Of course, you have setbacks along the way, but that’s football.”
Fernandes equals Premier League recordArticle
The Portuguese midfielder is one of only three players in the division's history to achieve this landmark.
Bruno has won the Premier League Player of the Month award for November – the first United player since Cristiano Ronaldo to win three. His stats have been incredible – have even you been surprised with how good he has been?
“You don’t really get surprised by it because the more you get to know him, then you know the drive, the desire, the hunger and the influence he has on everyone, and the impact he’s had on the team has been fantastic. Then again, I also know that he will say the team suits him; they’ve helped him as well. He’s not a one-man band.”
Is it fair to mention him in that same bracket as players like Cristiano – players who are transformational in a way?
“Yeah, of course. You see the impact he’s made, but, then again, when Bruno finishes his career at Man United, he wants to look back at trophies, not individual accolades or awards. I’m sure he’ll agree with me and he’d swap any of them for a trophy. That’s what we’re working towards this season and we hope to improve on last year. We were close last season and we want to be better this year.”
You’re one of just two managers who have won more than they’ve lost against Pep Guardiola. Do you enjoy that challenge?
“It’s not me against Pep. It’s his 11 players against my 11 players, or our 11 players. Or more so, probably 14 players that will participate in the game and the 18 in the squad. I don’t think about it that way. When you win, it’s the players who do the strategy to perfection [on the pitch] and, to be fair, they have done that in the games we’ve won.”
Is this the game everyone desperately wants to win?
“You want to win. You don’t think about losing. You just think about how good it will be when you win, and we have to focus on that. We know we’re playing against a very good team with very good players, and they’re playing very well at the moment and getting back into the form that we’ve known from the last three seasons; they’ve probably been the best team in the last three years in England, so it’s a great challenge again.”