A former England international has expressed concern that playing fixtures behind closed doors could have a detrimental impact on the final standings in the Premier League.
The 2019/20 season resumed on Wednesday after a two-month break, with games at Aston Villa and Manchester City staged in empty stadiums.
Manchester United will get their first taste of the ‘new normal’ on Friday when they travel south to face Tottenham Hotspur.
The Red Devils then host their first home game after the restart next Wednesday when they welcome Sheffield United to Old Trafford.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side are currently fifth in the table, three points behind Chelsea with nine games remaining and with their sights set on Champions League qualification.
Solskjaer will be hoping that the current ban on fans doesn’t have a negative effect on the team’s performances over the coming weeks.
That factor is particularly pertinent in light of recent research from Betway Online, which showed that United had the highest average attendance in the Premier League last season.
Ex-West Ham United defender Alvin Martin believes that clubs like United could be disadvantaged by playing in grounds without their fans.
“To go from playing in a full stadium to playing behind closed doors is eerie,” he said. “The atmosphere that you’re reliant on isn’t there and you can’t feed off the energy of the crowd.”
“Those big atmospheres help give you an extra five or 10 percent that you can’t replicate in training.
“They make you nervous, which I think is a very healthy thing for a sports person. When you’re nervous, that’s when you perform your best.
“If you go in for a tackle and there’s a crowd roaring for you and willing you to win it, I think inevitably it puts a little bit more onto you.
“Similarly, when the crowd produce that enormous roar when a goal goes in, it gives you a lift.”
United were in good form prior to the suspension of play and had looked a good bet to overtake Chelsea on the run-in.
The fans were very much onside with the direction the team was heading under Solskjaer and their support was clearly having a positive impact on the team.
Martin insists that fans can make a massive difference to a team’s fortunes and players may not produce their best performances without that backing.
“If you think about it, the game would not have been around for hundreds of years if people didn’t love to go to matches,” he added.
“The community that is created and the people that are so passionately attached to their clubs wouldn’t exist. That is the power that a crowd can have.”