Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insists he didn’t mean to ‘disrespect’ Roma ahead of the club’s Europa League semi-final meeting.
Comments from Solskjaer have been posted all over the Italian capital ahead of the semi-final first leg encounter tomorrow evening, with the Norwegian having admitted in the build-up that he had ‘not seen too much’ of the Serie A side.
Posters of the Manchester United boss alongside quotes saying ‘make sure he remembers us’ have been pictured in Rome, supporters of the Italian club having viewed Solskjaer’s comments – in the aftermath of the Red Devils’ quarter-final win over Granada – as dismissive.
Solskjaer has now issued a response ahead of tomorrow’s first leg at Old Trafford and has insisted he meant no ‘disrespect’ to this week’s opponents, praising Roma as a ‘fantastic club with a great history’ as the two clubs compete for a place in the final.
“That was straight after the game and, with all the games we’ve had, I was just relieved that we had gone through,” Ole said during his pre-match press conference on Wednesday.
“Of course, I’ve watched them but I hadn’t analysed them and I hadn’t seen them in depth to give them enough respect probably.
“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 – I swapped shirts with them, they’re actually signed!
Solskjaer says his side are ready for the challenge posed by the Italians tomorrow evening, who will count former Manchester United players Chris Smalling and Henrikh Mkhitaryan amongst their ranks.
The Red Devils boss says he followed the club’s progress closely during Smalling’s loan spell at the Stadio Olimpico last season and revealed his staff have analysed Roma ‘down to the ground’ since the semi-final draw was made.
“We are ready for them,” he added. “My comment was not meant as any disrespect and I think everyone knows that. I have got loads of respect for them.”
“I know about the history. I know about the quality. With Chris [Smalling] being there last season, we followed them. Then they signed Chris and we’ve not watched them as much, but we’ve analysed them down to the ground since we drew them.”