Solskjaer channels former US president in Sancho & Rashford defence

Solskjaer channels former US president in Sancho & Rashford defence

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer channelled a former president of the United States as he defended Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho ahead of Manchester United's first away Premier League game of the season.

While Rashford is out injured, Sancho could make his first appearance in front of a hostile crowd since missing a penalty for England in the Euro 2020 final shoot-out loss to Italy at Wembley.

Man Utd travel to Southampton on Sunday and, with a chance of a repeat of last week at Old Trafford where visiting Leeds fans sang Rashford and Sancho "let their country down", Solskjaer quoted Teddy Roosevelt as he spoke up for his players.

“I don’t expect that to happen with too many away fans, or other fans,” Solskjaer said of the England players being targeted, ahead of thej game against Southampton. “More of them are more respectful and support their country more. You see other clubs’ fans show their support to the players who’ve been brave enough to step up for their country.

“The old Theodore Roosevelt ‘man in the arena’ [speech] resonates for me in this situation."

Solskjaer was referring to a 1910 speech by Roosevelt, who said: “The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”

After missing their penalties, Rashford, Sancho and Arsenal winger Bukayo Saka were the victims of horrendous abuse online, including racist insults. A mural of Rashford in Manchester was also vandalised - however it soon became a shrine for tributes and support for the three players, with widespread condemnation of the abuse.

Saka was applauded by Brentford fans when they faced Arsenal on the opening day of the Premier League season, as the majority of fans look to counter the abusive minority.

The Man Utd manager remarked on how his former Old Trafford team-mate David Beckham was treated after being sent off at the 1998 World Cup during England's last-16 defeat to Argentina.

Beckham was roundly abused by fans and sections of the press afterwards, and Solkjaer is drawing on the way Sir Alex Ferguson supported the player through that time in the way he is dealing with the pelters Rashford and Sancho have got.

“The way the manager dealt with the Becks situation was just the right prototype,” he said. “Jadon and Marcus are strong characters; that won’t be an issue. We will protect them; I will protect them.”
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