Read every word from Ole's pre-match press conference

Friday 25 September 2020 10:35

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hosted his weekly pre-match press conference on Friday morning, via video link.

As usual, the boss was quizzed about various topics ahead of Saturday's trip to take on Brighton & Hove Albion in the Premier League.

Ole was asked about facing the Seagulls twice in just five days, transfer news, his options at centre-back, how the team have trained this week and more.

See below for every word from Friday morning's press briefing...

Brighton v United: Watch Ole's press conference Video

Brighton v United: Watch Ole's press conference

Watch as Ole answers journalists' questions on transfers, midfield options and improving in the Premier League...

I’m just wondering if you feel your squad are more up to speed in terms of fitness and sharpness compared to where they were last week?

“Of course, we’re a week further down the line. It’s been a good week - some players have been training more. The work on the training ground has been good and some played well against Luton. So we’re further down the line, which other teams probably are as well. We need to be further down the line because last week was a disappointing one.”

What are the challenges of facing the same team twice in a row in two different cup competitions? Does that change your thoughts in terms of team selection?

“It happens too many times; it happened to us last year with Wolverhampton as well. We just have to take one game at a time. It’s the Premier League first and all our attention is on that one. We had a bad start last week and we want to kick on and play a better game. Of course, we played them after the restart as well. We have some good memories from there, from that game and, hopefully, we can show something like that.”
I wanted you to assess your options at centre-back - you have some young players and some senior players who are wearing the shirt at the moment. Are you confident that you won’t need to strengthen that area in the next 10 days? Have you got what you need?

“I think last season proved to us how we can defend at our best. Yeah, last week wasn’t fantastic - we conceded sloppy goals, but our defensive record from last season shows with [Victor Lindelof] and Harry [Maguire] how good a partnership they were. It’s the whole team, defending as a team. Eric [Bailly] is fit again, which is a big bonus for us and I’m looking forward to seeing him develop and play more games this season because we’ve been waiting for him to… well, first, be fit and then to play more regularly.”

I know one of your pressures is keeping players happy - you won’t bother too much about that because you want a winning team. You’ve got good players who aren’t playing, the likes of [Sergio] Romero, [Chris] Smalling, [Marcos] Rojo and others as well. Will you look at it over the next few days and think ‘good players need to be playing football, they can go’?

“Players are happy when they play well and win games. I’m happy when we play well and win games. It’s not my job to keep them happy, my job is to pick players for the club so we get results. It’s up to them to be fit, work hard and be ready when called upon.”

Would you expect ins and outs to be busy over the next week? We said last week about the fans and getting edgy. You get linked with all these players and when none of them come off they complain. I just wondered what you thought about your squad and whether you expect it to change by the time you get to the end of the deadline?

“As I’ve said so many times, I’m very confident in my players. If, and when, something happens, both ins and outs, we’ll update you. In football you can’t predict too much. But, for me, we’re just working on getting better. My focus is solely on the game and I can’t be thinking any other way. We need three points in this game.”

One of the positives last week was that [Donny] van de Beek came on and got his goal. Do you see a midfield where he, [Bruno] Fernandes and [Paul] Pogba can play? A Lot of people have said it’s difficult to imagine all three of them in the same midfield…

“Well, I think good players can play well together. But also, Scott [McTominay], Nemanja [Matic] and Fred are also good players, so there’s competition for those places. I can see lots of different combinations in that midfield, different systems as well. We’re probably going to see them together at some point.”

Do you see there being any chance of Chris Smalling being reintegrated into the first team if he doesn’t get the move to Roma? I guess there was a feeling that he came back from Roma a better player. I wonder if at any point that he might be part of the first-team plans this season?

“Different things need to happen then, so let’s wait and see if there is that change. Let’s see what happens if, and when, the transfer window closes and what happens to Chris.”

Are you happy with your progress against teams that defend deep and are hard to break down? I know Brighton played with a three last week, but switched to a five when defending. Palace had the two blocks of four…

“I wasn’t happy with the game against Palace, of course I wasn’t. We weren’t ready to play at the intensity we needed and the quality that we needed. Runs weren’t there. Then again, after the restart in June and July, I thought we’d taken big strides. One game lives its own life and I think the Palace one was a very disappointing one, but I’m still confident that we still can break teams down with our quality. But we need some more imagination and some more quality than what we had in that game, that’s for sure.”

We’ve heard this week that there’s been a setback in terms of allowing fans back into the stadium and that will have a particular impact on the lower leagues. Would you like to see the Premier League offer more financial support further down the pyramid?

“I think, first of all, the situation we’re in, and the virus and everything, is so difficult to predict what’s going to happen. Now when the rate is going up and fans aren’t coming in, it’s even worse for football and society in general. Yeah, I am worried for League One and League Two teams and lower-league teams as well, of course I am. But all the Premier League teams are losing money. Hopefully we can get back and football will be ‘normal’ and we won’t lose too many clubs. We need clubs locally: we’ve seen Bury, Macclesfield, Wigan struggle, and it’s not a nice situation to be in.”

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