Solskjaer: Manchester United are better prepared than last season

Old Trafford boss updates the state of his squad the week before the new season

Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer shared his thoughts after Manchester United beat Everton 4-0 in a friendly on Saturday, with goals from Mason Greenwood, Harry Maguire, Bruno Fernandes and Diogo Dalot in stoppage time. United were missing new signings Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane, but still had too much for Everton, as they prepare for the Premier League opener against Leeds United on Saturday.

Ole, did it go to plan, an intense first half and more serene second?

Solskjaer: Yeah, when you make changes the games in pre-season always go this way, or most of the time go this way. It was about getting the minutes in, try to get the intensity, the work they’ve put in so far in pre-season has been good and we got rewarded with a few nice goals.

What’s the situation with Sancho and Varane?

The medical with Raphael has to be done, he’s isolating at the moment, he had to wait for visas, so unfortunately that took a few more days than expected. Jadon is in Monday and hopefully then he’s in decent nick and can be involved.

Harry Maguire?

I’ve not had a lot of time with Harry since he came back but the summer with Luke (Shaw) practising set plays with England has helped us. Today was a good delivery, a good header. Harry knows we demand more from him in the goal tally, he’s one of the best with getting the first contact, but too many times it has flown over the bar. But well done, he’s in good nick after the Euros and looked very good today.

Jesse Lingard and Dean Henderson?

Jesse, he feels okay, and hopefully it’ll stay that way but when you get the positive test you’ve got to isolate even if you’re feeling well. Dean, he was positive early on and then he’s negative in his testing but he’s not felt as energised or sharp as he has done. So he’s still fatigued and feeling the after effects so you never know, you’ve seen so many effects of this virus so he’s got a few days still to rest and then we’ll check up on him.

Anthony Martial?

Anthony has had a bad spell with injuries, these were his first 45 minutes. He’s been training well but players who have been out for a while, they need some more sharpness, need some more work. He tried to do the right thing but it didn’t come off all the time, but it’s better than what you fear sometimes when he’s been injured for five months.

Biggest crowd since the Manchester City game. Players responding?

They do enjoy having the fans, it was great. Our fans love our players, love to show their affection for the players and that’s not been there for 18 months more. The City derby was a fantastic occasion and the Leeds game now will be a big one as well, to get a full stadium. Here the crowd when Bruno scores his free-kick, they’ve been wanting to celebrate loads of goals with him for a year and a half. We’ll be better off for it and we’ll have a better home record this year than last.

How do you feel this pre-season has gone compared to last? How do you work on integrating players into the squad when lots of going on?

Pre-season, we’ve had a longer one than last year. Last season we had a full group for five days, just the last week before Palace so that was a very difficult, naturally because we went so far in Europe. This summer at least everyone has had three weeks off, some have had four, some have had five. We’re still lacking a few match minutes for a few but we’re getting there, we’re better prepared.

Some of us started July 5, some trained with us for the first time this week, Jadon is next week, Raphael hopefully once the medical is sorted will be a few days with us. We have to get them through a fitness regime as well, we can’t just throw them into a game. The staff are doing great work, the sports science guys are working hard to get everyone up to speed as quickly as possible.

Updated: August 8th 2021, 9:01 AM