Exclusive: Ole on Rashford, Pellistri and Newcastle
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is looking for a response from his Manchester United players when we travel to St. James' Park to take on Newcastle United on Saturday evening.
The Reds have had to wait two long weeks since the defeat to Tottenham Hotspur, with Ole also hoping his players would return from the international break unscathed.
Ahead of the test against Steve Bruce's side, the boss spoke to Mark Sullivan about our Premier League clash against the Magpies, Marcus Rashford's MBE and the arrival of youngster Facundo Pellistri...
What’s the status on everyone after the international break?
“You never know [how players are] until they get back and we have had a look at them. I think, and we hope, everyone has come through okay. Of course Alex [Telles] has travelled all round the world. He flew overnight and got here on Thursday. Harry [Maguire] seemed to pick up a little knock just before he got sent off so we’re having a look at him today to see how he is.”
Could Alex Telles be involved against Newcastle and is he an option?
“Yes of course he is. I’ll have a word with him today and just make sure he feels up to it and hopefully we can bring him up to Newcastle.”
Ole previews Newcastle testVideo
We must mention Marcus Rashford’s MBE of course…
“Yes of course. It’s a recognition of his fantastic work and the type of person he is and how he cares about others. It’s great for him but I’m sure Marcus will look back on it maybe later on in his life in terms of what he’s achieved. When you’re right in the middle of it you just focus on doing good on the pitch and off the pitch, you don’t think about all the recognition. I’m sure him and his family are proud but it’s part and parcel of being a role model which he is.”
Have you spoken to Harry since his return?
“Yes I have. He was in yesterday. Of course it’s never easy when you lose a game and you’re sent off, but Harry is fine. He’s a resilient guy, he wants to bounce back and of course if he shakes off this knock hopefully he’ll be ready.”
Of the players who have remained here at the Aon Training Complex during the international break what have the sessions been like?
“They’ve been training well. It’s not just about training hard, it’s also about getting the right mindset and having the right environment to train in because it’s never easy when the last thing you do before a break like this is lose as we did [against Tottenham]. But they’ve been working well and hard. They had a few days off, last weekend, but the mood has been good.”
You’ve had a chance to look at Facundo Pellistri in training close up too…
“Yes. He’s a young boy coming from Uruguay. He’s a signing in the tradition of what we do here which is to bring young players in and let them grow and develop and become the player they can be. Of course we’ll give him time. He’s more one for the future than now, but he’s exciting and he’s shown some things in training that we don’t really have here. I’m looking forward to helping him develop and helping him settle.”
You’re without Anthony Martial through suspension and Edinson Cavani is unavailable for Saturday, so what are your thoughts in an attacking sense?
“First of all we think about how we can go up there and try to dominate the game, control the game and win the game. We’ve had to wait for everyone to come back hopefully fit and strong, and it seems like they are, so we’ll pick a team that we think will cause problems for them. Steve [Bruce] has done a fantastic job up there, I have to say. They’ve had a very, very good start to the season with seven points already and through in the Carabao Cup to the quarter-finals. They’ve done some good business and they’re going to make it hard for us. With Allan Saint-Maximin, [Callum] Wilson, [Andy] Carroll, Joalinton, [Miguel] Almiron… whoever it is that will be up there, they’re going to cause us problems. It’s never easy to play against Steve’s teams because they’re well organised defensively as well.”
Goals has been a problem for them in past seasons but they seem to have goals in this team now…
“Yeah of course. You can see that when you sign proven goalscorers like Wilson who has been one of the top strikers in the league for the last few years and is always hard to play against. Saint-Maximin is exciting and you’ve got two target men, two proper old-school target men in Joalinton and Carroll so you know you’re in for a game against them for sure.”
Manchester United against Newcastle is always a special fixture isn’t it, it’s got that bit of glamour about it…
“It does and ever since I came here we’ve had some fantastic games against them. We’ve had some good results and some bad results, I remember being up there when we lost 5-0 once. My first game for the club was in the Charity Shield at Wembley when we beat them 4-0 and I was on the bench. We’ve had some fantastic games with some great players on the pitch over the years. Let’s hope we do better than last year because last year was a big disappointment. We know we’re going up there against a good team who are hard to play against, but we need to bounce back and give a response.”
The game is at eight o’clock on a Saturday night – a great time to be playing…
“Yes of course. It is what it is, you never know now from day to day what time you’re going to play in these uncertain times and eight o’clock gives some of our players more rest and more time to recover from the internationals so we’re looking forward to it.”