Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insists that his Manchester United team must gear up for a stern test against a Leeds side showing similar qualities to their side of old.
The Whites have impressed upon their long-awaited top flight return after 16 years away. Indeed, head coach Marcelo Bielsa has won plaudits across the league for his energetic and aggressive style of play. What’s more, they have taken four points off Manchester City in the process – one of several strong results.
As such, they sit 10th in the Premier League and a top-half finish would complete a fantastic first term back.
However, the 6-2 defeat to their arch-rivals in December will prove one blemish on their record for fans. Nevertheless, Man Utd boss Solskjaer is warning of another stern test against the Whites.
The Norwegian played in several matches with Leeds before their relegation, in the 1990s and 2000s.
Asked about his personal connection to the matches between the sides, he told his pre-match press conference ahead of Sunday’s meeting: “They mean a lot to me because we know the history about the Leeds of the old days, the ‘Super Leeds’. That was the generation before mine, my dad’s generation.
“He’s grown up with seeing them winning the league, I’ve played in some massive games against Leeds where we had a proper challenge from that team.
“In the early 2000s, for example, Eirik Bakke played for them and we as a team, we got stretched against them. We looked forward to those games and we had some fantastic games.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: We want to finish season with a trophy
Manchester United are safely through to play Roma in the Europa League semi finals - and manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is keen to lift the trophy, believing it could be a catalyst for further success.
“There was respect for the level and they stretched us.”
However, Solskjaer has warned his players that Bielsa’s style of play resembles the great Leeds side of the past.
Solskjaer’s Man Utd, Leeds warning
“I feel the same now with the Leeds team coming up this year,” he said.
“They’ve shown their qualities and they’re going to stretch and challenge us and we have to be ready for this game physically and mentally.”
Solskjaer also revealed that Eric Bailly has returned to training. The defender contracted coronavirus while on international duty with Ivory Coast.
However, Marcus Rashford remains a doubt. He has not trained, but could be involved in Saturday’s session.