Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says fan protests have been a factor in Man Utd home defeats

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Demonstrators protest against Manchester United's owners outside Old Trafford stadium i - AFP
Demonstrators protest against Manchester United's owners outside Old Trafford stadium i - AFP

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes fan protests have been a factor in recent defeats as Manchester United prepare for a fourth successive home game which will be dominated but security concerns.

A crowd of 10,000 fans will be allowed into the stadium for the final home game of the season, with supporter groups arranging demonstrations inside and outside the ground.

Solskjaer has called for the protests to be peaceful but after security issues surrounding United’s last three home games - one of which saw anti-Glazer demos force the postponement of a meeting with Liverpool - the United manager believes the unrest has led directly to defeats.

“I just didn’t want to use it as an excuse because we lost two games but surely it’s reason behind the performances,” said Solskjaer.

“Physically it’s impossible to turn up and play at the intensity and the level that’s required because the amount of games, then you look at the preparation in between, haven’t had the recovery, the same routine as you normally do, we haven’t done the tactical prep in the same was.

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

Those defeats, at home to Leicester and in the re-arranged fixture with Liverpool, have had little impact on United’s final league position.

But with the movement against the club’s owners the Glazer family showing no sign of cooling, there is the prospect for problems with so many supporters allowed into Old Trafford.

Manchester United's manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reacts during the English Premier League soccer match  - AP
Manchester United's manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reacts during the English Premier League soccer match - AP

Fans are expected to meet at the stadium at 4pm, two hours before kick-off, for a peaceful demo.

Meanwhile, Manchester United Supporters’ Trust have been in dialogue with the club who have confirmed they will allow fans to conduct a protest in the 51st minute - a nod to the “50-plus-one” model of fan ownership in German football.

That will take the form of supporters waving green and gold colours - the original United kit that has become synonymous with the anti-Glazer protests for the past decade now - and singing protest songs.

Solskjaer, however, hopes the return of fans can still be a positive occasion.

“We’ve been waiting for a long long time to welcome the fans back and 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,” he said.

“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.”

Solskjaer had been critical of high-profile media pundits in the wake of the Liverpool postponement, accusing them of fuelling the anti-Glazer sentiment.

Former team mate Gary Neville, and fellow Sky pundit Jamie Carragher, were among those Solskjaer was believed to be referencing although the United manager said he had not spoken with either.

“I’ve not spoken to anyone because I’ve been busy enough preparing the team,” he said. “Of course you hope that the game against Fulham will not be marred by any violence or over the top things.

“I know our fans, I know the Manchester United fans, they’re the best fans I’ve had and I’ve got such a great relationship with them.

“And they know how to support the team so I don’t expect any of the fans coming here making any trouble.

“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.”