Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on Man Utd's positive start, Daniel James' impact and the challenge of facing Wolves
Watch Wolves vs Manchester United live on Sky Sports Premier League from 7pm on Monday; Kick-off 8pm
Last Updated: 19/08/19 6:11pm
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer chats to Sky Sports' Johnny Phillips about Manchester United's positive start to the season, Daniel James' impact, the challenge facing his side at Wolves and the future at Old Trafford...
In the space of little more than 90 minutes, it felt as if the travails of the previous season had been washed away.
Manchester United's 4-0 win over Chelsea last Sunday was not always convincing but there was an impressive ruthless streak when the game was in the balance, that enabled United to pull clear of their opponents.
A 1-1 draw against the same opponents in April was one of only two points United gained from the final five games of last season. So, is this a much-changed team from the one which finished the last campaign?
"Well we hope so, I know physical stats are not a lot to go from but there is a shift from this first league game and the Chelsea match three games from the end of last season," Ole Gunnar Solskjaer told Sky Sports. "How much more we run now compared to then is encouraging. We've got energy, it's still early doors, and we're working hard on fitness still."
An exciting future
The head coach is speaking at the club's Carrington training base as his side prepares to face Wolves in the live Monday Night Football on Sky Sports.
Wolves caused Solskjaer much consternation last season when his side was defeated in both the Premier League and FA Cup in the space of a couple of weeks in spring. There will be a different mentality to the United side that arrives at Molineux on Monday evening.
"The players have a chance every day to prove you should be part of this exciting future, and to be part of this club you have to give everything," Solskjaer added. "The attitude of every single one of the lads this season has been spot on. That's been maybe the most encouraging part for me.
"You expect them to come in on the first day and have loads of energy and focus. They were all fit so we could start on a high level. But now, when the league begins, you're picking a team and some players are not starting, but the reaction from the boys who didn't play [against Chelsea] has been very good as well, so it's been a competitive week."
'James has set the standard'
There was particular praise for debutant Daniel James. The Welsh youngster endured a harrowing time when he lost his father, Kevan, suddenly last May. The 21-year old's goal against Chelsea was laced with emotion.
"You could see it meant the world to him," Solskjaer said. "He's had a summer of mixed emotions and experiences. You could see the way he celebrated, he's been wanting that.
"I know for a fact after talking to him that it meant a lot for him. Since Daniel came in, he has proved to everyone that he is the type of player we want. He's so hard-working. I think he set the standard straight away.
"On his first day, he made a recovery run that was a fifty-yard run. He won the ball, played it out to a team-mate, ran forward, had a chance blocked, won it back and within 10 seconds had scored. Everyone was saying, 'Yeah, that's the boy we want in our team'."
Room for improvement
It is in these moments on the training ground that Solskjaer works out who will be most valuable to the team going forward.
"You've got a chance every single day to prove yourself to your team-mates," he explains. "You've got to prove yourself at this club. No one can look at Daniel and talk to him and say: 'You didn't give your all today', and that's half the battle. If you come in here with that attitude you've got a great chance with so many good players around you.
"Last week was a good game - a good start - but we know we can do a lot better. We know there were some nerves at times, which there will be in the first game with a young team and some debutants, so I can only see us improving."
A different challenge
All three debutants made a positive impression at Old Trafford, but Solskjaer is aware that Wolves will present a very different challenge to that posed by Chelsea last weekend.
"They were two tough games last season, we knew that because they are so hard to break down, they lie low, defend deep and are very good at counter-attacking," he said.
"They have pace up-front with Jota and Jimenez who are two of the quickest forwards in the league, deceivingly quick. Those two up-front will always cause you bother, especially when they've got the passing ability of Neves, Moutinho, and Coady from the back.
"We experienced bad times there last season so we know that we've got to improve, but we are better now. We've got to be precise, we know we won't get a lot of opportunity to counter-attack. We're going to have to be good on the ball, be patient and create enough openings."
Charlie Nicholas' prediction
Nuno Espirito Santo has the energy, drive and passion for the crowd, with Manchester United coming off the back of a 4-0 victory, almost a hallucination is the best way to describe that result.
I thought Harry Maguire was average, he did everything that was asked of him. He was efficient and got about the pitch, but I don't want to hear nonsense about him being a leader and strong on the pitch already, it is too soon. He has started well, but I am suspect about the right-back and left-back positions at Man Utd. Chelsea could have easily scored two or three. I am still not convinced by Manchester United and I would still sell Paul Pogba.
CHARLIE PREDICTS: 2-1 (11/1 with Sky Bet)
Solskjaer can look forward to Monday evening with a degree of optimism.
The victory over Chelsea was only a first step in what is sure to be another gruelling season. When he left the dug-out at full-time to shake hands with Frank Lampard there was a sense that he was doing so as a more settled manager than at any stage last season, when the initial new-manager 'bounce' was followed by questions about the wisdom of the permanent appointment.
"I've always said that as long as I'm here I'm going to enjoy it," he concludes.
"I'm going to do my utmost to help this club move forward in the way I believe we should do things. I think we did it the right way [last week]. We did it with the right intentions and, when you do that, you're a happy manager.
"When you lose a game you start questioning everything, but it's also important that we know we have to improve all the time, because the other teams will always improve as well. But for myself, yeah, I did enjoy Sunday."