Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is looking forward to the upcoming season.
Most Premier League teams start their campaigns this weekend, but Manchester United were given an extended to break to prepare since they were involved in the latter stages of the Europa League.
Solskjaer spoke to MUTV ahead of today’s warm-up match against Aston Villa at Villa Park, which is the only pre-season match United will play before starting their league campaign against Crystal Palace next week.
The boss gave some insight into his squad for the game and elaborated on how Donny van de Beek is fitting in.
Solskjaer was also asked about transfers and Harry Maguire, who was arrested over the summer in Greece, bringing a lot of controversy his way and it’s ongoing with the defender appealing a decision made by Greek authorities to charge him on three charges.
“I’m happy with the way we improved and we developed. Of course, after the January transfer window, we lost two important games in two semi-finals but they were the two defeats we had. Of course, those hurt, they really hurt, but the way the team caught up how many points? Fourteen points was it to catch up with the top four, we managed to do that and it gives us a very good belief that we can kick on, move forward and improve again.”
On Van de Beek, Solskjaer says he’s a ‘bubbly character’ who wants to learn.
“He’s been training only a couple of days but he’s a bright, bubbly character. He wants to learn and the first few sign are positive, not that I doubted that one because I’ve followed him for a few years, of course. He’s been a talented youngster and now we felt he was ready to come here. He felt it was the best place to come so, for us, it’s a good transfer.”
Fans are growing impatient with United’s business, though. Most can acknowledge that Van de Beek is a good signing but it’s not enough to see significant improvements in the team next season. Not when there are a number of areas in the team that need strengthening in order to catch up with the likes of Liverpool and Man City from last season.
“It’s been a strange time and a strange world,” Solskjaer added. “Financially, I’m sure loads of clubs have suffered. It looks like it as there has not been a lot of activity in the window. We’re always looking to improve the squad, scouting players and, if something fits, both the financial bit and the football bit, of course we’ll try to make some business. But we can’t know how the markets and how other c clubs have been affected either.”
Solskjaer seems happy enough to keep Maguire as captain and hopes he can show his best form when United return to Premier League action next weekend.
“Of course, Harry, as you said, had a difficult summer. He didn’t have a long break. His break was different to others as we gave him a few more days and, after, he’s come back and looked fine. He’s handled it really well and, of course, I’ll be here to support him. He is going to be our captain. We’ll just leave Harry and his people and the process to run. For me, he is a top, an absolute top human being and has always been a positive guy with the right values. So I really hope we can see Harry performing at his best.”
Solskjaer added, when asked what he would say to fans who can’t get to the ground and watch it all on TV since football stadiums are still closed to the public: “Well, thanks for your support so far. We know they’re there with us. We’re going to keep on improving and hopefully, next time they come back to Old Trafford, they’ll have got a team top support that they really like.”
Fingers crossed, Ole.