Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Every word from Ole ahead of Leeds away

Friday 23 April 2021 13:30

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer fielded questions on the Super League, the importance of fans in football and the history of the Manchester United / Leeds United rivalry in Friday afternoon's pre-match press conference.

The boss also spoke about his childhood dreams of playing in European competition and the last meeting with the Whites which ended 6-2 in our favour at Old Trafford in December.

Watch the press conference in full below, or scroll down to read the transcript...

Leeds v United: Ole's pre-match press conference Video

Leeds v United: Ole's pre-match press conference

The manager reflects on this week's events and looks ahead to Sunday's game as he speaks to the media...

This week has been dominated by the Super League fiasco, what were your thoughts on the competition when you heard about it, what were your thoughts as the week unfolded and what do you say to those fans who are understandably still very angry about all of this?
"First of all, I'm very happy that the fans have voiced their opinion and that we've listened to them. In a strange sort of way, it's brought the football pyramid or community together. I think that's important. I'm a supporter myself and there'll be a day that I come back and watch Man United and I want to watch a Man United team with a fear of failure. That's what I thought about it. I didn't like the concept anyways because it has to be on sporting merit. We want to earn the right to play in Europe. We know we have been pioneers, we have been in Europe for many years, with the Busby Babes. That's one part of it. We want to be part of a successful European campaign again - some of my best nights have been something that we've worked really hard towards [in Europe]. To get that feeling, that fear of failure, you cannot give it because your name is such and such, you have to earn the right to be there. To get the best possible performance, I've always felt you have to step out of your comfort zone; it spurs you on, living on the edge a bit. For me, I'm very happy that all the clubs have admitted their mistakes, that this was a bad idea and the way this came out as well. Just when we talk about bringing fans back into the stadium and we get this, the last two games of the season, and we weren't able to look forward to it. We have a banner at Old Trafford - 'football is nothing without fans' and we've felt that for more than a year, it's been a difficult year. And now when we're just going to welcome back in, we get this. So the preparation for Leeds was a bit different but that's a part of being in this industry and this club as well. United is the biggest club in the world and we want to be part of European football but we want to do that like like my players did last season. I think they were excellent my players, because when I talk about this fear of failure, they were afraid of not making the Champions League, we were so many points behind, they pulled themselves together, we came together as a team and achieved third which was a very good achievement. This year we've worked hard, we're striving towards trophies and we're second. I back my team to be in the top in Europe but I still think that that fear of failure is helping us do that. Being a sporting competitor as I am, my nature is not being handed things, we cannot be handed a place; that's my opinion. That's long enough on one [question]! Let's talk about this weekend because talking about exciting football games... Leeds away is an exciting game for us!"

What kind of game and atmosphere are you expecting, Ole?
"Well, inside the stadium there won't be any fans unfortunately. It's important we focus on our game. You know fans between our clubs have always had a rivalry and it has to be healthy rivalry. That's important as well, in a period like this, that we don't want to incite or brew anything up. We play football. That's important that we've listened to the fans and I'm so, so happy that the fans have been heard, and let's go onto the game of football now."

In terms of the match, Ole, you had a brilliant result and performance against them at Old Trafford. Do you think Leeds will have a bit of a point to prove against your side?
"You know, that game, we started unbelievably well - we scored in our first two attacks - and it was never a 6-2 win. We've look at it, we've analysed it ourselves, and I don't expect the same scoreline because the difference between the teams was not four goals. We were clinical. We scored some fantastic goals. We had some great saves by David at important times. Just before half-time, it could have easily been 4-2, just after half-time they had chances there as well. We know we will be stretched physically and mentally in this game. It's a completely unique game of the season.

I just wanted to ask you about your upbringing, your links to Kristiansund, born and raised in a place where no one would expect anybody to do anything or a player to achieve great things. How important is that dream for a player, obviously linked to what's happening this week, but especially for you, you're born somewhere where you don't expect a player to make it to the Champions League...
"You don't expect Kristiansund to make it? You don't know the mentality of the people. That's completely out of order [laughs]! If you work hard for something, you can achieve it. Dream high, aim high and you never know what you can achieve. And that's what the football pyramid is built on as well, my dreams! I've scored thousands of goals in the FA Cup and European Cup final when I was on my own up on the pitch just above [next to my childhood house]. You have to dream big. To be an example of that is great for me, of course, coming from Kristiansund. I hope other players from Kristiansund, boys or girls, can make it around European football."

Ole provides squad update for Leeds trip


Get the latest on Rashford and Bailly from the boss before we travel to Elland Road.

Hi Ole, I know there's a big game this weekend but to United fans, can you genuinely say that Joel Glazer - who didn't communicate with the fans for 16 years, hasn't been to a game for over two years and didn't put a single cent into the club - genuinely cares about the club?
"I've said what I've said about the Super League. I'm so happy that all the owners, all the clubs involved, agreed that this was a mistake. I've always had a good working relationship with the club and the owners. Of course, behind the walls of the building, we speak, they listen to my opinions and we're working to move Man United forward. And it's important. We all want to be better and improve. That's what my job is: to improve the result and the performance of the team. This weekend is a good chance and it's a big game in our history, we know that."

On the strength of fans this week, do you think the fans deserve more of a voice in football?
"As I said, football without fans is nothing. That's why we have to listen to them. I'm happy that the voice of the fans - players, managers [too] - were heard. We've all been voicing our opinions this week. And it's important. As part of my job as well, to speak to the United supporters and fans, showing them that we want to be a better team than we are now and that's my job, to get them up the table and start challenging for trophies."

Ed brought you back to the club, I just wondered about your thoughts on his move to resign, how aware you were of what was going on and whether you even considered your future because a lot of people have said a lot of emotional things this week?
"Well, football is emotions and emotions run high in football. I've had a very good working relationship with Ed. The club will have to move on without him, I'm sure Man United will always move on and we'll work. I want to work as long as Man United want me to work here and hopefully we can end the season successfully and Ed is part of that.

Leeds against Man United is a huge one in English football. What can you tell us about your views about the rivalry and what does these games mean to you?
"They mean a lot to me. We know the history about the Leeds of the old days, Super Leeds, that was the generation before mine. That was my dad's generation and he’s grown up with seeing them winning the league. I’ve played in some massive games against Leeds. We had a proper challenge from that team in early 2000s, with for example Eirik, Eirik Bakke, played for them. We as a team got stretched against them, we looked forward to those games and we had some fantastic games. There was respect for the level, they stretched us. I feel the same now with Leeds team coming up this year. They’ve shown their quality and they’re going to stretch us. We have to be ready for this game, physically and mentally.”

You mentioned before not wanting to incite the situation and clearly there’s a rivalry off the field. But what’s happened this week couldn’t have incited the station anymore, the anger of the club’s that’s not in the top six is there for everybody to see. Are you concerned that that could have an effect on Sunday, fans might turn up to voice their opinions about Manchester United as a football club?
“I’ll repeat myself but in a strange way, this situation has brought football together as well and fans together. Everyone understands, the players, the fans, they haven't been a part of this. A Man United fans, a Leeds United fan, they have the same opinion about this topic, so I don’t think that’s going to be an issue. When you play against top teams anyway, when you play against your rival, you expect fans to support their own team."

A part of you job is to speak to fans. I just wondered what your meeting with the group that came down to Carrington was like yesterday, and do you understand that they have a right to protest and air their grievances?
"Yeah, of course. I will always listen to the fans and I thought it was the only right thing was to go and listen to them and speak with them and have a nice discussion with them. A peaceful discussion. It’s important that we respect each other and each other’s views. I said a few things what I think will do in the future. What we spoke about, I don’t really need to discuss that but it was a good 10 minutes. I was happy with that, of course. We didn’t shake hands, we gave a fist bump and we parted.”