Ole Gunnar Solskjær wants Manchester United to be unified following the European Super League fiasco but the manager admits the owners, the Glazer family, have a “job on their hands”.
United’s membership of the now defunct ESL caused further fury among a fanbase who already strongly dislike the club’s American owners. Joel Glazer was to be one of the ESL’s most senior figures, as a vice-chairman. After United performed a U-turn and dropped out of the competition, he apologised to fans in an open letter.
Solskjær, whose side face Leeds at Elland Road on Sunday, was asked how unity could be achieved and if his team might be affected by the episode. “The players are professionals and they’re very good at playing football,” he said. “That’s what the focus has to be on, play as well as we can and get the supporters on our side.
“The owners of every club that signed up for this proposal have got a job on their hands, of course they have. We’ve had an apology from Joel and that’s important. He’s told us how committed he is to helping us going forward. Unity and everyone coming together and working together for one common goal is the best way forward.”
The Glazers bought the club in 2005 and Solskjær believes they remain committed to United in the long term. “I’ve had an open and good relationship with them and they’ve been very supportive of me, they’ve backed me,” the Norwegian said. “It’s all about improving the club, the infrastructure, the facilities and the squad. I am very confident they will remain committed.”
Luke Shaw, Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford all spoke against the ESL before its collapse. Solskjær said that in future any move for radical change must first involve consultation with players. “Of course they [who want change] need to listen to the players,” he said. “I want the best possible product, the best possible games of football and the magic of a final or semi-final has to be there. So to get the best possible product there are many ways we can do that – but listen to the fans, listen to the players and listen to us managers.”
Solskjær said the already crowded schedule needs to be addressed. “We’re going towards the end of this season and players are playing every two to three days. It’s hard to play at your maximum level after a long long season with all these games. Of course they want to be part of a final, of course they want to be part of a Euros or World Cup, but are we preparing them to play at the highest standard?” he said.
“This week has been fantastic for us because we have had a week for the first time since August 2019 without a midweek game – apart from our break in Marbella in the mid-season break a year ago, and before Project Restart [last summer].
Ed Woodward will leave as executive vice-chairman at the end of the year. Solskjær was asked if he would be open to a candidate such as Ajax’s chief executive, Edwin van der Sar, another former United player. “It’s important we employ the right man,” the manager said. “We can’t employ on sentiment but to have Man Utd’s best interests at heart – that’s one of the criteria.”