Solskjaer cites fans’ protests as a factor in consecutive home defeats

Manager looking for unity as supporters return to Old Trafford for Fulham clash

Manchester Utd v Fulham, Old Trafford, Tuesday, 6pm, Sky Sports Main Event

Ole Gunnar Solskjær has blamed Manchester United fans' protest against the Glazers' ownership for the defeats to Leicester City and Liverpool in their past two home games.

But the United manager called on supporters to get behind his team when they return to Old Trafford for the first time since the easing of lockdown restrictions in Tuesday night’s fixture against Fulham.

United lost 2-1 to Leicester and 4-2 to Liverpool in the first two home matches held after the initial attempt to play the latter fixture was postponed on May 2nd.

This happened after some of the crowd who gathered on the stadium forecourt broke in and entered the pitch, with violence also occurring. There was also a protest at the team hotel in the centre of Manchester.

It meant that United had to play three matches in five days, starting with a trip to Aston Villa on Sunday May 9th, which Solskjær's side won 3-1, before facing Leicester and Liverpool the following Tuesday and Thursday respectively.

Due to concerns over potential further postponements caused by more protests, United’s preparation was disrupted with players having to arrive earlier at Old Trafford.

“I just didn’t want to use that as an excuse because we lost the two games, but surely it’s a reason behind the performances and the results we’ve had,” Solskjær said. “Physically, it’s impossible for them to turn up and play at the intensity and the level that’s required because of the amount of games. Then you look at the preparation in between.

“You haven’t had the recovery in-between, you haven’t had the same routine as you normally do. We haven’t done the tactical prep in the same way as we’ve had.”

Security is again expected to be tight for the visit of Fulham, for which 10,000 home fans will be in attendance. If United win they are guaranteed second place.

“It’s never nice to see a club that is not united,” said the manager.

“We’re hoping Tuesday is going to be a positive day and that we move together. The mood in any club and the relationship between the team and the fans is vital to what happens on the pitch. Hopefully the players will give the fans a reason to cheer. That’s what we have to focus on. It’s a big game for us in that respect.

"We had a couple of days off after the Liverpool match and we've welcomed Dan James back and Anthony Martial back [after injury] so that's big, big plusses for us. We're only missing Harry [Maguire] and Phil [Jones]."

– Guardian