Ole Gunnar Solskjær explains Roma comments following backlash from fans

‘It was not meant as any disrespect and I think everyone knows that’

Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s Manchester United side take on AS Roma in the Europa League semi-finals. Photograph: Peter Powell/PA Wire

Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s Manchester United side take on AS Roma in the Europa League semi-finals. Photograph: Peter Powell/PA Wire

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjær says he meant no disrespect to Roma after some fans accused the Manchester United manager of belittling their club ahead of Thursday’s Europa League semi-final.

Innocuous comments made by the Norwegian after the quarter-final triumph against Granada have clearly angered some Giallorossi supporters.

Posters have been plastered up near Roma’s training ground ahead of the semi-final, which feature Solskjær’s smiling face and the quote “I don’t know them and I haven’t seen them play”.

The poster is completed with the caption “make sure he remembers us!” – anger the United boss attempted to diffuse on the eve of the game.

“That was straight after the game and with all the games we’ve had I was just relieved that we’d gone through,” Solskjær said.

“Of course I’ve watched them but I hadn’t analysed and hadn’t seen them in depth to give them enough respect probably with analysis.

“I could’ve said, which I truly mean, ‘it’s a fantastic club with a great history’.

“I’ve actually got two prized possessions back home – a [Francesco] Totti shirt and a [Daniele] De Rossi shirt that I’ve swapped with them, actually signed.

“I know about the history, I know about the quality.

“Of course with Chris [Smalling] being there last season, we followed them and then they signed Chris.

“We’d not watched them [play a match] but of course we’ve analysed them down to the ground since we drew them and we are ready for them.

“It was not meant as any disrespect and I think everyone knows that. I’ve got loads of respect for them.”

If those quotes hurt Roma fans, then the 7-1 Champions League defeat at Old Trafford that Solskjær was a part of in April 2007 must have really stung.

The Norwegian provided the assist for Wayne Rooney’s goal in the first-leg loss at the Stadio Olimpico and came off the bench as United ran amok in the return leg of the Champions League quarter-final clash.

“I remember both games,” said Solskjær, whose coaching staff includes Michael Carrick, who netted a brace in the 7-1 win.

“I started the first one. I can’t remember if I finished it because we played with 10 men and we dug out a very good result. The manager was really happy and pleased after that 2-1 defeat because we scored a goal.

“He was confident that we could go through but that night was magical.

Alan Smith was unbelievable that game, Michael’s two goals, [Cristiano] Ronaldo scored.

“We were on fire that night and we showed what Man United can do and hopefully we can put in a performance like this again.”

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