Ole's press conference: Part two
Hear what the United boss had to say in the second half of Monday's media briefing...
Ole, just following on on Amad, is the plan to play him in the Under 23s on Friday? “We’ll make the decision with Amad what we will do towards the weekend if he’s our squad or… It depends on so many factors, if we got injuries, Covid, you never know. He might be playing on Friday, I’ll make a decision on Thursday on that one.” The teams you played in, racked up some incredible scorelines, real thrashings along the way. This team seems to be struggling to win games easily apart from maybe the Leeds game. Have you been able to determine why that has been this season? “From what I recall, we won quite a lot of tight games when I played as well. Sometimes now we bring up the stats from those days and games that we won and there has been some big wins but from what I remember we dug games out, we won tight games. This team’s been really good at that this year, we’ve had some big wins, Leipzig one, the Leeds one. Of course, they’ve been good but sometimes… In a season like this, the energy levels will have to suffer. Sometimes it’s about resting players when you feel that you can secure a result or players have maybe calmed it down. For us, I’m very happy. I think it’s a misconception that with the big wins we always used to have.” Coming back to Phil Jones. It doesn’t seem that long ago since Gareth Southgate described him as the best England centre-half. It must be really frustrating him to have this any injuries and, consequently, it must be nice to have him coming back? “It’s disheartening, it’ the worst thing for a footballer. When you got injuries, it can take your passion away, your chance to play football away. He’s a top footballer, he was in the World Cup squad two years back. He was brilliant when I came him. I wish him back into the squad as quick as I can. He’s a solid citizen and of those you can trust. He’s working very hard to get back. For us, and for himself… I’ve been through bad injuries myself and it might take your belief away and your enjoyment away. He’s been working so hard to get back, had a couple of set-backs but hopefully we can get some good use.” You mentioned the delegates report there, you said the two decisions were mistakes against you. Have you had an apology from the PGM in regards to that? On that as well, can you use that as a galvanising tool to your advantage and to motivate them for the weeks and months ahead? “I think wheever a team feels unfairly treated, there will be a reaction. But human error… I got no problem with human error, absolutely no problem. I understand why the decisions were made. Unfortunately, they went against us and were wrong. That’s football for you. But that’s maybe what VAR was put in for, maybe we should have made more of a fuzz about it. We’re a bunch of nice lads, maybe we should have made them look at it before the game started again. Those are things we have to learn from. We use it as motivation, you’re not going to expect to get anything for free, that’s for sure, there has been a narrative for too long about decisions going for us so… I can think about many decisions we’ve got against us. Even the first league game, Victor, that wasn’t a penalty. If that doesn’t change the things where we aren now, we’ll move on. How does it work with that report? Do you ask for in, do you have conversations where you discuss it? You mentioned it as a player, no one wants to see an episode where a referee is chased down the pitch but can your players make more of a fuzz and cause the VAR to have a look? Because, clearly, they were debatable and wrong decisions. “That’s the thing, you know. The work here is clear and obvious. When it’s a debate it’s not clear and obvious, “yeah but, yeah but”, it’s not clear and obvious, even though I felt the Harry one was clear and obvious and should have been a goal. The other one could be debatable. We just have to leave it to the referees to make the decisions. I don’t want my players to put unfair pressure on the referees. We leave them to it, that’s their jobs. I don’t really want to talk about it too much. On Saturday, you talked about Manchester City and how strong they look right now, three points clear with a game in hand. As much as you want to focus purely on what you’re doing and games, is there a fear that if you don’t keep track that they’re the one club that can pull away? “We cannot control what any other club are doing. We can only control our performances and our own results. That’s our focus, that we have to keep performing, keep improving which we are and scoring goals. Only one team has scored more than us in the Premier League. Keep scoring more goals, keep conceding less and hopefully tick one game after the other. The only focus, it’s very boring, but it has to be on the next one. The season is so close, and so tight, there’s so many deciding factors and as long as we focus on our own performance, we don’t worry about anyone else. We’ve played City once, we’re only halfway now, a little bit more than halfway. We can only play oppositions once now until the season ends anyway so we’re not going to make too big a difference and to think about the others.” In the last couple of seasons, there have been teams able to put winning-runs on for 25-30 games but do you think that is even possible with the way it is, the quick turnaround of games or will it be about teams that can recover from setback to setback? “Every team is in the same situation. The team that recovers the best and performs the best will win, whoever’s coping with the situation best. We want to put a run together. Since the start of November, we’ve only lost to Sheffield United, that’s the only defeat we’ve had in the league. We just need to get back to that level, that standard and sometimes you got to be lucky. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good but more times than not it’s better to focus on ourselves and keep on being consistent in your behaviours. If you approach the game the right way, we’ll get results.” We talked about you having time and a building process, but is it about convincing your team that your time is pretty much now and this title is still there to be won and up for graps this season? “As I say, boringly, we cannot think about the title race. We cannot think about what happens in May. Let’s thing about the end of March, the end of that international break in April before we can even think about where we end up in the league. It’s about putting the performances on, keep improving as a team and we’ve shown that we have improved form last year, and keep improving this season after the halfway turn. I’m not going to get drawn into the title race as you’re writing about. I’ve not spoke about that at all.” Europe’s about to start again. Is it a big difference on you being in the Champions League and the Europa League in terms of intensity of playing those games in the midweek and then the weekend? Do you think that could be a factor? We just have to focus on getting past Real Sociedad which seems like a Champions League tie anyway with the quality they have got. Of course, Europe Thursday night, Sunday… We’ll have less recovery before those games compared to the other teams and for as well that’s going to be a challenge but we’ll take it he head on.