Manchester United ditch red banners at Old Trafford to improve home form

Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hopes for better performance in Europa League quarter-final return leg against Granada

Manchester United's manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gives instructions from the side line during the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester United and Brighton and Hove Albion at Old Trafford, Manchester, England, Sunday, Apr. 4, 2021. (Clive Brunskill/Pool via AP)
Powered by automated translation

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has taken a leaf out of his former boss Alex Ferguson's book as he announced changes in the club's stands aimed bring about a change in their home form this season.

Solskjaer said United have changed the colour of the banners around the Old Trafford pitch from red to black, after his players found it difficult to distinguish red shirts against the red background.

The move comes 25 years after former United boss Alex Ferguson's infamous complaints after a loss at Southampton, when he ordered his players to change their grey kits as they were struggling to pick each other out.

United have failed to win their last three European games at Old Trafford, with Solskjaer suggesting playing in red shirts against red empty seats could also be a small contributing factor.

"You'll see a change now the banners around the place. It is not red anymore, we have looked into this," Solskjaer said.

"It shouldn't be any reason really. But, some of the players have mentioned that [in a] split-second decision, red shirts on red seats [is confusing], we have tried to change that along with the anti-racism campaign. That was important it is not red anymore."

Tottenham v Manchester United player ratings

United are in a strong position ahead of Thursday's Europa League quarter-final return leg against Granada at Old Trafford, having claimed a 2-0 win in the away leg.

Marcus Rashford overcame injury concerns to open the scoring that night and, having been withdrawn in the second half, managed 72 minutes of Sunday's 3-1 Premier League win at Tottenham.

But the 23-year-old, who has been dealing with an ankle complaint, looks set to be sidelined for the return fixture against Granada having missed training on the eve of the game.

United said: "Daniel James is fit, despite missing the win at Tottenham through injury, but Marcus Rashford had to sit out training on Wednesday and is, therefore, doubtful for the tie."

Solskjaer will be without captain Harry Maguire, midfielder Scott McTominay and left-back Luke Shaw through suspension on Thursday after they collected bookings in Andalusia.

Uefa has handed United a €7,000 ($8,300) fine for picking up five yellow cards in the first leg win, while several players are walking a suspension tightrope ahead of the semi-finals.

"It's never a positive thing to not have every player available but we've got players ready to deputise and come into the team of course," Solskjaer said.

"It was [a booking] amnesty after this quarter final so we hoped to get them through, but there were some easy yellow cards that the ref handed out. We're ready to deal with that."

Anthony Martial and Phil Jones remain injured for a game that Eric Bailly will miss despite returning from the Ivory Coast, where he had previously tested positive for Covid-19.

"We have to make sure that we go through," Solskjaer added. "I always pick a team that I think will win a game and we will go into it wanting to win this.

"I know Granada will want to come and give it our all but we also want to improve our performances, build our momentum that we're on and have a good performance.

"There will be a few changes. Of course some of them are forced and some are maybe rotation."