Read every word from Wednesday's press conference

Wednesday 10 March 2021 11:16

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Harry Maguire faced questions from the media on Wednesday afternoon, ahead of our Europa League tie with AC Milan.

The Serie A side head to Old Trafford on Thursday for the first leg of the last-16 double-header, after eliminating Red Star Belgrade in the previous round.

Before the much-anticipated encounter, the Manchester United manager and captain sat down at the Aon Training Complex and answered questions from journalists, via video link.

Here's every word they had to say...

Watch Ole and Maguire's press conference Video

Watch Ole and Maguire's press conference

Enjoy the full 17 minutes of the captain and the manager's media briefing before AC Milan...


What do you make of the threat Milan pose?
"Obviously they are a top team, a great club. When I was growing up I watched a lot of AC Milan in the big games and the big nights that they've been involved in, so it's an exciting tie. We want to test ourselves and play against the best teams. I feel like they're one of the best teams in the competition, so we're looking forward to it."

How important is it for this Man United team to win a trophy?
"When you play for this club you are expected to win trophies and if you play for this club the main aim is to win football matches and win trophies. Yeah, it's really important. We're obviously in the FA Cup and the Europa League and still fighting in the Premier League as well. We are still playing in three competitions and we want to go as far as we can in them all. Like I say, lifting trophies is what is expected of you at this club."

How well do you feel the defence are doing and do you feel like you are close to your best at the minute?
"As a defensive unit we've really progressed throughout the year. We started the season with a difficult spell, [and it was] not the best pre-season we had together and we didn't manage to work on things. It was tough in regards to the number of games that we played; we didn't get a break. We conceded far too many goals for our liking, considering last year we kept a lot of clean sheets. We started this season with a tough spell. I think everyone in the backline, as individuals... I feel if my left-back is playing well then generally I feel I am playing well. I think if you look at individuals at the moment, everyone is playing well. The confidence is improving and there are still lots of areas we can improve at."

What does that win at City do?
"When you're in the big games against the top teams, I think Man City have shown in the last couple of months, with the winning streak that they've been on, that they're a top team. So it gives us confidence knowing that we can beat anyone. We've felt like that for around a year now. We felt that we're capable of putting in top performances and how many times have we reached that level? That's what we need to start looking at and that's down to us as players. With the levels that we can reach, we know we can get there."

You've barely missed a game this season. Would you ever knock on the manager's door and say that you need a rest?

Solskjaer: "He had a rest against Real Sociedad in the second leg, that's been enough!"

HM: "[Laughs] That's my rest done! No, obviously, if I got to the stage where I felt my body needed a rest I would speak to the manger. But at the moment I feel good, I feel physically good. I'm used to playing two or three games a week now, every three of four days. [There's] not much training, [but] I feel good physically. I think, mentally, when you are winning games that always helps. The more games we win, the better I'll feel mentally. I don't think I'll be knocking on his door anytime soon and I'll rest when I'm retired."

You said the team is improving – is the next stage a trophy? How would that affect the mentality?
"Of course, for a team, when you win something it does something to you. I was a part of – not a big part of it – but towards the end of my career Sir Alex [Ferguson] built a new team. Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra's first win was in the Carling Cup. That spurred this team on and the next season they won the league. Of course, I feel also that it can be a catalyst to something bigger and better. We need to get there at some point. When you're in the Europa League you want to go as far as you can in it and go all the way. Last season, the defeat in the semis was a bitter pill to swallow."
What are your thoughts on the new backroom appointments of John Murtough and Darren Fletcher? Will Fletcher still be involved in the coaching side?
"Darren will still combine with the coaching – maybe a little bit less on the coaching. I'm very happy that we've made this decision with the announcement. I've known for a while. I've known John since I came. He's been here since I came and it's a bit more of a formal role with the job title. He's been working behind the scenes and I work well with him. It's a cultural fit. We know that we are a work in progress. We just want to keep working and progressing. I'm very happy with what we have and we still have the continuity of the last few years, but we have new ideas and new thinking with Fletch, who has been at the club before and has come back now."
What do you make of the comments from Edinson Cavani's father yesterday?
"Well, Edinson is fully focused on being available for us and working really hard to get fit. From my bad Portuguese and his better English, he is very proud to play for Man United. He is always going to give his best, as long as that is. If it's beyond this season... a decision hasn't been made. As we've said, he's made a great contribution so far. We're just working to him get him back on the pitch and fit. We'll convince him when the weather in Manchester improves."

Get to know Milan


United Review gives the lowdown on the Rossoneri’s boss, plus four key players.

Last night Erling Haaland went past you in the scoring records in the Champions League – what more can you say about him?
"It was just a matter of time before he scored more goals than me in the Champions League. But at the age of 20, to score as many goals as he has is fantastic. There aren't many more superlatives that anyone can use. Whatever I want to say to him, I will say in Norwegian directly to him."

You had one goal chalked off in the Champions League in a qualifier, so should you be on 20 goals?
"I don't know. That's probably a Champions League qualifier [goal], so it probably wasn't a proper Champions League game, so maybe that doesn't count. I've been told this, that and the other about records and stats. I've never been one to look back on that. I've been the first manager to have broken this, to win this, to do this. My focus is always to improve and keep getting better. Unfortunately, I can't play anymore. Erling can only work on keep improving and keep scoring goals. My only focus is improving Manchester United. I'd gladly give away all my records to improve what I'm doing now."

Marcus Rashford, how is he?
"I don't think he'll be available for tomorrow. He is still getting treatment but he didn't join in with the training today. Even though I am usually a very optimistic guy, he's still out of tomorrow night and probably a doubt for the weekend. But that 70-yard sprint recovery run [that led to the injury] shows the appetite, the spirit and the hunger we have got, and the humility on our work at the moment. It was probably worth it there and then, but you are never happy when you lose players for games."

Is there any team news and what sort of challenge are you expecting from Milan?
"I'm not sure if anyone will be back, no. David [De Gea] is not available, Donny [van de Beek], no. Paul [Pogba], no. Edinson maybe, but probably not. Juan [Mata], no, and Marcus, maybe but probably not. Similar to Sunday, but maybe we have lost Marcus. You look the tie, Man United v AC Milan, that sounds Champions League-like. I have had the ultimate adoration for AC Milan for many years. They have traditions and history, absolute quality, a class act. They have rebuilt again and are really challenging at the top and it's nice to see them up there."

Will you be watching the FA Youth Cup tonight?
"I'll be watching tonight and we're always looking to see if anyone has got that little edge that you look for, the potential. My focus, obviously, is on tomorrow, but for two hours you sit down and watch the kids."

Will the finances announced last week affect the transfer window and how big do you think the two new directors will be in terms of recruitment?
"I think everyone in world football has been affected by the pandemic and what's going on. It'll be an interesting window to see how the market responds. But for me, the process of our recruitment will still be the same with Darren and John in the new roles. It's work that we have been doing for years with the manager, the scouting department and the analysis departments. That won't change at all. John, I've worked well with him for years now anyway. We keep in touch at least a few times every week. The communication is very good, which is a positive. We are always looking to add quality to the team."

Last time out: United 7 Milan 2 (agg.) Video

Last time out: United 7 Milan 2 (agg.)

Watch the best bits from both legs of our most recent meeting with the Rossoneri, from 2010…

What does Fletcher bring that can improve Manchester United?
"Well, a few months back when we were making the final decision, there were also other things in the pipeline for Fletch. We moved Mark Dempsey back down to the Academy and there was a coaching spot. If there was one thing I was sure of, it was that we cannot lose Darren. We wanted Darren at Man United. He has the history of the club. He was brought up here from when he was a young boy to a Champions League winner, a serial winner. His DNA was what we want. Then he went away. He has fresh ideas as well as the Man United side of it. He's been outside with different clubs. He has a bright eye for football, a really keen eye and lots of development with the youngsters. For me, now he can combine these two, a little less coaching, and have an influence on the recruitment. He can speak to players and sell Man United as the club he knows it is."

What can you do to convince Cavani to stay?
"I can't comment on what has been said. I can only say that we are very pleased with Edinson when he is here. He's working really hard to be available. Every day, day in, day out, he's proving his personality and his professionalism. Even in his broken English it is really helping the young kids, as we wanted him to. We knew he wasn't going to be able to play every single game as he'd been out of football for so long. Now let's just make sure he plays as much football as possible until the end of the season, scores as many goals as he can and helps the young players, the forwards and the rest of the group with his mentality. He will make his decision and he knows we are very fond of what he has given to the club, even though he's probably played less games than he wanted."