Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has opened up on Manchester United’s home struggles this season and says the club’s indifferent record at Old Trafford is a result of ‘fine margins’.
Manchester United have won just once in their opening six home Premier League fixtures this season, their performances in stark contrast to their form on the road with the Red Devils extending their club-record run of consecutive away victories to 10 games following last night’s 3-2 win at Sheffield United.
Solskjaer’s side host Leeds this weekend in the first Premier League meeting between the old rivals since the Yorkshire club’s return to the top division, and ahead of the clash the Norwegian has discussed his side’s contrasting fortunes.
Solskjaer believes his side’s struggles may be as a result of a defensive approach from visiting teams, though believes Leeds will be more ambitious than recent visitors to Old Trafford.
“I don’t think it’s a mental issue,” Solskjaer told the media following the 3-2 win over Sheffield United. “There can’t be no fans here [at Bramall Lane] and no fans there, so they should be used to the pitch as well, in the circumstances surrounding it and the environment.
“So, sometimes, it’s just down to fine margins – who gets the first goal and how the opposition set up. Today, against Sheffield United, you’ve got two teams who want to play on the front foot, press and go forward, which creates space for us. Space for them, to be fair.
18 – Man Utd have recovered more points from losing positions away from home this season than any other team on the road, in any campaign, in Premier League history. Turnarounds. pic.twitter.com/FnrbpNHmPO
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 18, 2020
“I think on Sunday we’ll also play a team who make it a hard game for you and also maybe an open game because the games I’ve seen from Leeds have been very entertaining.”
Manchester United were hopeful of being about to welcome 2,000 fans to Old Trafford for the visit of Bielsa’s side, but those hopes were dashed on Thursday with the announcement that Manchester would remain within Tier 3 of the government’s coronavirus restrictions.
United announced earlier this year that the club’s Old Trafford stadium had been modified to host 23,500 socially distanced fans, and Solskjaer was asked as to whether Liverpool – one of just four clubs in a Tier 2 area alongside Everton, Brighton and Southampton – have an advantage in the title race due to being allowed supporters at home fixtures.
“This is a delicate question to answer because we want fans in the stadiums,” he said. “I can’t see why we should stop the fans coming into the stadium, where it’s possible.
“That’s such a difficult answer to give you but I don’t think it would be any problem for us at Old Trafford to host 2,000 or 4,000 fans as well. We can’t wait to get fans in. I don’t want to stand here and say it’s not fair but having fans is, of course, an advantage for them.
“Everyone loves the support from their own club so we’ll just wait and, hopefully next time, we’ll be open.”