United v Leeds: Read Ole's press conference in full

Friday 18 December 2020 13:43

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has looked forward to Manchester United’s first Premier League match against Leeds since February 2004, during his latest press conference with reporters.

Due to our congested fixture list, and in a break from the norm, the manager held his media briefing in the hour following Thursday night’s 3-2 win over Sheffield United at Bramall Lane. 

As you can read in the full transcript below, or watch in the video, Solskjaer can’t wait to face one of our historic rivals in a fixture that he always enjoyed as player. The boss also provides interesting answers on Edinson Cavani, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire and our Old Trafford form this season…

Ole, how much are you looking forward to this game? You played in many of them and Manchester United versus Leeds has a ring to it, of course…
“I can’t wait. It’s been too long. Of course, I know how much it means for our supporters. I know how much it means for our club but the other bit is it’s a different type of Leeds coming up, with a coach who has really done a great job with them and will test us to the limit.”
United v Leeds: Watch Solskjaer's press conference Video

United v Leeds: Watch Solskjaer's press conference

Watch as Ole discusses the rivalry with Leeds, Edinson Cavani, our centre-backs and the delayed return of fans...

Ole, I was just wondering what your take is on the Edinson Cavani charge?
“Well, of course, we have spoken to Edinson about it. He’s apologised. He knows and we know it wasn’t meant in a malicious way. He’s explained and there’s cultural differences there and linguistic differences. So he’s apologised. He hopes that mistake is not going to be costly. He’s still working on his fitness. He’s very meticulous on his rehab work and has not felt right. He couldn’t play in this game but let’s see in the last training session how he feels.”

What is the Cavani injury?
“It was a muscle injury he felt in his groin.”

Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof have started the last nine Premier League games. Is that becoming quite taxing on them, and is Axel Tuanzebe injured after missing the last two squads?
“Victor and Harry have been very consistent, I thought, last season as well, they were excellent. Eric and Axel had small injuries but are available for us and, for Leeds, I hope so. So let’s see what we do. Obviously, Harry played the most minutes in European football last season, I think. I think he’s enjoying playing. Victor is maturing, growing and getting more and more used to the demands of the Premier League. They’ve been very consistent and I’m very happy with them. It might come to the point where they’ve got to rest, of course.”
On Saturday, it marks two years for you in the job. How do you sum it and do you think you’re on course to get this club where you want it?
“I do not like, or I hate, talking about what I think I’ve done and where we’re at. So I don’t really enjoy that bit of looking back. I’m always looking forward. I know there’s a lot of good work to be done still to get to the standard I want, the level I want. That’s what we’re working on, every single day, but I’ve really enjoyed those two years. Even tough games like this, which make my hair turn even greyer very, very quickly.”

On Leeds, you played against them a few times, so can you recall what the hostility was like?
“There were fiery games, the tackles were flying in, players from both teams were winners and we had a few fights, of course. But Elland Road wasn’t the quietest place when you came off the coach, walking into the stadium, put it that way.”

The club hoped to have fans in on Sunday. How big a disappointment is it that it’s been delayed again? Is it also an imbalance that rivals clubs are allowed to have fans in?
“This is a delicate question to answer because we want fans into the stadiums. I can’t see why we should stop the fans coming into the stadium, where it’s possible. That’s such a difficult answer to give you but I don’t think it would be any problem for us at Old Trafford to host 2,000 or 4,000 fans as well. We can’t wait to get fans in. I don’t want to stand here and say it’s not fair but having fans is, of course, an advantage for them. Everyone loves the support from their own club so we’ll just wait and, hopefully next time, we’ll be open.”
90 in 20: Sheffield United 2 United 3 Video

90 in 20: Sheffield United 2 United 3

Our victory in Yorkshire was a thrilling and unpredictable watch, perfectly summed up in these extended highlights…

Ole, do you have a particularly fond memory of facing Leeds United as a player?
“Yeah, many. I enjoyed scoring two goals in a win at Elland Road. I enjoyed a header at the back stick, when I’d come on as a sub and it was a cross from Giggsy, I think. I headed it back to the other side of the post. It was two good teams back in the day and I have to say I liked the build-up to the games. The quality they had tested us as a team as well. Loads of good memories.”

You’ve spoken in the past about sorting out the home form: is there a point where that becomes a mental issue?
“I don’t think it’s a mental issue. There can’t be no fans here and no fans there, so they should be used to the pitch as well, in the circumstances surrounding it and the environment. So, sometimes, it’s just down to fine margins – who gets the first goal and how the opposition set up. Today, against Sheffield United, you’ve got two teams who want to play on the front foot, press and go forward, which creates space for us. Space for them, to be fair. I think on Sunday we’ll also play a team who make it a hard game for you and also maybe an open game because the games I’ve seen from Leeds have been very entertaining.”