Solskjaer's press conference - 4/1/19
04/01/19 Reverse order Timestamp format
Solskjaer sits down and starts a conversation with the journalists before the questions begin. "I've never seen the '99 final," he says. "I've seen the 15 minutes I was playing in once, but I've never seen the whole game, no."
Four wins out of four is a fantastic start. Could you have possibly hoped for better?
OGS: Not better, because it couldn't be better, but obviously when you come in to a club like this you expect to win games, so when you win four you expect to win the next one as well. I don't look at these games ahead and think 'we can't win that'. I think we can win every single game.
You talked about your future after the Newcastle game and said that you won't want to leave at the end of the season. Is that something you have spoken to anybody about in the hierarchy of the club? If things go really well or qualify for the Champions League?
OGS: No, it's early days. When I came in there were open and honest about it, saying there would be a process when looking for the next manager. But the more you're here, the more you enjoy it but I've said one game at a time. The day they announce the next manager, if it's me or someone else, good luck.
In terms of you and your managerial experience, the response you've had from the fans, it must be quite overwhelming? The fans are spending their time singing your name...
OGS: I don't look at it that way. I don't get distracted easily. I'm very focussed. I know what my job is. My job is now Reading, then we go to Dubai to prepare for Tottenham. That's my job. It's not up to me to rate myself or judge myself. Am I up to this or am I not? That's up to someone else. I was like that as a player. I just focussed on what my job was and that's the way I am now as well. I can sit back and look at it later on. Maybe I'll see that '99 final once, you never know.
You say you've not spoken to Ed Woodward about your job but have you spoken to him about this month? Because the transfer window is open. Someone has got to take responsibility for whether the players are going to come in or go out. How does that work?
OGS: The club's probably had a plan. You don't just plan the next day or the next month. I'm sure they've got plans for this transfer window. It's probably been planned since the summer or the year before. The structure of the club is phenomenal, so I'm sure they've got their targets. I am here to voice my opinion on that and I'm sure we'll sit down, me and Ed, to see if they've got anything in the pipeline. I'm here to work with the players I've got. The question before was 'could you have hoped for better?' and I think they've all performed. As long as the players perform, they should always be given the next chance. It's my job to improve the team and individuals.
You know how it feels to win the FA Cup. Would it be the icing on the cake of your stay at the club, no matter how long it is, if you could have a good run in the FA Cup and possibly win it?
OGS: We're about winning trophies. The FA Cup final is such a fantastic final to play in. I played in the '99 one at Wembley. I think that was the last one at Wembley before it got renewed. After watching so many FA Cup finals as a kid, to do that long walk from the dressing room up to the pitch was fantastic. I'd seen it so many times in Norway. So if you end up in an FA Cup final, that's what we hope for. Whatever competition you're in, you want to win at a club like this. I'm not sure if you expect to win it but maybe it is more or less what you expect from a club like this, with the players we've got.
Will the trip to Dubai be the first real chance you'll have to get to know some of these players?
OGS: No. I've got to know them. I've had plenty of time to speak to them but we haven't had time to train. It will be a time to get some fitness work and work hard with them. So if any of the players think it's a holiday, they're wrong! We're there to stick together, work hard on the physical part and think ahead to the Tottenham game.
So you have got to know them in that respect. What do you make of the squad? You've obviously watched them from the outside and now you're on the inside.
OGS: They've not scared me yet! I really enjoy working with them. They want to learn, they want to improve, and that's key for any footballer. If you're hungry enough and humble enough to know you've got something to improve on, then we'll improve as a team.
How are you doing with injuries?
OGS: Good. Rojo, Smalling are out, I'm not sure if Paul is going to be ready because he got a knock against Newcastle. Hopefully Fellaini will get through the training session today, then we're more or less a full squad.
Will you look at this game as an opportunity to give a start to players who haven't started over this busy period?
OGS: Definitely. They'll be a few changes. They'll get a chance. Some of them are itching for it. Get Lukaku a start, Sanchez a start, that's important for them as they need more game time.
End of the first part of the press conference.
Second part of the press conference begins
When the final decision is made, people look at certain manager's CVs. They'll look at Cardiff. But do you think there's a case sometimes that certain people fit certain clubs, that they know them better than others?
OGS: Definitely. I tried my best at Cardiff. I did whatever I could. But it wasn't the right fit for me or them, so that's just how football is. Molde fits me very well, Man United fits me very well, because it's in me. It's ingrained in your personality. I understand the club. I thought I could go in to Cardiff, but different clubs have different cultures, different playing styles, philosophies, and I'm more suited to the other jobs I've had. The Cardiff one was a great experience but not the best of decisions to take, as I didn't do well.
I've noticed the way you play now, which is lots of short passing and getting it from back to front very quickly, is the very much the way Manchester United played when you were a player.
OGS: Pace and power. Man United, that's what we are. When you have players like we have with the pace, Paul, Anthony, Alexis, Romelu, Rashford, that's how we played with Andy, Yorkie, Giggsy and Becks down the sides. You attack quickly when you can. That's my philosophy as well. If you like my Molde team, the years I've had them, that's always been the way I've liked to play football. Get the ball in their half as quick as you can. If you score, fantastic, and if not, you've got to have a patient build up, but attack quickly.
You've talked about your job to improve the team and individuals. When you were appointed, were you told that, essentially, there's a lot of talented players here who were playing well below there standard, and also a lot of untapped potential in players with room to grow? That they wanted to see you bring those things?
OGS: No one had to tell me I had loads of talented players. I could see that from outside.
In terms of them not delivering to that talent or potential that they have?
OGS: We didn't speak too much about what's been going on, to be honest. It's about now. See what you can do to come back to the way we used to play, the way Man United are supposed to play, that exciting football. And I think we're looking like, or a little bit like, the way we want to see the team.
Do you expect any players to come in? Or are you happy with the core you've got at the moment?
OGS: I'm happy with the squad I've got. I don't expect anyone to come in but, obviously, if the club have targeted and identified a few, and I think they might fit here, I'll give my thumbs up. But it's not just my decision.
The players seem very happy under you. Nobody's asked to leave?
OGS: When you win games of football you're happy. They'll be tougher times coming, they'll be tougher games. I thought Newcastle was a great example of that. We didn't just get the first goal and then could sit back and counter. We had to work for it. We had to defend. At half-time, you think we'll learn about the players in games like this because we're expected to win but it doesn't always happen like you expect and hope. I thought their response was fantastic second half.
Did that start at Newcastle concern you? Because it was a little bit reminiscent of not particularly great football and in other seasons under other managers.
OGS: For the first 10 minutes I thought we did really well, but then we made one or two mistakes, and then they counter attacked and created a few chances which sometimes you think, well, now I've learnt I'll have to learn to know the players, because I don't really know, so it was great to see the response. But we had a five minute wobble. But you get that in any game, where there's five or 10 minutes where you have to defend, but we gave them those chances. We can't do that against better teams.
In regards to fitness, there were statistics earlier this season that showed United as a collaborative were not running as much in games as opposition teams. You mentioned before, at the very least, United should be doing that. Can your squad be fitter? Is that something you've assessed and looked at and thought that's something we can get up in Dubai?
OGS: Yep. We can get fitter and we have to do that through training sessions here but Dubai is a good chance because this is the first time we get a week to work together. The ones who haven't been in the squad have obviously worked on their fitness while they've not been in. I still have pictures in my mind, every January, the gaffer with a stopwatch timing us doing all those runs, because that stood is in good stead towards the end of the season. It is a time to work hard, even though we've got plenty of games, we need to work.
You mentioned Sanchez would start tomorrow. How much of a challenge is it for you to get the best out of him? It's clear that in the year he's been here he's not had the impact you felt he would have when he signed.
OGS: He's a quality player and he'll get the chances to get the best out of himself. As I've said before, it's not up to me. It's up to them to get the performances. He's been fantastic in training, he's working really hard to get back to his fitness. He'll get his chances and it's up to him to take them. I'm sure that we will see a lot of Alexis because he's a quality player.
Can you put in to words what you found at the club when you came back, in terms of the mood, and what you've done to turn things around in that short space of time?
OGS: Don't expect the lads to be jumping around after being beaten by Liverpool. They were determined to prove that they were better and that was the biggest thing. The hunger, the willingness and humbleness to know they could do better.
What would represent, in your mind, a success of your time here, that would give Ed Woodward a decision to make? Is it a trophy? Top four? Both?
OGS: To get to summer and people are talking about the way Man United, the style we're playing, it reminds us of Sir Alex's team and the successful times. It has to start with the way we play. You cannot control results, but you control the way you play, how you approach a game. And of course, trophies, if you can get an FA Cup, for example, to get to the final. Everyone knows how tough it is to lose that game. That was my last game for United actually, we lost the FA Cup final, it was tough. We lost it last year. So let's see in May if it's a success or not.
How far away are United from the top two teams?
OGS: 16 points, is it?
Style of play, squad, all those things?
OGS: I think I have a good squad. We need to work on our cohesion and the way we play, that we get used to playing that way again, with pace and power, counter attacks, utilise what we've got. But we know we're many points behind.