Astana v United: Ole's exclusive preview
In his pre-match interview, which you can watch in full here, Ole reveals who will captain the Reds against Astana...
Ole, you’ve brought a very young squad with you… what an experience this will be for these lads! “Yes, we hope it’s going to be that and, of course, it’s a chance for them to show us what they can do. We’ve seen them in games but it’s now against men. That’s one of the challenges we have with the young players, we can’t give them enough games against proper men and professionals. We’ve got the EFL Trophy, which is a good tournament for them to play in, but this will be a chance for them.” What will your message be to them – to enjoy it or do you think there will be a few nerves? “No, they’ll get rid of the nerves, definitely. They’re here because they’re good enough and they’re here because they’ve proven in the Reserves they can play and, for me, it’s about going out there and showing what you can do. No fear whatsoever, just go and play. They’ve been playing together for a bit, it’s not like you’re putting a team of strangers together. Maybe only Luke [Shaw] and Axel [Tuanzebe] haven’t played with some of them, but it’ll be good.” With a young squad what do you do about the captaincy? “Jesse [Lingard] will be captain. He’s a really good character in this group. He’s had his challenges over the last few months but he’s coming back into his own now.” You couldn’t fail to be inspired by the story of Max Taylor – he’s gone from having chemotherapy in the last year to being in a Manchester United European squad? “Max has been an inspiration to us all. Since I met him when I first came back to now, you’ve seen his recovery and he’s getting better and better and what a fantastic human being and fantastic professional. He’s been through things no kid should be going through and he’s come through the other end. He’s a fantastic leader, he’s vocal and I’m sure he’ll never, ever have any fear again on a football pitch which is something we want to see. He’s been through the hardest thing you can imagine and now he’s back on the pitch enjoying himself.” It’s a story that can have an impact on other people too isn’t it and what is possible? “Yes and he’s a boy that we want to give every opportunity to have a really good football career. He deserves the chance.” Nicky Butt is here as well and some of the other coaches are back at the Aon Training Complex with the rest of the squad… “Yes, Martin and Nicky are with me and Mick, and Kieran and Michael are back home with Richard. We had to split it, it’s just common sense.” The game itself – they’re out of the competition and we’re through, but top spot is definitely worth having isn’t it? “Yes, and we’ll be at the top if we beat AZ Alkmaar at home the week after next. But this game is about these boys and giving them an opportunity and for them to enjoy themselves. They shouldn’t think too much about anything else but performing.” How much of a challenge is it with the time difference and the temperature here – is it logistically quite awkward? “The club has been tremendous on this. We flew yesterday after training and got here in the morning, local time which was our night time so we went to bed. We just have to be disciplined and be asleep when we’re meant to be up and be asleep when we’re meant to be up. We’ll prepare as it's normal UK time.” Are you enjoying this competition overall? “Yes, and it’s a fantastic opportunity for players who need game-time. We’re taking it very seriously. We’ve kept four clean sheets and if we can do that again that would be fantastic. We want to score goals, in the last three games, we’ve scored three goals in each of them so let’s hope that we are positive and think about creating chances.”