Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Solskjaer: Footballers have a part to play in this

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says footballers still have a role to play in society, as the world continues to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

With most club and international competitions suspended until further notice, the sport itself has had to take a back seat.

While the Norwegian reinforced his message that health service workers are the real heroes, he also told Sky Sports this morning that it’s important for players to provide an example to others during this difficult period.

“First of all, we are role models, sometimes we’re heroes in football, but at the moment we have to take a back step,” said the boss, in a TV interview with Geoff Shreeves and former Reds defender Gary Neville.

“The real heroes are the workers on the front line, I think everyone appreciates and admires what they’re doing.

“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, set challenges for each other, sending messages and sticking to those messages, being role models.

“Football is such a big thing, so it’s great that the footballers can just show they are normal people who are good at kicking a ball once in a while.”

Solskjaer is confident that his players are mature enough to act in the right manner during the current crisis. He added that, right now, mental health and being with their families is the most important thing, which is why some players, including Victor Lindelof, have been allowed to go back to their home countries during the break in football.

“I’ve not really had to give them much advice as to how to be portrayed, because the boys have learned over the years,” said Ole.

“Some have made mistakes over the years but I’m happy with how they portray themselves now.

“But firstly it’s about looking after their families. These players are used to playing in front of thousands of football fans, they’re missing that as well, so they have to look after their mental and physical health. That’s one of the big things. Look after yourself as much as you can.

“We’re all doing media [work], and I know people are contributing financially, and also by ringing around and helping people out.”

United Hangout: Solskjaer's exclusive updateVideo

Ole also had a message of support for Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, whose mother sadly passed away on Monday after contracting the virus.

“We are all thinking about Pep and his family,” Solskjaer said. “It goes to show that, when we have the chance, we have to spend time with our loved ones.

“For me, Pep is such a fantastic human being and manager, someone I’ve admired for many years, and I just hope he can take care and look after himself and his family in this difficult period.”

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