'Football is an easy target sometimes' - Man Utd boss Solskjaer hits back over coronavirus criticism

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes footballers are an ‘easy target’ after they have come in for criticism during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock called out players last week for the apparent lack of support being offered by highly-paid players and urged them to take a pay cut to ‘play their part.’

Many footballers across all leagues have been making their own individual donations to various different charities and discussions are under way between Premier League clubs over setting up a charity to pump money into. And Manchester United boss Solskjaer believes footballers have been unfairly targeted.

"For me football is an easy target sometimes," Solskjaer told Sky Sports. "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."

United have been following the guidelines set out by the government with all staff and players working from home. Players have been given individual programmes to work on and staff who aren’t able to complete their usual work have been urged to volunteer with the NHS or other local community projects.

The club announced on Monday they would not be furloughing any of their 900 full-time staff or making use of the government's job retention scheme. Casual matchday and non-matchday staff have also been reassured with a commitment to pay their wages.

Despite there being no games, and with no action planned for the foreseeable future, Solskjaer believes his players still have a duty as role models, whether that be taking part in online charity games or ensuring they’re following the lockdown rules and encouraging others to do the same.

"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,” the United manager said.

"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 even a little fun game of FIFA, it's great that they can just show that footballers are normal people who are good at kicking a ball once in a while."