Eric Bailly has sent a message to Manchester United fans ahead of their side’s second leg clash with FC Rostov in the last 16 of the Europa League on Thursday.
Jose Mourinho’s men will head into the game firmly in the driving seat after claiming a 1-1 draw in Russia last week, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan grabbing a vital away goal in the first half.
Bailly was unable to feature against Rostov following his red card against Saint Etienne in the previous round but will be in contention to start at Old Trafford.
And the Ivorian, speaking to MUTV, was quick to emphasise the importance of playing at home ahead of the game against Rostov.
“At Old Trafford, the fans are like the ‘12th player’,” he said.
“They always give everything until they are hoarse to get behind us and give us a lift. It’s great that the tie will be decided at home and we can do our utmost to get the victory needed and send the fans home happy.
“It’s really important that we make the quarter-finals in this very difficult competition. All the players are aware of how much it means to make it through and so, when the day of the match comes around, we’ll be ready and prepared to ensure we start well.
“We always aim high in everything we do here. I managed to get to the semi-finals last year but that wasn’t enough. We didn’t win the cup or even get to the final itself so, for me now, it’s all about taking things a stage at a time.
“As I’ve said before, this competition brings plenty of surprises in a season so, first of all, we have to focus on getting through against Rostov and then we can think a little further ahead after that.”
Nobody in that Man United squad enjoyed the first leg: the pitch, the physical approach from the home side, the eerie atmosphere – it was, by all accounts, incongruous to one’s general conception of a European knockout game.
But one suspects that the home tie will possess an entirely different complexion. United will have the chance to get the ball down, move Rostov all over the pitch and exploit space with far more ease, and supporters will just hope that, in a potentially season-defining encounter, Mourinho’s men don’t draw a blank in front of goal.