Ole and Graham Potter.

Q&A: Solskjaer on the Cup, goalkeepers and Europe

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says it's a big week for his Manchester United side with another tough away trip to Brighton & Hove Albion in the Carabao Cup, Tottenham to come in the league on Sunday at Old Trafford, and the Champions League group-stage draw.

The United boss chatted with MUTV's Stewart Gardner on Tuesday afternoon to reflect on the dramatic win at Brighton at the weekend, ahead of Wednesday's Carabao Cup fourth-round tie, and he also discussed the strength and depth within our goalkeeping department plus looked ahead to Thursday's Champions League draw...

Ole, first of all, have you had a chance to fully compute what happened on Saturday?!
“[Smiles] Yeah we have, we’ve looked at it, of course. You see other games and other results and other incidents around in the league and you think, well, three points in this league is vital. You can look back at the performance especially in the last 20-25 minutes when we didn’t really get hold of the ball and control the game, when we were winning 2-1. But, then again, it’s three points – the reaction after conceding was fantastic and there are some positives. We’ve got to be happy. I don’t think too many teams will have a comfortable ride down there.”

There were some incredible results over the weekend and so many goals scored. Is that down to the fact that pretty much everyone has had such a disrupted and short pre-season?
“Yeah, I think football has changed. There are no fans, it’s a different game. Pre-season, we were at different stages, the new handball rule… you never know what’s going to happen. You can discuss it all day long but we need some clarity on what’s a foul and what’s a penalty because now it looks like you can chip the ball up into someone’s hand, like what happened to us against Palace for example and Victor [Lindelof] got a penalty against him. And then the header against Tottenham, he’s got no idea the ball hits him. You see the goals scored against West Brom at the end, is that not handball? We need to get that clarity. It’s a whole spectrum of things that aren’t normal.”

It’s rare that all managers agree on things but pretty much every manager seems to agree that the rule does need a bit of tinkering?
“There have been so many changes and nuances to different rules. Back in the old day, it seemed simpler.”

Does Saturday’s game have any effect on Wednesday’s match? I’m imagining the teams are going to be very different?
“I’m not sure. Every game lives its own life and, of course at the stage we’re at in the season with all the games coming up, I think teams are making changes. You can see teams have a cup team and a league team and we’ll make changes. It’ll be very similar to what happened last week against Luton.”

Ole: We want to go far in this competitionVideo

As you say, you made changes to the side for that game but it was still a strong team because there are players who need games?
“It’s an opportunity for game-time. We need to build up the squad for a long season ahead and of course it’s an opportunity for individuals to impress. At the stage we’re at, we need to have players ready and available because it’s a long season. But we have a strong and a big squad.”

Do you have any problems or knocks from Saturday’s game?
“No, not really. We’ve got a big week coming up with this cup game and Tottenham on Sunday, so eyes on both of them.”

Brighton made 11 changes for their match in the last round so is this game a slightly tricky one to prepare for?
“You never know what managers think and what they want. But, for us, it’s a game we want to win but we also need the players to get their season started.”

90 in 20: Brighton 2 United 3 Video

A win would get us into the quarter-finals. Is that what’s positive about this competition that it doesn’t take that long to suddenly get very deep into it?
“It depends how you want to get there, you’ve got teams getting there even without playing, even to this round! [Smiles] It’s a competition you always want to go far in and you always want to try to give experience to the young kids as well and the squad needs to feel that we’re together. If you only play one XI, that’s not great at times. So, for us, we want to win and give that feeling that it’s important this season.”

I think this competition is the one thing missing from your CV?
“Yeah, I know. I’ve lost one or two finals, I can’t remember how many, but I won the day after one of them because my daughter was born. That was more important!”

There were some great photos of David De Gea and Dean Henderson this week winning a game of head tennis in training. Are you pleased with how they’re working together?
“Are you sure they won or are they just putting that out themselves?! [Laughs] The goalkeeper department is a vibrant area. They all get on well and they push each other, Lee [Grant] and Nathan [Bishop] as well - two top professionals who help out that group at the moment. We are very lucky and privileged in that department.”

Match Quiz Quiz

Can you correctly answer 11 questions on Saturday’s dramatic 3-2 win over Brighton?

On Thursday, it’s the Champions League draw and because of the pot we’ll be in we’re likely to get a big team including the likes of Juventus, Bayern and PSG…
“So are they because they can get us! We’re happy to be in it and we want to go far in it and go through. Whoever we meet - we’re seeded in the second pot, so we’ll get a top team but there are so many good teams in European football at the moment, so names don’t really count.”

The new season is here. Our 2020/21 home, away and third kits are available now from United Direct.

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