I’m not how much you’ll have any input into the delegation who are here today with a view to taking over the club, and I’m guessing you didn’t get chance to speak to the Qataris yesterday. But will you get a chance to speak to today’s delegation, Jim Ratcliffe, and if so what is your message to the potential new owners at the moment?
I just met them. We shake hands but I’m focused on the game. We play a big game on Sunday, Fulham, and all of our focus is on that. Others in the club are dealing with the potential investors.
But just in general terms, is there anything you can say about what you would like the potential new owners to bring to the club?
No, my job in this moment is to focus on the game, so let’s talk about the game, Fulham. It’s a big tie and we have to get ready for it.
How have the cup competitions this season impacted the mentality of your squad this season?
I think we have to set our culture, a winning culture. We are Manchester United, we have to win all the games, we have to compete in all the leagues and to win all the leagues. So that has to be the mentality. It is not that you win all the leagues. But the mentality is when you go into a game, you have to win the game.
Speaking of mentality, Marcus Rashford has 30 goals this season in 48 games and 24 in 19 since the World Cup. When others have dipped after that tournament, what is it about Marcus that means he has been able to reach those kinds of levels?
He progressed during the season. He was also not in the best shape when he started the season but then I think the way of play gives him a base and then he brings the skills in. Then he brings his attitude and mentality in, and you see that is bringing him a lot of progress. And that gives the team a lot of joy and it gives Marcus a lot of goals and us a lot of wins.
We’re coming up to an international break. Where do you think Manchester United are in terms of their position in the league, you’re obviously third in the league, but where do you think they are in terms of competing for the biggest honours, the biggest trophies?
After Sunday, I will set conclusions. But we are now in three leagues competing and we want to stay in those. So Sunday is a massive game for us.
Having won a cup at Wembley already, how much of an incentive is that to go back to Wembley in the biggest cup for us, the traditional cup for us, and get there?
Of course it is huge motivation. We all really enjoyed Wembley and we really enjoyed winning a trophy so it has to be the fuel for the next one. [We have to] get pushed by that idea. That has to bring extra energy to beat Fulham.
We’ve seen with Marcus this season, it’s his best season ever. What have you done with him specifically and what role has Benni McCarthy had? Previous managers have said he lacks that goalscoring instinct, to want to get the ugly goals. Is there something you have switched on in his head, to change the way he’s playing?
I think the most important thing, of course, is the way of play that gives him the base, gives him structure, gives the team structure. And the way of play is in his favour because I knew his skills. Then you also bring staff around who can make him better, who can make him progress or he gets motivated from. And yeh, I thought we needed one in the staff who was specific and responsible for strikers and Benni’s doing a good job. But don’t forget the others in the staff because it’s about teamwork and I think the staff is in good balance. We do it together and it’s not only about Benni McCarthy. It’s about all have their specific jobs in our staff and we co-operate really good together and there’s a good vibe and also they challenge each other. Therefore, I think it’s a total package that I want to report here. It’s not about one person.
Andreas Pereira is obviously playing really well for Fulham this season. Is there any regrets at all about not keeping him here?
He is a good player. I know him already a long time. I had him in the youth of PSV before he transferred to Manchester United. I’m really happy for him that he is progressing that good and I think that was the right step for him because he has to play on a regular basis. He didn’t do that over several years at Manchester United and there is coming a point where you have to switch and maybe step back to progress in the future. So I think he’s doing a good job, that is quite obvious, and the whole of Fulham is playing in a good way.
Before you came here, did you see a 30-goal striker in Marcus Rashford? Because I don’t think a United player has scored 30 goals for 10 years or so. And also, could we check on the contract situation because that is obviously an ongoing conversation about Rashford’s contract ending next summer?
I think, if you go back, I said it in the summer when a question came from one of you, several times, if I believed Rashford or Martial, one of them, could score 20 plus goals this season, I said ‘yes, I believe’. So find it back.
And Marcus’ contract, is there any movement on that?
When we have news, we will bring it immediately.
This is the first of four games without Casemiro now…
We have already had many more games without Casemiro.
Has what happened in those games, and I think it’s fair to say they haven’t all gone particularly well…
We did really well without Casemiro, against Arsenal, the two against Leeds. I think we also did really well without Casemiro also at the start of the season. But I want to have Casemiro available, because he has a huge impact on our game.
Can you replace him like for like in that midfield? Is it just a case of slotting someone in there, or do you have to make allowances because he is a very unique player?
Yes but as I said, we have also won many games without Casemiro. So he’s not available and then we have to do it with other players. And it’s about the 11, or let’s say the squad, to win this.
You’ve got Sevilla, who’s obviously got a very, very good record in the Europa League. What is your thought on that?
So we go back to Sevilla. As you say, they have a very good record. We have to be aware of it. So it’s going to be tough because they are really experienced in the Europa League, winning it so many times. So I don’t know their team now in detail, I don’t know, so I have to focus on that. But, for me, the most important is Fulham and I don’t look forward to Seville because first we have an international break and then we have three Premier League games, so there is much time to focus on that. But, definitely, I think all the opponents who come to this stage of the Europa League are strong. You have to play your best football if you want to go through. It’s definitely the case if you face Seville.
When you came to the club there were many stories that the dressing room was split and people were unhappy in it, and that since the first two results of your tenure things have obviously changed and United have become United. Was there was one particular thing you said or did that managed to unify them to become the way they are now?
No. It’s a process. You have to set a culture. Standards, values, rules. Then I always think about partnerships and about bringing people together. One in particular? No I can’t mention. It’s a set of standards and decisions you make.
Anthony Martial is back in training again. I know you were very excited to work with him when you first came to the club, but again he has suffered with a lot of injuries this season. Does it ever come to a point with a player where he has to stay fit and start producing performances on the pitch to have a long-term future at the club?
I don’t think it is the right moment to… If that was to be the case, I would believe in him. Every time he is available, he really gives a good contribution to the team performance, the level of the team are upgrading in the moment he is available. We are just working with him to get fit and to be available.
I think you mentioned in the derby game where he came off, he wasn’t injured but you said you felt he could get injured, that he had this feeling. Can you work with players in terms of working with them to come to terms with that mentality. We saw in the same game where Marcus for example played through the pain barrier and ended up scoring the winning goal?
Every person is different, so you have to treat every person different. This process you have to take really careful and I do everything so that I get him ready to being ready for availability.
Harry Maguire said last night that he’s still having an impact on the pitch when he plays but also off it. It’s not a position for a captain not to be playing that much. Is he still showing leadership qualities in the dressing room? Do you encourage him to speak on the training ground and in the dressing room?
Definitely. I’m really happy with the progress Harry is making in this moment. He’s more dominant and dictating, he’s taking more initiative on the training pitch and I think also yesterday we have seen it in Seville in the Real Betis game, he showed leadership, especially in those aspects of initiative and dictating of the game.
You mentioned Pereira having to leave and it’s very hard for young players to make it at United with their being so much competition. Do you think Pellistri has a chance of making it as he did well at the World Cup even with so much competition?
Of course, but you have to deserve it. You have to gather it by yourself and we will help him. The way of play, the culture, we will help him. The coaches are really working hard with him but at the end of the day, the players have to grab their chances. They have to deserve their chances by performing every day, on and off the pitch. He has the abilities to do it like others coming up from the youth like Garnacho, Kobbie Mainoo, Pellistri is also one of them and there are also more who can do it. You have to contribute to the team. Manchester United is not a place where we can have the patience to try one for 10 games. No, you have to perform.