Ole's press conference to preview Spurs v United
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was back in front of journalists on Thursday morning as he held a press conference to preview Manchester United’s return to Premier League action against Tottenham Hotspur.
The manager’s media briefing was noticeably different to what we are used to, after he spoke to reporters via video conference from the Aon Training Complex.
Some familiar lines of enquiry were maintained, however, with Solskjaer answering questions on injuries, who might start and potential new contracts at the club.
The boss also spoke passionately about Marcus Rashford’s incredible campaign to secure free school meals, as well as his views on the Black Lives Matter movement.
Read a full transcript here…
Before we talk about Tottenham, just how proud are you personally and how proud is the club at the work Marcus Rashford has been doing over the past few weeks and months? Literally helping millions of children across the country...
“It has been fantastic to follow Marcus throughout the lockdown period as well. It’s not only that he got the Prime Minister to change his mind, but also what he’s done over the last few months. Marcus is such a top, top human being and he's brought his own experiences as a kid into this conversation and changed the lives of so many kids as you said. So he's already been the captain of the club at such a young age and he's proving all the time his human qualities which is the main attribute for a Man United player, along with his qualities as a player.”
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In terms of coming back then Ole, what a game to kick off against Tottenham. How prepared are you for that match and how fit are your players, including Marcus of course?
“It's a great game, a big game against one of the best teams in the league of course, Champions League finalists less than a year ago, so we know that we're up for a hard game. We've prepared as well as we've can. We've trained well, the boys have trained well over the lockdown. We've had a couple of in-house 11v11s and we had had one 11v11 against West Brom which hopefully will stand us in good stead. They are young, they look fit and ready, so we will see tomorrow night.”
An awful lot has changed over the last three months, but the reality is you've got probably the most popular player, person, in the country in Marcus playing for Manchester United. He has just become a role model that has changed people's lives and opinions of footballers...
“What Marcus has done has been incredible with his family, with his own personality of course. Marcus has always been a great human being. Coming up through the Academy, I think the club recognised that early on and gave him chances. Of course we saw the talent but you need to be a really good human being as well to come all the way through that. He's changed the lives of so many kids this summer which is more important than any game of football that he would probably play. Hopefully he can keep both sides going as well as he's doing now.”
We saw players take the knee yesterday in both games. You talk to the players on a daily basis, so do you get the feeling that there's a movement to bring about real change? Not just words, but actions?
“I feel now that this time finally it is changing and it's been on the agenda now for many, many years of course. This issue of racism and we've had a couple instances in the league and we've talked about it, maybe it's then forgotten, but this time it looks and hopefully it will effect more and more people and leaders of countries and decision makers. I think we all supported the actions.”
Just going back to Marcus, when you were 22 I think you had just signed for Molde. Could you quantify what it takes for someone at that young age to put himself out there in the way he's done, when it would be far easier just to kind of I don't know stay out of the limelight completely?
“Well me at 22 of course I wouldn't be in a position to effect people and effect a change like this. I don't think Marcus is thinking about this politically or in any other way than helping people and helping kids. He knows deep inside that he has helped children with food now and to change their lives and I think that makes him feel good about himself and using his position as a role model at Man United, one of the top players in the country, a Man United player and he can effect people in a good way. That's what it is about. He is a good human being. He wants to make a good change. It's not about him or anything bigger than that.”
It does feel that footballers are using their profile more than they've ever done to try and make a noise, to try and talk about social issues. Do you think that is a positive?
“Well it's up to every individual of course. Footballers as a group they have been criticised a lot, even over this lockdown. I think this lockdown period has made a change in people and made people think about the larger issues and given them a different perspective and for Marcus he's always been a good lad and now the change he has made for kids has been unbelievable. But as footballers we are easy targets at different times, but we can also effect people in a good way. If you can use your face to change something for the better, why not?”
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Morning Ole. Good to see you. Just wondering, last night we saw players take a knee and the referees as well before the matches, Project Restart. Just wondering what your thoughts are on the Black Lives Matter movement and whether your players, are you expecting them to do the same tomorrow?
“Well I think it has been an event in history that has changed people's views and of course the movement now, I think we all know that this shouldn't happen in 2020, what's been happening and that players, Premier League teams that we all make a stand and say enough is enough, I think that is good. I don't expect anything different from ours.”
There were two issues over players, in terms of their availability for this extended season. One of them you've sorted with Odion Ighalo, how has that been? And secondly, Angel Gomes, as far as we are aware his contract still expires at the end of the month. Will he be available for you in these coming games? Do you expect him to sign that contract extension?
“We're delighted Odion is staying with us. We had a good conversation with his club and Odion's made a great impact when he came, so that's very pleasing. He gives us another option up front, he is a goalscorer and what he does in and around the dressing room as well is great. I hope he's going to continue and finish off what he has started. With Angel, he is a top, top kid that we have had at the club for so many years. We've offered him a deal, hopefully he'll take it. If not, I wish him all the best. Hopefully, from what I understand it's not too far away, so if not we wish him all the best.”
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Morning Ole. Ole, is everybody fully fit and available to play tomorrow and are Marcus and Paul Pogba now in a position where you could start them if you wanted to?
“We have two players probably, Phil Jones and Axel will miss this game and the start and let's see how bad they are, but apart from that the rest of the squad is fit, available. Marcus and Paul they have been out for a long, long period, but they are available, so how long they are going to play for, let's see.”
New rules allow you to make five substitutions, of course, so do you think you will use them?
“It depends on the games of course. Three subs, that is the right amount for a game, but five of them will happen because we have to look after the players. The Premier League is intense physically and they are going straight into another season after. It's a good option to protect the players and not pick up any unnecessary injuries. We have to use those periods to make subs well.”