Read every word from Ole ahead of the Manchester derby
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hopes the Manchester derby can be the perfect opportunity for Manchester United to bounce back from our midweek Champions League setback.
The Reds were eliminated from the competition after a 3-2 away loss to RB Leipzig and, speaking in his pre-match press conference ahead of the clash with Manchester City, Ole was asked how the club can respond to that disappointment and what lessons can be learnt.
Ole was also quizzed by journalists via video link about our ability to recover from conceding the first goal in games, the progress he sees after nearly two years in charge, Paul Pogba and the potential of facing Molde in the last 32 of the Europa League.
Here's every word the boss said during the first half of Friday's press conference...
Solskjaer’s press conference
Watch as the manager talks injuries, the Manchester derby and potential Europa League opponents…
“Starting quickly is one thing but we need to start good. We need to be on the front foot straight away. Goals, they do impact games and you get the first goal in a game and it’s easier, of course it is. That’s something we want to get to in this game. We’ve done well against City in the last few games against them early on. Then again, it’s a 90-minute game. But we want to get off to a good start, of course.”
Seventeen goals conceded in 10 games and just two clean sheets, you can see yourself where those problems lie, but what do you have to do to stop them?
“There are loads of things we can do better. We can defend better from the front. We’ve scored quite a few goals in them games as well, so that’s been the nature of Man United over the years, that it’s been many goals. We want to defend, maybe higher up. Of course, we got pegged back in the beginning in midweek and they scored from a few crosses, which is disappointing.”
How has the group reacted to the Leipzig disappointment? And will Edinson Cavani and Anthony Martial be available for the derby?
“Of course we were disappointed, and the group was, disappointed on Tuesday night. It’s just natural. We wanted to go through in that tournament - now the reality is we’re not. Then we just have to move on. It was a tight group decided by fine margins. You can see that in most of the games. We had a long travel back, so we had a day of recovery on Wednesday and then after that the focus has been good, it has been on this game and the Manchester derby. This is what you want the players to have straightaway; that’s probably the best game that you can ask for after such a disappointment, because it does stick in your system. Anthony will definitely be involved; he’s cleared. Edinson has been on the grass, but I’ll make a decision later on.”
David De Gea was named on the shortlist for the World Goalkeeper of the Year this week, but at the same time he has come under criticism from people - Paul Scholes being one of them. I just wondered what your take on it all is?
“I think David is a top goalkeeper, of course I do. Rightly so he’s on the lists of being the best goalkeeper in Europe. For me, he’s handled criticism before, he’s handled setbacks before. He’s a man that we really rely on, and hopefully he’s not affect by criticism, and I don’t think he will be. Every goal that a keeper concedes you’d be disappointed with.”
“Yes, I feel we’re getting better and better, and looking more and more like a Man United team that I want, with fast attackers who are dynamic. Of course, we’ve got good players and we’ve got individual quality as well that can create magic out of nothing. That’s always been at Man United. But we can see more and more of the penetration. The consistency that everyone says we don’t have… we’ve won the last four games in the league, which is starting to become a good run. Hopefully we can carry that on.”
Ole, have you spoken to Paul Pogba and do you and the club feel let down by him at all?
“I speak to my players on a daily basis and Paul’s no different to anyone else. Sometimes we speak in small groups. For me, what was disappointing with this week was us going out in the Champions League. Players want to go through in that and whatever anyone’s representatives say can’t affect us. I’ve said what I want to say on that.”
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Your former player Magnus Wolff Eikrem says he wants to take you on in the Europa League. What do think of the challenge in the Europa League for this Molde team? Would you like to face them?
“We’re looking forward to the draw and we want to go as far as we can in the Europa League although our focus is on City. But, as you’ve asked, Magnus has been brilliant lately, some fantastic goals. Of course, he’s never a player you want to play against. I think that’s shown with all the times I’ve signed him for all my clubs. It would be a special day if you draw Molde. Of course, I’m delighted for them that they got through - convincingly as well. Me and Erling [Moe], we speak all the time, so I’m delighted for them and let’s see what the draw makes for us.”
What have you and your players learnt from those six Champions League games this year and from the defeat in Leipzig?
“It’s been a step up from last season of course, from the Europa League. Those six games have been great in the respect of testing levels. We played against two top teams: one that was in the final and one that was in the semi-final last year. We’ve learnt any small mistake will get punished. Any marginal call that goes against you can punish you. We were so close to going through from a very tough group. That shows to me a team that has moved forward from drawing in the Carabao Cup to Colchester and barely beating Rochdale… or we beat Colchester maybe and drew with Rochdale. We struggled to beat Astana and Partizan. We’ve taken steps from the group stages last year. That’s a year back. Short-term learning from this is that we still have a little bit of a way to go to compete and to go and win the Champions League. That’s our aim, of course, to win trophies.”
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“Well, I think every player is the same. I think any player that plays should be disappointed and frustrated when they lose a game. You have to bounce back and want to win the next one. We’ve shown a few times this year that we can handle setbacks quite well. During games, or before the next game, you have to analyse what’s gone wrong. Sometimes you get half-time to do it. You lose the game at the end of course, and you have a couple of days for the coaching, video meetings and individual chats. It’s important not to press the panic button every time because you know in football you can’t win every single game. But there are games that you will lose that will stick and hurt more than others and have more consequences that others. Now we’re facing the reality of no Champions League football this season, so we need to make sure we move on and get back into the Champions League. How do you do that? It’s by improving from last season.”