Brighton v United: Ole's press conference
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s video press conferences are regular events now, with Manchester United preparing for another Premier League outing following the weekend’s Emirates FA Cup quarter-final win.
The Reds earned a 2-1 victory over Norwich City on Saturday evening and will be back in action once again on Tuesday night, this time on the south coast against Brighton & Hove Albion at the Amex Stadium.
Solskjaer spoke to reporters earlier this morning to answer their questions on the FA Cup semi-final draw, contract negotiations with Angel Gomes and the form of Marcus Rashford, as well as the big game against Brighton.
Read this full transcript of the manager’s press conference…
Morning Ole. I wanted to get your reaction to the FA Cup draw and the result over the weekend...
“Yeah, we're delighted to be in the semis. Delighted to be looking at the prospect of going to a final, of course going to Wembley for a semi-final against a team that we've played so many times over the last 18 months. We seem to play Chelsea every other weekend, so it's a game we're looking forward to.”
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“I've got no news, nothing. So it doesn't look like it.”
Hi Ole, I'm just wondering how you see the battle for the top four going into this game, because it's not just Chelsea that you are chasing, it's obviously Wolves as well now?
“Yeah I think there are many teams in that battle for third and fourth. You've got Leicester, Chelsea, us. You've got Wolverhampton, who are doing really well. Of course, I'm sure Tottenham and Arsenal and Sheffield United still want to put a run together and put a challenge in there. So it's exciting. It must be exciting for all the fans. They've been waiting for so long now to have football that matters on the TV. Of course, we all want the fans in the stadiums but, at least now, you can sit back and watch some exciting and important games.”
“The players are working really hard and they want to do as well as they can. And, for me, as a team, we're trying to implement our ideas. I think you can talk about 14 games but we're just looking at the next one. And, of course, as long as you go into the next game knowing that you won the previous one, that is a good place to be in.”
Is Angel Gomes leaving Manchester United?
“To be honest, I've not heard from them last night or this morning. It seems like they haven't managed to agree, so the answer is probably short and yes, then.”
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“Of course Marcus has been out for a while, but I think he's looked sharp. I think he came on and looked sharp again against Norwich. Sheffield United he did miss, yeah, one or two chances, but the goals he created, I think that is what we are focusing on and I think Marcus is on his way to his best season ever at Man United. So, for me, I'm just looking forward to him getting more and more minutes. He will definitely score a goal soon.”
Ole, I realise this is a strange season and, in some senses, it's just about getting to the end of it, but how important is it for Manchester United to be back in the Champions League and among the clubs that the club regards as their equals?
“Well, I think every year that you're in the Champions League is a great experience. For the players, it's a step forward, you're playing against the best, but of course for us, that's what we're striving to do and get to as well as winning trophies. And to get there, we need to focus on one game at a time, because there are so many teams just above us and just below us that want that place. So, we don't want to get distracted by thinking too far ahead. We just need to go one game at a time and think when you go into the next one, okay we won the previous one.”
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And just in terms of Brighton, United have lost there in the last two years. Is there a reason for that and actually given what's happened, could you be better off playing them without their fans?
“Of course there's a reason, because they're a good footballing side, they play football and they make it hard for you. Now I haven't been down there myself, so I'm looking forward to it. And the fans, of course they matter and they have an impact on games of football, so for us to get out of this lockdown period and get the fans back in the stadium is going to be fantastic. But, for the moment, we just have to deal with the situation as it is and maybe as an away team sometimes it helps you that there is no home crowd when you play away, but, then again, if you're at the bottom, sometimes the pressure of the fans can get to you and sometimes it can give you an extra edge. So, for me, football is all about the fans.”
Luke Shaw has started every single one of the last 14 games, is he playing at his best at the moment and why have you opted not to give him a rest, because a number of players have been rotated over the last 14 games?
“Well, we manage a squad and manage players differently and, as you say, Luke has had a good upturn in form. He had a spell out earlier on in the season and he's worked his way to full fitness. He's worked over the lockdown and he's playing some good football. Let's see if he starts this one.”
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Have you made any changes to your preparations or tactics after a few games without crowds? Is it a different game? And do you think that the pace of the game is slower and harder to maintain momentum? And were the cup games different because they were knockouts?
“Lack of fans, of course, affects the players. Some players thrive on it, it looks slower without the fans. The noise from the crowd helps the view from your sofa, all the physical stats show there isn't a big difference, it just looks it. The ball is more in play at the moment. You've got to create your own atmosphere, enthusiasm in there. Some players thrive with crowds, some relax with no crowds and express themselves more. Different teams react differently.”
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