Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insists footballers are an “easy target” and it is unfair to call them out during the coronavirus pandemic.
Football has come under scrutiny as the coronavirus pandemic continues to escalate, with the Health Secretary Matt Hancock quick to highlight the supposed lack of support being offered by well-remunerated players.
Hancock urged top-flight professionals to “take a pay cut and play their part” last Thursday, though Premier League captains were already in discussions about how players could help during the coronavirus outbreak.
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Speaking exclusively to Sky Sports’ Gary Neville and Geoff Shreeves, Manchester United manager Solskjaer said discussions are taking place as to how footballers and clubs can contribute, and insists footballers all want to help.
“For me football is an easy target sometimes,” Solskjaer said. “For me it’s unfair to call on any individual or footballers as a group because I already know players do a great amount of work in the community, and players are doing a lot to help this situation.
“Discussions are taking place between players and clubs, what kind of contribution they’ll make. It’s not easy for anyone, and to be called out is not fair for me.
“Mistakes are being made and have been made by loads of people and that’s how we learn as well. Now it’s about making better decisions, good decisions, I think we all want to help the NHS, the communities, and I think it’s important every single club do what they think is right.
“We’re all good people, and I’m sure we all want this to be over with as soon as possible. For me it’s about following the guidelines from the government as well.”
Former Manchester United forward Wayne Rooney said the way the last few days had panned out have been a “disgrace” and the former England captain called into question Hancock’s reasons for focusing on players at a time of national crisis.
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Sky Sports pundit Neville also believes the Premier League and the game of football itself has missed a big opportunity to set the tone during the coronavirus pandemic, and says the handling has been “a mess”.
Solskjaer recognises the power football can have on the optimism of the country and mental health of individuals, and appreciates that while footballers are often role models in society, the real heroes are those health workers on the front line.
“First of all, we are role models, sometimes we’re heroes in football, at the moment we have to take a back step, the real heroes are the workers on the front line, I think everyone appreciates and admires what they’re doing.
“Let’s follow the guidelines, but football is very important for mental health for many, and for communities and society.
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