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“Everyone gets excited” – Leeds defender opens up on nature of rivalry with Manchester United

Few matches in English football are as fiercely contested as when Leeds United meet their arch-rivals, Manchester United. It is a fixture that supporters of both clubs look ahead to with great excitement.

With the two sides set to meet twice this week, tonight at Old Trafford and at Elland Road on Sunday, the stage is set for a pair of fiery encounters.

Having its origins in the Matt Busby/Don Revie eras of the respective clubs – and historical roots going as far back as The War of the Roses – the rivalry still burns as strongly as ever.

This is a sentiment Whites defender Pascal Struijk shares with the Elland Road faithful, who has been talking up the nature of the famous derby in an interview with BBC Radio Leeds.

Struijk spoke about how Leeds’ rivalry with Manchester United feels different from any other derby matches he and his teammates may have played in. And, more importantly, how he views it as his role within the group to get the new signings “pumped” ahead of these heated fixtures.

“I think most of the players have played in a derby before, but I do not think they realise how big it is until they step on to the pitch for the first time”, he said.

“And I think from that moment on, it builds up every time, so from the time I have been here, every time we play, the whole week.

“Now we have a short period of time, but if we have a longer time leading up to the game, everyone gets excited, gets pumped to really play this game because we are all motivated and really excited to play this game.

“We have to lift the new guys, who obviously know that this is a really big game, they will get the motivation right.”

Leeds are to be managed by Michael Skubala, Paco Gallardo and Chris Armas at Old Trafford this evening after Jesse Marsch’s sacking earlier in the week. The club hierarchy hope to have a permanent manager in place for the reverse fixture on Sunday.

Any form of result would be huge for the Whites tonight in order to arrest the poor run of form which has seen them slide to 17th in the Premier League table, only out of the relegation zone on goal difference.

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