Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes that Manchester United’s players and their performances have been largely impacted by fan protests against the club’s owners in recent weeks.
Manchester United had to play two games in the space of 50 hours last week, losing to Leicester on Tuesday before a defeat at the hands of Liverpool on Thursday. The Liverpool game was moved after the original scheduled fixture on 3rd May had to be postponed due to protests at Old Trafford and now manager Solskjaer has suggested his team’s displays were hit by the protests.
Manchester United boss Skolsjaer is of the view that his players were fatigued due to the congestion of fixtures
The Liverpool game, which was scheduled for May 3, had to be postponed. Fans protested at the Lowry Hotel, stopping the team from leaving ahead of the game. They also managed to gain access to the Old Trafford pitch, carrying on the protests inside the ground and the match was eventually scheduled on 14th May.
This meant that Manchester United had to play four games in a space of seven days, in which they lost three and won only once, against Aston Villa away at Villa Park.
Even last Thursday, further protests were held ahead of the game against Liverpool. But United moved beds into boxes at Old Trafford and players arrived at the ground hours early so they could avoid any disruptions.
United’s Norwegian manager Skolsjaer said: “I didn’t want to use (the protests) as an excuse because we lost two games, but surely it’s the reason behind the performances.
“Physically it’s impossible to play at the intensity that’s required because of the amount of games.
“Then you look at the preparation in between and we haven’t had the recovery and the same routine as we normally would and we haven’t done the tactical preparation.”
However, the Manchester United manager is hoping that the return of supporters to Old Trafford will be a positive experience, despite fans’ continued anti-Glazer protests in recent weeks.
“We’ve been waiting for a long, long time to welcome the fans back,” said Solskjaer.
“Of course the last couple of home games, especially the Liverpool ones with the protests, it’s never nice to see a club that is not united – fans and the team.
“That’s important, that we get back and enjoy being together. The mood in any club, and the relationship between a team and the fans, is vital to what happens on the pitch.
“The players, we’re all human beings, we’ll react to getting our supporters back in a positive way. They’ve always been back there giving us extra energy, and hopefully the players will give the fans a reason to cheer.” quipped Skolsjaer in the press conference.
Old Trafford will welcome 10,000 supporters for Tuesday’s visit of Fulham in the Premier League as coronavirus restrictions ease and united will be looking to get back into winning ways. That would allow Skolskjaer to leave all his main players out of the final-day trip to Wolves, which comes four days before his side’s Europa League final with Villarreal in Gdansk.