Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says his players need to attack every match like it’s their last, as our Premier League and Europa League campaigns near the finishing line.
Manchester United welcome Burnley to Old Trafford in the Premier League this afternoon (kick-off 16:00 BST) and Ole says a win is essential, if we’re to apply as much pressure as possible on leaders Manchester City.
Three points on Sunday afternoon would take us within eight of the Blues and, while it would take a major slip-up for Pep Guardiola’s side not to lift the title, Solskjaer says we have to be ready to take advantage of any lapse from our neighbours.
Burnley at home has proven a difficult match for us in recent years, with Sean Dyche’s men undefeated on their last four visits to M16. In our exclusive matchday Q&A with the boss, he explains what makes the Clarets such awkward opponents, whether Eric Bailly and Marcus Rashford could be involved, plus our upcoming Europa League semi-final with Roma…
Solskjaer exclusive: ‘We’re in a good place’Video
Ole, you’ve guided the team to yet another semi-final. How excited are you for that?
“Very. As you’ve said, we’ve been in a few the last couple of seasons, and we have had the experience of disappointment, and we don’t want that again, so we’re fully focused on going through.”
Obviously we’ll chat much more about the challenge Roma pose later but, before that, two important Premier League games – Leeds away, which will be a great game, but Burnley up next. Your thoughts on that?
“Big game, important game. One we’ve struggled in the last two or three years at Old Trafford, so it’s going to be a challenge, we know that. We have to earn the right to play, because we play against a very experienced, very well-organised team that have certain attributes that you’ll always have to do well against: with the set-plays, physicality, high energy. So we’re looking forward to it again.”
You’re right about that home record. It’s a strange one: we’ve done better away in recent seasons. But 2015 is the last time we beat them at home, so it’s time to put that right…
“Exactly, it is. But we’re ready for it. We’re building momentum again after the disappointment of the cup game against Leicester, so the boys are in a good place.”
And what makes Burnley a difficult and dangerous opponent?
“Similar to what I said to you: they’re very well organised, very experienced, [have] players that have been around the block and some individual quality that will always be difficult to defend against. Set-plays, always, with the quality. You’ve got Dwight McNeil [whose] delivery is very difficult, they’ve got big lads in there [that will] put their bodies on the line, they want to head the ball, good movement. Just a well-coached team.”
90 in 20: Burnley 0 United 1Video
The win at their place was a really important victory, and that just goes to show how tough it can be against them…
“Yeah. But as you said, away from home we’ve done really well. At home we’ve conceded too many goals. We haven’t scored [enough] goals. Last season we had a decent start and then they scored and we couldn’t break them down.”
How’s the squad shaping up for Sunday, and what’s the latest with Eric Bailly? We know he’s been isolating..
“Yeah, Eric’s back. He’s doing all the tests to see how he feels. Marcus, obviously, we’ve had to rest this week. Hopefully he can play. We’ll do a test with him the day before the game. Apart from that we didn’t lose any, which is a good place to be in.”
90 in 20: United 2 Granada 0Video
Just on the squad in general, it was really nice to see more youngsters in that matchday squad in the Europa [League against Granada]. The likes of [Anthony] Elanga and [Will] Fish, a great experience for them…
“A good experience for them of course, but also a sign of: it’s been a long season, some injuries, some players suspended. We’ve given absolutely everything from day one until now and they’ve had a chance to feel what it is [like] in a big game, so hopefully they’ll get many more of them.”
It feels like it’s the final push for everyone now. There’s six weeks or so left. How do you judge the Premier League? City have a big lead – but there’s seven remaining games though. What can happen? You don’t know… What’s the mindset?
“The mindset is one game at a time. Now we can see the end line, the finish line of the season, the business-end of the season. Go for it, attack every game as the last one, because all season we’ve had to get results. We haven’t had a period where we’re through in the Champions League or the Europa League [ties] have been done. Every game has been a challenge, which is a good place to be because we’ve had to push ourselves, push the squad, and I think we’re looking good for the last six weeks, seven weekends, or six-and-a-half, because we hope to end with a midweek on the 26 May [in the Europa League final]!”
And then everyone will have a well-deserved break. It’s been a gruelling season…
“It’s been a gruelling season, but I don’t think many of them will get a break, because there’s the Euros and then you go again! But that’s the way it is when you play football. You just want to play. You want to be a part of big games, you want to be a part of the Euros, you want to be a part of finals, the run-in in the league. Of course we’ll never give up. Something can happen. City have got many difficult games as well. They may go on a blip or make a mistake. If we haven’t done our job, then that’s no help. So we need to do our job and then control what we can do.”
WATCH MUTV’S PRE-MATCH SHOW
The Burnley game kicks off at 16:00 BST and you can watch MUTV’s exclusive live build-up, including the all-important team news announcement, for free on ManUtd.com and in our Official App from 14:55 BST.