City v United: Our exclusive preview from Solskjaer
Our latest interview with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer covers a plethora of talking points, including the Carabao Cup semi-final second leg against Manchester City, plus a potential Emirates FA Cup tie against Wayne Rooney and alleged transfer 'targets' the boss hasn't heard of.
The in-depth conversation was conducted at the Aon Training Complex on Tuesday morning and, here, you can read a full transcript of the manager's comments.
So what are you waiting for? Make sure you're up to date ahead of Wednesday night's much-anticipated 19:45 GMT kick-off at the Etihad Stadium...
Firstly Ole, before we look ahead to the City match, what are your thoughts on the FA Cup fifth-round draw and a potential meeting with Wayne Rooney's Derby County or Northampton Town?
“It’s another away game and of course it would be nice to meet Wayne on the pitch again. He’s still a top player. Let’s see how they do first in the replay against Northampton. We’re now through to the fifth round and we’re getting closer.”
Derby will be favourites, with their replay being at home, but Northampton will know they have an opportunity to host a home game against United if they can get through, so they have plenty to play for too...
“I think you saw with the Tranmere game and with the atmosphere that the whole place was ready for that game. It’s up to us to play well and score the goals [in the next round]."
It was a really professional performance at Tranmere to get into round five, wasn't it?
“Yes I was very pleased with everyone especially in those conditions. It could have gone any way really. The boys played some very good stuff on that bad pitch and got some confidence from it.”
You were able to rest players for the trip to Prenton Park and also take others off during it – that helps at this stage of the season, doesn’t it?
“Yes. We need everyone but of course some of these players have played loads of football. Nemanja [Matic] had to come off, let’s see how he is before Wednesday night. Anthony [Martial], we could take off at half-time and Harry [Maguire] has played the most football for us, which is okay. City rested their players as well so they’ll be just as fresh.”
How is the squad looking generally?
“Apart from Nemanja it’s the same squad. Aaron [Wan-Bissaka] will be back in the squad and David [De Gea] too. We should have the same squad that’s been travelling lately. They’ve done fantastic. We have two more games [this week] so let’s give what we have then we have a little break.”
So is it not too bad with Nemanja? He has been in really good form of late…
“Nemanja felt something and to make sure we give him the best possible chance for Wednesday night we took him off [at Tranmere]. I think he should be fine, but let’s see.”
It’s a tough task to get through against City, turning around a two-goal deficit, but we’ve done it before…
“Well we went there in December, played really well and created loads of chances and defended well when we had to. This is a cup tie though and we need to win by at least two goals and in our memory bank we’ll have to go back to the PSG match. That gives us confirmation that we can do it but of course you’re playing against a good team and we know we’ll have to defend well and attack well, so it’s all set up again for these young boys to learn.”
You can certainly take confidence from our league win there in December, can’t you?
“Definitely. Then again it’s a different match. They can play on the first result and I don’t know what team they will play. But we’ll go there and give it a go.”
Our players have been putting in the hard yards ahead of Wednesday's Manchester derby in the Carabao Cup.
The transfer window is nearly shut and once it is I suppose everyone can then concentrate on football matters on the pitch, rather than off it, which is dominating your press conferences...
“Yes all the press in this second part of January has been all about transfers in and out and I can’t say anything until something happens. After the first of February let’s start the summer transfer window questions! [Laughs] That’s just the way it is here, there’s speculation about players. Some of them I’ve not even heard about or even considered have been touted about.”
Finally, it would be great to give the fans two big performances against City and then Wolves before that much-needed winter break, when you can all recuperate…
“Definitely. We’ve had some ups and downs but the players in the last two months have played 20 games in a very short space of time. They’ve given us everything and they will again in these last two games. Let’s hope we go into the break positively.”
Reading this in our app? If not, you might miss some exclusive features not found on ManUtd.com. Download the Official App here.