What Ole told the Sunday papers before Wembley
In the second part of his press conference, Ole talks passionately about attacking trophies like the best United teams…
Ole, I think I'm right in saying that United haven't gone longer than three years without winning a trophy since 1990 and that was also the FA Cup, Fergie's first trophy. Obviously the long-term progress is very good but is it important to get that feeling of lifting silverware this season? "Yes of course, for any player or any team to lift the first trophy is a great start and a great experience. We've come a long way since the start of the season and to be able to get to the final would be fantastic." You've got lots of different targets, Champions League and whatever. I remember Sir Alex Ferguson celebrating when he won the League Cup against Wigan like it was the biggest thing he'd ever won. He really used to build momentum. Could you do the same with this FA Cup? "Well first of all we need to get to the final to have a chance to lift the trophy so definitely we're focused on this semi-final now against a good Chelsea team. We believe that this team that we're building will win trophies and there's no better way to kick it off than by getting an FA Cup trophy." Ole, you obviously got to the semi-finals of the League Cup and you're still attacking three competitions going into the final weeks of the season. Is it important for Manchester United to do that, to attack all the competitions that you're involved in? We've seen Liverpool, for example, sacrifice domestic competitions. You've got City on the other hand who, under Guardiola, want to attack them. You seem to have that same kind of mindset, that top clubs have a responsibility to attack everything that they play in. Is that right? "Yes. A word, you said there, responsibility... I think it's our duty and our responsibility as Man United players and staff to go for trophies. As I've said here, I've never seen anyone celebrate a win or a trophy more than our gaffer. Sir Alex was vital. I still remember him coming to watch my first game as a reserve-team manager in the Lancashire Senior Cup against Liverpool, that was my first game, and knocking on my door at half-time because we were 1-0 down. He wanted to win, we needed to win that game, and we won it in the end. To turn around and see his smile after that... So that is a big, big thing for our club and for our players to get used to winning, in the habit of winning." Obviously you've got work to do and your local rivals have got work to do in the semi-finals. But would you relish a Manchester-derby final, given you've already beaten City three times out of four? "I'm just focusing on this one now against Chelsea but we'd love to get to a final. To walk out at Wembley for a final is one of the best and the biggest honours you can have as a player. I remember myself walking onto the old Wembley in '99. That was a fantastic experience for me." Ole, what was your reaction when Jose referred to United as "lucky", as he said yesterday? And secondly, a lot of the talk has been about the impact Bruno has had and the fact that Paul's back in the team and playing well. But I thought it was quite telling that you put [rested] Matic on the bench against Palace, as though he's the one who holds it all together, he's the one that's become almost more important than them, the way he's been playing... "First of all, with the lucky one, I'd rather be lucky than good! That's a good expression. But I think we've earned our right to any decision this season because it looks like there's an agenda there to try to influence the... I don't want to go into it too much but, when you're offside, you're offside. That's a fact. We've had a few decisions overturned from being against us to being for us, which means the initial decision was against us, which, we think, is... well, it's up to the referee but there are too many people talking and trying to influence people and I don't want to try to influence people at all. You earn your own luck and I can talk about the red cards that Southampton and West Ham should have had against us in games where we've lost points. We've seen the referees' reports afterwards and they've apologised for making wrong decisions against us. So it's just one of those things. VAR is there to help football have more and more correct decisions and I've always said factual decisions are just a fact. So if you're one centimetre or one metre offside, you're offside unfortunately, that's just how it is in football now." And Matic? "Matic has got so much experience and confidence and he is vital for us in the respect that he's been around the block, he's won trophies, he's calm, composed, he's a leader so in some games, a few games actually when he's been on the bench, he's had to come on and just grab the players by the neck and calm them down or gee them up. Nemanja's been fantastic since he's come back into the team." Ole, I've got two questions and one is about referees I guess. You'll have seen Frank Lampard's words about how difficult it is to tackle Manchester United players in the box, "because they fall over" was the phrase I think he used. Without getting into a war of words, do you want to defend the honesty of your players because it did seem there was an implication there? And he mentioned Bruno Fernandes and that some of the players you've had haven't been entirely clear, I suppose... "[Laughs] Hundred per cent I'll defend my players. They're not divers, none of them try to con the referee at all. And if you've got quick feet like Dan James, Rashford, Martial and Greenwood, you'll get tackled, outside the box and inside the box. Some ankles could have been broken by other players this season, on our players, so I just want them to be protected." My other one is about trophies, Ole, and how you judge yourself. You've changed the football club, I think you've revamped it, and you've introduced young players. If you stopped now, some people - and I'd included - would say you've been a success. But for you to be a success in your own mind, do you think trophies have to be a part of it? "Well when you're at Man United, yes, you need to win trophies. That's what we've done over the history, that's our aim and we want to win trophies playing the right way. So for me, where do you start? Do you start with the way of football and the culture? That's where we've come a long way, I feel, and now we need to back it up with trophies." Is Romero likely to start in goal again, Ole? "I'm not going to pick the team just yet. I just got the question before [on the previous video call] on the team selection. There are a couple of decisions I have to make and Sergio has done really well every time he's played for us so he's got a chance to be involved." Ole, do you feel that rival managers still try to influence officials? Because obviously VAR was supposed to get rid of that kind of thing but clearly you mentioned earlier that people are talking out of turn. Do you think it's an attempt to still influence referees and assistants? "I trust our referees not to be influenced and I also believe that me moaning about referees will not do us any favours because I think the standard of our refereeing is great. They're at a high level so we just need to keep playing the football we do and let the referees keep doing the refereeing." Even that incident against Southampton with Mason, you mentioned it but didn't go over the top on what was a seriously bad tackle... "I'd rather go and ask [the referee] in a friendly manner. It was the same when Mark Noble should have been sent off, half a yard in front of me against West Ham earlier on in the season when he absolutely clattered Aaron Wan-Bissaka. I've always believed in allowing them to make the decisions. I'm not going to be able to influence them by moaning and crying about them. There's no point crying about a decision against you." Ole, you know you played Chelsea in the run-up to winning the Cup in '99 and it went to a replay and you played in both games. Does anything stand out as it was obviously the most famous FA Cup run you were involved in? "I remember more the replay against Arsenal to be fair, in the semis at Villa Park. I can't really remember how they went, those games. Did we win 5-3 or something?" I think 5-3 was the replay, 0-0 first time around... "We've had some great games against Chelsea over the years and I think this is the fourth year running that we've played Chelsea in the FA Cup so hopefully it'll be an exciting game."