Manchester United have put out a statement on the official website confirming Thursday’s Europa League clash against LASK in Austria will be played behind closed doors.
Refunds will be issued to all fans, although Reds still face being out of pocket for their travel costs.
As frustrating as the news is, especially for supporters who may have started their journeys already, playing the match behind closed doors should suit United.
No hostile atmosphere
Although United are not enjoying their finest period as a club, they remain a huge scalp.
Especially in the Europa League, that tends to result in raucous atmospheres for away trips as fans flock for what could be a once in a lifetime chance to see their side face the world’s biggest club.
That creates a pressure on United and generally means opponents play like it’s a cup final when they host the Reds.
Now United don’t have to face that. It will still be a huge night for LASK and their players but that lack of atmosphere should take some sting out of the match.
There’s no room for complacency – as ever – but playing behind closed doors should certainly suit United better than their hosts.
Circumstances kind to United
United’s away record this season is such that no trip can be taken lightly, and the Europa League does throw up awkward assignments.
But United have avoided the type of far-flung trip Europe’s secondary competition can provide, which would likely have pleased Solskjaer when the draw was made.
It’s important to take LASK seriously, but there were bigger hitters United could have drawn, such as Roma or Inter and more hostile atmospheres to play in, like Rangers and Shakhar Donestk.
Now United don’t have to face a hostile home crowd cheering on the home side to eke out their very best form, either.
Solskjaer may feel he’s had a slice of luck with this draw. Now it’s down to his players to get the job done.