Ole and Bruno's press conference: Full transcript
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Bruno Fernandes appeared before the media on Saturday afternoon to preview Manchester United's UEFA Europa League semi-final against Sevilla.
The Norwegian took questions on the fitness of his players, the form of goalkeeper Sergio Romero and even Bayern Munich's 8-2 destruction in the UEFA Champions League, while Bruno Fernandes talked about a former team-mate who is back in contention for Sevilla.
To find out who that is, scroll below to read the full transcript of the press conference...
OGS: "Well, we’ve had a few good days preparing, recovering and training. It’s not very often that we have six days between games. We’re ready; we’re physically ready. Mentally, the boys will be ready because it’s a semi-final and everyone will want to take part and I just want them to enjoy it. For me as well, I’m looking forward to it. We’ve already twice been to a semi this season and we’re happy going as far as we have, but we’re not satisfied. We want to go one step further."
Q: How important is it to start well against Sevilla? In the two previous games you didn’t start particularly well - even on Monday against Copenhagen, the team improved in the second half…
OGS: "Well, I think in any game it’s important to start well. We talk about it. We practise and we’re prepared for a good start. Definitely, against good teams, if go chasing, if you start on the back foot, if you don’t get your first touches, or your first tackle, you’ll be going searching a little bit. You’re playing against a team full of quality and if we don’t get touches of the ball it will be hard."
Q: Bruno, you’ve had a phenomenal start to your United career: mid-season arrival, scoring all those penalties. It’s drawn comparisons with Eric Cantona. I just wondered what you think of those comparisons with a great figure in United’s history?
BF: "For me it’s really good to listen and to be talked about those names. But for me, Cantona was an amazing player for the club - I need to do much better to be compared with him. I’m really happy for what I did, but I’m not satisfied like the coach said. Coming to Manchester is about winning trophies. I come to the club to win some trophies and I will be happy in the end of this season if we win the Europa League."
OGS: "I think Sergio is in a unique or a special situation because he is in a goalkeeper department with one of the best goalkeepers from the last 10 years, in the world. David has been exceptional. But it says everything about Sergio’s professionalism and qualities that whenever he plays, he performs. Of course, he’s experienced; he always knows how to prepare and he’s focused. His concentration is fantastic. He’s been a very good goalkeeper for us."
Q: Bruno, you’ve settled in very well. A lot of people find it difficult to settle into the Premier League - how have you done it? Why has it been so easy for you?
BF: "I can’t say it was easy. We have good results and I was scoring some goals. For me, it was easy because the team help me a lot. Everyone helped me: the staff, coaches, everyone has given me a lot of confidence which has made it much easier for me. Maybe, I think, I played already in Italy, so I know how it is to be out of my country and playing in different leagues. Of course, the Premier League is completely different. Like I said, I have the confidence of my team-mates and the coach and the staff from the club. I think things are going really because when you have the confidence from everyone you can do it every game and try to do your best."
Q: Ole - I don’t know if you saw the clip of the Spanish commentator that went viral after the Sevilla game. He was watching Adama Traore accelerate towards goal and he used a car sound. I’ve seen Mason Greenwood accelerate towards goal with that same pace, time and time again. Do you think that commentator might need some cough sweets for the game? And how important is it to have fresh, fast players like that in your squad?
OGS: "It was a special clip and it’s not easy to defend against Adama Troare. As you say, we have quick players up front ourselves. We want to be direct and we want to be positive in our football. That’s not our only qualities. I think we’ve shown now when teams drop we can create chances. The man next to me has been instrumental in created chances on the counter-attack and in established play. We’ll have to see how the game pans out - do you get the first goal? That’s important in games like this. We’ve prepared well."
Hard graft in the heat gallery
With temperatures still high in Cologne, the Reds have been sweating it out before Sevilla on Sunday.
BF: I think when the club pay £55 million for a player, you have confidence from the club. So I think from there everything starts. The conversations with the coaches and my team-mates… the coach all the time speaks with me and says to do my game, to do the same as I did in Sporting, to have the same confidence, try the same things and improve. When you have that voice on your back telling you about your own game and helping the team, it’s easier for you.
Q: What have you and your players learned from your other semi-final defeats this season and their experiences to make sure tomorrow is a different outcome?
OGS: "You know that when you come to a semi final you are playing against big teams, good teams with quality. It is time to step up for big players, big game moments. You have to have 100 per cent focus because any little moment can change the game, can win you the game, can lose you the game. We have learned that it is very painful to lose a semi final."
Q: For Bruno. You played alongside Nemanja Gudelj in Sporting Lisbon. He has returned to Germany after having coronavirus. Have you spoken to him?
BF: "Yes I played with him. I’m happy that he is okay now. I speak with him and am really happy he is okay now. Tomorrow I hope I can beat him. We will change shirts tomorrow. I am happy for him."
Q: You mentioned the big break between games - UEFA have done that so they can have one game each day with Champions League and Europa League. Had it been a bit shorter you could have been playing the final this weekend and it wouldn’t have cut into your preparations for next season. Have you got any concerns with the schedule?
OGS: "Absolutely no concerns about next season at the moment. We have a good possibility to finish the season. Of course, this is the only way we could have finished the season and for the supporters as well to have a game on TV every day has been very important. And you look forward to the Champions League games at night and you look forward to the Europa League games and I think that has been helpful. We have to use it as preparation for this tournament but also it is almost a pre-season for next season because it is not very long until we have to get going again. It is what it is. We have to be clever when we rest people, how we train, when we play - it is just the time we are in. We can’t complain because this is the world we are in now."
Q: Is it safe to say you are not worried that your players won’t get enough rest before the next season starts in the Premier League?
OGS: "There is no point me worrying about it. The authorities will give us as much rest as they can. Hopefully, we have 30 days at least before we start, that means we can give them a two-week holiday. They can probably not travel where they want and it gives us two weeks to prepare for the first game. But it is what it is and I can’t see a reason why I should be complaining. I have just got to make the most of it throughout the season and look after them when I can and hopefully some national team coaches will do the same as well."
Q: Sevilla are unbeaten in 19 games - what do you have to do to beat them?
OGS: "Score more goals than them! It is not obviously as easy as that. It is a very well-organised team: aggressive style of play, pressing, they have got some very good individuals, so we have to play our best game. We have to be able to keep the ball when we can and play out of their press. We have got to be clever and creative and we have, of course, got to step up in the big moments, the last pass, the finish… because these games are so often decided either by a set-piece or a piece of individual brilliance by some players."
Q: What did you make of the Barcelona v Bayern match last night?
OGS: "Yes we watched it. I have to say Bayern Munich are setting the standard at the moment, throughout the season really. I think the new coach came in and they have been absolutely brilliant. They’re aggressive, they press, they run, recovery runs, they’re technically adept. It was a top-class performance by a top-class team."
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