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...
Q: How comforting was it for the team to not panic or be desperate but going about things in a controlled way against Wolves, it’s not the first time? A: We have to know that games, so many games, are decided towards the end. Very seldom do you blow teams away and win at half-time. Then the subs will come on and make a difference. It’s happened so many times for us. The belief is there, 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. The belief is more and more there that we don’t have to press the panic button, yeah. Q: Villa at home was a tough game last season and do you feel they are a better team this term? A: You can argue for that, yeah! They’ve been brilliant. Dean 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 they are going to be – individual players, they’re physically strong and, defensively, are 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. Q: Was it a tactical decision to replace Telles with Shaw or is he injured – will the strength in depth come to the fore with the hectic schedule you’ve got? A: No, Alex is fine. That was just a tactical decision we made, a change to the set-up. We have a strong squad. We’ve rotated a lot and not really found, you’d say, a settled XI this season but I don’t think it’s about that anyway. It’s going to be about a squad of 25-26 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 our squad is well capable and ready for every game. Q:Jack Grealish has been impressive – what do you make of him and how important is he to Villa? A: He is player for 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. He scored a brilliant goal last season and we’ve face him enough times last season to know it is going to be a difficult game. Q: You wanted the overlap against Wolves with Marcus and Telles and that understanding needs more time to develop but are you getting enough from Aaron on the other side in an offensive sense? A: I think, against Wolverhampton, it was about getting in behind them and down the sides of them. We didn’t do it 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. 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. Q: You once scored four against Everton but were left on the bench in the next game. Are you having to pick teams a week or so in advance? A: Sometimes, it’s horses for courses. Some players feel 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 are left out. It’s part of being at Manchester United. We have top players everywhere and you 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 have to be angry with me until the next time they play. Believe you me, they are not happy when I tell them they are starting on the bench. Q: Can you see the mentality is changing now within the players? They seem far stronger mentally? A: Yeah, definitely. One, they’re two years older than when I came. Two, some of them are 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 being part of this team because you only deserve to be in a team 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. When you are here, enjoy it as much as you can and maybe experience some fantastic times. We’ve got winners, like Juan Mata and Nemanja Matic, who don’t 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.