Everton v United: Ole's press conference in full
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer sat down in front of journalists for another digital press conference on Friday afternoon, to preview Manchester United’s Premier League match against Everton.
The manager spoke confidently to reporters about Saturday’s trip to Goodison Park and was typically optimistic when asked how he is handling the pressure that comes from recent results.
Solskjaer believes in his young squad and is determined to earn three top-flight points this weekend, as you can read here in a full transcript of the media briefing…
You’ve obviously got an opportunity to put things right after a couple of defeats and the fans that I’ve been speaking to have been talking about wanting to see more passion and fight from your players. Do you want to see that as well?
“You know every time you play for Man United, passion and fight of course are things you expect to see. To earn the right to win a game of football, you need that - definitely against Everton. With or without fans at Goodison Park you still have to have that passion and fight in you. That's of course a given. I know times now are different, times are strange. The strain on players - football is not the same unfortunately, without the fans and the passion, so that takes away from it. No one has been in this situation the players are now. They've had months and months of playing with the uncertainty and the unknown of the virus and the pandemic and sometimes it's easy to sit at home and think football is the same and you expect the same from everyone. Sometimes we have to look behind and we have to look after them both physically and mentally. These are things I think about a lot and thinking about my players: how do they cope with the whole situation? So yes, passion and fight, we'll see that. I'm a definite believer in these boys, they'll come back and show how much they care.”
Everton v United: Watch Ole's press conferenceVideo
“It's not just Dominic Calvert-Lewin, it's the whole team, the set up. When Carlo came in you know that's a manager that everyone admires, players, other coaches, us managers. He's had a fantastic career. You start having a little look over there. Of course, they didn't have a very, very good period after the restart, maybe struggled a little bit, but now you can see what he's been working on. He’s had a good pre-season and has probably used the restart as well to have a look at his team and [I’ve] been impressed. Dominic Calvert-Lewin has been part of that and is integral to their play.”
How’s the reaction been from the players and the group to those defeats and what have you made of the external reaction to the defeats?
“You know we had a very long and late flight back home. We were here early Thursday morning landing in Manchester. Of course Thursday was the day of some tired minds and tired heads and legs. We couldn't do a lot. Today has been a bright day, a sunny day in Manchester for a change, and the boys are ready for a reaction. We're all hurt and it's never easy and never enjoyable when you lose two games on the bounce, but that's football and you've got to react to it. We know that Champions League games are difficult but the manner of the goals obviously - you don't mind when they outplay you but we gifted them those goals.”
Ole, is it a fact of life as manager of Manchester United that when you have a performance like Wednesday when mistakes are made that people call you or the manager into question, the players into question and the reaction is as fierce as it’s been?
“Yeah, you have to be mentally strong. There's demands on a Man United player, a coach, or a manager. There’s also an expectation, because we are at the best and the biggest club in the world. You don't expect to have anything but criticism then. It's just how you deal with that setback. From what I've seen from the boys, they’ve been very focused since we’ve come back and ready to give a response.”
Ole I think everyone on this call has known you an awful long time as a player and a manager. Firstly, how are you, and secondly does this feel like a bigger game than going to Goodison Park and trying to beat Everton?
“I'm good. You know you don't have to be happy to still stay positive. The thing is you know on difficult days, on hard days, in life there will be better days coming. For me I know these players well enough and I trust them enough to have a response. Going out there, enjoying wearing the shirt and playing against a good team of course, which always is [a matter of] personal pride as well that you go out there and play against some very, very good players and a good team.”
“Yeah, why shouldn't I be? If I don't trust my beliefs and values and my staff's quality and the player's quality, who else should? I don't look at one or two results and fall like a house of cards. Yeah, it's a setback definitely. I think there's been too much made of say not scoring against Arsenal and Chelsea. Those games, there’s been more or less nothing in those two games. It's not long ago we were the best thing since sliced bread, when you beat Leipzig and PSG. There’s ups and downs in football. That’s just the way it has to be and you've got to have that belief in yourself [and] belief in the players. The club has been very positive. They’ve shown me their character and strong leadership. I'm looking to Saturday lunchtime, which is another matter. We can talk about that later on, probably.”
If you are safe or not it almost seems to change with the wind these days in Manchester. How do you feel yourself, do you feel the pressure before the game against Everton? Is it a do or die game for you? Do you feel the backing from the board and Mr Woodward?
“You know I've always had a very good, open, honest and positive dialogue with the club. As I said, they've shown strong leadership. I've had good dialogue continually since I’ve come. With me today, it's sunny in Manchester and I don't expect the wind to turn. There's always pressure and expectations on us. I've grown up here. I became a man at Manchester United and I've learned how to deal with good and bad times. There's always - you're a top coach or manager when you win and you’re bad when you lose, because that's the last game you played. You're not really better than your last game. Every game of football becomes history quickly and we've just got to go into Goodison Park in a positive frame of mind.”
“Every game lives its own life and there’s fine margins - I've said that many times. Results create the headlines and the backdrop. In games that you win at times, you're praised: ‘that was a fantastic performance.’ Sometimes you lose and you're criticised. It's not as black and white as that is. Definitely we're searching for that consistency. That's something we need to improve on: consistently doing well, that is what I mean, not consistency the other way. We need a response [for] the Everton one. I said early on with the players and the mentality and the times we live in: that has to have an input in people's daily life and mental health at the moment. Sometimes you think about the players, how focused they can be on football. I'm sure that sometimes after defeat it's easier to focus on 'I need to get back to preparing well'. Sometimes when you've done well, maybe you drop your guard a little bit, you think maybe we’ve cracked it. I'm looking forward to a response anyway tomorrow afternoon, or lunchtime.”