Every word from Ole's pre-Atalanta press conference
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer spoke with the media on Tuesday, ahead of Manchester United’s meeting with Atalanta in Group F of the Champions League.
Sitting down alongside the returned Marcus Rashford, whose answers from the press conference can be read in full here, the Norwegian previewed our upcoming European fixture against the Italian side, and also spoke about his coaching staff, Amad and more when responding to questions from reporters.
On this occasion however, it was Solskjaer who got proceedings under way on the call, by strongly clarifying his recent comments made about Marcus.
You can see what the boss said on that, along with every other word from the call conducted via video link on Tuesday afternoon, below...
Press Conference: Atalanta (H)
Watch the fascinating Solskjaer and Rashford press conference in full, before our European match v Atalanta...
Obviously, there’s an awful lot of scrutiny that comes with a dip in form or a bad run, and there’s been some scrutiny as well on your coaching staff. I was just wondering if you could explain what you think of them, how good of a job they’re doing? Mike Phelan is obviously your assistant and was Sir Alex Ferguson’s assistant but doesn’t seem to be one of the main coaches anymore. What is the thinking behind that approach?
“Every team will go through a patchy period and we're in one now. Poor form, we know that, we hold our hands up and we know we need to improve. Every team will go through that every year. We've gone through it and come through stronger. As I’ve said so many times, the coaching staff that we've got here are absolutely amazing. The attention to detail, the sessions they put on, the preparation that we have here. I don't think I could ask for better staff. They're good people, good Man United people and with one intention in mind and that’s to improve the team and help the players, help the team grow. Of course, we go through difficult times together and like Marcus said we've spoke as a group, as a team about what we need to do and hopefully the reaction will come tomorrow.”
Returning to the scrutiny and the focus, what have you done in the immediate aftermath of the Leicester performance to improve things?
“As you do after every game, as Marcus said, we look through the game, we analyse the game, we look at what we did well, what we didn't do well, what we have to improve for the next game. But you move on quickly to the next opponent and this is Atalanta, which is a different opposition, a different competition. We focus on what we need to be good at in this game. As I’ve said, there’s been loads of stuff that hasn’t been good enough lately and we have to put a few things right and hopefully tomorrow we’ll see a result and a performance from that.”
(Question originally asked to Marcus, answer follows up his response) You mentioned after the game, you guys got together and discussed what can be improved. Is that something that happens regularly, you have those honest, frank conversations after defeats like that?
“Just to add on that, I think every coach, every manager, every player, we’re the same. You have to know what you're doing well as well, you look at things, you make sure you enhance those things as well and try to eradicate the mistakes. Because if you don’t know what you’re doing well, then that’s a mistake in itself.”
There’s been some players criticised after the Leicester game, one of them is Cristiano Ronaldo who has been called out for running and pressing too little which is causing extra work and trouble for his team-mates. Do you see this as a problem, and if so, how are you planning to sort it?
“You know, we have 11 players out there on the pitch with different roles and responsibilities, and we put a team out there that we really think is going to win that game. We didn't win against Leicester so there will always be criticism and Cristiano is an absolute top player. We know what he can do for us, and he’s doing everything he can to help the team.”
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“When you're asking about the mood, of course it's not the gimmicky, jovial, happy camp, they're focused and determined. As Marcus said, you look at yourself [and ask] ‘what you can do to help the team?’ I’ve seen a reaction from the players and conceding four goals is a big eye opener for us that we need to improve on different levels, lots of details.”
After the defeat at the weekend, how important is it to bounce back in midweek during tomorrow’s game? How important is that?
“It's very [important]. Of course it is. With the Champions League, in the group stage, you’ve got six games, if you win your three home games and get a result away from home, most likely you're through. That’s what we’re aiming for now, a win against a very good Atalanta side by the way is going to be massive for us and a big boost.”
All the indications are that you have the full backing of the club. Do you feel safe in the job and do you think this team is going in the right direction?
“You know we've progressed over the years. Sixth [place in the Premier League] when I was here for half a season, then third, second, you can see the progress, improvement, development and this season we still want to improve. We've signed some players that have raised expectations, other teams have signed players and improved as well so we're in the same boat all the top teams, there's pressure all the time. There’s pressure on me, of course. But we’ve been through this before and we’ve come through it stronger as individuals and as a team. I'm just looking forward to the response now. As you said, I'm in dialogue with the club all the time, that’s an open and honest discussion all the time.”
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“I prefer not to watch them two!”
Okay, just to let you know, Gary Neville wasn’t willing to call out any manager to lose his job whereas Jamie Carragher said, ‘look, United need a better manager, they won’t win the Premier League and the Champions League under the current manager.' Do you listen to comments like that, does it affect you and how would you respond to that?
“No, it doesn't affect me. Of course, you see some of the comments once in a while. I didn’t see what he [Jamie Carragher] was saying now. Of course, we've got Liverpool on Sunday as well so Jamie is always looking at all these little things. I've got my values, I’ve got my way of managing and I believe in myself, as long as the club believe in me, I’m pretty sure Jamie Carragher's opinion is not going to change that.”
What do you think about Atalanta, an overall impression about [Gian Piero] Gasperini, the manager, how he manages, his philosophy on football and which is the player you’re most afraid of tomorrow from Atalanta?
“First of all, I'm very impressed by Atalanta's way, call it the Atalanta way to put it that way. The style they play, the way they develop players, the results they've had in the last few years, the manager is clearly very strong, and he wants his team to play in a certain way. Of course, we signed Amad from Atalanta, we’ve watched them quite a lot and it’s a team with attacking philosophy that I think most lovers of football enjoy and like. One player [to pinpoint as a key man]? I don’t think it’s fair to pick out one player because I think it's a team with a style that will cause you problems, but with good individual players, definitely. But it's wrong to just name the one.”
I guess he might not be involved against his former club tomorrow but how is Amad doing following his injury and what’s the plan with him this season? Will he go on loan in January?
“Amad trained his first session with the team on Friday before Leicester and he's still continuing that rehab, getting more and more training sessions with the full team. He will probably play in the [Under-]23s soon when he's ready for that. I’ve got to say, his development has been exactly what we want from him, he's come here and is learning the language, learning the way we play, he's strong, he can take the ball. We have to make a decision before Christmas, what we’re going to do, what he’s going to do. If he’s going to play enough here, which is possible, or if the next step is for him to play somewhere else and come back in the summer. That's a decision for later but he's developing very, very nicely but this injury of course was bad timing, as every injury is of course.”