The first leg of the last-16 encounter has been moved to Turin as a result of coronavirus restrictions, with the second leg scheduled to take place at Old Trafford as originally planned.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Admits to Europa League Advantage
Manchester United Manager Would Not be Opposed to Single-Game European Ties
The first leg between the sides takes place on Thursday, February 18, before the second leg one week later on February 25. When asked for his reaction to next week’s game being moved from Spain to Italy, the Manchester United manager admitted that it gives his team the edge over their opponents.
Speaking ahead of Sunday’s match at West Brom, Solskjaer said: “Travel in Europe at the moment is difficult, as we all know; and it’s not a decision that we made. But when one game is at a neutral venue, it’s a disadvantage for the team that doesn’t have a home game. That’s out of our hands, we can’t say ‘let’s just meet in Turin and play one game’. I wouldn’t mind that at all, one game less.”
Solskjaer was also asked if playing one-legged knockout ties instead of the traditional home and away fixtures in Europe would be a possible solution in light of worsening COVID-19 outbreaks, and was open to such measures being introduced.
“That’s what we did last season: we met somewhere neutral and we made it a tournament… and as I said we do have a little advantage. It’s a disadvantage for Sociedad, of course, to have their home game in Turin. So for me, I wouldn’t stand in the way of that,” said the 47-year-old.
‘Social Media Companies Could Easily do More to Eradicate Online Abuse’
The Manchester United manager also reaffirmed his belief that social media companies must try harder to tackle the issue of online racism and discrimination. Several male and female players at the club have been targeted in recent weeks.
“Today with all the abuse and discrimination on social media, for me it’s simple: If you don’t have proof of your identity, you cannot open an account,” suggested Solskjaer when asked how progress could be made. “And it would be so much easier to punish the numpties that have nothing better to do.”
A group of football’s governing bodies have recently written an open letter to Twitter and Facebook asking them to ‘go further’ than they have done in order to stem the tide of racist and abusive comments directed towards players and match officials.