Ole Gunnar Solskjaer addresses the media at the Aon Training Complex.

Ole: How practice games are helping United

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has explained why Manchester United have been arranging behind-closed-doors friendlies at the Aon Training Complex.

The Reds have faced Blackburn Rovers and Sheffield United this month, providing valuable minutes to players pushing for inclusion in the starting XI, including Alexis Sanchez as he works his way back to full fitness.

The fixtures are also an opportunity to test some of the younger members of the group and the emerging talents from our Under-23s.

Nicky Butt, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Michael Carrick watch an Academy game at the Aon Training Complex
Nicky Butt, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Michael Carrick watch an Academy game at the Aon Training Complex.

“It's very important, especially in this period,” the boss told MUTV's Stewart Gardner, in an exclusive interview, to be shown in full in our Official App from 7:00 BST on Saturday.

“To keep everyone bubbling along, we need games, we need game time, and we've had two very good games.

“We had Blackburn to visit just a few weeks ago, after the Milan game, and now Sheffield United.

“We appreciate them coming, we're grateful that they wanted to come and they were two good games. We've done well and the lads have had game time so they're ready when they are called upon.”

There should soon be competitive opportunities for many of those involved in these matches, when the frequency of first-team fixtures increases after September's international break.

United's Europa League opponents will be confirmed next Friday when the group-stage draw is made next Friday and our Carabao Cup campaign will also begin next month.

“We'll get to September and October, we'll get loads of games and everyone will be involved,” Ole promised.

“Now is a difficult period, both mentally and maybe physically for them, because they need to train harder but then when we get these couple of [training] games, we know they're sharp and, of course, they want to prove that they want to be on the pitch at Old Trafford.

“It's a good substitute, for them to have a game here.”

Alexis was one of the senior figures involved in the practice matches at the Aon Training Complex and impressed, as speculation continues about his future.

“There are still talks with some clubs,” admitted the manager. “But he played in that game [against Sheffield United] and played well. So, as I've said, he's working hard and let's see, in September, what's going to happen.”

Blades boss Chris Wilder had already confirmed former United Academy midfielder Ravel Morrison played the full 90 minutes of Tuesday's friendly.

Ravel Morrison celebrates his goal against Sheffield United in the FA Youth Cup final.
Morrison celebrates with Jesse Lingard, after scoring in the FA Youth Cup final against his current club.

“Ravel's a good lad and a good player,” added Ole on MUTV. “I just hope he is going to get fit so we can see him in the Premier League, because you could see glimpses in that game.

“He's always had that quality. The Sheffield United lads came in for lunch afterwards and there was a bit of bonding as well, if you like. We have got a good relationship with them as [our loanee keeper] Dean [Henderson] is working well for Chris too.”

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