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Coronavirus: Solskjaer tells Man Utd players to 'create our own atmosphere' without fans

By Chris Myson
Solskjaer

Vienna, March 12: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants his Manchester United players to "create our own atmosphere" as they prepare for the "strange" experience of playing against LASK behind closed doors.

United are in Austria to face LASK in the first leg of their Europa League last-16 tie on Thursday (March 12).

The match will be played without supporters due to the coronavirus outbreak, which the World Health Organisation has now categorised as a global pandemic.

Solskjaer conceded the empty stadium would take some getting used to but is keen for his squad to make the best of the situation.

"We will have to create our own atmosphere within the game," the United manager told reporters at his pre-match news conference.

"They are used to training with no spectators, we play quite a lot of behind-closed-door friendlies, and I have no doubt my players are ready to perform even if there are no spectators there.

"The players are focused on concentrating on the job. These are difficult circumstances for all of society. For us we just have to do what we are told and get on with the game.

"Of course, it will be strange. This makes for a stranger atmosphere – we are just going to make the most of it.

"I played in Norway, so I did play behind closed doors. I played for my local team and I was 22 before I played in front of crowds."

Asked about the prospect of the Europa League finishing early due to the virus or of the return leg being affected, Solskjaer added: "We don't know what is going to happen, we just have to get on with it.

"I think football is about fans; without fans it is nothing. It should always be for them. It is a difficult situation, but the boys are very good at focusing on the job in hand.

"I would understand [if matches were postponed], yes. It is up to the experts to decide, and the main concern must be the health of the general public.

"At the moment I am not aware of any decision being made for next week's game at Old Trafford. We have to wait for the authorities and the government to make their decisions."

Solskjaer said no United players have been tested for COVID-19 as there has been no reason to do so.

"No, we haven't had any tests," he said. "That will be for the experts and our doctor [to decide], but we have had no reason to so far."

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Story first published: Thursday, March 12, 2020, 0:40 [IST]
Other articles published on Mar 12, 2020
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