Ole Gunnar Solskjaer interview: Man Utd boss on Cristiano Ronaldo’s finishing and stopping Liverpool

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

Manchester United are within the midst of a doubtlessly pivotal second of their season however Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is satisfied his gamers will likely be embracing the problem of dealing with Liverpool on Sunday, reasonably than feeling the strain.

“Big players relish these games,” he tells Sky Sports with a smile.

Rain showers had rolled by Friday morning’s coaching session and there are a handful of key gamers carrying knocks, however chatting with Solskjaer after his pre-match press convention, his temper is optimistic and formidable. “The mentality they show to be ready for Sunday after Wednesday night is fantastic.”

The extraordinary second-half fightback towards Atalanta within the Champions League has actually rejuvenated the group. After the poor 4-2 defeat at Leicester final Saturday, there have been alarm bells ringing when United trailed 2-0 at half-time. At least from the skin.

Solskjaer insists his aspect had performed properly in that opening 45 minutes and solely trailed as a result of their medical guests had punished their very own wastefulness – though he concedes the narrative would have been completely different had they not delivered one other basic comeback; one other Old Trafford European night time to recollect.

It was a well timed increase, with Liverpool, Tottenham and Manchester City subsequent up in a gruelling run of Premier League fixtures.

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Cristiano Ronaldo, after all, was the last word hero of the piece, rising brilliantly to move within the late winner to finish the turnaround.

“Typical,” says Solskjaer.

But what makes Ronaldo so good at delivering in these essential moments? Solskjaer, who, as a striker scored loads of decisive objectives of his personal, places it right down to health, expertise and want.

“First of all, he is match sufficient to do it nonetheless. But he is performed this recreation 500 occasions earlier than. He’s been in that state of affairs so many occasions, and it is one in all them: ‘I do know what [team-mate Luke Shaw] goes to do, I do know the place I should be and I’m nonetheless able to doing it’. That’s key.

Image:
Ronaldo celebrates after scoring Manchester United's winner towards Atalanta

“He’s changed his position from being a wide forward into more of a box centre forward because he knows how to score a goal, he wants to score goals. When he first came, with all the tricks and the pace, he had the hunger – and he’s still got the hunger.

“He’s completed what each participant has to do all through his profession, it’s important to evolve.”

That shift for Ronaldo, from an electric winger to a killer striker more focused on short bursts rather than sustained efforts, was in the spotlight earlier this week when, in the aftermath of the defeat to Leicester, it was questioned whether his presence in the side contributes to a disjointed, passive approach from United when they don’t have the ball.

It’s a suggestion Solskjaer firmly refutes. Adaptations need to be made to accommodate him, says the United boss, but Ronaldo applies his efforts exactly as he’s required to.

“When Cristiano got here to us, he’d not had a correct pre-season at Juventus and you’ll be able to see he is progressively getting fitter and fitter,” says Solskjaer. “Now he feels: ‘I’m getting in the direction of the extent I do know I could be’.

“Wednesday night, the focus, the physical effort, the run… he had the highest amount of sprints, the longest sprint distance, the longest high-intensity distance.

“We discuss gamers who run quite a bit, he does as a lot as them. If individuals need to criticise his work ethic, that is utterly improper. You see him operating down the channels, which he has to do as a centre ahead.

“He does the work that we want him to do for the team. Of course, the team, when you have a player like him, you’ve got to get the best out of him, but he knows he’s part of the jigsaw of that team and he’s been brilliant.”

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United come up towards one other good expertise this weekend when Mohamed Salah – who has now discovered the web 9 video games in a row – traces up for a Liverpool workforce who’re the highest scorers within the Premier League this season.

Against a United aspect with one clear sheet of their final 20 video games, there will likely be an expectation on Merseyside the Egyptian will proceed his scorching streak.

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

“Some of the objectives Salah has scored these days has been pure brilliance. In the moments, the massive gamers flip up.”

Image:
Cristiano Ronaldo and Mohamed Salah's shot maps within the Premier League and Champions League this season

Should Salah, who has hit goal-of-the-season contenders towards Manchester City and Watford in current weeks, produce one other magic second to encourage his aspect to victory on Sunday, it could go away United seven factors behind their rivals and doubtlessly as many as eight off Premier League leaders Chelsea.

That can be a serious setback for a United aspect setting their sights on silverware this season after finishing second in 2020/21. But for Solskjaer and his gamers, he says the main target is on efficiency over attainable outcomes.

“You cannot, in my experience, think consequence,” he mentioned. “You have to think responsibility and role.

“These large video games demand focus and mentality, full focus for 90 minutes.

“Do your best individually for the team. If your role is up and down the line, you do that to the best of your ability.

“In one large Champions League recreation I used to be informed to discover a sure central defender and run him away to create area for others once we had the ball. That was my job.”

Solskjaer is being modest. Often his job was to make the distinction for his workforce, simply as Ronaldo and Salah will likely be instructed to do that Sunday, and simply as he did when these sides met in January 1999 within the FA Cup.

On that event he contributed to a different basic comeback, scoring an injury-time winner to ship United by. It’s his favorite reminiscence of the rivalry.

Image:
Solskjaer described this as his favorite second in Man Utd matches towards Liverpool, scoring a last-gasp winner within the FA Cup in January 1999, slotting his end by the legs of Jamie Carragher

“I had three touches in that game,” Solskjaer remembers with amusing. “One to take it away from Scholesy, the second was to set myself up, and the third was through Jamie Carragher’s legs and into the net.”

Those video games – similar to Wednesday’s win – are treasured by United’s followers. They’ll hope for one more on Sunday.

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Sunday twenty fourth October 4:00pm

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Follow all of the build-up to Manchester United vs Liverpool throughout Sky Sports News and Sky Sports’ digital platforms, together with unique interviews and professional perception.

Coverage will start on Sky Sports Premier League and Main Event from 4pm on Super Sunday, following West Ham vs Tottenham; kick-off 4.30pm. David Jones will likely be joined by Graeme Souness and Jamie Redknapp within the studio, with Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville on the gantry with Martin Tyler for co-commentary.

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