How much do you need this trophy in order for your team to push on to the next level?

“Of course you want to win it. For the team, for the fans, for the club, we want to win. Those nights when you win a trophy brings everyone together, it’s a celebration. When you lose a big game it’s disappointment. When we won in 1999, of course it made history but it didn’t make me a better player. It didn’t make us individually better players but as a group we believed we could go on to win more stuff. We comfortably won the league the next couple of seasons. We couldn’t repeat the Champions League, but still it gives you a lot as a group. We will only know and time will tell what it will do to the team. Like I’ve said sometimes, trophies will hide other facts. We’ve felt we’ve come a long way. We’ve done it the hard way, lost four semi-finals and now we’re in a final and I think we’re ready for the next step.”

We’ve seen the importance of Harry Maguire in the last two games because of his forced absence. A) How’s he’s recovery going and B) at what stage do you have to make a decision on him in terms of fitness for the final? Do you give it until the last minute or do you make the decision in the days ahead of the game?

“Well, hopefully, we can have the news as early as possible, but we’ll give it as long as it takes. Of course, he has shown his importance. We’ve known it all along but maybe some people notice it more when he’s not playing. I certainly felt I became a very good player when I was injured. People suddenly realised what I could do as a sub or how I was as a player. And now… Harry’s been our leader, he’s the captain and since he came in he’s been more or less ever-present. Of course, he’s a big miss at the moment but hopefully he can speed up the recovery and be ready for the final. But I’ll give him as long as he needs until he says yes or no.”

Given that you have the responsibility as the manager, which is very different to a player, will this mean more to you than all those trophies you won as a player?

“The next one is always the most important, no matter what. But yes, of course, you feel more responsible when you’re making decisions. As a player, you just do more or less what you’re told; you do the best for the team. At the moment I’ve got to make difficult decisions. Sometimes Sir Alex left me out and he explained to players… He said so many times: ‘Wait for the time you’re the manager yourself and you’re going to make these decisions. They’re horrible to make.’ But, of course, it means a lot and it can mean a lot if you make the wrong choice so, for me, definitely, this is my role and responsibility at the moment. This is what I focus on and I don’t think about what I did as a player. I only want to do my best for the club as the manager now.”

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