Interview of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: Man Utd boss on the end and stoppage of Cristiano Ronaldo in Liverpool

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Interview of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: Man Utd boss on the end and stoppage of Cristiano Ronaldo in Liverpool


“I see them up close every day and they are special athletes and artists. “

Manchester United are in the midst of a potentially pivotal moment in their season, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is confident his players will rise to the challenge of facing Liverpool on Sunday, rather than feeling the pressure.

“Great players enjoy these games,” he told Sky Sports with a smile.

Rain showers swept through Friday morning’s training session and there are a handful of key players taking punches, but speaking to Solskjaer after his pre-match press conference, his mood is upbeat and ambitious. “The mentality they have to be ready for Sunday after Wednesday night is fantastic. “

The extraordinary response in the second half against Atalanta in the Champions League has certainly rejuvenated the group. After the poor 4-2 loss to Leicester last Saturday, the alarm bells rang when United were 2-0 down at halftime. At least from the outside.

Solskjaer insists his team played well in those first 45 minutes and only hung out because their clinic visitors punished their own waste – although he concedes the tale would have been different if they weren’t. hadn’t delivered another classic comeback; another unforgettable European Night of Old Trafford.

It was a welcome boost, with Liverpool, Tottenham and Manchester City in a grueling run of Premier League games.

Cristiano Ronaldo, of course, was the ultimate hero of the play, brilliantly rising to the head of the late winner to complete the turnaround.

“Typical”, says Solskjaer.

But what makes Ronaldo so good at delivering in these crucial moments? Solskjaer, who as a striker has scored many decisive goals, puts it down to fitness, experience and desire.

“First of all, he’s fit enough to do it again. But he has played this game 500 times before. He’s been in this situation so many times, and this is one of them: “I know what [team-mate Luke Shaw] going to do it, I know where I need to be and I am still able to do it ”. This is the key.

Image:
Ronaldo celebrates after scoring Manchester United winner against Atalanta

“He’s gone from a wide forward to a center forward because he knows how to score, he wants to score goals. When he first arrived, with all the tricks and the beat, he was hungry – and he’s still hungry.

“He did what every player has to do throughout his career, you have to evolve. “

This change for Ronaldo from an electric winger to a killer striker more focused on short bursts rather than sustained effort was in the spotlight earlier this week when, in the aftermath of the loss to Leicester, we turned asked if his sideways presence contributes to United’s disjointed and passive approach when they don’t have the ball.

This is a suggestion that Solskjaer firmly refutes. Adaptations need to be made to accommodate him, says the United boss, but Ronaldo is applying his efforts exactly as he is required to.

“When Cristiano came to us he didn’t have a good pre-season at Juventus and you can see he’s getting more and more fit,” Solskjaer said. “Now he feels, ‘I’m getting to the level that I know I can be.’

Against Atalanta, Ronaldo had the most sprints, the longest sprint distance, the longest distance at high intensity. We are talking about players who run a lot, he does as much as they do.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on Cristiano Ronaldo’s fitness

“Wednesday night, the concentration, the physical effort, the running… he had the most sprints, the longest sprint distance, the longest distance at high intensity.

“We are talking about players who run a lot, he does as much as them. If people want to criticize his work ethic, that is completely wrong. You see him running in the canals, which he has to do as a center forward.

“He’s doing the job we want him to do for the team. Of course, the team, when you have a player like him you have to get the best out of him, but he knows he’s part of that team’s puzzle and he’s been brilliant. “

United come up against another brilliant talent this weekend when Mohamed Salah – who has now found the net nine games in a row – line up for a Liverpool side who are the Premier League’s top scorer this season.

Against a United side with a clean sheet in their last 20 games, there will be an expectation on Merseyside that the Egyptian will continue their hot streak.

“They will certainly give us problems. But we have to find solutions, we have to be compact, ”says Solskjaer. “But that’s in the key moments.

“Some of the goals Salah has scored lately have been sheer genius. In moments, the great players present themselves. “

Image:
Cristiano Ronaldo and Mohamed Salah’s shooting cards in the Premier League and Champions League this season

If Salah, who has knocked out the contenders for the season’s goal against Manchester City and Watford in recent weeks, produced another magical moment to inspire his side to victory on Sunday, it would leave United seven points behind their rivals and potentially as many as eight of the Premier League leaders Chelsea.

It would be a major setback for a United side targeting silverware this season after finishing second in 2020/21. But for Solskjaer and his players, he says the focus is on performance rather than possible outcomes.

“You can’t, in my experience, think about the consequences,” he said. “You have to think about responsibility and role.

“These great games require focus and mindset, full focus for 90 minutes.

“Do your best individually for the team. If your role is top to bottom, you are doing it to the best of your ability.

“In a big Champions League game, I was told to find a certain central defender and make him run away to create space for the others when we had the ball. It was my job. “

Solskjaer is modest. Often his job was to make a difference for his team, just as Ronaldo and Salah will be tasked with doing this Sunday, and just as he did when these two teams met in January 1999 in the FA Cup.

On this occasion he contributed to another classic comeback, scoring an added time winner to send United. It’s his favorite memory of the rivalry.

Image:
Solskjaer described it as his favorite moment in Man Utd’s games against Liverpool, scoring a final FA Cup winner in January 1999, marking his arrival between the legs of Jamie Carragher

“I had three hits in this game,” Solskjaer recalls with a laugh. “One to take it away from Scholesy, the second to set me up, and the third through Jamie Carragher’s legs and into the net. “

These games – much like Wednesday’s win – are cherished by United fans. They hope for another Sunday.

Follow Man Utd against Liverpool on Sky Sports


Sunday October 24 4:00 p.m.


Kick-off at 4.30 p.m.


Follow all of Manchester United’s preparations against Liverpool on Sky Sports News and Sky Sports digital platforms, including exclusive interviews and expert advice.

Coverage will begin on Sky Sports Premier League and Main Event from 4pm on Super Sunday, after West Ham vs Tottenham; kick off at 4.30 p.m. David Jones will be joined by Graeme Souness and Jamie Redknapp in the studio, with Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville on the porch with Martin Tyler for co-commentary.

You can also follow all of the Old Trafford action on our dedicated live blog on Sky Sports digital platforms, including in-game clips and highlights from the free matches soon after full time.

Watch all post-match analysis and interviews on Sky Sports Premier League, and read the latest features, feedback from experts and managers on SkySports.com and the app.

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