Ole's press conference: Transfers, Greenwood, Cavani & more
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was asked about the latest news in the world of football on Tuesday afternoon, including managerial sackings and transfers.
The boss was carrying out his usual pre-match media duties ahead of the Premier League encounter between Manchester United and Sheffield United on Wednesday.
Unsurprisingly, given that we're edging closer to the culmination of the January transfer window, Solskjaer was quizzed on the future of several Reds, including Jesse Lingard, Brandon Williams and Facundo Pellisitri.
Given the news of Frank Lampard's departure on Monday, Ole was asked about the latest managerial change at Chelsea and the importance of being backed by the club's owners.
So what are you waiting for? Scroll down to see every word the boss had to say in the first first half of his pre-match press conference.
“It’s not really for me to comment too much on that one. One thing I know for sure is that Frank doesn’t want any of us to feel sorry for him, that’s for sure. I know his character, his mentality and I’m sure he’ll bounce back and have a very good managerial career. He just went through a bad patch for a spell - it wasn’t long ago they were top of the league. It’s the first dip of form they’ve really had under Frank. [I’m] a little bit surprised, but it’s not my job to comment on what’s happening at Chelsea.”
It’s something you’ve experienced as a manager, that tricky run with that external pressure building. Manchester United backed you and now you sit at the top of table. Is that an example that sometimes, in these situations, patience is a virtue?
“Well, I don’t know. I can just comment on our club, of course. We knew that we were going to have some rough and patchy periods and they stood strong. I’ve had good backing from the club, the leadership has been very steady, which I feel very grateful for because we’ve been through two or three really bad spells. We don’t know what’s happening in behind the scenes. You don’t know what’s been happening in behind the scenes here either. It’s not for me to keep talking about our communication but, of course, it’s always sad when someone loses their job.”
“They’re still part of our club, part of the squad [and] training well. No deal has been struck for any player yet. There’s still a little period left, of course. There have been many clubs interested in our players, so let’s see what happens. For me, it’s important to take our wishes and our plans into consideration and the players, of course. They are Man United people and players, through and through.”
I think, at the start of the season, we spent many weeks lamenting your home form. You’ve now won five of your last six. Does that come with form and belief, or did you have to have a chat with the players to get that going again?
“I’ve said it so many times, home or away, it doesn’t really matter. It’s just the surface of the pitch and there are no fans, no crowd. You don’t have that extra man that we usually have, which we can’t wait to get back again. The ground staff have done a good job, so we’re happy with with the surface. Our form has come through hard work, through the coaching, through the work the players have done. We knew the beginning was going to be hard for us and it just fell that we had a few difficult home games to start with and circumstances in those games were hard for us to overcome. Now the form is good, the mood is good, the confidence is good, the squad is fit and healthy. We are in a good moment. Of course, you have to enjoy it, but it’s focus on the next one. That’s the only thing that matters.”
"Marcus is available, yeah. He trained this morning, so [he’s] available for selection. I think he tweaked his knee, but he’ll be fine. He trained fully this morning. We’re looking strong, which is a good place to be in.”
I just wanted to ask about Amad Diallo and [Facundo] Pellistri - there is a lot of excitement about Amad and when we’ll get to see him. Could you give us an update on that and if he’ll be involved tomorrow? On Pellistri, there has been a suggestion he could leave on loan - Spain has been mentioned. I don’t know if you could update us on that?
“Yeah, there have been talks, there have been quite a few clubs interested in Facundo to go out on loan. That’s maybe something we will let him do now. He’s had a few games in the Reserves. We want him to have regular football, of course, at a higher level. With Amad, I think it’s a different scenario. He’s just come in and he’s going through a good training regime, training programme, and he’s doing really well. It won’t be too long, I feel, before I can bring him into the squad.”
“We haven’t had any discussions yet. For me, [it’s a case of] just keep doing my job as well as I can.”
In terms of the conversations you have with Ed [Woodward] and the owners, it must be positive for you because clearly they have stuck by you…
“I’ve said it many a time that we looked at the squad, we looked at the situation we were in and we put longer-term plans in place. The club knew there were going to be some patchy periods; we had to stay strong, [with a] strong mentality, and the leadership they’ve shown has been very strong and steady. Of course, I’ve been very grateful about the communication that has been very open and honest all the time.”
For the last couple of years now, Man United have been sort of in the shadow of your biggest rivals, and maybe Liverpool especially. With this last result against Liverpool and your position in the table, is it safe to say that you’re the ‘big brother’ again?
“We’re not getting carried away. We know we have to get consistency, results, performances. The two teams that have been top of the league for the last three years have been amazing. Absolutely incredible consistency and in many other seasons, you would have won the league with 15, almost 20, points less than the two of them. We know that this is the start of something, we just have to be competitive and keep improving. No, we’re not going to get carried away, but just keep on working as we do.”
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“We think Mason is going to be very important in the second half of the season. But it isn’t just going to happen by itself because you had a good game and scored. He had a good game against West Ham a while back as well and we expect him to kick on. I think Mason has taken steps, he has grown, is more mature and he’s been training with Edinson Cavani for half a season now. He’s learning good habits and whoever doesn’t learn good habits from a good professional like him or Bruno [Fernandes], or the players we’ve brought in, that’s a pity. I’m very confident that Mason will chip in with good performances and goals and assists.”
Given that Edinson Cavani has started three of the last four games, he’s played 90 minutes in each of them and he’s really finding his stride. What does he bring to your team?
“How long have you got? When a striker of that age runs almost 12 kilometres… he chases down every time their centre-back has the ball and when the keeper has the ball. He puts in tackles on the centre-midfielders. He makes a mistake for the goal Liverpool scored, but he’s the one that is closest to winning it back on his own 18-yard box. His reaction and his work-rate and his habits and the threat in the box, the humility of coming in every day single day doing your best. We could go on and on. But his experience and his attitude has given us a lesson, every single one of us.”