Ole Gunnar Solskjaer usually refers to Sir Alex Ferguson, not Theodore Roosevelt, when he endorses the best forms of leadership. On Friday, the Manchester United manager turned to a past US president to argue that Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford should be respected rather than taunted.
Both players missed their penalty kicks in the Euro 2020 final for England against Italy, and there’s been a chant made up to taunt the Manchester United duo – the same sort of abuse that slapped David Beckham in the face after the 1998 World Cup.
Luckily, in Ferguson, the young England midfielder had a manager and club ready to support him through it all. The same will happen under Solskjaer when it comes to backlash from international fans or press that seems forever existent in England.
“I don’t expect that to happen with too many away fans, or other fans,” Solskjaer said after Leeds United and Man City fans embarrassed themselves last weekend, as per the Daily Mail. “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.”
Brentford fans showed their class when they applauded Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka, another young England player to miss a spot kick. Solskjaer feels these players should be celebrated for not hiding away in big moments.
“The old Theodore Roosevelt ‘man in the arena’ [speech] resonates for me in this situation,” the boss added. In 1910, the former US president 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.”
A fantastic line to reference from Solskjaer, and it hits the nail on the head.
Solskjaer also promised to protect Rashford and Sancho, the same way Ferguson did with Becks.
“The way the manager dealt with the Becks situation was just the right prototype. Jadon and Marcus are strong characters; that won’t be an issue. We will protect them; I will protect them.”