Varane savours 'amazing' atmosphere and welcomes 'warrior' Casemiro to Old Trafford

We caught up with the Manchester United defender following Monday's 2-1 Premier League win

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Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford fired Manchester United to a memorable first win under Erik ten Hag as bitter rivals Liverpool were beaten 2-1 on a night of protests against the Glazer family.

It was United's first league win of the campaign, after defeats to Brighton and Brentford left them bottom of the table for the first time in 30 years.

Raphael Varane was preferred in defence ahead of captain Harry Maguire, with the Frenchman enjoying one of his best performances in a United shirt.

We spoke to French international in the mixed zone after the match at Old Trafford to get his thoughts.

Was tonight your best moment since you signed for Manchester United?

"Yes, I really enjoyed it on the pitch tonight - the atmosphere, the spirit of the team.

I came to England to feel these emotions after everything I left in Madrid, and this feeling was amazing. Absolutely amazing. The crowd, the fans and the fight on the pitch was amazing. Absolutely. I enjoyed it.”

There's been a lot of talk about what happened at Brentford but that was some reaction against a team that are considered one of the best in the world

“Yeah, we know the potential of the team. But tonight we really needed a proud reaction in front of our fans. It was absolutely necessary. I hope it's the real starting of the season [for us] because the two first games the mentality was not good enough. We had to fight like we fight tonight. We know what we can do but we did it tonight and I hope we keep pushing like this.”

You started the first two games on the bench. Could you pinpoint and see during those games what was wrong with the mentality?

“It's difficult to explain why but we didn't start the games with the same intensity, with the same fighting spirit. We had the motivation but it's difficult to explain why it was starting with this low energy. Football is about energy, it's about when you have to push, when you have to stay calm, when you have to attack. Tonight we show a great control. It was a mature performance tonight.”

It looked like you actually enjoyed the fight - defenders giving high fives and the like

“We try to stick together. We're a team so we fight for each other. That's why I really enjoyed it."

You played with some very passionate defenders in Madrid in Sergio Ramos and Pepe. Does Lisandro Martinez remind you of them at all, because he seems to be very motivated?

"He brings to the team his determination, his motivation and, yeah, he has this mentality, this fighting spirit. He showed it tonight.”

How are you feeling yourself? How’s your fitness? Did you have a special plan in pre-season, are you 100 per cent now?

“Yeah, yeah, I feel very good. I was ready for the start of the season, but I didn't start so I had more time to keep building the fitness. We know how demanding the Premier League is, so I work a lot to be fit, to be ready. I have demonstrated in the past what I can do when I'm fit, so that's my focus for this season. I really want to help the team.

Some moments in the last season were frustrating so, yeah, tonight I really enjoyed because I know the way was not easy. That's it, I know I need to be fit to enjoy it.”

Casemiro of Manchester United applauds the fans at Old Trafford. Getty Images

Another reason to enjoy tonight is you got to see your good friend Casemiro. How excited are you to have him joining you at Manchester United?

“Yeah, very excited. I know perfectly his quality. He can bring this balance to the team and his mentality. He's a warrior, so I think he will really enjoy the English football. I think it was a perfect night for him to meet Old Trafford because the atmosphere was absolutely amazing, and he brings a victory so it’s nice.”

Did he come into the dressing room before the game? Did you see him before he started?

“No.”

So, you'll see him at training

“Yeah.”

Obviously, there was there was a lot of talk about protests from supporters. Did that have any impact on the team or preparation going into this game?

“Honestly, no. Everything from outside we keep away. We know what we have to do, and we have to be focused on our work, try to be the best and build on this game and build the confidence.”

There was talk that you'd been on the phone to Casemiro trying to get him to join you. Is that true? Have you been pestering him?

“No, no, no. I think he doesn't need my help to make his choice. I know exactly what he what he feels and why he's coming here after what he lived in Madrid.

He needs a new challenge, I know exactly what he feels, and I know exactly why he chose this club. It's a similar process that I had so obviously I wish him the best and I'm speaking with him a lot, but he didn't need me to make his choice.”

You played in Barcelona-Madrid, Lille-Lens and Manchester United-Liverpool. How does it compare today?

“It's a bit similar. I mean, a different country but the rivalry is very similar. The spirit of the fans from Lens and from United are quite similar.”

Why?

“The passion. I think the passion is the same. Obviously, this club is bigger than Lens, but I feel some things are similar.”

Updated: August 23, 2022, 11:53 AM
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