Are there any selection issues ahead of tomorrow’s game?
OGS: No, there’s not many issues. I think there are small niggles, as there always is at this point of the season. Chris and Marcos have just started running lightly so they’re not fit yet. Alexis has trained all week so hopefully he’s available and Felli is the long-term one that’s out. He’ll be out for a few weeks.
Jose Mourinho spoke yesterday and said ‘I’m not finished, I’ve got a future at top level management.’ You’d probably agree with that, wouldn’t you?
OGS: Yeh. Why shouldn’t he? He’s a fantastic manager. With the results he’s had I don’t think he’ll be struggling to find work.
He always talked about player power and the modern player. It doesn’t look like you’ve discovered any problems with the players receiving what you’ve brought here.
OGS: I can’t really comment on everything he says. Of course, I’m enjoying working with these boys and that’s all I can say.
Can you believe the start you’ve made? You wanted to make a good start clearly, but six wins and everything is different. Everything has changed.
OGS: As I’ve said before, you go in to every single game as a Manchester United coach, or player, or manager, thinking you’re going to win. That’s just the nature of this club. We’ve had six good games but the next one is always the most important one. Everyone said about Tottenham being the test. I don’t think that’s a test in terms of attitude, because you know the players are going to be up for that size of game. What I’m looking forward to now is seeing the reaction. A home game against a team that you think you should go and dominate and should be better than. If you go out and do it these games, these are the points that will get you up the table.
You’ve just mentioned Fellaini. What’s wrong with him and how long is he going to be out?
OGS: He’ll be at least three or four weeks. He’s got a calf problem. It’s sad because there are X-factors in different players and we all know Felli’s X-factor. But he’ll be working hard to get ready for the big games coming up.
You’ve got better performances out of all the big players at Manchester United…
OGS: I haven’t got the performances out of them…
OK, they’re playing better since you’ve been here. The one exception, so far, is Alexis Sanchez because he’s hardly been on the pitch. How disappointing or frustrating has it been that he’s not been able to play as often as you’d want him to?
OGS: You have to ask him. He loves to play football and he’s been hindered by injuries. I know all about injuries and how frustrating that can be and how eager you are to get back. Maybe in the Reading game should have told me that he needed to come off at half-time. Maybe that 15-20 minutes that he played in the second half was too much for him, which gave him a set back. He’s champing at the bit. He’s working hard in training. His attitude in training is fantastic. He wants to play. For me, I’m looking forward to seeing him but I’ve got loads of good players to choose from.
You’ve been here just one month, six games. You’ve managed to squeeze in a trip a broad as well. How settled are you, just in terms of being in a hotel, getting a flat? How settled are you do you feel back in Manchester, given the nature of the job you’ve been asked to do?
OGS: I love it. I look forward to getting up in the morning and going to work, I always do when I work in football. I love working in football and trying to improve people. When you’re here, you just want to go to bed and get up in the morning. I’m still in the hotel but I’ve found a place, so it won’t be too long.
So you’re going to try and establish the old things that you would have had? You obviously know the place and you’ve got ties here.
OGS: Yeh, I’m driving round a bit to get my bearings again. I’ve got mates here so I’ve been to see a few of them, so it’s not like I’m just staying in the hotel all on my own.
Paul Pogba said that overconfidence would be the biggest issue against Brighton this weekend because of the way the forms been in recent weeks. Away to Brighton he was quite outspoken after the match, questioning the team’s attitude including himself. Do you go along with that theory?
OGS: Overconfident? No, you cannot be too confident. Confidence is one thing, it’s complacency is the other side, that it’s going to be easy. I want players to be confident but I don’t want them to be complacent and take their foot off the pedal. That’s a big difference for me. I want them going in to it full of confidence, taking people on, playing, running, passing forward, getting the crowd with them, because that’s what it’s about.
Scott McTominay. Is there any update on whether he’s staying or being loaned out?
OGS: Scott is working hard. He’s a young boy that I believe in. We’re working on his contract. With the injuries of Felli and the squad we have, I’m not sure that we’re going to see any movement at all.
Are you expecting any incomings?
OGS: No, not really.
The way that you play requires a lot of energy from the players. It tailed off slightly in the Tottenham game. Have you found that you need a bit more energy out of players and are addressing that?
OGS: The stats say that the workload has been higher in the last few games, in terms of sprints, high intensity runs, and of course that’s going to take its toll towards the end of games, especially at Wembley because that’s a special pitch. Tottenham is a good team. So that was natural towards the end. And we’ve been to Dubai, maybe the time difference would have been a cause of that last 10-15 minutes, that we didn’t get the intensity and put pressure on Eriksen, because if you give him time he’ll always cause you problems. But then again I think this will gradually make us a fitter team for when the bigger games, like the Champions League or Liverpool game, they are games that we can’t just rely on De Gea.
You took Mason Greenwood on the Dubai trip and he was brilliant in the Youth Cup recently. How much of a prospect is he, given that he’s a striker and you are now overseeing his development?
OGS: There’s quite a few young kids coming through. Jimmy Garner was there, Mason, Chungy and Gomes. There are players coming through. Mason is knocking on the door to get his first appearance. We’ve got the Youth Cup against Brighton this coming week as well.
Given your front three is fairly well established, is Lingard, Martial and Rashford, what does Lukaku have to do to get back in the side on a regular basis?
OGS: He’s a big part of the squad, his personality around the place. There’s nobody scoring as many goals as him in training. So I have the three who play the most, then you’ve got Rom, Juan, Alexis, I’ve got a front six that I can rotate. Rom is definitely going to be playing games.
How difficult is it keeping those six players happy?
OGS: I used to be one of four when we played with two. Now we have six forwards and we play with three most of the time. So it’ll be OK to rotate. There’s enough games and playing time. It’s about taking the chances when you get them. To be fair, Rom scored three already. Marcus has scored three. Paul has scored four since I came. It’s up to the strikers.
I know you don’t want to lose a game but will the test for this squad come if you do have a defeat and how you respond to that?
OGS: Yeh, it’s a different kind of test for me and the players. How do the players react? How do they react when they go 1-0 down? How do I react when we go 1-0 down? I’ve been 1-0 down quite a few times in my career but I’ve never had the quality of players that I have now. I’m looking forward to them seeing a goal down and turning it around.
But going 1-0 down is not a defeat. What about them losing a game?
OGS: A defeat is still the reaction to that [going 1-0 down]. During a game, you’ve got reactions all the time. The end product is the result. You want to see reactions during the game. We will lose a game, yes we’ll have to react to it and get up the next morning. I’ve seen them enough to know they’ve got the character to turn it around and I know that I have that character.
How important has Mike Phelan been? I know when he left, when Sir Alex Ferguson left, there was a lot made of that. You’ve brought him back. How important has he been?
OGS: Mick’s absolutely brilliant. His experience, his knowledge, his personality around the place. It’s not just for the players, or the coaches, but the rest of the staff as well. We’ve been here so many years, we know people. It’s about the family. When you know people for 20 years or 25 years, it’s easy to create a good atmosphere. Mick is tough but he’s kind. He’s got everything I would want in an assistant.
Is it awkward? It’s like the kid taking over the from the teacher.
OGS: No, not at all. You have to ask him but not for me. We respect each other so much. I really value his, Kieran’s and Michael’s opinion on team selection and training. It’s a team. Together we will achieve so much more than if I’m doing my bit and they disagree with it. It’s been a very good month so far.
Do you have to treat modern players differently? You’ve spoken a lot about how you can empathise with players because you were a player. But, as we’ve been hearing this week, modern players have got to be treated differently.
OGS: Times are changing. I’m old enough to have worked with older players and managers than me. I know that type of player and that type of management school. But I’m young enough, I’ve got kids, I’ve got an 18-year-old myself, and I work with young players back home. It’s a different era.
Are they more powerful?
OGS: I wouldn’t say more powerful but it’s different. With social media, the world and society they’ve grown up in compared to what I did, I know I sound really old now, but it’s such a different era. Everything is on Twitter or Facebook or whatever it is straight away. As long as it’s not malicious, that’s the reality we live in. But they still have to have the values of a team, want to improve. Nobody deserves to be in a better team than what they would give to the team. If they want to help the team, they deserve to be here. If they don’t want to help the team, they don’t deserve to be here. Those values, beliefs and principles don’t change.
Mourinho was talking about structures at football clubs and directors of football. There’s lots of talk about a potential director of football coming in here down the line. How have you found the structure of the club? Given the size of the club and where the game is going, do you think it’s a natural transition that the coach would work with a director of football?
OGS: I think the size of the club is so different to, for example, Molde. The way that the club is structured and the way that different clubs are structured has to be up to each club. I can only comment on what I’ve seen here. I’ve really enjoyed it. If there’s a director of football coming in, I’m sure the club have good arguments for that.
Would you embrace working with a director of football?
OGS: My work is with the players and that’s what I’m concentrating on. Over the next three or four months I’ll do exactly the same job as I’m doing now.