Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Solskjaer: We're missing Old Trafford X-factor

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes the absence of fans has deprived Manchester United of our usual Old Trafford “X-factor”.

United have won all three of our Premier League away games so far this season, but are still waiting for a first domestic triumph at the Theatre of Dreams, despite beating RB Leipzig 5-0 in the Champions League.

The boss puts those unusual statistics down to the changed nature of home-and-away fixtures during the COVID-19 pandemic.

United v West Brom: Ole's press conferenceVideo

“Home and away, it's different. It's not what it used to be,” explained Ole. “We've had four home games in the league. The first one [against Crystal Palace]... we certainly look at it thinking we didn't have any preparation. Palace deserved it, and Tottenham deserved a win after a sending-off that Anthony [Martial] shouldn't have [happened].

“But the two games against Chelsea and Arsenal were very close games. I'm 100 per cent sure that, if we had our fans, that would have helped and maybe sparked us [with] that little X-factor that we needed.

“It's something we want to correct, of course: we want to go against West Brom now and get our first home win in the league, hopefully. But it's a different sensation now, playing without the fans behind the goal at Stretford End. They know how to score a goal for us.”

Solskjaer accepted that the win over Leipzig at Old Trafford was probably the Reds’ best performance of 2020/21 so far, but was insistent that behind-closed-doors fixtures in M16 took some getting used to.

“It's not that easy as:‘Why do we not win at home? Why do we not do so well?' Every game lives its own life, I think. There's reasons behind us not having a home win in the league yet so far. Home and away is not the same [as it was].

“In Norway, we've got at least 100 fans and they help. Here it's completely sterile and it's different. The games we've played have been close games, apart from the Tottenham game, where we played with 10 men. So we're working on it and trying to find an answer, of course.”
United head into this weekend’s home match against West Brom on the back of a positive result against Everton, prior to the international break, and Ole simply wants to see his team replicate that performance against Slaven Bilic’s men this weekend.

“I think the Everton game, last time out, showed a Man United team how we want to see it,”
he said.
“Very solid defensively – they only had one shot on target. We scored two fantastic team goals with lots of creativity and with crosses, and a great counter-attacking goal towards the end, so I was very pleased with the last performance.”

As for the potential return of supporters, Solskjaer is understandably keen for it to happen as soon as is safely possible.

“It's welcome news for the players and the club [that supporters might soon return]. The biggest plus is for the fans. They can come and watch the games again. Watching it on television… not getting that close contact, [a] connection with the players that you admire and adore... You're a fan of the club for a reason and you love the players.

“So, hopefully we can back to it, but that's up to the government and society in general that we can get this infection rate down. It's a serious issue.”

Recommended: