Pre-Roma press conference: Ole & Bruno's thoughts

Wednesday 05 May 2021 15:19

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Bruno Fernandes spoke to the media on Wednesday ahead of the second leg of our Europa League semi-final.

With Manchester United leading Roma 6-2 from the first meeting last week, the pair were quizzed on our hopes of making it to the final this season, among a number of other topics.

Below is every word from the pre-match press conference...


Fans need to be listened to - what are your thoughts on Sunday?
"It was a difficult day for us. Of course, we wanted to play, we wanted to beat Liverpool for the fans. Our job has to be about getting good performances and good results on the pitch - that's the players' focus, that's my focus. As I said before the game, we have to listen, we have to hear the fans' voice. It's everyone's right to protest - it has to be in a civilised manner though. It has to be in a peaceful manner. Unfortunately, when you break in, when police officers get injured, scarred for life, that's one step too far. Unfortunately, when it gets out of hand like this, it's a police matter. It's not about showing your opinions anymore."

Do you hope that the owners will communicate with the fans? To ease the attention and the tension on you and the team...
"My job, my focus has to be on the results, but you don't have to be a rocket scientist to see that we have challenges and frictions and things that have to be dealt with, with the communications. Other individuals, other than me, have started already with discussing with the fans, with communicating to fans' groups, which is going to be massive going forward for us. I think the players have done terrific to be where they are. I would be sad if the players got all the good work they had done disrupted. Our focus is on playing well and getting to a final now."

Roma v United: Ole & Bruno's press conference Video

Roma v United: Ole & Bruno's press conference

Watch how Solskjaer and Fernandes answered questions on fan protests and Thursday's semi-final second leg in Italy...

What would be your message to fans at the moment?
"Well, a little bit of what I've said here. Of course, we want to listen and it has to be in a peaceful manner. Please voice your opinions. We know that as a club we need to communicate better. As I said, if you refer back to the apologies, they all accepted it came out wrong and it was the wrong thing to do, which is a start. Let's continue on that. I know that our fans want a team that is likeable, that is playing attacking football, that is scoring goals, that is winning trophies, being humble and working hard to getting better results. They can identify with them. We want to be a Man United team. I know that for fans, results are important. My job is the results and we want to get back to winning trophies. We haven't won for a while and that is something we're working on. That's my responsibility and I'm sure our fans can see what the players are doing."

In a season that has been so compacted, how do you adapt your fitness programming?
"We have got great staff; fantastic fitness staff. We have to work on... it's been a process since I came in. We brought some young staff in - Charlie has been brilliant. We're working on robustness, resilience. We have to be able to play 50 games. A winning Man United team has players who can play 45, 50, 50+ games at a high standard. That's lifestyle; that's what we do in training, having good habits, recovering well. When you don’t play, periodising really well so that you know you can play in 10 days. It needs planning. 'Ok, you're playing in seven days, you can train hard now'. When you are a sub, I know how difficult it can be to get the complete match fitness by not playing games. When you play games, you get into a rhythm and then all you have to hope for is not getting injuries."

When you miss a game like you did on Sunday, does that affect your periodisation?
"It has changed the whole cycle, of course it has done. We had a game Thursday and prepared for Sunday again. Sunday would have been the perfect day to test them again, physically, but it was more of a mental challenge. The Monday was a harder day in training. It changes the whole thing, the whole plan. But you have to be adaptable and with the world that we live in now you can't think that it's going to be… that you get the fixture list in August and it won't change. The boys have been terrific at that, at adapting to different challenges."

Should one of the Glazers speak to fans?
“I have been communicating to the owners - I got an apology personally. They have apologised to fans about how this came out. I know it has started, communications between other individuals than me, and the fans. It is a difficult position to be in this for me, because I have to focus on the football. I have always had a good relationship and they listen to me and they do listen to the fans. I'm sure there will be better communication coming."

How do you ensure the players don't get too confident ahead of the second leg?
"It's going into the game, wanting to win and playing a good game of football. As a team, we need to develop. We know that we aren’t at the standard yet where we can go into a game thinking we can play on the result. We aren't going to play on the result. We are going to play to win the game and that's the only way I think we should approach these games, to develop, to test ourselves and challenge ourselves. Of course there might be one or two changes in the selection because of the games coming up. But we have to get into the final. Everyone says it's done, but it's not. I have seen bigger upsets that this and Roma have been part of big upsets. They beat Barcelona not long ago, after being 4-1 down."

How disappointing is it that you are about to reach your first final as United manager but the discussion is around the ownership of Manchester United?
"As I've said, my focus has to be... I have to have laser focus on the football, but also understand that there are views and challenges ahead outside of the football pitch. But my focus has to be on what's going to happen on the pitch over the next three weeks. But the right to protest... everyone has a human right to be heard, but it has to peaceful. When you step out of line and when you break on to the pitch and into the dressing rooms, that's one step too far. When it becomes a police matter, that's not nice. It's not been helped by certain individuals. But that's your end of it - not you, Simon, but that's your end of it."

Highlights: United 6 Roma 2 Video

Highlights: United 6 Roma 2

Watch all eight goals from a hugely entertaining evening at Old Trafford...

Mason Greenwood could make his 100th appearance - what did you tell him to work on this season?
"We spoke before the Liverpool game - that was going to be his 100th game - and we said 'let's score a winner'. That's what he does, he scores goals. He's really added the link-up play. He's so clever, so clean on his build-up play. He's giving assists - decision making is one thing. Of course, if he is going to be a central striker or a wide right; it's the filling out. You have to be used to having players in your back and facing the wrong way. If you want to be a no.9, you are going to get hurt. You have to stick your head in and break your nose once in a while. He's a pretty boy and I'm not sure he wants to do that. That's the challenge for him. Just keep doing what he does - he's only 19! He's doing the right things on the training ground and I'm very happy with him."

Have you had any joy at convincing Edinson to stay at Old Trafford for next season?
“We have had some good conversations and we have had some good chats lately. Even though the decision is still in his court but, I'm still hopeful. Maybe more so when you see him on Thursday against Roma and after that game talking to him about doing that in front of a full Stretford End. That's different; that's magic. I'm still hopeful, yeah."

How do you mend this situation?
"Of course it has to be a united football club. To make things grow, you need to give it some patience. I'm hopeful that, in time, we can unite and come together. Frictions and challenges can be good, they can move things forward. The last few weeks have been difficult, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see that. I have had backing, I have got to say. I have been put in charge and I am responsible for the results, I'm responsible for the football matters. I understand that fans want to see results and trophies. I'm hopeful that they can see that the team is moving forward, is going places and can see the process we're in. Hopefully we can get to a final tomorrow - that's the short-term fix, to get to the final, and we'll take it from there."
United v Roma: The mash-up Video

United v Roma: The mash-up

We’ve spliced together our two big Old Trafford wins over the Giallorossi, in goal time order…


What do Pogba and Cavani bring to you and your game?
"Quality players always bring quality to the team. We all know what Paul and Edi can do for the team. We all know what they have. People can have doubts on them sometimes, but we as a team never have. We know what they can bring to us. The most important is that everyone knows, it doesn't matter your place, everyone has something to say. The most important thing is the improvement of the team in the last few months and we still have a lot to improve."

How difficult was Sunday for the players?
"Of course, for us, it was hard because we want to play football. This is what it's about for us. We prepared well for the big game and of course the chance to play in this kind of game is always good. The team was ready to play. It was a good week for us, we played really well against Roma before and the confidence was high. This type of thing, we have nothing to say about that. The fans have their own words and they think it was the best for them and they did it, and we have nothing to say on that. Our focus is on playing football and doing the best for the club."

How difficult is it to ignore supporters’ actions because something similar happened to you at Sporting Lisbon? Are there any similarities?
"It is not close with that because what happened at Sporting - not Sporting Lisbon, please - was completely different and was something between the fans and the players. Here, we have no problems with the fans. They don't come close to us. The problems the fans had at Sporting were to the players and it was really different to what happened to us on Sunday. Honestly, I don't want to compare because I don't want to remember what happened at Sporting; that has passed. From Sporting, I have just good memories and what happened on Sunday is passed; it is over. The most important thing for the team is to play now against Roma and we will see when we play against Liverpool. The most important is for the team to win games. For us, as players, all we want is to play."

How much would you like players like Cavani and Pogba to stay?
"They are really important for us and the qualities they have - it is difficult to find on the market for a good price. I think everyone knows that the team is growing with their help, and it's important for us to keep our best players and keep improving as a team."

What would winning a trophy do for this team?
"For us, it is a psychological improvement if we win the Europa League. Because last season we didn't win anything, so if we win a trophy it is an improvement. It's still not enough for us, but it is something from the club, from the players to say that we are doing better. But there is still a lot to improve, as I said before."

Did you consider speaking to supporters on Sunday?
"It is not your friend before the one who said that? He put that on the news. I don't know who told him that. I was in my room watching football because it was Udinese against Juventus. I never tried to come outside; no-one tried to go outside. We just did what security told us. We just stayed in our room. If someone tried to go out, I don't know. I didn't see anyone try and come out."

How close to your best do you feel you were against Roma? Is that hard to maintain once you've played 50+ matches this season?
"I hope to play more 50 again next season. Honestly, for me, when you play for a club like this your standards have to be high. For me, my game against Roma was not the best, but in terms of numbers it was the best because of two goals and two assists for the first time. Of course, it was a good game. I think also individually I played really well. I want to improve - so maybe next time three assists and two goals. The most important thing for us is the way we win and we are closer to getting a trophy."