Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says some Manchester United supporters crossed the line during Sunday’s protests against the Glazer family.
Thousands descended on Old Trafford before the planned 4.30pm kick-off with Liverpool and hundreds forced their way into the stadium, where a glass door was smashed and equipment destroyed. Some staff had to lock themselves inside rooms to avoid the invaders.
Hundreds of protesters gathered outside The Lowry Hotel, where the United squad was staying, to prevent the team coaches from leaving and the Premier League eventually postponed the match.
United are preparing for their Europa League semi-final second leg against Roma on Thursday night but the weekend protests are still high on the national news agenda. United were top billing on the BBC’s News at Ten on Sunday.
Despite preaching the need to ‘communicate better’, United staff prevented four dedicated national correspondents from asking Solskjaer questions during his pre-match Zoom call.
“It was a difficult day for us,” Solskjaer said. “We wanted to play, we wanted to beat Liverpool for the fans even, because our job has to be on getting good performances, good results on the pitch, that’s the players’ focus, that’s my focus.
“As I said before the game, we have to listen, we have to hear the fans’ voice, it’s everyone’s right to protest, it has to be in a civilised, peaceful manner, though.
“Unfortunately, when you break in, when police officers get injured, that’s too far, that’s one step too far. When it gets out of hand like this it’s a police matter, it’s not about showing opinions any more.
“Of course, it’s my job, my focus has to be on the results but you don’t really need to be a rocket scientist to see we have challenges and frictions, that have to be dealt with with the communication.
“Other individuals than me, of course, have started already, discussing with fans, communicating with fan groups, which is going to be massive for us going forward. The players have done terrific be where they are, I would be sad if all the good work the players have done is disrupted. Our focus is on playing well and getting to a final now.
“We want to listen, it has to be in a peaceful manner, it’s important, voice your opinions. We know, as I said, as a club, we need to communicate better. I refer back to the apologies, they’ve all accepted it came out wrong, it was the wrong thing to do, which is a start, let’s continue on that.
“Our fans want a team that is likeable, playing attacking football, scoring goals, winning trophies, being humble, work hard towards better results, so they can identify with them. We wanna be a Man United team. For fans, results are important, my responsibility is results.
“We want to get back to winning trophies, we haven’t won for a while, it’s something we’re working on, that’s my responsibility, and I’m sure the fans can see that’s what we’re doing.
“I have to have laser focus on football but also understand there are views and challenges ahead, but my focus has to be on what’s going to happen in the next three weeks on the pitch and then let’s see.
“As I said, the right to protest peacefully, everyone’s got a human right to be heard and a voice to be heard, but it has to be peaceful. When you step out of line, break onto the pitch, break into dressing rooms, it’s one step too far, that’s not nice. It’s not been helped by certain individuals, but that’s another part of it, that’s your end of it.”