Ole's message to United fans
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says he and his Manchester United players have been "crying out" for our fans to be back inside Old Trafford and the boss cannot wait to see some of them on Tuesday night when around 10,000 make their long-awaited return.
Old Trafford has been devoid of supporters since March 2020 following the COVID-19 pandemic and while the team have played in front of some fans on our travels at points during the season, the Reds have yet to be reunited with our own supporters.
Tuesday night will see that reunion take place and Ole says it will be a real thrill for everyone associated with the club.
The manager spoke to club media's Stewart Gardner ahead of our clash with the relegated Cottagers as he gave his thoughts on seeing fans back in the stands, securing second place and what he's expecting from our Player of the Year voting...
Firstly Ole, Tuesday night’s game against Fulham will obviously be a big night as we’ll finally have some of our fans back in the stadium – how much are you and the players looking forward to seeing them again?
“Very much so. The last time we had them in was a fantastic night [against Manchester City in March 2020] and ever since then it’s been something that we’ve been crying out for. Hopefully we can enjoy the night together. It’s been too long, but of course that’s the world we’ve been living in and, now it’s safe to do so, it’s going to be a good moment.”
How much does their support make a difference, especially when games are tight and which moment or game over the past year would you have loved the fans to be there for?
“There have been a few moments. That extra adrenaline and energy that you get from your fans is vital and I think we’ve all seen the results home and away and the comparison that there’s been more away wins than home wins which is not natural. That just shows how important the fans are.”
How’s the team looking ahead of the game? You mentioned that the players were having a little breather after a very hectic week last week…
“We had a couple of days off after the Liverpool match and we’ve welcomed Dan James back and Anthony Martial back so that’s big, big plusses for us. We didn’t lose any players against Liverpool so we’re fit. We’re only missing Harry [Maguire] and Phil [Jones].”
How’s Harry progressing with his recovery?
“It’s still too early. We’re not at the testing stage yet. We’ll give him as much time as possible to recover. We’re not going to see him back in the league so hopefully we can welcome him back for the final, but I’m not sure.”
You mentioned Anthony and Dan – are they back and ready to play?
“They’ve done all their rehab programmes and ticked all the boxes, so a couple of days of training before the game with the team, but they’re not ready to start a game yet. Let’s see. Hopefully we can get both of them on the pitch and give them some minutes. Let’s see how many minutes against Wolves and then they’re hopefully ready for the final.”
After a tough week of results for us how important is it to build up some winning momentum ahead of the final?
“Yes of course. We’ve had a very good season and long, long spells with results and performances. The last week was a disappointing one for us results-wise. It was very hectic and very tough, both mentally and physically. Now it’s about finding our form and finding the little details and extra energy and confidence going into the final knowing that there is a prize at the end of it.”
One more win gets us second place – how determined is everyone to get that secured?
“That is progress and of course that’s been the aim for the last few weeks. Two months or so ago we were hoping for more, but results didn’t pan out the way we wanted them to and we couldn’t keep up with the champions unfortunately. But second place is progress and let’s make sure we get the points. Performances are the most important thing because if performances come, the results will come.”
Fulham are already down and it was a very tight game against them in January. Is it hard to know what to expect from a team that’s already relegated?
“Not really. You know that for players coming to Old Trafford to play against Man United is always a big game [for them]. They’re always going to give their best. Scott [Parker] will be looking at his team for next season and the players want to play of course and that’s motivational enough for any player to play against us. Sometimes you can see teams after they’ve been relegated drop their shoulders and play, sometimes they give up, but I don’t expect anything but a fight and a good game against Fulham with motivated players because I know through my experiences with Scott before that he’s a very good motivator.”
We’re expecting to have the results for Player of the Year this week – does the fact that we have a number of players vying for the award show the progress that’s been made by players in terms of their personal displays and as a team?
“I think many individuals have improved this season which of course is the starting point for any team. If we can individually grow then together we grow and you look at how far we can get up the table. This season has had some outstanding individual performances consistently and it’ll be exciting to know who wins it.”
Finally, what’s your message for the fans back inside Old Trafford tonight?
“It’s great to see you back. It’s been so, so long and we’ve missed you all. You’re always our 12th man, you know that. We appreciate you and hopefully we can put on a show for you.”