Ole's press conference for the FA Cup semi-final
It is Emirates FA Cup semi-final weekend and Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has held his pre-match press conference for Sunday’s tie against Chelsea at Wembley Stadium.
Good morning Ole. First off, can you just tell us if Luke Shaw is going to be fit for this weekend's game and how is Brandon Williams doing now?
“I don't think Luke is going to make it, no, he'll be out. Brandon hopefully will be able to train today and be available.”
You're only two games away from winning a trophy now. In terms of the belief and where this team is, would winning a piece of silverware be more important than qualifying for the Champions League? And is that the next step that this young team needs to take, to win something?
“You can't pick and choose, you've just got to take one game at a time. Of course, this is a great chance to get to the final, we're just one step away, it's at Wembley, so we just focus on the FA Cup. And a trophy, of course, that's massive for any player to win and any team to win, so that's our main focus now - to get to the final. Then we will look at West Ham [in the Premier League] and look at Leicester after that.”
“Jesse is a part of the club and he's worked really hard. He deserves his chance to come back in and we know his qualities. We know that Jesse's got different qualities to other players and he knows that we value him.”
You've got a really good record against Chelsea, you're unbeaten against them as United manager. What do you put that down to?
“Players. Players doing well. We've been focused in that particular game or in those games. Of course, we've been having the margins, but it's all down to the players. When they go there and perform, they can beat anyone.”
“We work on it of course, we work on patterns, but they've been together at the club for so long now. There was a spell, of course, when they were challenging more or less for the same position, both of them maybe on the left-hand side, but now we've found a way of playing them together and you can see it's starting to click. They enjoy each other's company, they know each other's strengths and they know each other's weaknesses if there are any, so I'm delighted with their performances.”
A slight diversion from the FA Cup... an old rival is coming back into the Premier League, in Leeds United. I ask you about that because of your record against Leeds - I remember the goals you scored at Elland Road in 2002. But the last time Leeds won promotion to the top division and Liverpool were champions, Manchester United won the FA Cup. I don't know whether you go in for omens as well?
“I'm not very superstitious, no, but I hope you're right.”
“Well, how long have we got? I can sit here for hours now and try to talk about this. It looks like there's a narrative. It looks like people want to influence whoever's making the decisions, but I hear people talking about luck. That we have been lucky more than unlucky. Then, if you look at the factual decisions - I don't want to sound like a certain manager, talking about facts - but if you're offside, you're offside. That's clear. Talking about lucky, the penalty that we got against Tottenham in the last minute that was taken away from us, that might be two points for us. Talking about the red card that Romeu should've had against us, when he got Mason Greenwood almost crippled, that should've been a red card, maybe that would have helped us. Talking about Mark Noble when he should've been sent off against us when we lost to West Ham. Talking about the actual decisions that are made against Man United but are overturned and corrected. So there is actually me that should be complaining that we get decisions against us on the pitch by the on-field referee. So, there's a narrative there. We just have to focus on our games. We've let other people talk about that. I don't want to go too much into it, because I might be in trouble. I'm pretty relaxed on this, but you know referees [in general] are going to be making objective decisions. They're not going to be influenced by any emotion anyway, so I don't think they'll read it.”
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“When we split up I do more work with the strikers than the defenders, that's true. So I think I've got more expertise and input in that part of it. So yeah, whenever we do finishing I like to join in and watch them and give them little pointers and tips and of course before every game, we look at the [opposition] keepers. How do the keepers normally act, what's their stance, when do they jump, how do they set their feet? Defenders - do they dive in? So we do a lot of work but of course, it's the effort by the boys and the calmness, composure, that's the main thing. We work on their heads. I know they're good enough to do it.”
On the goalkeeping situation, Sergio Romero has played in all the FA Cup ties so far this season so will he continue this weekend? And just on Jesse, he's got a really good record at Wembley. Is there a temptation to bring him in from the start?
“Yeah, the team is not selected yet and that goes both for Jesse and Sergio. They've got a good chance of being involved, so we'll make a decision on that later on.”
“He's coped really well with the demands on him. Of course, throughout the season we've managed him as well as we could. He's come back after the lockdown flying, his sharpness is there, his fitness, he's gained a few kilos as we all see and he's gained a lot of experience and confidence in his own abilities. So, there's only two games left of the league, hopefully two in the FA Cup and three or four in the Europa League. He'll be fine, there's no chance he'll burn out. He's been excellent.”