Solskjær claims too much red at empty Old Trafford has confused his players

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Jamie Jackson
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<span>Photograph: Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Getty Images

Ole Gunnar Solskjær has stated Manchester United’s red shirts had merged with Old Trafford’s red surrounds and prevented players from seeing a teammate in the “split second” required during games, leading the club to introduce black banners in the stands.

United host Granada in the Europa League quarter-final second leg on Thursday with a 2-0 lead. Solskjær was asked why in previous rounds Real Sociedad and Milan were defeated 4-0 and 1-0 away but his team could only draw at home – 0-0 and 1-1 respectively.

Related: 13.04.96: Manchester United's grey day at The Dell

“You’ll see a change now – see the banners around the club [stadium] are not red any more,” the manager said. “We’ve looked into this. There shouldn’t be a reason, really [for inferior home form] but some of the players mentioned that in the split-second decision you have to look over your shoulder to see if your teammate is there or not then the red shirt is on a red background with red seats [and this was a problem].

“Then again if you have a 4-0 advantage [as against Sociedad] you don’t really have to win that game: 0-0 was a good result. Then in the first game against Milan we conceded in the last minute. I still think we’ve played some good football at home, [though] we started off badly [in the Premier League] with three defeats to Palace, Tottenham and Arsenal, but we’ve improved.”

Solskjær’s statement comes a day after the 25th anniversary of Alex Ferguson ordering United to change from grey shirts to blue and white stripes when trailing 3-0 at half-time at Southampton. They still lost 3-1. The switch to black surrounds at Old Trafford occurred on 2 April, meaning United’s sole home match since was a 2-1 win against Brighton.

Solskjær said Jesse Lingard would be welcomed back when a loan at West Ham, which has yielded eight goals in nine Premier League matches, ends. But he did not answer whether the forward, who has another season his contract, would be offered a new deal.

“We welcome him back [then],” he said. “I am delighted for Jess and wish him all the best for the rest of the season until he comes back.”

Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw and Scott McTominay are suspended.