Solskjaer's press conference - 10/1/19
10/01/19 Reverse order Timestamp format
How was Dubai? How constructive was it spending time with the players?
OGS: It was very good. We had four good days of training. I think the boys enjoyed it. We put a few principles down. They worked hard and enjoyed working hard.
How's Pogba's injury?
OGS: He looked OK towards the end. He'll be fit [for Sunday]. He did have some problems but he came through the last couple of sessions well, so he should be OK.
And Marcos Rojo?
OGS: He's gone back to Argentina for a while because of his injury. How long is a piece of rope? For him, mentally, it was important for him to get away, so he can come back fresh again.
With the work you've done in Dubai, are we closer to seeing your Manchester United and the way they're going to shape up under you against Tottenham?
OGS: I think every single day and game gets us closer and closer, and we'll get more understanding of how we want to play. Obviously the last five games haven't been too bad either, but there's always things to work on. The relationship between players, the cohesion and understanding. So hopefully we will see a positive team.
A lot of people will look at this game and see the second favourite next manager of Manchester United and the favourite to become the next manager of Manchester United. As a manager, how do you assess the job that Pochettino has done at Tottenham?
OGS: He's done a very good job. That speculation is there for a reason because he's done well. But then again, it's not my job to rate different managers. My focus is on me and my team.
As a fantastic striker yourself, what do you think of Harry Kane?
OGS: He's not bad, is he. He's a fantastic goalscorer, one of the best in the world. Then again, I've got a couple that I'm happy to work with. Having players like him, a top professional, I'm sure whoever plays with him and trains with can talk more about him. But from the outside, he's a fantastic finisher. He never misses chances really, so let's hope he doesn't get any against us.
With Spurs being where they are and the games that you've had, do you see this as the first real test that you've had in the role?
OGS: No, we've had tests. Newcastle away was a test. The first game, away to Cardiff, was also a test. The first home game, how the crowd would react, was also a test. You get tested in every single game in the Premier League. But, of course, this is against a top side. If we want to get closer to them and go past them, we need a good performance and a good result.
In terms of the players you have, now it's January, the contract situations of Mata, Herrera, Young and incomings, can you clear up the situation with those players and the transfer situation?
OGS: I read the news sometimes as well and the speculation around this club is amazing. Some players I've not even heard of have apparently signed. All the speculation, I can't really comment on. We do have players, like you mentioned, that we're in discussions with but that's not down to me either.
We've seen some great attacking football but will you have the same approach against a team like Tottenham? How much will you adapt to the way Spurs play?
OGS: You always adapt to any opposition. We're playing against one of the best teams in the league so of course we've got to be aware of their strengths. But I've been brought up believing we need to attack teams. That's our strength as well. Going forward and attacking as a team. We're not going to get as many chances to attack against these as we have before so we've got to be ready for when we get hold of the ball and play well with it, and make sure we use the whole pitch because Wembley is a decent sized pitch.
End of the first part of the press conference.
Second part of the press conference
After the cup game, you said that getting to Dubai would be a good opportunity to work on fitness levels. When you got here, were you surprised at fitness levels because if you looked at the stats, United were quite a way down in comparison with other Premier League teams. Was that something you looked at and thought it's something we've got to work on?
OGS: We always used to do that with the boss [Ferguson] as well. Come January, we used to have a mini pre-season. I think it's important that when you've got a full week that you do a proper training week. Looking at the stats from the five games since I came, we do outsprint teams, we have the highest intensity. So I can't complain about the way they've performed physically but there's always room for improvement.
Is that how it's been, like a mini pre-season?
OGS: It's been high intensity training. It's been warm. It's been tough. So they've got tomorrow [Friday] off just to recharge the batteries and we should be ready for Sunday.
Is that just a coincidence that the stats have gone up? Or is that something you've brought in?
OGS: No, I think it's... well, it could be a coincidence or obviously we've had a focus on going forward quickly. I don't know what's been said before. But they've definitely had a spring in their step.
Are you surprised how far the fitness levels had to rise from where they were?
OGS: Now we've played against teams at the bottom of the league and if you are Man United and you outrun teams in the lower part of the table, that's a very big compliment to my players. That's one of the best compliments you can get as a coach, when the other manager says 'your boys worked hard'. Because when my boys work hard as this it will take a lot to beat us.
You've put a lot of thought in to man-management. I've read about Lukaku saying you sat down with him and had gone through his game and it meant a lot to him that you knew his game inside out. Did you do that with every player?
OGS: I haven't managed to go through with every single player on that trip, no. But I've had quite a few individual chats, both formal and informal. That's just the way I believe in doing things. It's probably easier for them to speak to me not in front of big groups. That's just the way I enjoyed being coached as well. I loved being coached one to one, with the gaffer, Rene, Carlos, Steve McClaren, Kiddo.
Can that work with all the players? Alexis Sanchez looks like someone in need of something to unlock him?
OGS: Every single player needs eye to eye connection, I'm sure. They want to know what's expected of them, what demands are on them, and I want to know what they can give and what they think they can give. It's not just me telling them what I think they can give. It's about 'what are your strengths? What can you give to the team?'. It's not only what I tell them to do.
You've improved a lot of the players. It's no coincidence that performance levels from Pogba, Martial, Rashford etc. have gone up. The one player we've just discussed, Sanchez, has been at the club for over a year [sic]. The perception is he hasn't performed to the standards he did previously at Arsenal and it's been a difficult time for him. Are you hoping to see, with your help, a big improvement in him, because he's the most expensive player at the club in terms of his wages, so that must be a big burden on him when he's not performing as people know he can?
OGS: I don't think players think about what they cost or what they earn when they go out on the pitch. But of course, he has high standards and demands from himself. When it doesn't work for yourself, as it hasn't, and he's had some injuries, then it's difficult to suddenly to turn that confidence on. So there have been chats, individual chats. It's a fresh start for him with me and Mike coming in, it's a new lease of life maybe. So hopefully we can see the best from him because he is a top, top player.
When he came here from Arsenal, everyone was amazed that they allowed him to come to a club like United, and there were great expectations and excitement that he would be a game changer.
OGS: That's how it is at Man United. There will be demands. When you sign big players you expect them to perform straight away. That's something you've got to deal with. That's the pressure that comes with the job here. If it doesn't work, you've got to keep on working, and he does work hard to get back in to his best shape.
Is he open to the idea that he needs something to bring out the best in him again, when you've had your chats with him?
OGS: Yeh. We've had the issue with his injury. That's been a problem. So he's not really had a chance to prove himself so show what he can do. And it will take time before we can fairly say that 'he's fit and he's had this many games on the run, and now we expect to see the best level you can perform at'.
There's going to be a lot of talk about the managers before the game, but after the game, do you think it will about the players, because there's so many great players on show?
OGS: It should always be about the players because it's not about me, it's not about him, we don't kick a ball at all, it's them kicking a ball. Of course, we might make a decision here or there but it's down to the players to perform and I'm sure my boys are ready.
You don't see this as an audition?
OGS: No. It's not about me at all.
You said you'd met him [Pochettino] once?
OGS: Yeh, when I was at Cardiff and he was at Southampton. That's the only time I've met him.
Is Sanchez available [to play]?
OGS: Yes, we hope so. We'll see how he responds with the travel.