Slaven Speaks - Manchester United

Slaven Bilic revealed that DIafra Sakho faces a spell on the sidelines when he faced the media on Thursday ahead of this weekend’s trip to Manchester United.

The striker suffered an injury to his thigh in last Sunday’s draw with West Bromwich Albion and will sit out the busy festive period.

Bilic answered questions on Sakho, the threat Manchester United pose and more in his weekly press briefing.

Slaven, can we start with your injury news for Saturday please?

SB: “We are still waiting for the results on Diafra Sakho’s scan, but it’s not good. As I said we are waiting for the opinion of a couple of specialists. It happened in a game when he had a chance. When Moses gave him the ball, he felt it when he was sprinting, but because he is a brave guy he continued and when he fell down after the shot he felt it  again.

“It’s a muscle injury, not dangerous for long-term or whatever, but it’s not a light one unfortunately. We are going to be without him for a few games definitely.”

How big a blow is it?

SB: “Of course it’s a big blow. In terms of the quantity of injuries we are not bad, but unfortunately those three injuries have happened to our key players, especially on the offensive side of our game. Payet, Sakho, Valencia, it’s a big blow to us.”

Does it mean you will need to buy a striker now in January?

SB: “Not necessarily. We have strikers, and we have different types of strikers. I’m not saying we will not try to get someone, but at this time we’re not thinking about that. Okay we’re going to have a few meetings and all that, but we will see.”

How important now is Andy Carroll and his form?

SB: “Of course he’s important. As I said it’s him, and Jelavic and Antonio. When Dimitri got injured and when Enner got injured, we didn’t talk a lot about him, because he got injured in pre-season. Because he didn’t play for us this season, apart from a few minutes in a few games we didn’t talk about him. He is also a big blow the way he played last year, but it looks like he will be okay soon. At least we will have him, hopefully, in a couple of weeks’ time. It’s a good chance for some of the guys to get minutes to step in and show their class.

What have you made of Andy Carroll so far?

SB: “He is trying hard in training and he’s played really well in the few games he’s had for us. He showed against Norwich, when he came on for the last 20 minutes or half an hour, and the same against Chelsea and Crystal Palace. He showed his class, and so far he’s showed it more as an impact player when he’s come on. He lifted our game, that’s why we brought him in of course, but also he needs to show it from the start. He’s got the quality, sometimes the players need a longer time to gel in completely and play like they did before the injury. We hope he’s going to do that now for us, if he plays of course.

Much has been made of the fact that Manchester United are having narrow victories this season, that they’re not playing as exciting football as previously. What do you think of that?

SB: “Well they are different than, let’s say, the Ferguson era, when especially at home they were electric, playing more vertically, but you say narrow victories, but they are victories. So they are winning – they’re not conceding goals and somebody said they are boring, but they having the ball. They are not a team that is giving you the ball and defending, you can call that kind of football, sometimes, boring.

“They have the ball possession, they are controlling the game and trying to win every game. Especially at home, when the opponents are defending with numbers and are compact, you can’t play very vertically. You need gaps and space behind or in between the lines of the opponent. That’s hard to find. We can call it controlled football, we can call it patient football, but it is so far very effective because they are sitting good in the table.”