Ole: Our attitude and mentality is spot on
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says there are a number of factors behind Manchester United's recent brilliant form, with the boss highlighting the players' attitude and mentality, as well as their confidence and sharpness as all being key.
The United manager spoke exclusively to Mark Sullivan on Friday ahead of Saturday's Premier League clash at Old Trafford against Bournemouth. The Reds enjoyed an excellent 3-0 victory at Brighton on Tuesday evening, with other results going our way 24 hours later.
Ole and his players are relishing the prospect of further boosting our top-four chances this weekend, with the boss insisting his side are well aware of what's needed to ensure a positive end to the season...
Ole, it’s been a really good week results-wise for us with our result and Chelsea and Leicester losing as well. How do you assess what’s gone on?
"Well I think it’s tightening up of course. Results are going to go both ways, there are so many games and teams will have to rotate their selections… things can happen. That’s just how the Premier League is; if you don’t perform at your best you’re not going to win games and we’ve just got to focus on ourselves. At the moment, if we do our own job I think it’ll look good."
What’s the key to this terrific run of form you’re in?
"There are many, many things. The focus is on one game at a time and the boys are working hard now and they did so over lockdown. They’re fit and they’re confident. When you’re confident it’s so much easier to go into the next one feeling that little bit sharper. We’re getting fitter and fitter the more games we have now. I’ve just been impressed by the attitude and the mentality of everyone. We know it’s there and you just need to keep focusing on your job for Bournemouth then it’s the next one after that."
We’re hoping we’ve not picked up any little knocks or niggles - how’s the fitness of the squad right now?
"Of course there are a couple of knocks. You do start feeling things now after a little bit so there might be a couple of changes, but let’s see. The boys who didn’t play on Tuesday want to play and are ready to step in if they have to.:
We’ve not seen Phil Jones and Axel Tuanzebe due to injury – what’s the status on them?
"They’ll still be out for a little while. It’ll be a few weeks before Phil can start training and Axel we won’t see until probably September."
Will there be any opportunities for any of our young players to possibly play before the end of the season, an example being someone like Ethan Laird who has been knocking on the door for a little while?
"Ethan is going to join the training group now he’s had his tests. He had an injury around Christmas which has now healed. It’s a time to take one game at a time and if we get an opportunity to play some youngsters then fantastic, but of course we‘ve got a big, strong squad and at the moment they’re working hard in training and I think they can feel the benefit of joining the boys as well. The likes of Jimmy [Garner] and Teden [Mengi] are performing well in training."
Is it difficult to change a winning team? You’ve got so many games in a short period of time, but it must be a tough dilemma?
"Yeah. If everyone is fit and available and you perform as well as you did against Sheffield United and Brighton then there are not many reasons to leave players out. But I’ve got many reasons to put players in, what they’ve done over the last few games and over the course of the season. As I said earlier, there will be knocks and bruises and some fatigue maybe, so there might be a couple of changes."
Games against Bournemouth, in recent years, have turned out to be matches that can frustrate us...
"It’s never easy to play against any team in the Premier League and we lost to them away from home. Our next one is [Aston] Villa and we draw against them, then we’ve got Southampton, who we drew against, then we’ve got [Crystal] Palace, who we lost against and also West Ham, who we lost against. So you could say we owe these teams some results. We’re looking forward to playing them and hopefully improving what we didn’t do as well against them last time."
Bournemouth are in a miserable run of form – they are struggling to score and are conceding a lot of goals, so you could say it’s a really good time to play them, but they are battling against the drop so will be fighting hard…
"I watched them on Wednesday. Of course, it’s never easy fighting relegation, but they’ll come out fighting, definitely there will be a reaction. And the one thing we really need to be aware of is they’ve got strong, powerful boys and they’re good on the counterattack and set-plays, they’re one of the best teams in the league on set-plays. I remember them scoring against us at Old Trafford just after I came in. So we’re not thinking it’s a game that we deserve to win easily without a fight. We need to put the shift in and hopefully the performance and result will come."
United v Bournemouth: Watch Ole's press conference
Saturday's Premier League game kicks off at 15:00 BST, leaving bags of time to watch our pre-match press conference...
There’s no Callum Wilson for them which will be as a loss as he's one of their main goalscorers, but should he play then they could be heavily reliant on former United striker Josh King…
"I’m sure Josh wants to prove to everyone at Man United what kind of player he is. I know Josh very well and he scored a very good goal against us last time so we have to stop him this time."
How much are you looking forward to being back at Old Trafford again albeit, as we know, without our fans…
"Yeah last time was really good, we played some fantastic stuff against Sheffield United. We’ve been travelling a lot since the restart and it’ll be very good to be at Old Trafford even though we can’t wait to get the fans back in."
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