Solskjaer: It is time to start listening
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes the concerns of the players and fans need to be heard if elite football is to thrive across Europe.
After the opposition from supporters to the proposed European Super League, high-profile managers and players have voiced concern about the increased workload for players with the Champions League planning to add additional matches from the 2024/25 season.
The Reds have had a first midweek break of the campaign in advance of Sunday's trip to Leeds United and are looking forward to home-and-away Europa semi-final clashes with Roma.
"Of course, we need to listen to the players," stressed Ole. "It’s very important. We’ve had this discussion. We know that the new format of the Champions League gives the players more games.
“We need to look after the players and their chance to perform at the best level. I know there’s money in this but there are human beings and as I’ve said, I want the best possible product and the best possible games of football. The magic of a semi-final or a final, now we’re going towards the end of the season and players are playing every two or three days.
“It’s hard to play at your maximum level after long seasons with all these games," he explained. "Of course, they want to be part of a final, they want to be part of the Euros, the World Cup. Are we preparing them to play at the highest possible standard? That’s the challenge.
“We need to listen to them, of course, but everyone knows this year has been particularly difficult and special because of the pandemic.
"I think football has been a release for everyone from the, [let's] call it, sanity but the mental health of the people, of the players as well. We’ve been privileged to play games, but the product will be better when the fans are back in so we need to listen to the fans. But it will be better if we got a couple more days before every game.
"This week has been fantastic for us, we’ve had a week for the first time [when the league has been on] since August 2019 without a midweek game, without the obvious break up in Marbella for the mid-season break last year and then the Project Restart.
“To get the best possible product, there’s many ways we can do that, but listen to the fans, listen to the players, listen to us managers.”