Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Solskjaer exclusive: We're ready to take on City

Tuesday 07 January 2020 07:00

Ole Gunnar Solskajer admits the performances of Sergio Romero, Brandon Williams and Tahith Chong at the weekend have given him a nice selection dilemma, ahead of tonight's Carabao Cup semi-final first leg against Manchester City.

The three players all produced positive performances in last Saturday's Emirates FA Cup tie at Wolverhampton Wanderers and, as a result, the manager only has positive words to say about them.

Solskjaer is currently preparing for this evening's huge game against the Blues at Old Trafford and his line-up will be announced at exactly 19:00 GMT.

In our exclusive pre-match interview, which you can read in full here, Ole plays his cards close to the chest regarding our starting XI, but freely admits his squad is drawing confidence from last month's excellent Premier League victory at the Etihad Stadium...

When you look back at the weekend's performances from Brandon Williams and Sergio Romero, for example, does that give you a nice selection dilemma?
“They normally do when they get their chances. Tahith [Chong] as well. He’s one of those players who was out for a while and he really performed and played well. We take lots of positives from that performance [against Wolves], we kept a clean sheet against a good, strong and physical team. It allowed us to get more game-time for some of our players who will be more ready for the season as it keeps going forward.”

Does the sheer number of games and the injuries we’ve got mean ideally you’d like to bring a player or two in or is that just very tough to do in January?
“It is difficult. In December we had nine games and it might be nine in January and we are where we are. We’ve had loads of injuries but players are coming back. We know with the injuries we’ve had we’ve been a bit light, but then when you get a chance and you take it then you stay in the team.”

Does our fantastic performance against City last month give the players plenty of confidence going in to this tie?
“Yes I think so and I think how we performed will be in the players’ minds and that we can do it. We could have and should have been three or four goals up at half-time in that game because some of the quick attacks we had were brilliant. But then we know we’re playing against a top team who have really set the standards over the last few years and they’ve raised the bar. It’s up to us to use these games and learn from the ones in which we did well. Last season we weren’t that good but there were still positives from some of those as well. Am sure the boys will be confident.”

Our counter-attacking was devastating in the game in December – do you think Pep might be planning how to stop that?
“He’s a master with his tactics. He’s had his team now for a few years and I’m not sure he’s going to change that much, but that will be up to him. We’re learning and we know what worked. Traditionally we are a team that attacks quickly. It doesn’t matter where you win the ball, it might be high up or low but it’s that transition of attacking. Counterattacking sounds negative but to win the ball in order to be able to attack means you need to defend well and hopefully at Old Trafford we can have more of the ball and also be decisive when we attack.”

Solskjaer's support for hard-working Lingard Video

Solskjaer's support for hard-working Lingard

"He’s got his head down and is working hard," says Ole in support of lifelong United fan Jesse Lingard...

There is obviously a great rivalry between the sides but you’ve always said that you admire what Pep has done at City?
“If you’re not at it they can out-football you. We’re a different type of team at the moment, we want to attack quicker. Of course they do counterattack as well but I’ve said it for many years since he took over at Barcelona you can’t help but admire what he’s doing with his teams. It’s great for me as a manager and our players to be able to compete in these games against his teams.”

We’ve had 15 games at home this season and only lost once. Is it good to be back after being away for three games on the spin and how important is the Old Trafford factor?
“Every game we have here that’s the 12th man we need and we’ve been backed from day one. Everyone who plays here, whether they come in from different countries or different teams, they always speak about the atmosphere and how supportive our fans are. In some other countries there are different cultures when if you’re not doing as well the fans turn on their team, they don’t here. You always get the support and it’s always fantastic. These, I guess you can call them floodlight nights at Old Trafford, are special and hopefully we can give the fans one of those nights again."

Ten years ago you were still at the club when we last played City in a League Cup semi-final and Wayne Rooney scored a late winner – do you have any memories of that special night under the lights?
“Well when you get results and games like that it’s special. For me, I’ve had a couple of decent nights here as well, but this is one out of two semis and we need to remember that when this game has finished it’s only half-time.”

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