What does Ole make of Bruno's first year?
Listen to every word the boss had to say in the second half of Friday's pre-Arsenal press conference...
Q: It’ll be a year tomorrow since Bruno [Fernandes] arrived. I know a lot has been said about him, but could you sum up his year and his impact on Manchester United? A: “Brilliant. From day one, he’s come in and wanted to affect the environment, the playing environment, the staff. He’s been a great addition. He’s such a humble human being, working hard; and I think everyone has seen what he’s done on the pitch. [I’m] very pleased with his first year and long may it continue, because the higher up in the league, the more pressure there will be on us and on him because now the limelight is on him, but I’m sure he’ll handle that pressure fine.” Q: It probably predates your time, but there didn’t seem to be many verbal players on the pitch - when a game was going away from Man United, a player to grab each other by the throat, but he seems to be one of those. He’s very verbal on and off the pitch… A: “Yes definitely. He’s got his opinions and he’s a winner. He’s not just going to let a game pass away and talk about it later; he wants to affect it then and there. He’s so passionate about winning and he knows his football, he knows his stuff. I think he watches every single game there is on telly, especially the big games. If you ask him: ‘did you watch that game last night?’, he’s always seen the games. He’s going to make the most of his career, that’s for sure.” Q: Victor Lindelof has been playing with a back injury for quite some time now. Is that severe enough that he’ll need an operation in the future, and is it important for you to manage his game time because it will prevent him from playing at his best, I guess? A: “Well, I think it’s been getting better and better. There was a period around about Christmas, after the Leicester game, that we looked into every avenue. But he’s settled down. It’s a quick turnaround of games, especially now if there’s only a two-day gap in between them, sometimes we have to wait to the last minute to make a decisions on Victor, if he’s fit and available. But he’s improved and hopefully we don’t need any operation.” Q: On Victor, with the back injury, does that stem from the Alkmaar game where he played on the plastic pitch last season? Secondly, given some of the players who have left and some of the players who could still go, have you identified any youngsters in the Under-23s or the Under-18s who could get promoted to the first-team squad in the second half of the season? A: “I don’t think it’s going back to the Alkmaar game with Victor. I think he’s been used to astroturf back home when he was younger. I think he felt it more this summer, so it’s not been that long standing. But it’s been improving. As for the youngsters, we do have some kids there that are looking like they can take the next step very soon. Then again, in the times we’re in, and the bubbles were in and the training bubbles. We’ve got to be careful when to promote them. As soon as they move out of the 23s’ bubble and move into ours, they can’t just go back and train. It has to be for a longer period. They can go there and play a game. Say for example, when Brandon [Williams] played for the 23s, or Amad [Diallo] is going to play for the 23s [this weekend]. That means they have to travel by themselves, get changed in a different changing room and it’s just: ‘go out there and play with them’. Then suddenly they’re back in our bubble. If they train with them then they leave our bubble and join theirs, so it takes time. It takes planning, but there are a couple, definitely, that if we get injuries and issues that we can look at promoting.” Q: It’s been a unique season in lots of different ways, but if you look at where Arsenal were six weeks back and look at where they are now, and look at how you overcame your start to be in the position you’re in now - do you think it might be one of the more forgiving seasons? A bad result here and there might not be doom and gloom like perhaps, you could have been out of sight or out of reach in previous seasons? A: “I know what you mean and it is an unpredictable season. There are going to be inconsistencies. I think that is also because of the quick turnaround in games and if you have a bad week, suddenly, you might lose three games. If you have a good week, you win three games. That moves you up or down the table so quickly. It’s important not to overreach or make decision too quickly, because sometimes if you make decisions emotionally: leaving players out, or putting players in, you might make more wrong than good decisions. I think everyone now, with the year we’ve had in the world, would understand the situation everyone’s in.” Q: Anthony Martial scored his best ever goal total last season, I think it was 23. This season he has struggled, I think it’s five in 25. What does he have to do to unlock that potential? Because it’s been six years now and he’s 25, he should be hitting his peak… A: “Keep working. He’s improved his fitness. He is probably improved by 10/15 per cent from when I came - his running distance, his sprint distance. Like everyone, he has improved and his talent will improve. I have no doubt about that whatsoever. Yes, he’s missed a couple of chances, that happens to everyone. It’s just being ready, for example tomorrow, when the chance comes. Just be mentally ready, don’t be frustrated. I’ve been there myself when you go through patches where you don’t really score. He keeps practising in training and he keeps doing it here, so we know how good he is and we know he’ll come good.” Q: Back to Bruno very quickly, obviously he’s had such an impact on the team. I saw some stuff on social media, probably a bit of a lazy observation in midweek, that if Bruno doesn’t play well, the team don’t play well. Is there anything in that? And is there any worry on being too reliant on a player such as Bruno? A: “Bruno has come in and helped the team, no doubt about that. He has come in at a time where we needed his type of player, and Bruno came into a team that makes his attributes and skills come to fruition. He’s come to a team that suits him and he suits the team. That goes hand in hand. If the players don’t run, Bruno can’t play his passes; if Bruno can’t play his passes, the players can’t run. He’s part of a chain here and I’m sure Bruno would say he also appreciates his team-mates and that they help him through games.” Q: It’s been an up and down season for so many teams, do you see that continuing all the way through? And will the champions be the team that has the most, I suppose, ‘normality’? A: “Well, the champions will be the ones who play the best football most consistently and, of course, at the moment Man City are running away with that consistency. Of course, they’re going through a very good period. But that might change, who knows. Any team can go on a run; any team can go on a bad run. Consistently playing the best football, coping with the circumstances in the world with the bubbles - at the moment, they seem to have the upper hand.” Q: At Old Trafford, the Arsenal centre-backs were quite aggressive and that felt quite unexpected. I was wondering just what kind of game are you expecting from tomorrow, and where will this game be won? A: “Well, we’ve got to be ready for everything. I think aggressive - footballers should be aggressive, it’s a man’s game. You tackle [and] it’s a fair game. Of course, we go into this game expecting the best possible Arsenal and hopefully they’ll also be prepared for the worst possible Man United. It’s always been good games, top games. In that game, we have to be honest enough to say we didn’t play well enough. It could be the same, they could man mark our players like they did in that game. One of the things you have to do is prepare for every eventuality. Mikel [Arteta] is one of those coaches who can change, even from the starting minutes he can do things. So we have to be ready for every possible eventuality in this game. But we’re ready. I think my team is more and more capable of - it’s maybe not the right day to say this because we lost the last game to Sheffield United, but adapting in games better. Hopefully we can adapt to this game as well.”