Thursday Briefing: Tuanzebe's call to action
Manchester United defender Axel Tuanzebe says the Reds’ underwhelming home form in the Premier League is something the players need to put right, starting with Saturday’s visit of West Brom.
Speaking in an interview for United Review, our official matchday programme, the young defender concedes he is as surprised as anyone that we have yet to pick up a victory at Old Trafford in the league this season, with our winless run extending to six games if you go back to 2019/20.
“I couldn’t tell you, to be honest,” Axel says when asked what is behind our poor form in M16, with Crystal Palace, Tottenham and Arsenal all tasting victory here in recent weeks.
“I think we just need to go out and play the game like it’s any other game.
“It’s as surprising to us as it is to the fans and everyone else watching. But we definitely need to correct it.”
The strange home sequence is juxtaposed by an excellent away record – Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side need one more win to set an all-time club landmark for consecutive wins on the road.
Axel admits that much of the traditional home advantage has been skewed since COVID-19 restrictions came into force, although the absence of fans is something he believes most players should be used to after their experiences of playing youth-team football.
“Fans are a massive part of the game,” he continues. “Now you can hear everything that’s being said, you can communicate easily with your team-mates. You can say that the pressure from the [opposition] fans has kind of faded, which, to some extent, makes things easier [for the away team].
“Coming through the ranks, when you played for the Reserves or the youth teams, there are hardly any fans and you just play every game as if it’s any game.
“The only advantage you have is that you know your pitch better than they do. So, to some extent, you can say it’s easier going away and winning than it is with fans.”
Our no.38 may be glad there will be no Baggies in attendance at the weekend, having had a few choice words uttered to him during his days with the West Midlanders’ local rivals, Aston Villa.
“The best memory [of playing against West Brom] is definitely beating them in the semi-final in the play-offs [in May 2019].
“It went down to penalties in the end. [It was] very tight, very intense, especially at their ground. They [the WBA fans] were absolutely brutal!
“But they’re another side that’s come up into the Prem again, and we’ll give them the respect they deserve. But obviously we want to win the game and kick-start something off the back end of the Everton game.”
Goal of the Day: Kanchelskis v Crystal Palace
Blistering pace. Accurate finish. Flying winger Andrei Kanchelskis was simply unstoppable on this day in 1994...
WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY?
With a short turnaround to the weekend’s game, the United players who have been with their respective countries are set to arrive back in Manchester for training.
We’ll have an early team news update for you, as well as a review of some of the positives which came out of the international hiatus.
At 19:00 GMT, United Women face a second Manchester derby in the space of a week, as they take on Manchester City in the Continental Cup. You can watch the game live on MUTV.
Five United players were in action as the international break came to a close- and Daniel James stole the show with a goal and assist for Wales.
Harry Maguire, Scott McTominay, Donny van de Beek and Ethan Galbraith were also involved for their respective nations.