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Manchester United players including McTominay, Shaw and Pogba celebrate after scoring a goal at Old Trafford

Opinion: We're all craving the return of United

Let's begin with good news: the international break is almost over.

The bad news is there are still four more days until United return to action. 

Thankfully, that time will pass quickly and the Reds will return with an almighty bang, in a Premier League blockbuster against high-flying Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. It’s a mouth-watering fixture that provides a perfect fix to those of us who have been craving the return of domestic football. 

That will be followed on Tuesday by our biggest European night at Old Trafford since Real Madrid visited in 2013, with our respected rivals Juventus set to grace the flood-lit Theatre of Dreams on matchday three of the UEFA Champions League.

Seriously, does it get any bigger than that?

Those colossal fixtures represent a feast of football after the famine of the break, which, for me, is like enduring two weeks of Brexit negotiations!

“To say it’s dull would be kind,” opined Paddy Crerand on MUTV this week, discussing the break in the domestic schedule. “It's a good job this is a family show… it has been awful. I watched Scotland and God almighty the games have been poor - but good if you want to go to sleep at night.”

Video
United legends Wes Brown and Paddy Crerand on MUTV
See what club legends Wes Brown and Paddy Crerand had to say about United's return to action.

There were of course a selection of highlights for our players, including confidence-boosting goals for Romelu Lukaku, Marcus Rashford and even centre-back Eric Bailly, yet national teams remain peripheral interests to many United fans who crave the higher drama of club football. I include myself in that group.

Perhaps it is controversial, but my passion and love for United is tenfold compared to my interest in England. That's just how it is.

With that in mind, it feels like an age since we were last in action some 11 days ago against Newcastle, when that gutsy comeback win beneath the Saturday-night lights ended a run of disappointing results across all competitions.

It was an electric night against Newcastle and that win felt like a lightning rod striking our campaign. The break was therefore badly timed for both the team and fans, preventing an opportunity to build momentum, confidence and belief. 

“We needed that win against Newcastle,”
says former defender Wes Brown.
“To be 2-0 down at half-time was very disappointing, with two early goals as well, but the comeback was brilliant and we need more of the focus that we saw in the second half. We need the passion that we showed. 

“We just need to start with that same level against Chelsea. Confidence is massive, I've always said that, and if your confidence is low then there is no chance. That win should have lifted ours.

“If we want to start well after the international break, then Chelsea and Juventus are exactly the games that you want. These are the games you need to be up for and I am sure the players will be!”
Wes Brown says

“If we want to start well after the international break, then Chelsea and Juventus are exactly the games that we want. These are the games you need to be up for and I am sure the players will be!”

Facing an in-form Chelsea team is naturally a difficult task, particularly at Stamford Bridge where we haven't won for six years, but that doesn’t diminish my appetite for a fantastic occasion and the potential to transform our season. 

It’s easy to write on paper, but if we beat Maurizio Sarri’s Blues and roll into that glamorous European tie against Juve with our collars up, ready to fight, then magic could happen at Old Trafford next midweek. 

The cohesion between our players and fans fuelled everything during that epic second-half performance against Newcastle. As my colleague Joe Ganley wrote so well afterwards: “Once there is communion between fans and players at the great old ground, you start to suspect, in your own head, that nothing can stop us.” 

Whether we win, lose or draw, I am just happy that United are back. 

Bring on Saturday.

The opinions in this story are personal to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Manchester United Football Club.

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