Ole's press conference to preview Villa v United
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was back in front of the media on Wednesday morning for a press conference to preview Manchester United’s Premier League match against Aston Villa.
As ever, opposition players were a topic of conversation as the boss responded the queries about Aston Villa talisman Jack Grealish and Bournemouth centre-back Nathan Ake.
There was also a word about Scott McTominay learning from in-form Nemanja Matic and the Reds’ fight for a top-four finish, following Leicester City’s draw against Arsenal on Tuesday night.
Read a full transcript of Solskjaer’s press conference here…
Morning Ole. You're fighting for top four, Villa fighting for relegation, so where do the big threats come from in this Villa side?
“I think they've shown since the lockdown that they can hold their own. They have been tight games, the games they've had. You can see that they have clearly worked on their shape and their counter attacks are one of the most powerful ones in the league. They spring quickly, so you've got to be ready for that and set plays, good deliveries and good first contact players. And of course there are some individual players there.”
Putting in a shift gallery
The Reds worked outdoors and indoors on Tuesday, as preparations for the Aston Villa game intensified...
“Yeah. David as you say, he's had some fantastic seasons here now and next year is his 10th and I think he's proven Eric Steele right, that we believed in him. He had a little bit of a tough ride early on, with the physicality of football in England, but for me he has been the best goalkeeper in the world over the last nine or 10 years. And just to work with him closely, you see he's still keen to learn, he's still working hard. Richard [Hartis] coming in with Craig [Mawson] as the coaches, I think they've reignited a little bit of a spark in David and he's working really hard in training.”
Jack Grealish was the standout player when you guys played at Old Trafford. Is he going to be the main threat again and just how impressed have you been by him, because he seems to have really kicked on since his last spell in the Premier League?
“Well I think in the last game obviously they caused us some problems, both Grealish off the left and El Ghazi off the right. He [Grealish] caused us problems, he scored a fantastic goal, so there's been lots said and talked about him and we need to be aware of him. Whoever is close to him, if he's off the left, or he's in the middle, on the right, what he does is attract players to him and creates space for others. There's not just one player in that Villa team, there are many of them.”
“I think Scott obviously is still a young boy, seven or eight years younger than Nemanja and Nemanja has been on record saying that he sees himself in Scott, so the two can bounce off each other. It's never easy. I've told Nemanja before that Scott is going to play and he's all right, because he rates him and vice versa. I'm sure Scotty can learn a lot from Nemanja. The way he's gone about his job in the last few seasons here has been good.”
In terms of where you are in the league, with Leicester drawing last night, now if you win all your remaining games you will get into the top four. Do you think you will need to win all your games?
“Yeah, I think so. You never know what is going to happen, but I think it looks… the teams around us are playing well. We just focus on this one, the next one. If we win every single one of them, we are in the top four. We cannot rely on help from anyone else, we just have to do it ourselves. That’s to grow as a team and know that going into next season we can put a different challenge to other teams in front of us.”
“I have got seven centre-backs so I don’t know where that came from! We’re fine.”
Do you think Bruno Fernandes is making his team-mates better players? If not, has he given them more confidence, especially when they’ve got the ball?
“I think it’s gone both ways. I think Bruno has come into the club and seen how many good players there are at Man United. We’ve helped him show his attributes as well. I think it’s just been a good, little relationship blossoming that he can also feel that we’re going to help him improve. Definitely Bruno has come in and lifted everyone else as well, and it’s been a very good start so far.”
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Given how well the forwards are doing and the minutes they are receiving, do you feel vindicated in the changes you made last summer? There was some criticism that there was no established no.9, for example? Your old manager wasn’t afraid of making unpopular decisions…
“This isn’t a popularity contest, that’s for sure. I have to make decisions that I think are for the benefit of the club. The decisions we made last summer and in January, bringing players in, allowing players to move on. I think, in my mind they were always for the good of the club and the team, both in terms of giving youngsters a chance but also in terms of giving trust to the other ones, while also accepted some players had been great servants to the club. So, for me, I would still make the same decisions if I could go back 12 months or six months.”
Unbeaten in 16 games now, how does that affect the whole group’s mentality?
“As a footballer you know you can’t just pick out your confidence from the fridge. You have to get it from what you do every day in training, but the results, they matter. The last 16 games unbeaten gives us more confidence, but 16 games is nowhere near where a Manchester United team should strive towards. We can still go many games unbeaten if we concentrate on the right things, if we focus on the next one, the next one, the next one and then suddenly you’re stood there with 16. Hopefully that can continue.”
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