Solskjaer focusing on Man Utd stars’ mental health during coronavirus crisis

For Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, one of the most important issues during the lockdown is the mental well-being of his players.

Football has taken a back seat while the world fights the coronavirus pandemic, with saving lives and stopping the spread of the disease the ultimate goal.

But for Manchester United boss Solskjaer, ensuring his players get through the enforced break with their mental health intact is a huge challenge and responsibility.

Jack Grealish and Kyle Walker are two players who have breached lockdown rules and suffered a public backlash, with Solskjaer determined his players stay safe and adhere to the guidelines.

“The biggest thing for me is that we're mentally coping and doing the right things,” said Solskjaer.

“Not being bored and making daft decisions that will kick back at you.

“We've seen people now doing the right things and staying at home.

“But now, when we're starting to get a bit of control over this virus, we need to do that even more so, and mentally switch off at times.

“I've not really had to give them any advice in terms of how to be portrayed, because the boys have learned over the years.

“Some of them have made mistakes over the years, but I've been very happy with the way they've conducted themselves.

“It's about what they can do to help, but also looking after themselves and their families.”

Players used to performing in front of thousands and training every day have suddenly had that taken away from them, with many susceptible to mental health issues such a dramatic change can trigger.

“We shouldn't forget these are players used to playing in front of thousands of people and training every day with their team-mates,” said Solskjaer.

“They're missing that competition, so they've got to look after themselves, the mental health side, as well as the physical fitness.

“That's one of the big things – just look after yourself and do what you can.

“I know loads of players are contributing financially and mentally, even just by ringing round and talking to different people and helping out.”

With football suspended indefinitely, Solskjaer, speaking from his Cheshire home via video, wants his players to switch off completely from football.

“Don't even think about it, because you can't just focus on 'I have to be ready in two-and-a-half or three weeks' all the time,” said Solskjaer.

“You need an off-period and I want them to have April more or less relaxed because, if we're back in May, I want them really ready to work again.”

Solskjaer admitted one of the hardest aspects of football's enforced suspension is not knowing when – of if – the season will restart.

“That's the biggest challenge, probably, the unknown,” Solskjaer told Sky Sports. “Not knowing when we're going to start.

“You want to hit it when you get going, but is it in six weeks' time or is the league going to be starting at the end of May, mid-June, is it not going to start?

“So we've all got to – not sit on the fence – but you've just got to watch the situation carefully, think about the next steps and speak to the coaches.

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