Every word from Ole's pre-Leicester press conference
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer answered questions from reporters ahead of Manchester United's Premier League match against Leicester City, speaking about Cristiano Ronaldo, Marcus Rashford's return from injury and Harry Maguire's fitness.
The boss also told journalists about Raphael Varane's recent injury and the availability of Fred and Edinson Cavani as well as reflecting on Andy Cole's 50th birthday and the recent takeover of Newcastle United.
Read every word from Ole's press conference below...
Could you bring us up to date with the situation regarding Raphael Varane and how long he’ll be out for, Harry Maguire’s fitness and who’s going to play in central defence – and also Fred and Cavani and their situation?
"Yeah, you know the international breaks, sometimes it’s a time to cross your fingers and hope for the best because as we see with Raphael, he’s got an injury, out for a few weeks, but then again Victor [Lindelof] and Eric [Bailly] played in the internationals and got good game-time so that was good for us. With regards to Fred and Edinson, they played a full game this morning - half one it kicked off! So of course, we’re not counting on them. We’ve got to give them the time to rest and recover, which of course you have to. They played well, and that was a good thing for us, [they’re] not injured, hopefully they can be involved again during midweek, during the Champions League [against Atalanta]. Harry [Maguire] has just joined us on the grass this morning, so that was the first time he’s been on the grass, Amad the first time on the grass today as well, so we look quite strong."
What have you made of Leicester City’s form so far this season?
"It's early on, early doors in the season. Sometimes, you don’t really see the real picture so early and, of course, they’re in the Europa League as well, so they got so many games. I have the utmost respect every time we play Leicester because they’ve signed well again, got good players; sometimes it takes times to gel. I’ve seen good football at times, and at times, like most of us, they’ve conceded goals that they shouldn’t. As every time we go down there, it’s going to be difficult."
You’ve got a big run of games coming up against difficult opposition, could this actually prove a good run for you?
"We’ve added some exciting players going forward, we’ve scored goals, and it’s a nice time to be an attacking player for us as well. We need to keep that going, keep attacking, keep having the Man United DNA as well as defending well, come together as a team, make sure we’re hard to play against. I can’t think [about] Atalanta now, Liverpool. It’s only Leicester. And that’s probably going to be the key, that we only focus one game at a time, maybe even spells in games. We’re looking forward to this run. All the best players want to play against the best teams, and we’ve got some of the best teams coming up."
Hi Ole, what are your thoughts on the Newcastle takeover, they’re becoming one of the richest clubs in world football. You had a famous rivalry 25 years ago between United and Newcastle, Ferguson and Keegan, what do you make of the takeover and what effect will it have on the league?
“It’s not been my focus, but I’ve of course noticed that it happened. To be honest, I didn’t think it was going to go through but it has, and it is going to change the picture. I don’t know the plans of the new owners, so I can’t say here if they’re going to spend loads of money or what they’re going to do. It’s a fantastic football club with traditions and I enjoyed that spell when Newcastle were up there. Probably short term, it’s going to change them, but definitely long term it’s going to be interesting to watch. As you’ve said, it has been the talk of football in the last few weeks and if they can do that with the results, I think that’s what they want in the end, of course. It’s not my focus, I don’t want to join in that political discussion.”
Just a quick one on Marcus Rashford, is he back and will he play on Saturday?
“He’s in the squad, yes. If he’s going to start or not, I can’t tell you now because it wouldn’t be right, but he’s worked really hard throughout the whole lay-off. He’s been really bright this week, he had a 60-minute involvement behind-closed-doors last week so he’s fit and raring to go.”
Cristiano has been a stand-out in internationals, can you afford to leave him out in the coming weeks?
“You know, he’s an exceptional player, exceptional finisher, and a goalscorer, and an exceptional professional. It’s hard to leave him out. Everyone would love to, how do you say… You can go play six games in six days and play the same XI every time, it’d be great. But it’s rotation. We need to get to April-May with everyone firing, last season we got to May and we were a little bit too tired. I’m the manager, I manage the players, I manage for the club, but, of course, it’s nice to have him on the pitch because he’ll always come up with the goods and the more we have him on the pitch, the better.”
It’s your old team-mate Andy Cole’s 50th birthday today. What’s your favourite Cole moment and who in your squad now is most similar to him?
“Yorkie and Cole together, I think that’s got to be the favourite period for Andy. Him and Yorkie were exceptional in that ’99 team. [My favourite moment is] Probably when we clinched the semi-final win against Juventus, or the goal Andy scored when he came on against Tottenham and chipped the keeper. He’s so sharp, he was so quick off the mark and to get in behind players, his confidence in front of goal was brilliant. I enjoyed playing with him because he had something I didn’t with that exceptional pace. Current strikers I’ve got, Cristiano, Edinson and Anthony are a bit different. Probably Marcus and Anthony Elanga have part of that electric pace that Andy used to have, but they run a little bit more off the ball than he did, because I had to do that running for him!”
There’s been a lot of talk about Jesse Lingard’s future in the last couple of weeks, could you tell us your thoughts on that?
“Jesse has had a good start to the season, of course. He’s come on and scored a few goals for us; that’s been very important for us. He knows what we want, we want to prolong his contract, we see him as an important player for us. It’s obviously up to him to get more playing time, it may be up to me giving him more playing time because he deserves to, but every time I pick a team, I have to leave some players out. Hopefully, we can get a deal sorted for Jesse because we really rate him, he’s a top player and top person who’s good to have around the club.”