The congested nature of this 2020/21 season means that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is constantly speaking to the media, including us, so this weekend we have outsourced the questions to the people he loves the most – Manchester United supporters all around the world.
The boss sat down at the Aon Training Complex on Friday afternoon to work his way through some of the best submissions, after thousands and thousands were sent through during the week.
Here, in part one of this special Q&A, Solskjaer opens up about all manner of subjects, including a comparison with a current player, the Reds who are making him proud and two former team-mates he would love to sign in an ideal world.
Part two of the Q&A will be released at 09:00 GMT on Sunday, so make sure you return for that, but before then there is plenty to enjoy here…
Essential viewing: Part one of Ole’s fan Q&AVideo
Milan M, from South Africa | Hi Ole, my question is do you have any pre-game rituals as a manager? We know players always have certain things they do, I want to know if the manager has one as well?
“Good question from Milan, I have to say. That’s not something you think about. When I was a player, I didn’t really think, what does Sir Alex do before the game, or the other managers. It’s the worst time. You’ve done all your preparation, you want the game to get going and players go out and prepare. They’re going out warming up but I’m not usually there at the warm-ups. I just go back to my office and sit there and try to get the time to go. Sometimes there’s some games on telly that I can watch, but most of the time is just using some time to think ‘what do I need to do?’ Thinking about if something happens, if that player gets injured, if something happens in a game. It’s just preparation for a game really. Nothing that I have to go through, no.”
Noah H, from Canada | You can only eat one type of cuisine for a whole year. Which cuisine do you choose and why?
“I have to say Noah, that it’ll be Italian food. I should have been born in Italy! I love pasta, I love the Italian cuisine. I’ll say Italian food, yeah.”
Ava M, from the USA | What advice would you give to a young, injured player looking at a potentially long recovery time, following a serious injury?
“I hope Ava has not had this injury herself, and I’m not giving her the advice, but if I have to give advice to young, injured players: take your time and be patient. You’ve got plenty of time to get back to playing football. You have so many years ahead of you and to take another week or a month extra in your recovery work is more important than rushing to get back. You might have after-effects, you might get a setback. I was lucky enough that I never really had big injuries until I was 30, but I was at a stage then when I was patient and I had done a lot in my career. I felt that I’d take the time it needs, but that’s not easy maybe if you’re 10, 15, 16, 17 and you desperately want to prove yourself. Take your time, listen to the advice, make sure you get physios or medical staff you trust and follow the programme to the point. No shortcuts, no cutting corners, just follow the programme.”
Brant J, from the USA | Which player has made you the most proud with their progression this season?
“Another good question, Brant! I have to say I’ve been very pleased with the whole team, that we have improved. Individuals that stand out, it’s so hard to say. I think, of course, seeing the improvement of Luke Shaw is great for us all. We know what he’s capable of. Bruno to continue his improvement. He came to the club and made such an impact. Marcus is just growing as a player and a person. Scott McTominay is scoring goals. I can go through every single one so it’s a difficult question for a manager to put me on the spot like this, but good question. I’ve been delighted with everyone’s approach and attitude. They improve in different timescales. Some improve very quickly and stay there, some steadily and I think we’ve steadily improved every one of us.”
Amil S, from the UK | Which player reminds you of yourself, as a United player?
“Good question again! Thanks Amil for that question. There’s so many things. It depends on if it’s the mentality, the attitude. Is it the technical attributes? I’d like to think that Mason is the one who reminds me about myself the most, as a finisher and goalscorer. We should have had a competition me and him to see who is the most accurate finisher!”
United v West Ham: Watch Ole’s press conferenceVideo
Aman N, from India | Who is the funniest person in the team right now?
“Good question Aman. I’m not in the dressing room too often or too much, so I can’t really say who’s the funniest or the practical joker or who gives the best jokes. But we’ve got a good dressing room and a good set of lads. Sometimes, you see the lads laugh and joke and dance on Instagram, so there’s a good mood in the camp. They’re all in different stages and maybe the most confident ones are probably Paul Pogba and Eric Bailly. They’re quite lively in and around the dressing room. They’re probably funnier when the manager’s not there, because I try to be serious.”
Mark E, from Ireland | Which do you prefer being: the United manager or the United player?
“Oh Mark, every day of the week you’d like to be young and play football no matter what. That’s the best time of your life but time ticks for everyone, the clock ticks, so I’m really, really happy with being the manager as well but I think everyone wants to be young and fresh and healthy and to be able to score goals for Man United. But I’ve got to say, I’m proud of being in this seat and seeing the boys improving and try to win trophies for us.”
Adam G, from the UK | If you could choose a United legend to be in your current United squad, who would you choose and why?
“Adam, great question. There’s a few players I’ve played with that I’d love to have in my team, of course. I’d love the player Roy Keane, I’m not sure if I could manage him though. I’d sign him every day of the week, Roy was so influential but then again, I played with Cristiano [Ronaldo] and he’s been the best player in the world alongside Messi for the past 10-15 years now, so Cristiano. You’d take him in your team, for sure.”
George CC, from the UK | We always hear about the United DNA but, for you, what are the most important things that make up our footballing DNA?
“Very good question, George. He seems like a real United fan who is inquisitive and wants to know more about us. For me, the core value is to be a good person. To be hungry, to learn, to be humble and hard-working but also be able to express your talent. You know, we want to play fast, attacking football with players who enjoy football, not afraid of anything, show courage to go and showcase that skill that so many of our fans pay to come and watch every Saturday or Wednesday. So, be positive, show your skills but always work hard.”
Sharon HM, from Nigeria | If you were to pick a five-a-side team from players you’ve played with, including yourself, who would feature?
“Hi Sharon, good question, takes me back a few years this. I would probably have, if I have to pick myself, I’d score the goals so I’d don’t have to take too many of the strikers. I’d like to have Becks [David Beckham], Scholesy [Paul Scholes], Giggsy [Ryan Giggs], so there we are one, two, three, me, four. We need a keeper as well, so that’s maybe too many attacking players. Jaap Stam defensively. He’s a defence alone, and goalkeeper would probably be Edwin van der Sar with his ball skills, so Edwin, Jaap, me up front, Becks on the right, Giggs on the left and me up front. Maybe a 1-2-1 formation? That’s a bit unfair on Scholes and Keane and Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney, but that’s probably the team I’d pick.”
Part two of Ole’s fan Q&A will be available from 09:00 GMT on Sunday.