Solskjaer revels in atmosphere as Man Utd put on a show

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  • Post published:August 15, 2021

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer loved playing in front of a first full house in 17 months as much as the exceptional display that sealed Manchester United’s season-opening shellacking of rivals Leeds.

A sell-out 72,732 crowd descended on Old Trafford on Saturday lunchtime and those in attendance, plus the millions watching across the world, will not forget this breathless Premier League clash in a hurry.

United paraded Raphael Varane on the pitch having completed the defender’s signing just before a match in which they ran amok, with Bruno Fernandes’ hat-trick complemented by Mason Greenwood and Fred goals in a 5-1.

“It’s been a perfect day in that respect,” manager Solskjaer said.

“I love the 12.30 kick-offs as well because you can go home, relax and enjoy the day – or you can forget the day and just spend it with your family.

“Just driving in this morning with the fans outside, then you come inside and fell the energy. Absolutely brilliant, so it’s been a very, very good day.”

United were purring at times against Leeds, with Fernandes grabbing the match ball, 19-year-old Greenwood flourishing and Paul Pogba providing four assists in an outstanding display.

“Impressive,” Solskjaer said of the latter. “Paul’s always got that visio
n, he’s got that quality.

“I know that the headlines will probably be about Bruno or Paul but this is a team effort and the space Mason creates for Bruno to open up the channels, what everyone does ahead of the goals has been worked on this week.

“But, Paul, I’m very impressed with his fitness levels as well. He’s not been with us for too long and he looks fit, ready to go, enjoying his football.

“I love Paul seeing Paul and all these boys smiling when they’re playing football.”

Pogba has now been joined at United by 2018 World Cup winning team-mate Varane after the France international completed his switch from Real Madrid and signed a four-year deal.

“I haven’t spoken to him after the game but of course it was a nice moment for him and it was a nice moment for the fans as well,” Solskjaer said of the pre-match announcement.

“They’re together, they’re looking forward to seeing them, he’s looking forward to seeing his team-mates. I’m looking forward to working with him.

“Top professional, I’ve followed his career throughout and you see the way he conducts himself and the way he leads his life.

“All the chats I’ve had with and the club has had with him, we’ve got a top human being as well as a top player.”

While Man United celebrate this stunning season opener, Leeds head back across the Pennines reeling from another wounding Old Trafford defeat.

This 5-1 defeat was worse than the 6-2 loss suffered there last December, leaving head coach Marcelo Bielsa visibly frustrated on the touchline.

“It was very difficult for us to recover the ball and it was very difficult for us to create any danger,” he said, with Luke Ayling’s screamer Leeds’ only goal.

“It was for a number of reasons, none of them the high press or the individual performance of a player.”

Bielsa kept England star Kalvin Phillips on the bench after his Euros exertions, meaning Robin Koch started in midfield.

“Phillips is a player who always shines (but) I don’t think it’s a question of individualities as to why we couldn’t play a more balanced game,” he added.

“Like I said at the start it was difficult for us to take the ball off them and difficult for us to create. I liked how [Koch] played.

“I thought he was a dynamic player, he was present, he was willing, committed. He made lots of effort and he had presence throughout the game.”