Solskjaer: “Martial’s work rate is improving and I expect him to be even better.”

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer talks about his preparations and transfers for the upcoming season.

After an exciting start which saw United go on a 12 match unbeaten run and THAT comeback victory against PSG, United’s season eventually ended on a whimper in 6th place. With Ole firmly at the wheel and a proper pre-season in place, United hope to return to their glory days again.

How has Solskjaer evolved the team for the 2019/20 season? We speak to the Manchester United manager during their Singapore tour.

Is Romelu Lukaku fit and if he is, will he be playing against Inter Milan given the speculation?

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer : He’s not fit, so he won’t be available, no.

solkjaer on lukaku
Lukaku is a transfer target for Inter, whom they will play against in Singapore.

Any updates on the fitness of players like Luke Shaw and De Gea who has missed out from trainings and tour games so far?

OGS: I think both will be available for tomorrow’s game. Luke did a decent training session yesterday before we left. David’s well enough to train today so we’ll try to get if its 60 mins or longer out of him. Shouldn’t be too difficult, he’s a keeper (chuckles).

Fred and Darmian have been out for some time, what are you looking from them for the rest of the tour?

OGS: They’ve been training back home so we will have to see where they are at today. Fred’s got married in Brazil recently so I’m sure he’s keen to join in.

On Fred, given the troubles he had last season, what are you expecting from him this season and can he adapt to the English game?

OGS: It’s not surprising when a player from Brazil, who’s played in Ukraine, finds it difficult in the beginning. But we know his talent and saw what he can bring to the team towards the end of the season in the games against PSG, Arsenal and City. Hopefully him missing 10 days of pre-season won’t set him back too much and he’ll take another step forward this season.

Were you surprised by the reaction when there were hundreds of fans waiting at the hotel?

OGS: It was a fantastic reaction. I was here in 2001 so I expected fans to be outside the hotel and inside the lobby. I’m always overwhelmed by the reaction of the fans and I hope we can play a decent game tomorrow as well.

Last season the top 2 clubs were miles ahead of everyone, do you expect this to be the norm and what will it take for a club like United to get to that level?

OGS: The Premier league is a very competitive league and what those 2 teams did last season to achieve 97 and 98 points was exceptional. I don’t think we that will happen again and we’ll see a closer race this season. There are 6 teams that will want to challenge for CL places, but there’s also 1 or 2 teams underneath that could surprise. We have to focus on ourselves, we have to improve and make sure United is our only focus and we’ll get closer to the top.

United fans have seen glimpses of Martial’s talent but he has yet to consistently deliver throughout an entire season. How big is this season now that he’s in his third season?

OGS: Anthony can be a world class player. There’s a couple of instances this pre-season where you can see a new Anthony in the way that he works for the team. He’s always got the quality, talent and he’s always going to score goals. His work rate is improving and I expect him and Marcus to be even better than last season.

You mentioned previously that you were looking to get Paul Pogba back to his best form like when you first arrived at the club. Have you seen signs of that during his 2 outings on tour?

OGS: I’m looking to get everyone, all the players, not just Paul Pogba, to get back to the form when I first came, when we went on a good run without losing. Everyone, Nemenja, Marcus, Anthony, all of us as a team, together. So far, everyone’s been spot on when they’re out on the pitch, they’re more proactive when they’re at meetings and I’ve been very encouraged.

After the way last season ended, it is vitally important for you to start strong this season. Presumably it’s not going to be helpful if you’re approaching transfer deadline day without a squad in place.

OGS: I don’t think many of the players, like Nemanja, have had a proper pre-season in the last 2 or 3 years due to international cup competitions. You don’t win anything in the first 8 to 10 games but you definitely can lose the chance to win things. So for us the first 2 months is vital and it’s why we’ve worked the players hard.

We wish Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and the team the best for the upcoming season. For more updates of United on tour, follow us on Instagram.

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  1. For Martial to go from there, with his future looking bleak once more, to Solskjaer now singing his praises in pre-season for an ‘improving’ work rate just two months later is very promising indeed and tantamount to having another new signing at the club.


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