Thousands of Manchester United fans are expected to protest outside Old Trafford on Sunday ahead of the Premier League clash against Liverpool – and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says the club must listen to supporters.
United and Liverpool both faced a fierce backlash from fans who were furious over their controversial plans to form a new breakway European Super League.
Departing executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward followed co-chairman Joel Glazer in apologising to supporters for United’s part in the proposals at an emergency fans forum on Friday morning.
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.
PA reports that around 10,000 supporters are expected to descend on Old Trafford ahead of Sunday’s clash with Liverpool as they push to change the ownership structure at the club, and Solskjaer says now is the time to take fans’ frustations on board.
Solskjaer 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.”
Solskjaer spoke to a group of fans last Thursday as they took their protests to the training ground, where they brandished banners reading ‘Glazers Out’ and ‘51% MUFC 20’ in reference to the model of ownership used widely in Germany.
Several hundred more showed their anger at Old Trafford last Saturday afternoon and far more are expected on Sunday, when Solskjaer 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.
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“Of course it was a strange week before the Leeds game (last Sunday) after the Super League announcement.
“But I’ve got to say that 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 that the players are fully, fully focused on performing.”