Man Utd vs Leeds had arrests and vile insults – but Solskjaer relishes rivalry

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When you’re celebrating an anniversary as Manchester United boss, the last team you'd invite to the party would be Leeds.

But Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has no choice in the matter at Old Trafford on Sunday – United's hated enemies are back in town whether he likes it or not.

For the record, Solskjaer is relishing the resumption of one of the fiercest rivalries in British football.

The Norwegian, who marks two years in charge this weekend, is no stranger to the bitterness that exists between two clubs from opposite sides of the Pennines that revel in a genuine disliking of one another.

"I can't wait because it's been too long" he said, "I know how much it means for our supporters and our club. It's a different type of Leeds coming up with the coach that has really done a great job with them and will test us to the limit."

The demise of Leeds, which saw them relegated to League One in 2007, saw the rivalry put on hold.

That was until they came together again in 2011 for a League Cup clash in Yorkshire that left Sir Alex Ferguson shaken following a sleepless night in the team hotel on the eve of the game.

Fergie described the sight of the United base being besieged by Leeds fans as "like something out of Zulu".

He added: "We had a lot of problems outside the hotel. I don't know how many hundreds of them there were. It was frightening. We have never had anything like that before because we have never stayed in the centre of Leeds. Next time we'll stay in Glasgow and get a helicopter down."

There were 24 arrests and during the game, which United won 3-0, home fans mocked their rivals about the Munich Disaster, while United's displayed a banner in the away end that said "Istanbul", in reference to the two Leeds supporters killed before a Champions League game with Galatasaray in 2000.

Fergie never came to terms with why games with Leeds inspired such hatred, but the bad blood continued to run deep both on and off the pitch.

Leeds never forgave United for signing Eric Cantona in 1992 for just £1.2m, while Fergie spent months sulking that same year after Howard Wilkinson's side had nicked the title from under his nose. Leeds have not finished ahead of them in the table since.

There was the infamous clashes between Roy Keane and Alfe-Inge Haaland that left both of them with serious injuries and a legal battle to resolve, Jack Charlton and Denis Law were involved in a fight during an FA Cup semi-final in 1970, while there was no love lost between managers Don Revie and Matt Busby.

Leeds have bristled at the unprecedented success of United in more recent decades, but when Marcelo Bielsa led them back to the promised land at the end of last season, this fixture was the first one his supporters looked for.

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  • Now it has arrived. The tribal hostilities of the 'War of the Roses' can start again and Solskjaer admits the occasion is a welcome addition to the footballing calendar once more.

    He added: "They were fiery games I played in, with tackles flying in from players from both teams who were winners. We had a few fights of course. Elland Road wasn't the quietest place when we came off the coach walking into the stadium, put it that way.

    "I enjoyed scoring two goals in a win at Elland Road. I came on as a sub and it was a header at the back stick from a cross from Ryan Giggs.

    "They were two good teams back in the day. I liked the build-up to the games and the quality they had, it tested us as a team as well, so I have loads of good memories."

    • Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
    • Manchester United FC
    • Leeds United FC

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