Ole Gunnar Solskjaer exclusive: Unfair to call out 'easy target' footballers during coronavirus

Solskjaer exclusive: "For me football is an easy target sometimes. For me it's unfair to call on any individual or footballers as a group"

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says footballers are an easy target and that criticism of them has been unfair

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.

    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.

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    Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer joins Gary Neville and Geoff Shreeves to discuss how he is dealing with the postponement of the Premier League season and the future of the club

    "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.

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    Image: Solskjaer insists footballers have been and will want to contribute during the pandemic

    "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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    Gordon Taylor says Premier League players feel as though they're being backed into a corner by calls for them to take a pay cut

    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

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    Gary Neville says he expects Premier League players to agree to a 30 per cent wage cut, but thinks they should take time to ensure they reach the right agreement

    "Let's follow the guidelines, but football is very important for mental health for many, and for communities and society.

    "I've seen players do video conferences, challenges to each other, sending messages and sticking to those messages, being role models.

    "Football is such a big thing, so it's great that they can just show that footballers are normal people who are good at kicking a ball once in a while."

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