Ole: We have to create our own atmosphere
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants Manchester United's players to use the memory of their behind-closed-doors victory over LASK when competitive football returns to the UK.
The Reds have not played domestically since 8 March, when goals from Anthony Martial and Scott McTominay earned a third derby win of the season over Manchester City.
Four days later, in Austria, United played our final match before the COVID-19 pandemic saw football indefinitely postponed – but the match had to take place in an empty stadium.
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Despite the unusual circumstances, the team delivered an emphatic performance, trouncing LASK 5-0 in the first leg of a UEFA Europea League round-of-16 tie.
“It’s going to be difficult,” said Solskjaer, when asked about the potential of resuming the Premier League behind closed doors.
“But we played against LASK just before lockdown and they played fantastically well. That must play in the boys’ head. We’re capable of playing without an atmosphere.
“You’ve got to create it yourself as well, within the team,” he continued.
“I was impressed in that game, how focused we were. The gaffer [Sir Alex Ferguson] always used to say 'concentrate, play with determination'. Everyone plays with concentration, but that was focus.
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The Norwegian admitted playing without the Red Army in situ – whether at home or away – is not ideal, and the return of fans to stadia is something he and the squad unanimously desire.
“I hope we don’t get used to it!” stressed Ole. “Football is to be played in front of fans [with] passion [and] excitement.
“Going out at Old Trafford and playing, our fans appreciate how much a tackle [means] – if it’s from a striker, that’s a boost for everyone.
“I’m sure we’ll do well, everyone wants to do well, but I want the fans back as soon as we possibly can, when it’s safe.”
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In between dissecting this season's United matches, the 47-year-old has also been keeping a keen eye on Germany's Bundesliga, which restarted its schedule on 16 May.
The boss is particularly looking forward to Der Klassiker later today (Tuesday), where the league's top two sides, Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich, face each other.
“We’ve been watching what’s been happening in Germany,” admitted the Treble hero. “For us to follow their template, it’s important they can show everyone the way. It’s been great watching some live football, not just the old classics. We’ve been spending hours analysing our own games.
“But tonight with Dortmund v Bayern Munich, that’s going to be a fantastic game to watch. There’s no doubt that football is a bit different with no fans. There’s that extra edge with the fans that you’re not going to replicate. Football is for the fans but we want to play football and fans can watch on telly at least, if we can get to the next stage. Hopefully we can.”