(Reuters) – Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said the team’s eagerness to entertain fans had cost them in Tuesday’s 1-1 Premier League draw with Fulham and the result is a wake-up call ahead of the Europa League final against Villarreal.
United went ahead at Old Trafford through Edinson Cavani in front of 10,000 home fans, who returned for the first time in 14 months as the British government eased COVID-19 lockdown rules.
However, Joe Bryan’s late equaliser spoiled the party and Solskjaer said United had made it difficult for themselves.
“We need to play better against Villarreal than what we have the last three games,” Solskjaer told reporters.
“It might be a wake-up call because we tried to do the fancy stuff, the flicks, extraordinary things, the things that pleased the fans. That’s not what we’re about.”
Solskjaer pointed to the performance of Cavani, who this month signed a one-year contract extension, as an example of how his players can keep things simple.
“Back tackles, runs, scores — there’s no fluff,” Solskjaer said. “We can’t have fluff in a game of football.”
While Solskjaer was happy to see fans back in the stadium he conceded his players may have been trying to put on a show.
“The buzz, the energy, the atmosphere was magic, really,” he added. “It was fantastic to have the fans back.
“Maybe that was part of the reason we played the way we did because we played too much to entertain at times. Too many difficult choices instead of a simple one.”
United, who have failed to win their last three home games, travel to Wolverhampton Wanderers on Sunday to wrap up their league campaign before facing Villarreal on May 26 in the final of Europe’s second-tier competition.
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)