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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Says 'Black Friday' Headline 'Worst I've Ever Seen'

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistDecember 6, 2019

Manchester United's Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gestures during the English Premier League football match between Southampton and Manchester United at St Mary's Stadium in Southampton, southern England on August 31, 2019. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. /         (Photo credit should read GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)
GLYN KIRK/Getty Images

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has criticised Corriere dello Sport's cover depicting Romelu Lukaku and Chris Smalling with the headline "Black Friday."

Lukaku joined Inter Milan after leaving Old Trafford in the summer, while former United team-mate Smalling has been a success on a season-long loan so far. The two will face each other on Friday for the first time this season.

Solskjaer described his initial disbelief at the insensitive front page, per Sky Sports' Joe Shread: "First of all, when you see that paper you say: 'Wow. Really? Is that possible?' It's the worst front page I've ever seen. It has to be."

Colin Millar of Football Espana posted a screenshot of the cover:

Colin Millar @Millar_Colin

Italian newspaper Corriere dello Sport's headline is 'Black Friday', as Romelu Lukaku will play against Chris Smalling this Friday in Serie A. This is not normal. https://t.co/Gyw0rCIPKe

Solskjaer added the club has reached out to support Lukaku and Smalling and said the latter is expected to return from his loan in Rome at the end of the season, per Sky Sports News:

"Of course we have been in touch with Chris, just so he knows that we'll back him and we support him. And with Romelu as well.

"I don't work in your line of business but, wow, that's incredible - and at least we don't see that here. We can see lots of different things but we don't see that, so that has to be stamped down (on)."

Racism in Italian football has been under the microscope of late. In late November, each of the 20 clubs in Serie A recently signed an open letter condemning racist abuse by fans following repeated incidents involving Lukaku, Mario Balotelli, Franck Kessie and others, per TalkSport's Jake Bacon.

La Repubblica (h/t Football Italia) also recently published transcriptions of Serie A's chief executive, Luigi De Siervo, saying he told club directors to move pitch-side microphones to avoid picking up racist chants.

Lukaku said Corriere's front page was the "dumbest of headlines," while Smalling called on the editors to take more responsibility:

R.Lukaku Bolingoli9 @RomeluLukaku9

https://t.co/Hq7PTbFU6V

Chris Smalling @ChrisSmalling

https://t.co/ZlhQCicEmc

Roma and AC Milan have each banned the publication from attending matches and press conferences:

AS Roma English @ASRomaEN

Following the publication today of the front page headline ‘BLACK FRIDAY’ accompanied by a picture of Chris Smalling and Romelu Lukaku, #ASRoma and @acmilan have issued an immediate ban to Corriere dello Sport. Full statement: https://t.co/8CrreRu2UJ https://t.co/2iPymcH7MD

Smalling's first-team prospects at United suffered a blow when the club spent £80 million to sign Leicester City centre-back Harry Maguire over the summer, a world-record fee for a defender.

However, he has looked impressive in his 13 appearances (all starts) in Rome, recently scoring and assisting in a 3-0 victory over Brescia on November 24.

Friday's duel between two of Italy's most illustrious outfits will see Inter attempt to increase their one-point lead over Juventus at the Serie A summit, while fifth-place Roma can climb as high as third with an away win.