Solskjaer's press conference - 8.2.19
08/02/19 Reverse order Timestamp format
Phil Jones has signed a new contract. He follows Anthony Martial signing, you're talking to the likes of Marcus Rashford. Why is it important that you sign players to the club and get these things sorted right now?
OGS: It's a signal to the players that we believe in them. It's a signal for the supporters that we plan ahead. Phil has been here for so long. He's won the Premier League, he's won other trophies, so he knows what it takes. He's been here so long now so he knows what it takes for us to move up the table.
You've got a chance to move in to the top four tomorrow, potentially for just 24 hours, but how big a statement is that?
OGS: You take one step at a time. That's one of the goals that we've set, to move in to the top four, and if we do so we want to stay there and improve on that. It's been fantastic over the last two months with the points we've got. Consistency is now the key word. We need to keep on improving, winning games, and winning games in a better way than the Leicester one. I felt we hung on. It was good enough but we shouldn't be happy with just good enough. We want to improve and win games like this. Fulham coming up is a character revealer. Do we have the focus on what's important, which is always in the next game in football. Can we forget about PSG and all the games coming up? I know the focus around the place and in the media has been on the PSG game, Chelsea, Liverpool, but they're not the games that will move us up the table.
Matic said that this team can challenge for the title next season. Lingard said a similar thing earlier this week. Do you think you're bringing the belief back in to this squad?
OGS: I hope so, that they believe they can do it, because that's one of the first things. You cannot outperform your ego. You have to trust yourself and believe in yourself. But that does also mean you've got to make the decision yourself. If you want to be a champion, if you want to win, that means a lot in how you prepare for every single game, what we as a team demand of each other, that we demand what that we focus on what we do every day in training and every game. It's not about Liverpool in two or three weeks time. It's now Fulham, one game at a time, every single day preparing as best as you can for that one. But that's great. I love to hear players thinking that.
At Leicester, Ranieri created one of the best moments in Premier League history. He's clearly got the credentials to keep Fulham up but it's a difficult job, isn't it?
OGS: I don't know the ins and outs of the situation at Fulham, but what he did at Leicester shows what capabilities he's got as a manager. That must be the best achievement ever. The team spirit, the effort, they believed in themselves so he is someone I have looked up to. I know we're going to come up against a team and a manager with counter attacking football, which has always been a standard in his teams.
You could be named manager of the month today. How proud are you of what you, your team and the players have achieved together for the last seven weeks?
OGS: It's been a great achievement and the team deserves every single credit. They've done it. It's the players. I don't look back at being proud of this or proud of that, I've never been that way. I've always looked forward and never sat down before a chapter is finished to be proud of something. You reflect but I've never said 'well done' [pats himself on the back]. Maybe I should do more often, but that's just me.
In terms of new contracts, Fellaini going out. Are you putting your stamp on this? Does this feel more yours than it did six weeks ago?
OGS: Every day I feel that I do help the club that I do put a little bit of my stamp on it, yes, but sometimes decisions of players' futures are not down to me either. Do they want to stay? Do they want to move on? But we have a vision of how we want to look in a few years so we have to think long-term but also short-term. I have a picture of how I think this Man United team will look in a couple of years. I don't know if it's with me but I always put my views across to Ed.
Has that vision changed since you arrived at the club?
OGS: Not really. I've supported Man United, I've followed Man United for many, many years, since I went back home. I had a clear view of what my opinion would be. You get a different view of some the players. 'He's impressed me, he's got some way to go' but we're not too far away from what I thought when I came.
In terms of what the team looks like for the rest of the season, you said Antonio Valencia was remaining club captain but he's only appeared once under you so far. I know fitness has been an issue. He seems concerned about playing in the Copa America this summer after not getting enough game time. Will he get that game time between now and the end of the season? How is he now?
OGS: Hopefully he'll recover. He's been training really hard and then he got a set back, so hopefully in a couple of weeks he'll be back with us. He's been a fantastic servant to the club, he's the captain for a reason, so hopefully we can get him back on the pitch of course. It was hard when he broke down. He would have travelled this weekend.
How does the dynamic work between you and the coaching staff? Who has the different roles and what are they?
OGS: We are different ages, we are different in what we're good at. We compliment each other really well. Kieran and Michael with their energy. The hours and hours they spend on planning the sessions, doing the sessions, working with individuals, fantastic. Demps [Mark Dempsy] came in later on but he's fitting in to this team. Emilio [Alvarez] has worked with David for many years. We're a good group. We bounce off each other. Opinions are thrown about in that office, and in the end I'm the "lucky one" who gets to make a decision on who to leave out or to play. I always look at it as these are the 11 I can choose to give a chance to, rather than leaving them out because that's hard. But we do compliment each other really well. They remind me of me, Kieran and Michael, when I was younger. The hours they spend is fantastic. They look at new ideas and listening to Mike and Demps for their views because they've got a bit more experience.
End of the first part of the press conference.
Second part of the press conference begins.
With regards to that vision, where do you see the team in two years time?
OGS: Challenging for every trophy there is. That's what we should be about. We have to move slowly because we are 5th at the moment, we were 6th... it felt like we were never going to move away from that 6th position. There are six very good teams who all will challenge for the trophies. But we've got resources, infrastructure, and history to move towards the top. That's the only way we should think of things at Man United.
It's been a while since the club has been relevant for the title and in Europe. You used to be one of the favourites for the Champions League. You're 50/1 this season.
OGS: That's what we have to strive for. If we don't dream, if we don't have that vision of where we're going then we will just falter. So for me, I'm only used to this club challenging for trophies, so that's where I see us.
How many players coming in during the summer would it take to make this team a title challenging team next season?
OGS: I think it's about who we've got here as well. If every player here can improve by one or two per cent, it's not about X amount of players, it has to be the right one, the one who fits, their personality fits in with the team. It's not about buying a superstar and that'll fix things, and suddenly we go to being the champions.
Back to Phil Jones. How does the club assess giving a new long contract to someone like him? It's not his fault but he does have an unfortunate injury record and it's an issue that comes up a lot with fans. How do you go about assessing that?
OGS: Phil's been in contract talks since before I came in. It takes a while to contracts nailed down. Phil has trained every single day since I've come back That's key for him. When he's fit he'll improve. He's a very good trainer. But with injuries, the medical staff know that he can be fit all the time. When you're chasing your tail like he has been. He's been thrown in when he wasn't 100% fit, the chances are you'll get niggles. But he's been available for every single game for me.
There is the confidence that he could have a sustained period of time...
OGS: Let's hope so, yeh. We think so. The medical staff have had their view.
How confident are you that you can get in to that top four and stay there until the end of the season?
OGS: I'm very confident because being on the inside, the group have shown me that they do have the character, they have the belief, they have the quality to improve, and that's what we've got to be thinking about, to improve. We cannot be happy with just three points against Leicester because we didn't play particularly well. But the attitude is 'we know we didn't play well so we have to improve', so that gives me the confidence and belief, what I've seen at the training ground.
You say you've got a vision for the next two years...
OGS: Three years, four years, five years. It's difficult to plan for five years... sorry, I stopped your question.
Are you saying it's two years before United are serious title contenders? Or should fans be thinking next season? Pep Guardiola has said you're still in it this season.
OGS: I think we're too far behind this year, obviously, but we've got to catch up with the teams ahead of us, especially City and Liverpool, and now Tottenham. They're in the running as well. It's three teams that have been far ahead. But we've beaten Tottenham, so we know that we are capable. We need to consistency. But two years time is long enough but also short enough to say we've got the possibility to make a big difference in our preparation. Next year, you always hope. I came in to Molde. They were 10th in 2010. And in 2011 we won the league. You can never say never.
Do you think this team is becoming intimidating? That there's that fear factor about Manchester United again?
OGS: You've got to ask the opposition. We hope so, but you've got to ask them. I'm not going to talk about how other teams feel. I was thinking about that the other day actually. The amount of hours, the analysis team, the coaches, we sit and watch the opposition. Hours and hours during the week. And I was thinking 'what do teams look for when they play against us? What do they think about us now?' but I'm not going to tell them to fear us. We don't want them to fear us. We want them to... lose against us. [laughs]
Mike Phelan has said he thinks this team can win everything. Do you feel that, with the potential you've got here, the age profile and everything?
OGS: The club and the team can, yes. If you look at the players, they're young, they've got plenty of development in them, we also need some experienced players to stay, step up, and really become the leaders. Paul now, Jesse, they're at the age where we expect them to take that responsibility, and not just be a young boy that floats around. This club, this team, yes definitely.
You spoke about going one game at a time and living in the here and now, but how much are you looking at this next six weeks ahead, where you play important games in the league, Champions League and the FA Cup, how much does that have to play on your mind when you're selecting teams?
OGS: It has to. I've always been that way. I plan. There's one or two changes to the team. I plan many weeks ahead. But that is dependent on form, injuries, sickness. It might change, if we win that game, or lose that game, I might make a decision. You always leave it until the last day really. But I've got a bit of a view of how the team will look against Chelsea, Liverpool, PSG. But the closer you get to the Fulham game, the more focussed you are just on that one. After Leicester, it was just Fulham. But I had to go to France to watch PSG. It's just one of those things as coaches and manager, we have to do that, but the players have to just focus on the next one. Fulham, that's the character revealer. All these so called big games, no problem, they will look after themselves.
End of press conference.