Ole Gunnar Solskjær stressed the importance of fans being heard as thousands of Manchester United supporters prepare to descend on Old Trafford for what the manager hopes will be a “peaceful” protest.
The departing executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward followed the co-chairman Joel Glazer in apologising to supporters for the club’s attempt to join the Super League at an emergency fans forum on Friday and promised United “do not seek any revival of the Super League”.
The breakaway plans swiftly collapsed but fan anger is not going away anytime soon, with United supporters demanding change at the top of a club that has been in control of the Glazer family since 2005. About 10,000 supporters are expected to descend on Old Trafford ahead of Sunday’s Premier League clash with rivals and fellow prospective Super League members Liverpool as they push to change the ownership structure at the club.
Solskjær said: “It’s important that the fans’ views are listened to and that we communicate better. 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.
“But I’m so happy that all the clubs agreed that this shouldn’t be the way of moving forward. Then again, when the protests are on, it’s important that they go in a good fashion and that we keep it peaceful.”
Solskjær does not believe the protest will be a distraction heading into the “massive, massive game” against Liverpool. “The players are focused on the game and nothing else,” he said. “They’ve handled difficult situations before.”
Woodward apologised to supporters who expressed disgust, embarrassment and anger at the planned breakaway.
“You will all have read Joel’s open letter to fans last week apologising for the Super League decision and I would like to add my personal apology to this forum,” he said. “I know that you will feel angry and let down by the lack of consultation and by the way the proposal failed to recognise the vital principle of open competition. Proper discussion would have helped us avoid the mistake we made.
“While there would have been a substantial increase in solidarity payments from the leading clubs to the rest of the pyramid across Europe, we fully accept that there were fundamental elements which were badly misjudged … 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.”
Woodward’s comments will do little to placate furious supporters, with a letter signed by the vast majority of fan forum members read out to him during the meeting demanding change and rejecting co-chairman Glazer’s apology. “We are disgusted, embarrassed and angry at the owner’s actions in relation to the planning, formation and announcement of the European Super League,” the letter read.