United v Aston Villa: Ole's press conference in full

Thursday 31 December 2020 13:33

Manchester United manager has held his press conference to preview the Premier League match against Aston Villa on New Year's Day.

Due to the hectic schedule, the manager spoke to journalists about this fixture in the aftermath of Tuesday's 1-0 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers. 

As you can read in the transcript below, or watch in the video, Solskjaer is pleased with the mentality of his players and he expects a difficult game against Villa. The boss also talks about squad rotation, as he ponders the squad for United's first match of 2021...

How comforting was it for the team to not panic or be desperate but going about things in a controlled way against Wolves? Because it’s not the first time they’ve done that…
“We have to know that games, so many games, are decided towards the end. It is very seldom that you can blow teams away and win at half-time. Then the subs will come on and make a difference. That has happened so many times for us and the belief is there, and the discipline is there to play a certain way. We’re getting more and more used to the way we want to play. We know we’ve got players who can win you a game in one second with an incredible pass, dribble or some skill. So, the belief is more and more there that we don’t have to press the panic button, yeah.”

Ole's pre-Villa press conference Video

Ole's pre-Villa press conference

The boss was quizzed about United's recent form, our squad depth and Villa's threats in his latest media briefing...

Villa at home was a tough game last season and do you feel they are a better team this term?
“You can argue for that, yeah! They’ve been brilliant. I have to say Dean Smith has done a fantastic job. We played them in pre-season and they beat us in our one game we had before the league. We know all about how tough this is going to be – they have got individual players, they’re physically strong and, defensively, they have been one of the better teams in the league. When you beat Liverpool 7-2, it’s not just defending but counter-attacking with quality players. Maybe that’s the game everyone will remember from this season.”

Was it a tactical decision to replace Telles with Shaw against Wolves or is he injured? And will the strength in depth come to the fore with the hectic schedule you’ve got?
“No, Alex is fine. That was just a tactical decision we made, a change a little bit to the set-up. We have a strong squad. We’ve rotated a lot and we have not really found a settled XI this season but I don’t think it’s about that anyway this season. It’s going to be about a squad of 25 to 26 players and I think, towards the end of the season, that will help us. It has to be done this way. When you leave out Scott and Fred, it’s not easy because they deserve to play every game. But Nemanja and Paul played so well against Everton that I wanted that midfield against Wolves. We’ll be getting injuries and suspensions, that will happen, but I think our squad is well capable and ready for every game.”
Jack Grealish has been impressive – what do you make of him and how important is he to Villa?
“He is a player of Aston Villa and England and has only improved. I don’t want to say too much about other teams’ players but, of course, he’s a player we know we need to look out for. The goal he scored last season was a brilliant goal and we’ve faced him enough times to know it is going to be a difficult game.”

You wanted the overlap against Wolves with Marcus and Telles - does that understanding need more time to develop?  And are you getting enough from Aaron on the other side in an offensive sense?
“I think, against Wolverhampton, it was about getting in behind them and down the sides of them. We didn’t do that enough which is why I was up and agitated a couple of times. It’s a tactical way of getting in behind teams, of course. And I think all of our players have the possibility and capability of improving, which is a good thing about this group. It’s a still young and developing one.”
Exclusive: Bruno's 2020 in his own words Video

Exclusive: Bruno's 2020 in his own words

Watch the fascinating full interview as Bruno Fernandes lifts the lid on his fabulous year...

You once scored four against Everton but were left on the bench in the next game, when Teddy Sheringham came in. Are you having to pick teams a week or so in advance?
“Sometimes, it’s horses for courses. Some players you feel are more suitable for some teams but, of course, you do plan ahead and, yeah, I remember those four goals. I remember also the times you feel you deserve to play and you are left out. That is part of being at Manchester United. We have top players everywhere and we know that, throughout the season, if you are going to win everything, you have to contribute. Anto came on and did well for half an hour, Luke came on and did really well. It’s just the way it’s going to be. The players will have to be angry with me until the next time they play because, believe you me, they are not happy when I tell them they are starting on the bench.”
Can you see the mentality is changing now within the players? They seem far stronger mentally…
“Yeah, definitely. One, they’re two years older than when I came. Two, some of them are really strong personalities that we’ve brought in and they have really been a good influence. I think we have competition for places, which means you cannot go around thinking that you can just fake your way through being part of this team because you only deserve to be in a team that you contribute to. I think everyone has just realised they are privileged to be part of Manchester United, such a fantastic club with a fantastic history. And when you are here, enjoy it as much as you can and maybe you will experience some fantastic times. We’ve got winners like Juan Mata and Nemanja Matic, who don’t really play every single game but are so influential in the group, in the build-up to games and even during games when they’re not playing.”