Solskjaer exclusive: We're ready to go again

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was encouraged by Manchester United's performance against Tottenham Hotspur on Friday evening, but the boss wants all three points against Sheffield United on Wednesday (18:00 BST).

In an exclusive interview with club media, the Norwegian expresses his delight at Scott McTominay's new contract and explains why substitutions and the temperature could be key against Chris Wilder's outfit.
The manager also talks about how to create the momentum needed to clinch a top-four finish, and has a message for the fans, who will sadly be unable to watch a competitive home game at Old Trafford for the first time in United's history. Enjoy the full transcript below...

Watch Solskjaer's press conference in fullVideo

Ole, first of all, news has come through today about a new long-term contract for Scott, and what an important player he’s clearly become for the club…
“Yeah, I’m delighted that we’ve managed to tie down Scotty until 2025. He’s been part of this club for so many years now, and he knows what it takes to get to the top. He’s developing all the time for us. Since I came in, he’s been absolutely brilliant. He’s a top, humble human being who always wants to learn, and he’s got leadership qualities as well.”
Sheffield United are coming up on Wednesday. Have you had a chance to review Friday now that the dust has settled? Is it pretty much how you thought it was at the time, or has anything leapt out from looking at that game?
“We looked at the game and evaluated, and I think we should be happy with the performance. We’re never happy when we don’t win a game, but we created chances, we were closest to winning the game. We didn’t really have too many moments when we felt under pressure during the game. Yeah, it took a little bit of time to get going, as you would expect after three months, but some of the play was excellent and some individual quality was excellent. So we’re disappointed with one point still, but looking forward now to Sheffield United, welcoming Ollie Norwood – another one of our boys who’s done exceptionally well, [and we’re] pleased and proud to see him and the career he’s had. But let’s make sure he’s not going to enjoy coming back.”
Is everyone unscathed after Friday night? Everyone okay?
“Yeah. We don’t have any other injury issues. I think they all managed to get through the game. They were tired towards the end, some of them, but we’ve got another 90 minutes under our belt and we’re ready to go again.”
It’s going to be 27 degrees apparently at kick-off, which has got to be a record, surely, for Old Trafford. Could that be a factor in the game?
“I think it might be. You know, maybe the first drinks break might be of use, because, for me, that drinks break sometimes it just disrupts the game. But maybe if it’s that hot it might be important for the players. But then, yeah, at six or seven o’clock, it being that warm is not normal in Manchester! I think we might be seeing another five subs coming on and, of course, coming on with fresh legs towards the end.”

Exclusive: McTominay reacts to new contractVideo

The strength of the squad showed on Friday. The subs made a difference – Nemanja, Mason and Paul. Does that give you some food for thought, when you think about selection, with games every three or four days?
“Yeah. I’ve got a strong squad. We have put two good XIs out in internal matches, in-house matches, and still players are not able to get onto the pitch. So the squad is strong, and when the game gets towards the last 15-20 minutes, it opens up and it stretches. Then you need fresh legs to make a difference, and we certainly had players who made an impact when they came on against Spurs.”
I thought it was noticeable that everyone kept going for basically 95 minutes on Friday. You must be happy with the fitness, because it did look as if there was only going to be one team ultimately that was going to win on Friday?
“I thought we had the momentum towards the end, yes, definitely. As I said, the game opened up a bit as well, and as a coach, sometimes, you want it tighter at the back. But we had to go for the win, and it went a little bit end-to-end, but we’ve got players with pace, with power, and they used the space well. Fitness-wise, the boys have been working so hard over obviously the last three or four weeks, but over the period that we were not seeing each other every day as well. So I’m very happy with what they’ve done.”

Highlights: Tottenham 1 United 1Video

Chris Wilder obviously probably hasn’t been happy with the return to action. But overall, what he’s achieved at Bramall Lane… what do you make of that?
“They’ve had a fantastic season. I don’t normally like to speak too much about the opposition, but you’ve got to give praise where it’s due. They’ve had a few promotions now, and Chris has done a fantastic job with his players and with the club. And for us, with Dean Henderson having been there, he’s really stepped up and done well for them, so I’m very happy with what he’s helped us with, but also happy for Chris with his local team. He’s such a big Sheff United fan, so you know what it means to him.”
That 3-3 draw was extraordinary in November, wasn’t it? What are your memories of that?
“Yeah, it was one of those that we showed in moments there what we can do. In those 10-15 minutes in the second half, we were exceptional, and then they also proved how hard they are to play against. They’re hard to break down, good on set plays, they’re strong, they’re fit, well organised, and they had the fans behind them. It’s a difficult place to go to, Bramall Lane, when you meet them on a day like that. Or anywhere that Man United go, it’s a cup final for the home fans. So it was an extraordinary game. Too bad we didn’t hold on to the three points.”
Eight games left, then, Ole. You look at it and see how tight it is – obviously Chelsea and Wolves aren’t going away, Sheffield as well. So is it a case that a winning run is what’s required?
“Of course, we want to build momentum and win games, because if you can win back-to-back games or two or three games, it’s going to give you that momentum and a gap maybe. But we have to think ‘next game’. Just win the next one, win the next one. So if you go one game at a time, I think that’s the only thing we have to concentrate on now. It’s a mini-league, a mini-season, and don’t think too far ahead.”
And back home again at Old Trafford. It’s not the same again, obviously, but is it going to be good to walk out again, even though it’s to an empty stadium?
“It’s always great to walk out at Old Trafford, but we’ll miss our fans. I keep saying it, that I can’t wait for them to get back. Last time we were together, that was against Man City, I think we’ll all remember that for a while. But we’ll see each other again one time, and in the meantime, we’ll do our best to get points and I’m sure they will stick to the rules and support us from back home.”
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