Manchester United to face Arsenal in their Premier League clash on Sunday.
Ahead of the game, United’s caretaker boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has faced the press.
Anthony Martial is back for Manchester United’s trip to Arsenal this weekend: “Anthony will be available and hopefully we’ll have Nemanja (Matic) and/or Ander (Herrera) ready as well, so we’re looking better for it. They just need to have another couple of days training with the team. They’ve done well with their recovery work.”
Solskjaer said he had no problem in bringing his players back down to earth following their epic win in midweek: “No problem whatsoever. We’ve gone through to quarter-finals, which is what we sometimes expect at Manchester United. It was the way it happened of course, the celebrations at the end, after scoring so late. Then again, there’s no problem, we’ve got Arsenal, a fantastic game to get ourselves ready for again.”
Solskjaer rebuffed questions about him getting the United job on a permanent basis, even though his contract with Norwegian club Molde has been terminated.
“I’m just here to do my job. You can’t have two contracts when you’re a manager, so that contract was terminated and I’m contracted here until the end of June.”
The manager has revealed that he is helping the club plan for a summer recruitment drive: “Well, as far as you need to look pre season we’ve looked into and you look at players. Hopefully the ones who sign will stay for many many years so depends how you look at that.”
Much has been made of the atmosphere Solskjaer has created at United since he came in on a temporary basis. The players have made no secret of their opinion either, many urging him to be given the job full-time.
So does their opinion matter?
“Of course I love managing these boys, love working here and as I said so many times I’m just doing the best I can every single day and if and when it comes to decision to be made we’ve got to think about that,” he said.
Paul Pogba was a notable absentee from the win at PSG, the Frenchman suspended for the clash after being sent off in the first leg. Solskjaer was asked about the selection dilemma he faces.
“Same decisions you always have when you go into a game, you’ve got to consider their approach, systems.
“It’s impossible to predict they change a lot, look at who’s fit and how we approach the game, different kind of systems or counter attacking game or a different type of game.
“But now of course fitness issue plays in more than ever, got players coming in, players who put a shift in, one of the hardest nights we had physically, probably this one and the Arsenal Cup game were the two toughest games we had. Scott (McTominay) and Fred covered the ground so much and is something we have to consider.”
The interim boss was quizzed again on the positivity around the United camp.
“I don’t know how, I don’t know any other way to approach things,” he said.
“Every single time I’ve been injured you have to look at what opportunity this gives you and when players are injured I can play S, F and A, it was hard to leave Ander, Paul and Nemanja out.
“They played fantastic, that gave me the perfect chance to see them, that’s just me, I’ve always been I can’t control how many players are out.
“It’s always been me ( to be positive) in my upbringing where I come from, smashed my cheekbone in a reserve team game, next morning or two days after, what opportunity does this give me because I couldn’t do any physical contact, could do fitness work and finishing work, it’s always been with me.”
Solskjaer has made an immediate impact at the club, undoubtedly helped by being in familiar surroundings.
He added: “Sir Alex came in without having any ties and he put his life into it and you’ve got to put your life into it but it helps I know the club.”
Rashford was a popular talking point, with Solskjaer lavishing further praise on the England international.
“You don’t see too much of change in a player in three months but he’s 21 and you’re excused if sometimes you hit the highs and are a bit off the pace,” he said.
“Rashy doesn’t expect consistency yet but he’s got quality finishing striking of the ball attitude.
“Yeah (he can be prolific), keep battering him with it but he should score more goals as Rom after training sessions, simple tap ins, like Rom scored in last few games.
“Rashford’s goals are sometimes worldies and he does have a sensational strike but you see improvement and maturity and change in Cristiano’s goals from young to now.
“That’s what Rashy has to improve as well his tap-ins movement in the box, stay in the box, maybe not get away from the centre backs a few more times, just get those five or 10 extra goals, he’s been told that.”
The interim boss admitted he isn’t bothered by all the chat linking him with the United job on a full-time basis.
He added: “No problem, absolutely everyone likes to get complimented and meet people that are happy.
“That doesn’t change my approach whatsoever, I’m good at focusing on what I shall be focusing on and that’s not thinking about that part of it.”
Lukaku is another player who has improved massively under Solskjaer’s leadership.
The Belgian has netted six times in his last three games, including a brace in the win over PSG.
The boss added: “I don’t think a lot has changed, he’s been asked to play wide a few times to provide more chances.
“But now he’s more in and around the box, played with two up at PSG and they (Lukaku and Rashford) might form a very nice partnership together, wouldn’t like them two to be running at me.”