Man United’s Solskajer slams festive fixture pile-up

Manchester United’s manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reacts during a match between his club and Brighton at Old Trafford, Manchester. (Reuters/File)
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Updated 28 December 2019

Man United’s Solskajer slams festive fixture pile-up

  • The club to play its 2019 final league match on Saturday, just over 48 hours since a comeback win over Newcastle

LONDON: Manchester United’s Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has become the latest Premier League manager to complain about the “unfair” packed program of fixtures over Christmas and New Year.

United play their final league match of 2019 against Burnley on Saturday, just over 48 hours since competing a 4-1 comeback win over Newcastle.

Those matches form part of a sequence of seven games in 21 days that is hard to square with modern notions of rest and recovery.

But such is the commercial appeal of the traditionally congested program that change does not appear likely anytime soon, even though Jurgen Klopp, the manager of runaway leaders Liverpool said recently it was a “crime” for teams to have to play on both Dec. 26 and 27.

“I don’t think it is fair on the boys at all,” said United manager Solskjaer.

“I don’t think it is fair to be expected to perform at the best of your level, both mentally and physically, 48 hours after you have played.

“But I think we are in the best position to perform on Saturday. One — the game was over after 45 minutes. Two — we are young,” the former United striker added.

“We have a great chance against Burnley to perform at the best level because our boys, when you are 23, which is the average age of the outfield starting players (against Newcastle), that will make it easier for us to recover than Burnley, for example. I think.

“They played until the end against Everton. We were done after 45 minutes and used the second half as recovery.

“But it is not fair, especially when a game at Watford has just gone and there will be a game New Years’ Day.

“Two games in three days is possible once in a while but not when it is as tight as this.”

The Norwegian, asked if English football might change its ways, replied: “You are a traditionalist country. You like your traditions. I can’t see it being changed, no. But it should be.”

As for how he coped during his playing days, Solskjaer jokingly said: “It was easy for me. I was on the bench all the time! I never played 90 minutes twice in three days.

“Maybe I did one year. I scored against Villa and Ipswich. You have to look after yourself.

“You have to eat the right things, drink the right things, sleep well.”

Separately, United midfielder Paul Pogba decided to make a personal protest against racism following the ongoing “ignorance” demonstrated at football stadiums throughout Europe.

“No to racism” and “We are one” read the wristbands that Pogba asked his teammates to join him in wearing before the match, with the World Cup winner then presenting his to a young fan in the crowd.


England cricket players donate, take pay cuts amid COVID-19 crisis

Updated 05 April 2020

England cricket players donate, take pay cuts amid COVID-19 crisis

  • The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has said the season will not start before May 28
  • ECB’s centrally contracted women players to take a salary reduction for the months of April, May and June

LONDON: England’s centrally contracted male cricketers will donate £500,000 ($613,000) to the Board and charities while their women’s team counterparts have volunteered a three-month pay cut amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the players’ association (PCA) said.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has said the season will not start before May 28 and speculation has been mounting over how their leading players would respond to the situation.

“Following a meeting today of all of the England men’s centrally contracted cricketers, the players have agreed to make an initial donation of £0.5 million to the ECB and to selected good causes ...” the Professional Cricketers’ Association said in a statement.

“This contribution is the equivalent of all of the England centrally contracted players taking a 20 percent reduction in their monthly retainers for the next three months.

“The players will continue to discuss with the ECB the challenging situation faced by the game and society as a whole and will consider how best to support the ECB and both the cricketing and wider community going forward.”

The ECB’s centrally contracted women players have volunteered to take a salary reduction for the months of April, May and June in line with their coaches and support staff.

England women’s captain Heather Knight said: “All the players felt like it was the right response in the current climate to take a pay cut in line with what our support staff are taking.

“We know how the current situation is affecting the game and we want to help as much as we can.

“We will be discussing with the ECB further ways we can help the game in the coming weeks,” added Knight, who has signed up with the National Health Service (NHS) as a volunteer.

The ECB has announced a 61 million pounds aid package to help the local game withstand the financial impact of the pandemic.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Jos Buttler is currently auctioning the shirt he wore in England’s 2019 World Cup final victory to raise funds for efforts to fight the coronavirus.