Solskjaer exclusive: This is the FA Cup I grew up on
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is looking forward to Manchester United's Emirates FA Cup fourth-round tie against Tranmere Rovers and an occasion that defines the spirit of this historic competition.
The League One side set up a meeting with the Reds after seeing off Watford in extra time on Thursday night in their FA Cup third-round replay.
A tricky surface at Prenton Park now awaits Ole's men and, in an interview with MUTV's Stewart Gardner on Friday morning, the United boss explained his players are excited by the cup tie...
Firstly, Ole, is there any news on the squad after Wednesday night?
“Victor [Lindelof] will be available again. He’s recovered [from illness]. That’s one more to choose from which is good. I don’t think anyone suffered any bad injuries.”
How’s Axel Tuanzebe coming along?
“Axel will be back after the mid-season break, training with us. He's had a difficult spell as well because it's taken so much longer than we thought. We had to make sure he is fine when he gets back.”
Lots of players have played lots of football – how are you looking at things for this weekend?
“It's three more games to go until we get a break. We'll prepare for Sunday and we just have to stay together, stick together and use the last bit of energy before we get a little bit of a break.”
How’s the mood been since Wednesday?
“Of course you’re disappointed and you’re down. It’s not nice to lose games in football, you’re here to win games. We had a behind-closed-doors match for some of them on Thursday with the Reserves and some of them had a day away to recover.”
You often say you don’t get too high when we win and you don’t get too low when we lose – is that just how you are?
“I’m made that way but of course this week has been a difficult one with the two defeats. I’m just made in the way of ‘okay let’s look forward and what can we sort, what we can learn and what do we need to do better'. There are loads of things we need to do better, of course, but I’ve never been too down.”
This weekend looks like a classic FA Cup tie – Manchester United coming to town to face a lower league club…
“For me this is the FA Cup. I watched the game on Thursday night and the pitch is how I remember the FA Cup to be from years ago, back home in Norway. Everyone will root for the smaller team and the home team of course, we’ve just got to go there and do a job. It’s going to be a different type of football game for our lads and it’s something they’ve got to handle.”
The pitch is undeniably so different to what we play on each week – is it an issue for players?
“You’ve got to be prepared for it and concentrated and focused. Of course anything can happen. The last few years in Norway there has been loads of AstroTurf games and also I remember playing on those types of pitches myself. Now when there is AstroTurf players get lazy in their heads because the bounce is always the same, but for me this is a great test of your mentality and character.”
Was this a difficult game to analyse and prepare for because you didn’t know who you were playing until Thursday night?
“You can analyse and analyse but I think it’s one of those that you know it’s going to be a mental and physical test. They’re direct and we’ve watched them before of course so we’ve done our preparation. It’s a different type of game to what we’re used to and a different surface but that’s the beauty of football.”
United’s best FA Cup fourth-round goalsVideo
Against Watford, Tranmere came from three down to earn a replay and then went 120 minutes in that game to get through. So they’ve shown their mettle, haven’t they?
“Exactly. They’ve shown their character and their team spirit and belief. We know it’s going to be a tough day and we’re going to be ready for it.”
Is it sometimes quite tricky when you play opposition who have nothing to lose?
“That’s the beauty of the FA Cup. Their fans were bouncing on Thursday night and their stadium was rocking and they must have been on such a high, but being a Man United player wherever you go it’s a big cup final for whoever you’re playing against. Whether you’re in the Premier League or the FA Cup and that’s what our players are used to, that type of atmosphere when you go away, so we will be up for it.”
If you get through you’re in the fifth round and Wembley edges a bit closer…
“Yes and the games come thick and fast. We want to go as far as we can. The FA Cup final is a fantastic game to play in, I’ve been part of a couple of them. It’s a beautiful tournament and a fantastic competition and we want to get as far as we can.”
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