Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: Manchester United players have been affected by fan protests

Norwegian manager calls on returning supporters to make it a 'positive day' for everyone at club when they return to Old Trafford for Fulham game

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has claimed that recent supporter protests against the club's American owners have affected his players.

United will finally be able to play in front of a crowd for their final Premier League home game of the season at Old Trafford on Tuesday, with relegated Fulham the visitors.

The club will welcome back 10,000 fans after their Covid-19 enforced absence, much to the delight of Solskjaer.

But anti-Glazer protests saw a number of fans break onto the Old Trafford pitch, causing the match against Liverpool on May 2 to be postponed.

The rescheduled game saw Liverpool win 4-2 last Thursday, while 48 hours previously Leicester were also victorious at Old Trafford in a fixture which saw more pre-match protestations.

United made 10 changes to the starting line-up for that 2-1 defeat against Brendan Rodgers's side due the fixture congestion caused by the rearranged game against Liverpool.

That Leicester defeat also resulted in Manchester City being crowned Premier League champions.

Solskjaer, though, is keen to have supporters back inside the stadium for legitimate reasons and has called for it to be a "positive day" for everyone involved with the club.

"We've been waiting for a long, long time to welcome the fans back," he said.

"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 with the team, so we're hoping that Tuesday is going to be a positive day that we move together, that we play a good game of football.

"That's my job to prepare the team to play well and that they enjoy the day because that's important that we get back and enjoy being together.

"I think the mood in any club and the relationship between the team and the fans is vital to what happens on the pitch.

"The players are all human beings, we're all human beings, and we will react to getting our supporters back in a positive way.

"They have always been giving us extra energy and hopefully the players will give the fans a reason to cheer and that's what we have to focus on."

A victory will guarantee United finish the season in second place but their league form has been largely based around a fine away record.

The Red Devils are unbeaten on the road in the Premier League this season and have lost an away league game in 15 months.

Six home defeats put paid to any realistic chance of challenging Manchester City for the title but Solskjaer believes the recent displays in defeat to Leicester and Liverpool were impacted on by the protests.

"I just didn't want to use it as an excuse because we lost two games but surely it's a reason behind the performances," he added when asked if the protests had affected his players.

"I'm not saying it didn't affect them but I was impressed with how professional they were and how they went about it.

"There was none of them that complained and that's one of the big things for me, we never complain we just look at what we can do and how could we maximise the situation.

"We tried to do that but we couldn't get the results but the players have been good as gold. They've had a couple of days off and they're refreshed and ready and now we prepare as normal for these last two games."

United 2 Liverpool 4: player ratings

Published: May 17, 2021 08:42 PM

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