Have things settled down a bit now since all the buzz and expectation of Cristiano arriving? How have the young players been coping with the world’s eye and that added pressure this week?
OGS: I think it’s life as normal. We’ve signed a good player. Of course there’s always loads of attention around Cristiano, he copes with it and the players, they just get on with the job and cope with it as well. It was a big occasion of course last week with Newcastle, and the excitement of the crowd and I thought we did really well, we handled the situation and of course Cristiano, as well, delivered.
I was going to ask you about Diogo if that’s okay? With the sending off, he may get a chance in Europe at least. I was wondering the thinking behind him staying at the club rather than going on loan this season and whether you think he’s at the level required to compete for that place in the first team?
OGS: Yeh, Diogo has had a very good summer of course, with being called up into the Euros, he did well for Portugal Under-21s. He’s had a season that he learned a lot from in Milan, he kept fit, that was a big thing, and he’s got qualities that we will look to try and exploit more and more. He’s got more experience, and we’re not here to just loan players out for years and years, last year’s loan was to give him that experience, game time and I think he did well when he came on the other night.
Just talking about Europe, we’ve obviously come to the end of this first round of games, a lot of good games, a couple of close games, a lot of goals. I just wondered what you thought of this new format that is now meant to be coming in, in a couple of years’ time? 10 games, this Swiss formula, working out who you play. I just wondered what you thought about this proposal to change the whole format in a couple of years?
OGS: It’s quite complicated, so I haven’t really got to grips with every single little detail but every time there is a change, there is a little bit of a resistance. I remember there was resistance for Champions League. ‘Why do we need a Champions League?’ The Champions League now looks like a fantastic tournament to be in, same again, it might be a change for the better, who knows? I can’t give you an opinion on how it’s going to look. I’m sure the powers that are looking at it have a good reason for it and maybe, and hopefully, it will be a better competition.
What’s been the reaction since that defeat on Tuesday in Switzerland on Tuesday, between you, your players, and are you concerned about your form in the Champions League?
OGS: Of course, you wait to see, when you see them this morning, when you come back in. The attitude is like you expect it to, they’re focused, of course a little bit disappointed but not too downbeat. You know it’s a setback, we have to do better and we’ve got five games to get those 10, 12 points that we need. Of course, it’s not the start we wanted but we’re a good team that can bounce back again and the group is very good.
You’ve always said that you don’t get too high after a win and too low after a defeat, but does it still surprise you at all that you can go from so much praise after Leeds and Newcastle to then losing one game, and suddenly maybe from the outside, it’s all doom and gloom. Does that pendulum swinging so quickly ever surprise you?
OGS: No, it doesn’t surprise me of course. I’ve got my job and we do our job. You, in the media, tend to get judged by the behaviours and the outcomes rather than the intentions. Of course, it’s black and white. We go into the game with good intentions, we make changes with good intentions, we go into a tackle with good intentions, we play a pass with good intentions. It’s always the outcome that decides what headline that we’ll see. And very rarely is the game either fantastic or really, really bad, it just hovers about good or not good enough. We know that the expectations are high. We expect more of ourselves as well, the performance wasn’t up to our standard.
In November last year, I asked you about your long-term vision for United and you told me about how you plan to attack with quick attacks and crosses. In the new year, I asked you about your layer-by-layer method with defence, could I spare some time to talk about your iterations in centre midfield, that pivot behind your many attacking players and in front of your impressive defensive players. How do you want that two-man pivot to work in future?
OGS: I’ll give David [Moyes] all my insights then won’t I?! I’m not here to explain every single detail of how I want my team to play. We want centre midfielders who can play. You know, today’s football is about ‘he’s a good six, he’s an eight, he’s a ten’. Back in the day you had midfielders, proper midfielders, Roy Keane, Paul Scholes, Bryan Robson, you see players out there who can do attacking and defending. We look for midfielders who are complete and we try to develop that in our midfield. It’s about balance between how many you commit forward to how you defend because one little mistake and there’s a counter attack towards you.
Before when I talked to you about Greenwood and attacking players, you said about, other than Cavani, you see all your attacking players can do many roles. And now you’re talking about how you see your players as midfielders, is this sort of your new overarching philosophy about having players that can do two or three things?
OGS: You know, overarching philosophy? I don’t sit here and claim [that]. Football is a simple game, it’s about making good decisions, it’s about your qualities, it’s about being in a team and sometimes we look too much into the little intricacies. It’s passion, it’s desire, it’s who wants to win that tackle, who wants to win that ball, which one of the strikers has got the desire to get on the end of crosses. You can talk about all sorts, it looks nice on paper, but when you get out on that pitch, who wants to win, that’s one of the big things. You want winners and I think I’m getting there with my team. Team players
I just want to ask you please how Edinson is with his injury and do the new signings you’ve made this summer impact the role you expect him to have this season and the games he’s going to play?
OGS: Edinson hopefully will start training with us after the weekend. Hopefully, maybe Monday. Maybe he’ll be involved on Wednesday because he’s had a fantastic season last season. The impact he made towards the end of it when he got his fitness because he struggled early on with fitness, he struggled with niggles. We feel now to get the best out of Edinson this season we need him to have one hundred per cent fit and not pushing. We’ve got a strong squad that will cope with having to let players heal and don’t risk any further injuries. I see Edinson having a massive impact because he’s that type of personality and a player. He’s a top professional and he can’t wait to get back on. He’s working really hard to get back on the pitch.
Can I just check about Jesse? Obviously, an awful lot of attention on him after what happened in midweek, he’s going back to West Ham with all the obvious connections there. Where is he exactly at with his contract and his future at United?
OGS: He’s got one season, left on his contract. Of course the club is talking to him and his dad. We see him as a Man United player in the future as well. Jesse has come back into us after a great spell at West Ham, he showed his qualities, he’s back in to the England squad, he scores goals for England and we really want to see the best of Jesse this season. We support him and we hope to keep him here with us, he’s a red through and through.