Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has explained why his Manchester United players are fully prepared for the challenges that will be posed by this evening’s Europa League last-16 match against LASK.
The venue normally holds up to 21,000 fans, yet there will be no noise when United walk out tonight and Solskjaer states his players must “create their own atmosphere in the venue, while tapping into recent experiences of playing behind-closed-doors friendlies at the Aon Training Complex.
As Ole explains in this exclusive interview with MUTV’s Stewart Gardner in Austria, our preparation has also been helped by intelligence from January signing Bruno Fernandes, who faced LASK with his former club Sporting Lisbon earlier this season. Check out our Q&A in full…
Firstly, Ole, what will it be like to play behind closed doors?
“We just have to handle it and create our own atmosphere and make sure we don’t get distracted by that. It’s always miles better to play with fans. It’s how football should be played.”
Some things are bigger than football so we have to get on with the job in hand…
“I think so. You’ve got to just listen to the authorities, of course. This is bigger than just one game. It’s a difficult situation for everyone but we’ve got to go with what we’re told.”
Have you ever played in front of no supporters before?
“No, I don’t think so. I played in Norway for a while [laughs] and that’s the same! No, I played in front of 50 people when I was 21. These boys have had some other experiences.”
What sort of impact will it have – players sometimes respond to the fans so it will be very strange, won’t it?
“They’ve played in games on the training ground behind closed doors, when we invite different teams. We’ll make sure we’re ready and have the team spirit and atmosphere within the team, knowing it’s a very important game for us, and focus on playing football.”