Countdown to United v City: Ole's press conference
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is excited about this weekend’s Manchester derby against City at Old Trafford, but the United boss remains unhappy about the lack of preparation time his squad has.
The Reds produced an impressive display on Thursday night to beat Derby County 3-0 in the Emirates FA Cup and must recover quickly, in time for Sunday’s 16:30 kick-off in the Premier League.
In contrast, Pep Guardiola’s team played their own FA Cup tie on Wednesday evening and that provides them with an extra 24 hours of planning, which is undoubtedly an advantage to the Blues.
Solskjaer isn’t pleased about the fixture list, but remains typically positive and explained why he won’t complain to the FA during a press conference to preview Sunday’s Manchester derby.
Here, you can read a full transcript of the manager’s media briefing, which begins with the latest injury news…
Will Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Dan James be fit for Sunday?
"I hope so, yes, but none of them have been training yet since the last game, so we've got to look at them on Saturday probably because tomorrow is a recovery day."
Is Harry Maguire touch and go?
"Well, he's touch and go because he rolled his ankle but hopefully he'll recover quickly. I wasn't going to rest him today, I didn't give him a day off birthday-wise but I hope he'll be fit."
Bruno Fernandes is vocal on the pitch. Does that surprise you, the way he communicates with his team-mates?
"No, I like to see that in a player, that he doesn't change when he comes into a new team. He's the same as he was at Sporting and that's a boy with confidence, with quality, with good form and that's his personality. He's allowed to be himself and everybody should be themselves."
United v Man City: Ole's press conference
After our Emirates FA Cup win over Derby, Ole looked ahead to Sunday's Premier League match against our local rivals...
Has your team learned from the last time against City at home? That first half was probably as played off the pitch as you have been...
"For 15 minutes, yes, definitely. Our heads went for a spell there, thinking that we had to recover the game in 10 minutes. You don't have to do that when it's a cup competition over two games. So we've learned from that one definitely."
Do you think City will be wary coming to Old Trafford considering how you beat them at their place?
"Well I don't know how they'll feel. They'll feel confident, they've hit form, they're playing well. They've just been at the Bernabeu, winning there as well, and they won the Carabao Cup final. So I'm sure they'll come confident, they'll play their own game and we'll play our game and hopefully it will be a good one."
Do you think it might be a classic? Please say the word 'classic'!
"Let's hope it's a 4-3 like we've seen before. There's been many classics and we'll do what we can to make it a classic."
Manchester City have been really comfortable at Old Trafford in the last six years or so. Is there a reason for that and is it something you need to get a handle on and put a stop to?
“Well when you're at home, you have to open up against a team like Man City and they will exploit that if you're not 100 per cent. And sometimes, being at home with your fans, you want to show them what you can do and you want to beat your opponent. Sometimes you open up too many spaces and that's what we did for 10, 15 or 20 minutes, whatever we did after they scored a worldie [Bernardo Silva's goal]. Before then, it wasn't a problem before Bernardo scored in the top corner. So that wasn't an issue until our heads went for a little while so we've got to control our emotions more. And we have, we have learned so that's an experience that we'll bring into this game, definitely.”
You'll have played them four times in a season, so there can't be anything left you need to analyse...
“Four times in a few months as well so there's not going to be any video [briefing] tomorrow or Saturday because we've played them so many times. I think it helps, because my team is still developing. Our team now is developing and you want to play against the best. We need to learn and they've been the best in the last few seasons and for us it's a great challenge.”
“Well I'm sure we have an element of surprise, that's not an issue. But so has he, so it's one of them. As I said, we're not going to watch them. Everyone's watched Manchester City quite a few times and we'll have to be ready for whatever they throw at us then.”
Do you feel like a different team from even the last time you played them at the Etihad Stadium?
“Yeah, a little bit. Then again it's that help we get from the FA again, the extra 24 hours they have had. I cannot believe, when there's a derby on Sunday, why we've got to play on Thursday night. What's the point in that? That doesn't level the playing field. It was the same when we beat them last time to be fair, we played Wednesday and they played Tuesday. Those 24 hours are important so we've got to be good at recovering now.”
Have you complained about that?
“There's no point. I don't think we can. It's one of them, you get told when you're going to play but we've not got any help before this one.”
Ole, you said yesterday that you spoke to people who'd worked with Bruno before you signed him. What did they say about his personality and does that match what you have seen so far?
“Well they said enough for me to sign him anyway. I've seen what they said and those conversations will be between us. But he's come in as a leader and he's shown he's a leader. He's a winner. He doesn't take, as I've said before, 99 per cent as good enough. And he'll probably know that he must do better than tonight against City.”
What encouragement will you take from the fact the other contenders for the top four seem to be faltering?
“We've just got to concentrate on ourselves, keep improving and keep getting results. But I know it's going to be tight. I think Wolverhampton Wanderers are definitely putting up a fight as well. There's loads of teams who want to get this top four and we're one of them. We've just got to be able to handle and manage the squad well enough, rotate well enough and these next few games are important because if we can get points against City and Tottenham now, if we get six out of them we've given ourselves a good chance.”
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