Ole's press conference to preview United v West Ham
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has held his pre-match preference to preview Manchester United’s penultimate Premier League game of the season, against West Ham on Wednesday night.
As you can read below, Solskjaer began by praising West Ham’s recent form and offering an update on Eric Bailly’s condition following the head injury that he sustained at Wembley last time out.
The manager then answered questions on David De Gea’s form and mentality, before emphasising the importance of United playing in the UEFA Champions League next season…
I’ll start with West Ham and the job that David Moyes has done - it looks like they’ll be a Premier League side again next year. Does he get enough credit for the job that he does?
“I’ve not read everything that’s been said or written about David, but he’s doing a fantastic job. Since they’ve come back after lockdown you can see see he’s improved the team. David is a fantastic manager. I know it’s going to be a very difficult game for us. They’ve had some great wins over Norwich, Watford and Chelsea. Of course, they’ve secured their place now and he’s doing a fantastic job.”
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“So far we’ve done really well after the restart. At the moment, I’m just thinking about one game. Of course if we can get through unbeaten, then that’s us in the Champions League next year. Now all eyes are on West Ham. We know their threats and how well they’ve played lately. We just have to focus on that.”
How Eric Bailly is doing after that blow to the head and are there any other injury absentees?
“Eric stayed down in London for all the checks. I didn’t see him yesterday. He’s following the protocols that are needed. I don’t think he’ll be ready for this game. I’ve not seen him this morning yet because this is before we meet the players.”
“I think everyone is available part from that. No more injuries from last week. We just have to stick together and stay strong. We have two more games to go and we’ve given ourselves a very good chance.”
How does David cope with the fallout from the weekend?
“This is not going to become a David De Gea press conference. We’ve got two games and we need to just focus on that. David is mentally strong enough to know that his job is to perform in training the next day and then be ready for the games.”
It’s a crucial part of your team. I appreciate you might not want to talk about, but everyone else is…
“That’s your job to talk about and write about. It’s my job to prepare the team for West Ham and that’s what we’re doing. I’m just focusing on that one and we’re not going to talk about individuals. No one here is going to feel that we’re putting more pressure on them.”
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“When you lose a game you’re hurt and disappointed. You’ve just got to focus on the next thing. A defeat isn’t the end of the world - it was the end of the FA Cup dream and the final, but now it’s business as usual and onto the next game. We’ve had so many setbacks as a club before. We’ve lost big games before and we’ve turned that around and that’s what we need to do now.”
How important is Champions League football for United, for you, for the players, for attracting players and for the financial structure of Manchester United?
“There’s always.. you want to be part of the biggest tournaments; play the biggest teams. That is an attraction in itself, but Man United is attractive enough. I think everyone can see we’re on a journey towards something better. I think so, anyway. It’s in our own hands. I don’t want to talk about how much it will mean financially, or to attract people. We just have to focus on these next two games and we’re there.”
You last lost a game in January - a lot has changed since then. Are these players more mentally strong and more resolute than they were back then?
“I think we’ve grown over the whole season. The additions of Odion, Bruno and Paul coming back, Marcus coming back, is a strength for us. We are better as a group and more robust and resilient. The proof is in the pudding and we’ll have to see on Wednesday how they perform.”
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