Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s United, placed fifth on the Premier League table with 45 points from 29 fixtures, was on an 11-match unbeaten run in all competitions prior to the hiatus. Following a three-month spell off the pitch, the ‘Red Devils’ will return to action on June 20 (in IST) as fellow Champions League challenger Tottenham Hotspur braces to host it.
With Premier League set to restart on June 17, United manager Solskjaer said his squad members would be eager to keep the momentum going. “We have been training for the last couple of weeks. (Once the league begins), everyone will be keen to prove that we can continue the good run,” Solskjaer told HCL Healthcare CEO Shikhar Malhotra during an interaction hosted by the Shiv Nadar Foundation.
After competing on the road at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, the men from Manchester will meet Sheffield United (home) and Brighton & Hove Albion (away) on June 24 and July 1 respectively. As strict safety protocols are in place, all remaining domestic games in England will be held without spectators.
Solskjaer stated playing in front of empty stands wouldn’t be something new to United, which thrashed LASK 5-0 in a closed-door Europa League Round-of-16 match in Linz, Austria, in March – its last competitive fixture.
“We know how it feels. It is going to be strange. Football is all about fans, their passion and excitement. We can’t have that for some time now,” he added.
“Fans are one of United’s strengths. During my playing days, I always had that extra motivation because of the fans. United has great backing not only at Old Trafford but also at other stadiums. We will have to create our own atmosphere,” said Solskjaer, who spent 11 years at the club as a player.
During the conversation, the Norwegian gaffer also spoke about the importance of mental health, which, according to him, will determine the performance of a player. “I am a big fan of Johan Cruyff. He always used to say that football is 90% about mind and 10% about feet. That is why I coach the person on the whole and not just the footballer,” explained Solskjaer, nicknamed the ‘Baby-Faced Assassin’.
“I always talk about little things so that the boys will feel valued. My staff are fantastic and we care about everyone at the club.”