Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has praised Paul Pogba’s “strong character” and says the abuse he receives only makes him stronger after he was sent racist messages on social media.
Pogba was targeted after missing a penalty in Manchester United’s 1-1 draw with Wolves on Monday. The abuse came in the wake of similar messages being sent to Chelsea’s Tammy Abraham and Reading’s Yakou Meite.
Solskjaer has backed Pogba and urged social media companies to do more to combat the abuse, saying: “Paul is fine. Paul is a strong character and it makes him stronger.
“I cannot believe we still sit here in 2019 taking about these instances. Social media is a place where people can hide behind fake identities. There’s so many Ole Gunnar Solskjaers on social media that I know are not me.
“The authorities have got to do something about the ones who spread this hate. You feel sorry for them really – they must have problems themselves.”
Twitter told Sky Sports News they will meet United representatives in the next few weeks after the Pogba abuse, and Solskjaer wants strides to be made in tackling the “serious” issue – but will not ban his players from using social media.
He said: “We need to protect individuals. When there’s death threats and racism, that’s serious.
“We’re not going to ban our players on social media. There’s so much good we can use social media for, but we have to stop those incidents.”
Pogba’s missed penalty came just one game after Marcus Rashford scored from the spot for United against Chelsea.
Pogba could be seen talking with Rashford before stepping up against Wolves, leaving Gary Neville to question United players’ ‘lack of leadership’ for allowing the midfielder to take the penalty.
However, Solskjaer has backed the Frenchman to take penalties again in the future, saying: “I’m sure you’re going to see Paul Pogba score a penalty again for Manchester United.
“Let’s see when we get the next one. We’re practising penalties still. Marcus [Rashford] and Paul are still on them.
“Don’t be surprised if Marcus or Paul scores the next one – I’m sure they will. Absolutely no fighting amongst them.
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“We’re disappointed that we didn’t win the game, but the talk is always much more difficult when you don’t get a result.”
Solskjaer also hit back at criticism of his decision to name both Pogba and Rashford as penalty takers and allow them to decide who takes them on the pitch.
“It’s not that I’ve left it to the players to sort out. I’ve nominated two and throughout the season you’ll have games where Rashford’s not playing or Pogba’s not playing,” explained Solskjaer.
“It’s good for them to know I trust them to take penalties. It’s not like there’s anarchy and you can do whatever you want. Last year we had a few – Marcus, Jesse [Lingard], Paul all scored on penalties.