Solskjaer exclusive: My message to the team
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says his Manchester United players are ready to bounce back from Sunday's Emirates FA Cup semi-final defeat, knowing our destiny is in our own hands as we look to secure Champions League qualification this week.
The Reds can go three points ahead of fourth-placed Leicester City with victory over West Ham United on Wednesday night, and can also temporarily leapfrog Chelsea into third before the Blues' match away to Liverpool on the same evening. Ole's team then face the Foxes on the final day of the season at the King Power Stadium on Sunday with things tighter than ever in the race for a top-four finish.
Despite the different scenarios possible from the final two matches, the United boss insists the Reds must just focus on ourselves. Here's what he had to say in his pre-match interview with MUTV's Mark Sullivan...
Firstly, Ole, what’s the latest team news and how is Eric Bailly, who got that nasty knock to the head on Sunday?
"Of course, he was shaken up a bit. He had a big blow to his head. We're still monitoring him. He stayed down in London after the game. I've not seen him this morning yet because these interviews are before the boys meet up. I'll see him soon. Hopefully he'll be alright [soon]."
Harry Maguire also got a knock to the head, is he okay?
"He was in yesterday, he should be fine."
Are they any other knocks from that physical game at the weekend?
"No, apart from being disappointed and having bruised pride after losing the game, we're ready to go again. We know now we've got two cup-finals to play."
We must remember the positives from the terrific 19-game unbeaten run you were on…
"Yeah. Don’t get me wrong we don’t like to lose a game in the way we did, it’s an FA Cup semi-final. Then it’s about the reaction. We’ve been on a fantastic run and taken loads of points since the restart and that’s what we have to think about and get back to what we normally do after a defeat and that’s bounce back."
Looking at the league, there is so little margin for error now as we approach these final couple of games…
"We’ve got ourselves into a fantastic position, probably a better position than anyone hoped for. A few weeks ago, we were probably thinking if we can go into the Leicester game and win it, then that gives us a chance. Now, of course, if we can win on Wednesday and draw with Leicester in the last one, we’re still through. Now, though, it’s West Ham with all eyes on that one. We’ve come so far and it’s an important few days now, with loads of energy left in our bodies."
Great to see you, Eric Gallery
The Ivorian is pictured watching training in our latest images from the Aon Training Complex.
David Moyes brings West Ham to Old Trafford, where he’ll want to do well of course…
"Yes, and they have done well since the restart. They’ve got 10 points and had a few fantastic wins, especially of late, and they’re a challenge for any team. They’re very physical with good set-plays and counter-attack. They have good individual players and a mix between youth and experience. We’ve prepared really well for this one, that’s all we have to do."
In Michail Antonio, they’ve got one of the form strikers in the league right now...
"Yes, he’s been exceptional since the restart. It’s a difficult challenge against any team. Every team has got individual players… it’s the nature of the Premier League, it’s the best league in the world."
Leicester obviously lost at Tottenham on Sunday and Chelsea go to Liverpool after our game on Wednesday – there are still so many different things that can happen in these last couple of matches yet…
"And that’s why we’ve just got to focus on ourselves. We cannot be losing focus and having one eye on anyone else’s performances. If we do our job, that’s it and that’s all we have to focus on. There are only two games left but this is also a couple of games in the process of this team and the journey of this team. This team is learning all the time and the disappointment of Sunday, I’m sure, will give us the desire and determination to bounce back."
Can you believe how quickly this post-lockdown period has gone?
"Yes I can do because it feels like we’ve been working for ages! [Laughs] It’s been game after game after game with no respite and it’s gone really quickly. We’ve enjoyed it because we’ve had so many good performances and good results. We’ve brought our fans with us, they see what we’re doing and we’ve given ourselves a chance."
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