Manchester United manager slammed for comparing football to rugby

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been heavily criticised for warning football chiefs not to let the sport turn into rugby after Manchester United were held to a 1-1 draw at Southampton on Sunday.

The United boss was particularly concerned with Jack Stephens’ controversial tackle on Bruno Fernandes in the build-up to Southampton’s goal.

“We cannot go from one extreme, like basketball last season into rugby now. I like the more lenient interpretation, it’s more like men’s football, but that is a clear foul.”

But, former Arsenal and England playmaker Paul Merson branded their complaints “embarrassing” and “cringy”.

“I want to finish this column on what can only be described as an embarrassment to rugby union and rugby league players around the world,” Merson told Sky Sports.

“When Premier League managers are saying our game is becoming like rugby… please! I nearly fell off my chair, I cringed. It was an embarrassment.

“In rugby union and rugby league, players put their bodies on the line. Go and watch a rugby game live and hear the hits and then see if you turn around and say football is going down the rugby route.

“How is football turning into rugby when you can barely even tackle now?”

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