Varane feels connection with United fans

Monday 16 January 2023 10:42

Raphael Varane has seen it all - a decade with Real Madrid, winning the Champions League four times, and both the agony and ecstasy of competing in a World Cup final.

The France international, though has developed a special bond with the Manchester United supporters, and this was never more evident than in the closing stages of the pulsating derby victory over City.

As time dragged, following Marcus Rashford's goal, the centre-back could be seen urging the crowd to fuel one last effort by the Reds. Spinning his arms to implore the noise levels to be maintained, he was bracing himself for the expected onslaught during stoppage time.

This never came, with United actually pretty comfortable towards the end, not that anybody would dare to admit it at the time.

Phone clip: Revved-up Rapha! Video

Phone clip: Revved-up Rapha!

Go on, Rapha! Check out this angle of Saturday's post-match embrace between Varane and the Old Trafford crowd...

David De Gea did not have a shot to save, the only one by City on target all afternoon was Jack Grealish's headed opener, as the hosts defended resolutely, with Varane one of those in top form, rebutting crosses with convincing headers and marshalling the troops.

When the final whistle heralded an unforgettable 2-1 triumph, the eyes were drawn to our no.19 again, this time celebrating wildly in front of the Sir Alex Ferguson Stand, drinking in the acclaim as it flooded back from the delirious supporters.

As the song about United goes, he's seen it all and won the lot but, like fellow ex-Real Madrid star Casemiro, is now deeply invested in the Reds' cause and you can sense what it would mean to these fearsome warriors to restore the club to its rightful place.

"It's special," he told reporters about playing at Old Trafford. "It’s a stadium with a magnificent atmosphere. It’s amazing. At the end, I felt a connection with the fans. We really want to win and to do that against a big rival, in our home. We live stronger with this. It was beautiful.

"We’re now much better than the last game [against City at the Etihad Stadium]. We know better now what the Mister [manager] wants and how he wants to do it. We’ve seen the evolution in this team. It was a complete game at a high level. We’re very happy."

This is no time to let up, though, as Varane will fully appreciate. Erik ten Hag will prepare his side for a double test in the capital, starting with Crystal Palace on Wednesday night. On Sunday, impressive Premier League leaders Arsenal will stand in our way.

Nobody will be getting carried away, the manager certainly wasn't, even moments after the adrenaline-fuelled high on Saturday. Our centre-back understands the level required to win at Selhurst Park will be the same as it is for every match in this competitive league.

"Everything is possible," he declared. "We’ll just take it game by game. It’s a long way to go and it’s very difficult.

"The intensity of every game is incredible, the physical effort. It’s like the same intensity of a big Champions (League) game every game. The rhythm is very high. The players are very well prepared physically. We know how difficult it is. But we’re solid, we’re strong. We just need to use the quality players with the ball."