Pre-LASK press conference: Full transcript
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Jesse Lingard have appeared in front of the media, via video call, to preview Manchester United's UEFA Europa League tie against LASK.
The boss discussed the last-16 second leg with the Austrian side, as well as the potential mini tournament in Germany should we successfully progress on Wednesday.
Chris Smalling, who has returned to the Reds after a year on loan at Roma, was also a topic of conversation and you can read the full transcript of the press conference below...
Q: You’re going all out to win this competition, how important is it? I know it’s not as prestigious as the European Cup, but what does it mean to you?
OGS: “This team has developed during the season. We’re delighted with finishing third but the next step for this team is to get their hands on a trophy. We’ve been to two semi-finals: the Carabao Cup and the FA Cup this year. Now we want to go one step further and we want to win something. Jesse knows how it feels to win that tournament as well.”
JL: “That was the last time we won a trophy. I feel like the team needs silverware and we’re a club that want to win trophies and it’s nice to finish third and it would be even better to win a trophy at the end of the season.”
Q: Jesse, we could see what that goal meant to you against Leicester City and what it meant to everyone at Manchester United. Firstly, your thoughts on that and the future, and Ole your thoughts on Jesse and where the future lies for him…
JL: “I know I’ve not had the best of seasons and obviously during lockdown I wanted to come back in the best shape possible to impress the manager. That hard work can pay off by pressing in the last minutes and winning it off the keeper and sticking it in the back of the net. Of course, a goal gives you confidence and I’m looking forward to the next game. I can’t wait to play the next game and to try and impress.”
OGS: “You hit the nail on the head when you said how much it meant to everyone because Jesse is such an infectious lad in and about the group. He’s always in a good mood and is even hiding his own troubles. We know how much it meant to him but it also meant a lot to us because we see him every day when he’s been here and been part of this club. He’s been here for his whole life. It was a great finish to the Premier League, but now it’s about kicking on and I’m sure we’re going to see a better side of Jesse and the best side of Jesse because we’ve seen that in training all the time.”
Q: I was just wondering whether, following that Leicester victory and now that United have got their place in the Champions League next season, whether you considered giving a complete break to the likes of David, Harry Maguire, Bruno Fernandes? Jesse, for you, I wonder in terms of your own career at Man United, how much you’ve seen this game tomorrow night and hopefully getting into the knockout stages in Germany, do you see it as a way of forcing your way into the starting XI for next season?
JL: “Every minute - be it five, 10 or half an hour - I’ve got to try and impress and to try and do as much as I can to try and help the team and impress the manager. It’s a perfect way now with four games left, hopefully going into the last game with confidence and getting a run in the tournament. But, the most important thing is the team to lift silverware.”
OGS: “And that’s our focus. Of course, the players want to play, they don’t want the break. When they’re in and around the place they want to play. They’re bothering me all the time with ‘I want to play, I don’t want a rest’. It’s not easy to say at times ‘no you’re resting’ to players of this quality. But we go into that tournament wanting to win. I hope the players need to win like I do. I think for me, as a manager or a coach, to lift a trophy is a different feeling from when you are a player because you know you represent so much more than just the team. For me, we go into this tournament with players wanting to win. I’m not giving them a break, no. They’ll be called upon.”
Q: Ole, I just wanted to ask about the match tomorrow. I'm guessing Jesse starts but are there any other clues with the likes of Teden Mengi and Ethan Laird in the squad. Also, Axel and Luke Shaw aren't in the squad for the whole Europa League campaign. Are you able to tell us about the nature of their injuries and when you expect them back?
OGS: “Axel started to get niggles when we restarted and he had to have an operation in his foot, so he’ll be back early Septemberish. Same with Luke, he sustained the injury against… I think it was Southampton. He’ll be ready again in early September. They should both be ready for when the league starts. Apart from that… yeah, Jesse will be starting tomorrow, but the team won’t be too different from the last time we played LASK in March. We know that it’s going to be a difficult game. It wasn’t a 5-0 difference in the first game. We were winning about 2-0 after 60 minutes and then we scored three goals in the last five. Of course we know that we have to perform and there is an opportunity for players to stake a claim to play in the quarters, if we get through.”
Q: Ole, without pre-empting too much, but obviously, given the first-leg score, you must be quite confident of going through. I'd seen that Wolves had asked UEFA for permission to fly in and out rather than stay for the entire duration. Have you asked for that as well?
OGS: “There's been a discussion at a higher level than me as to how that tournament is going to pan out. At the moment it looks like we're staying. Of course, you could look at it as one game and then you travel to an away game but at the moment it looks like a tournament so we'll be staying in Germany.”
Q: Ole, this is the first time we've spoken to you since the transfer window opened. How beneficial would it be for you to get some business done relatively early, especially given the short turnaround to next season?
OGS: “Well, this transfer window is a long one and every transfer takes its course. It is what it is at the moment. I've got no updates for you anyway so if there's any news we'll update you.”
Q: Ole, at times, your teams can be turned in defence with a bit of pace coming at them. In the centre-back position, with a few of your centre-backs either not in the squad or looking like they may be leaving, is that an area of concern for you, pace at the back? Will you look at the centre-back positions because it looks like you're going to need numbers somehow?
OGS: “Well we're always looking to improve the team and the squad. I think we've been very, very solid at the back. I think sometimes you might be exposed in behind you when you're pressing as high as we have done. We've made a certain attempt, not an attempt... we've decided we're going to be a high-pressing team when we can. If you don't take risks, you won't improve. Yeah, once in a while, we've found some space behind us but I've not been concerned about it, no.”
Q: If you're involved in this tournament until almost the end of August, you're probably going to have only two or three weeks to rest and prepare for the start of the new season. Are you concerned at all by how quick that turnaround is going to be?
OGS: “Well, for me, hopefully we'll get some help if we go through this tournament, if we get to the end, so we can start [next season] a little bit later. It is what it is and I think everyone knows this year has been a special one for the whole world and I'll certainly look after the players and we'll give them time off to recharge, maybe a couple of weeks, and then we'll have a quick turnaround. These boys look after themselves anyway in the breaks they've had. I've always been impressed by how they've looked when they've come back. After lockdown, I think we've been one of the fittest teams.”
JL: “Yes, I think we're used to playing games in quick succession. A lot of the players like to do stuff [fitness work] in their own time as well so we can always be prepared for the next game. So I don't think there's really any concern about the turnover. Like the boss said, we'll have two weeks to recharge if we get to the final. I'm sure that can be enough and we can start the season on the right foot.”
Q: Ole, you talked about getting your hands on that first trophy. From your experience, how important is it getting that first piece of silverware as a team, in terms of forging that winning mentality that enables you to go on and win other trophies?
OGS: “Well it's massive. I think you can see that when we won the Premier League, or Sir Alex won the Premier League, for the first time. That was the start of the Premier League era but he started with the FA Cup. For me personally, when I won my first trophy as a player it made me more hungry because you saw the highs of it, you saw how much it meant for everyone. As a coach, when I won the league for the first time with Molde, that was the first time for the club in their 100-year history. Since then we've won it four times in about eight or nine years so it was a big change for that club. And for me, for this team as well I think, if we can get our hands on a trophy, it's a big step forward.”
Q: How do you think United’s football has changed since you came to the club, the type of football you play now? Jesse, the same to you: how do you think it’s changed from the football you’ve been involved with over the years at United?
JL: “I feel that different managers have different ways of playing. It’s up to the players to adapt. I think Man United has always been an attacking style and we love to attack and press the ball up high. I think the boss has brought that to the team. We like playing quick and scoring goals. I think we’re very good defensively as well. It depends on the manager and the way he wants the players to play.”
OGS: “I think every manager has their own style and there's no right or wrong way of playing football. It's whatever the manager believes in, that's the way he'll manage and that's the way he'll coach throughout his career. For me, I've been at this club for 11 years as a player and then I was here for almost four years as a coach under Sir Alex and the Reserves and with the first team. I have been, of course, influenced by those years. My style of football has looked a little bit like that, plus I’ve also had some good times in Norway. We were one of the first countries that went for loads of counterattacking and more penetrational football. You want a mix between both sides. We’re working on it. We’re working on pressing high, we’re working on being able to counterattack and dominate. We work on all those things. It’s up to others to tell us how it’s changed. I don’t think that’s for me to say.”
Q: Jesse, since Bruno Fernandes has come in we’ve seen the importance of goals and assists from that no.10 position. Goals have been a struggle this season, but we’ve seen before with the burst you had when you got nine in December 2018/January 2019. Do you feel that you’ve got goals in your games? It is something you want to add more consistently?
JL: “I’ve always scored goals from Under-18s, in the Reserves. I think it’s just about setting goals for me personally throughout the season. Each game is different and it’s about setting targets on a personal level throughout that game: how many shots you have, how many shots you can create. I’ve been working on it and I’ve been working with the coaches on my finishing. I’m sure it will come. The Leicester goal gave me confidence and hopefully I can show it in the LASK game as well.”
OGS: “When you score goals it gives you so much confidence. The more goals he scores in training, I’ve seen his confidence grow. Of course, that’s a habit to do extra and Jesse is one of them who always stays back with the coaches and that will come. No worries.”
Q: Can I ask about Chris Smalling… is there a chance for him to stake a claim in your team next year, or realistically, are both you and him looking at another move for him.
OGS: “I think it’s so valuable for Man United. This season was about him being a regular and going to Roma and showing and proving how good a centre-back he is. I wanted to give Harry, Vic and Axel a chance, so we thought it was best if he went to Roma and played for a year. Now he’s coming back and Chris has shown this season that he’ll be valuable. I’ve been speaking to Chris throughout and I’ve been delighted with his season.”
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