Ole Gunnar Solskjaer speaks: “Of course they do mean a lot for us,” he says of the returning fans in an interview with BT Sport. “The last time they were all here the last kick of the ball was Scott McTominay scoring against Manchester City, so that’s a decent memory. That’s what Old Trafford is about, that’s what football is about. You need to have that connection again, to have that energy in the game, to get that little extra edge for the players.”
Leeds United will play their first match of the 2021/22 Premier League season on Saturday lunchtime, when they travel to Old Trafford (12:30pm).
The Whites will be looking win at the home of their fierce rivals for the first time in the league, since 1981. More recently, Jermaine Beckford’s memorable FA Cup strike saw Leeds win at Old Trafford in 2010.
Manchester United will be looking to begin their season with a win this season, after suffering an opening day defeat to Crystal Palace at the beginning of the 2020/21 campaign. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side did not win any of their opening four Premier League fixtures on home turf last season.
With the success of 2020/21 still fresh in the minds of the Whites, an impressive away record of 10 wins and nine losses was an excellent return from the first season back at this level. In achieving that record, Marcelo Bielsa’s side were the only team in the league to go the entire year without drawing an away match.
On his players and their pre-season: “The main thing is that the players are ready for when it really means something. Pre-season doesn’t really mean anything. It’s all about preparation and fitness but now there’s points at stake. The last kick of the lasty game of last season was disappointing for us and now we’ve got to make sure we avoid that.”
What Marcelo Bielsa said:
“A game like the one on the weekend is independent, it doesn’t really matter when it is played, it has a life of its own at any time. We tried to convert the experiences [from last season] into conclusions. The natural thing is that in certain games and certain moments, and the player tries to incorporate experiences and decisions that are the adequate ones. Every game in the Premier League is complicated.”
On the omission of Jadon Sancho: “It’s too soon for him to start. He’s had holidays after the Euros and he’s been ill. He’s been training with us now for four days, which is not really enough to be playing 90 minutes against Leeds, who will give us a real physical challenge. He’ll be ready to come on and make a difference.”
On the omission of Anthony Martial: “Anthony is working on his fitness because he’s been injured for five months. He’s been training well and he looks like he really wants to get back in but he’s only played 45 minutes since March. It’s not fair on him to start the first game today.
Marcelo Bielsa has confirmed that Kalvin Phillips, Jamie Shackleton and Junior Firpo are all available for the trip to Old Trafford, but Diego Llorente will be missing.
Marcus Rashford looks likely to miss the lunchtime kick-off for the hosts with a shoulder injury, whilst fellow absentees will be Alex Telles, Jesse Lingard, Dean Henderson, Amad Diallo, Phil Jones and Eric Bailly.