Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Solskjaer's pre-match message to his players

It's matchday again and there's plenty for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to talk about in our exclusive matchday interview ahead of Southampton's visit to Old Trafford this evening.

As well as having that important Premier League game to look forward to, there is a lot to reflect on, particularly within the club's Academy ranks. Several youngsters have gone out on loan and another one caught the eye by scoring four goals for our Under-23s against Liverpool on Saturday.

Here, without further ado, is what Ole had to say when he spoke to us at the Aon Training Complex as he urged his troops to be adventurous against the Saints...

Ole, just a few players heading out on loan to chat about. [Facundo] Pellistri has gone on loan to Alaves. Is it good for him to get some action?

“Yeah, we feel that he has taken some good strides when he’s been here and we looked at a few options, but that was a good option. He felt comfortable and confident going there, so hopefully he’ll get some important matches in a good league.”


We’ve all seen Teden [Mengi]’s progress here through the youth teams and the Under-23s, and now he’s going to get some Championship minutes…
“When you get to that age, sometimes there aren’t enough challenges in every game. It doesn’t prepare him enough for that physical striker or forward that he might meet in the first team. So to play in the Championship is a great challenge for him.”


Working under Wayne [Rooney] as well…

“Yeah. That’s going to be good for him. Wayne’s been a top striker. I’m sure he’ll go in there and show him a few things himself.”

And [James] Garner and [Tahith] Chong are having different loan spells, and maybe better ones in the second half of the season?
“One of the big learning points on your first loan is learning how to cope with the situation, learn in a different environment. Jimmy has played quite a bit. Lately, when the new manager came in, they felt - and we felt - it was more right for him to find somewhere else. For Tahith, it didn’t really work out the way we wanted, but still he’s had some exposure. Let’s hope they kick on now.”


Have you spoken to Joe Hugill about not scoring five?
“No, I’ve not seen him yet. It’s one of those things. As a striker, you just brush him [your team-mate] off and say: ‘no, I’m on the pens’. He’ll learn!”


It’s great at any level to score four goals…
“Yeah, definitely, especially against Liverpool. The boy [Joe] has come in and has been very bright since he’s come in. He has scored goals, he is a physical presence, enthusiastic. We’ll give him time and he’s got a chance.”

How are we looking after Saturday with injuries?
“It’s just normal wear and tear because of the quick turnaround. Scotty [McTominay] has recovered again, so it should be a full squad.”


Many teams have got quite a lot of injury problems - look at Southampton, they’ve got injury problems - but we don’t. Are we doing anything differently or are you looking very carefully at rotation?

“The staff are brilliant. The medical staff, the sports science staff, and the boys look after themselves, of course. But I think the players have learned, they are physically more robust. We have upped the training last season and during pre-season and the lockdown. Mentally, as well, we’re more prepared for a quick turnaround and, of course, we have a deep and a strong squad; full of quality with the attitude, the character to always want to play. So a little niggle won’t stop anyone. Sometimes, the rotation has helped us get through without injuries.”


It is non-stop games at the moment. We are all privileged to be involved at this present time, but even then, is it hard to get the players up for a game every three days?
“It is, as you said, a quick turnaround. Today is Monday, we play tomorrow night, so today they’re still recovering from the game on Saturday, but they still have to prepare and be on the way up again for tomorrow night. Today was more of a light training day, we don’t do a lot with the ones that played. Of course, you’ve got the ones who didn’t play that want to play and look really sharp. I wouldn’t say it’s hard to get up mentally. Sometimes it takes a bit of time to get going, but I’ve been very happy with the reaction and the way they have prepared for games.”

The goals haven’t been flowing as much as we would have wanted of late, but is it just a case of hard work and they will come?
“Hard work, clever work, a little bit of brightness, of course. Free yourself up, be adventurous, take a risk. You’re at Man United, you’re playing at Old Trafford, you’re playing with the best kit in the world, the best shirt in the world, the badge is on your chest. That should give you confidence, that should give you creativity and the freedom to think: ‘I’m here, I’m a good player’. We’ve defended well, we’re conceding less and less goals. When the referee’s delegate report came in from the Sheffield United game, it was hard work to read when they admit their goal should have been disallowed and our goal should have been given. So that is a big swing and a big turnaround in momentum for us. We felt that on the day, but it just confirmed what we felt, that we had a couple of decisions go against us which cost us three points. It’s hard. Where was I? The attacking bit… we’re creating big chances. Just be loose, drop your shoulder, take a deep breath for us and put it in the net.”


Southampton have made it hard for us before, both home and away…
“They’re a good side. They’re physical, they run, they’ve got high energy. 'Rock-and-roll football' as I like to call it. High energy all the time. If the ball goes forward, they get shots off and crosses in. They have good set-piece delivery - we know all about that. But we have given them problems as well.”


We have three home games in a week, with Everton and West Ham also coming up. How important is it that we do get back on track at home with this run of games?
“Of course we want to improve. We took the performance against Arsenal as a step forward. We were creating chances again and we felt we should have won it. We’ve reacted well to the setback against Sheffield United and the momentum should be going our way again.”

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