Exclusive: Boss on Cavani, Tuanzebe and Herrera
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has provided us with another detailed pre-match interview, this time ahead of tonight's encounter with Paris Saint-Germain.
The Reds are currently preparing for a first outing in this season's UEFA Champions League and, on Monday evening, the boss spoke with reporter Stewart Gardner at the Parc des Princes.
Here, you can read what Ole has to say about injuries, Edinson Cavani's fitness, the captaincy, Ander Herrera and a certain French connection...
Ole, you spoke in the press conference about players who aren’t here - is it a case of not risking anyone?
“At an early stage of the season, where there’s doubt, there’s no doubt, really. They wouldn’t be fit enough to play tomorrow. If we’d try to force them, maybe we’d make it worse. We hope that we can maybe get them back for the weekend.”
Obviously, Edinson Cavani has just started training with the first team. Does he look like a guy who’s naturally fit anyway and it wouldn’t take too long for him to get his sharpness?
“He’s naturally fit. He is fit enough but he needs to play football with the rest of the players and be in those kinds of situations. Of course, you can’t live on memory, really, because it’a been a while. He’s very thorough, professional and he knows what he needs and what he wants. He still hasn’t ticked all the boxes before he’s available to play.”
“It’s always great to welcome players back after operations and injuries, and Axel has been training really hard. He’s a welcome addition.”
A new skipper for the match in Bruno Fernandes, who will be a proud man I guess?
“We have many captains on the pitch. Harry’s our captain and it could easily be many other players that I say is captain material. Tomorrow I’ve decided that Bruno’s going to wear the armband.”
“It’s hard to say. You know, I don’t really look back and look at it that way. Of course, it was a fantastic night and we enjoyed it, and it’s great history but it’s in the past. Actually, I haven’t thought about it until we came here now, being asked these questions. This is a completely different game, it’s a completely different stage of the tournament. We play against a very good team, we know that, they were in the final a couple of months ago so it’s going to be a difficult game but one we look forward to. It’s a great challenge for what we can call a new team, as we have a lot of players now who didn’t play in that game anyway.”
It’s a completely different game and circumstances but I suppose a few of them, the PSG players, will be looking back and wanting some revenge?
“Of course, every time we lose a game, it hurts. For us, we know that we’re playing against a great team with great qualities that we have to be aware of. But it’s the first game of the group stage, we want to get to 10 points as soon as possible.”
That was Sir Alex’s mantra wasn’t it, that 10 points should be enough to qualify?
“It should be enough, then again it’s a difficult group, I remember in ’99, we all had two wins and four draws. It was decided on goals scored. Of course, you can’t get 10 points tomorrow, but tomorrow’s a good chance to get off to a good start.”
We are facing Ander Herrera, so will it be good to catch up with him?
“Hopefully he doesn’t start tomorrow. He’s a top human being, professional, great among the group and lads. I’ve kept in touch with him myself. He’s just a player and person you want the best for. He plays football for the right reasons. I wish him all the best, but after tomorrow.”
Finally, if Paul and Anthony play, would it be inspiring for them coming back “home” in a way?
“I think it will inspire everyone. Paul and Anthony being back home, it adds a little bit of spice. French players want to do well in this fantastic stadium. Everyone’s ready for tomorrow.”