Aaron and Fred crave a Champions League run

Tuesday 14 September 2021 12:00

Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Fred believe there are two big reasons why Manchester United could improve on last season's Champions League campaign, as the Reds embark on a brand new European quest.

The pair are acutely aware of what happened in the 2020/21 group stage, when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side won the first three games but were then unable to seal the deal and missed out on qualification for the knockout rounds. Subsequent entry into the Europa League proved to be of little consolation when the run ended in the cruellest fashion, a final defeat to Villarreal on penalties.

This time around, there are two key differences which should favour United's attempts to go further in the premier competition. Firstly, the return of fans following the COVID-19 pandemic, which should mean some electric nights at Old Trafford and some famously ardent away support on the continent. Secondly, the acquisition of the Champions League's all-time top scorer, Cristiano Ronaldo.
Watch our exclusive interview with Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
"He could have a big impact," said Wan-Bissaka, when asked about Ronaldo's addition.

"We know his history in the Champions League and, this time, he's doing it with us, on the same team, so that's a big lift for us going forward."

"I think he will have a lot of impact," agrees Fred, "because I think everyone has the fear of Cristiano!

"We know he has the most goals in the Champions League and a lot of experience in big games. It's good to have him on our side and we hope he has a good Champions League with us."
On the fact that the Champions League games will be played in packed stadia during this campaign, compared to the rather sterile atmosphere of last season, Fred said: "We missed a lot our fans last season.

"Now we have our fans together with us and it's so important. The feeling is different and we'll try our best for our fans."

"It makes a huge difference," concurred Aaron. "It pushes you more during the games, hearing the fans by your side. That's what the team needs."
See what Fred had to say in our Champions League chat.
Setting aside the boosts provided by supporters and the recent signing of Ronaldo, both Wan-Bissaka and Fred insist there's a determination within the squad to recover from the blow of exiting the competition before Christmas last time around after defeats to Istanbul Basaksehir, Paris Saint-Germain and RB Leipzig.

"We want to do better than last season, bounce back and learn from the mistakes that we made," said Aaron.

"In this competition, you want to show what you're capable of doing as a team, in front of the whole world. It's very competitive and we need to be in there and stay in there. Our aim is to win it, that would be a big achievement for us all."

Press Conference: Young Boys (A) Video

Press Conference: Young Boys (A)

See what Solskjaer and De Gea said to the media, on the eve of our Champions League game against Young Boys...

"We tried to qualify and if we had won one more game, we would have done it," added Fred.

"I think now we have a different mentality, we have changed our mentality. Every game is the key for us so we need to try to win every game.

"Every game is important but the first game is the most important because if you win the first game, it's good for the feeling at the start of a big season in the Champions League. So we'll try our best to win the first game."

United's first game in the 2021/22 Champions League group stage, away to Young Boys, kicks off at 17:45 BST on Tuesday.