Every word of Ole's press conference
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had big words of praise for three of his Manchester United players, as the boss conducted his pre-match press conference ahead of the Premier League meeting with Wolverhampton Wanderers at Old Trafford.
The Reds manager was asked about the form and performances of Harry Maguire, Edinson Cavani and Luke Shaw, and had positives thoughts on all three.
Ole also discussed the importance of recovery between games during the hectic festive period and he's hopeful our last match at the Theatre of Dreams - a 6-2 win over Leeds United - will give the players plenty of confidence on our own patch ahead of the Tuesday night meeting with Wolves, which you can watch live on Amazon Prime.
You can read the full transcript of the press conference below...
Ole, I just wondered how much all the goals at Old Trafford against Leeds has eased you back into playing well at home and getting results there. Did that game help?
"Yeah of course. When the last game you played at Old Trafford gave you six goals then I'm sure the boys will look forward to it. It gave us confidence that performance and it also gave us a little gage on how fit we are, that we could match them fitness-wise. We know we have loads of games in a short space of time, but Wolverhampton have got an even shorter turnaround this time, but they didn't have a midweek game [last week]."
Last season it felt like we were talking about United facing Wolves every week! They were tight games - have your players now got more solutions up their sleeves to unlock those tight games?
"Well, we've had so many tight games against them. We are improving definitely, we're getting better and better at finding different solutions in different games. But we know that Wolverhampton have got quality as well and they will give us problems if we're too open. We've got a plan together."
You've had two tough games in Everton and Leicester away but you've used the best part of 20 players. That must bode well for the little run you've got with a lot of games in a short space of time...
"I think we have to do it this way. It's also good for the players, knowing that we trust them. We trust them to play big games and they're here for a reason. They're here to contribute and in this period everyone will have to contribute, and across the season, it's going to be relentless. I hope that will stand us in good stead."
It was obviously a difficult start for Harry [Maguire] at the beginning of the season, but have you been really pleased with how he has reacted in recent weeks and the form he's shown?
"Harry is a strong character and a very good player. He's led from the back, if you put it that way, he's really been putting himself forward and always wants to play. He never wants a rest. He's really improved throughout the season, with the team of course, but we can see more and more maturity and leadership from Harry in every game."
How important has it been to Harry that he's had unwavering support from you and also Gareth Southgate?
"Of course I support Harry. He's such a good human being. He's in there, leading the dressing room. He's very humble and hardworking and he knows he has to hold his hand up. He's led from the front or the back, whichever way you want to say it, he's really gone out there and been a leader in the team and in the dressing room too. I'll always support him and I think Gareth will always support him, and all he wants to do is keep on playing football."
Rest, recover and go againGallery
As the busy festive period continues, the Reds have been preparing for our next Premier League game, against Wolves.
“He's definitely a starter. You don't classify a player of that quality as anything else. We've got plenty of starters, more than 11 starters. When you're at Man United you should believe in yourself and trust yourself. I trust him, I trust all my players and we've got good competition for places. He'll probably start more games that he will not start.”
People have said that you have to have real personality to wear the no.7 shirt for United. Was his performance off the bench against Leicester another sign that he has the confidence and stature for that shirt?
“That was the first thing he asked me when I spoke to him, if he could wear the no.7. We talk about the history of the shirt and, for me, with the history of his career and the experience he's had and his personality when I spoke to him and having watched him before... I wasn't in doubt that he could handle that no.7 shirt. He's so meticulous and professional with his habits, everything about him shows why he's had the career he's had and, at the age he's now, he's still one of the fittest players we've got.”
When you have so many games in such a short period of time, how do you prepare your players to the best of your ability and what do you do between the games?
"This year has been a strange one. When you play for Man United you get used to the rhythm of playing, recovering, playing, recovering and I also have a big squad, so you have to prepare them physically and mentally. We're more and more consistent in the way we want to play and press and the way we want to be, on the ball and off the ball, so with the season as it is there aren't many weeks you have to do preparation on the grass. So there are videos and loads of good work by the coaches and the medical staff to get them physically ready."
I know it’s around this time of year when the club tends to take decisions on players in terms of whether to extend their contracts by another year. The way it’s shaping up, would you like to and do you think you’ll keep Edinson for another year?
“At the moment he looks like he has a few years left in him so I wouldn't say anything else. He's been a great influence and has made a great impact since he's come here, let's just focus on improving everyone as well. He's got a few years left in him.”
I wanted to ask you about Luke Shaw and in particular his attacking play in the last few matches…
"Luke is one of those lads with strength and power and quality, and of course down the left-hand side he's created a good relationship with Marcus [Rashford]. Against Leicester, Paul [Pogba] came in on the left and I think that changed the dynamic a little bit and that pushed Luke on more and he had to go more then because if you don't have a wide man in front of you then it's the full-back's responsibility. I think he grasps that now. Sometimes he's got to stay back more and sometimes he's the one that goes. I've enjoyed working with Luke for a couple of seasons now and he's a very talented boy that I still want to push on."