Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has backed the right of Manchester United supporters to protest ahead of Sunday’s demonstration against the Glazer ownership but hopes that the scenes around Old Trafford remain “peaceful”.
Many United fans were angered by the club’s attempt to join the breakaway Super League, which was announced last week only to spectacularly collapse in a matter of days.
Ed Woodward, United’s executive vice-chairman, announced his intention to step down at the end of the year in the aftermath of the controversy, while co-chairman Joel Glazer apologised to fans for the club’s involvement in an open letter.
Around 10,000 supporters are expected to attend a protest outside Old Trafford before Sunday’s Premier League visit of Liverpool, another of the six top-flight clubs to sign up as members of the new competition, and many are expected to demand a change of ownership.
Solskjaer stressed the importance of the fans’ voices being heard but also backed the Glazer ownership and asked that the demonstration against their stewardship of the club does not spark trouble.
“It’s important that the fans’ views are listened to and we communicate better,” the United manager said.
“My job is to focus on the football side and that we have the best possible team. As I’ve said before I’ve been backed, I’ve had great support from the club and the owners and I’m sure I will get the backing again to go one step further.
“I’m so happy all the clubs have agreed that this shouldn’t be the way of moving forward. Then again, when the protests are on, it’s improtant they go in a good fashion and that we keep it peaceful.”
Solskjaer insisted that the demonstration would not prove to be a distraction for his players, who can secure qualification for next season’s Champions League, dent Liverpool’s hope of a top-four finish and delay Manchester City’s coronation as champions.
“The players are focused on the game and nothing else. They’ve handled difficult situations before.
“Of course it was a strange week before the Leeds game, after the Super League announcement but I’ve got to say, I’m not worried one second that our mind is not on the football when it happens.
“I think you saw here in the semi [against Roma] that the players are fully focused on performing.”
Woodward met with supporters in an emergency fans’ forum on Friday, where he told those present that United have no intention of reviving the plans for the Super League.
“As Joel said last week, we failed to give enough weight to the essential principles and traditions of sporting merit which are so vital to football not just in domestic competition but in European competition since the mid-1950s,” Woodward said.
“We want to restate our commitment to those traditions. I can assure you that we have learned our lesson from the events of the past week and we do not seek any revival of the Super League plans.”
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