Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has branded Corriere dello Sport’s “Black Friday” headline “the worst front page” he has ever seen and offered support to Chris Smalling and Romelu Lukaku.

Roma defender Smalling, who is on loan from United, and Inter Milan forward Lukaku, were pictured either side of the headline on Thursday’s front page of the Italian newspaper, which was previewing Friday’s clash between the Serie A sides.

The former United teammates condemned the headline, which caused uproar in a country where a number of players have recently been targeted with racist abuse.

Solskjaer says it is “incredible” that the newspaper decided to go ahead with the headline.

“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,” said the Norwegian at his press conference on Friday.

“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.

“Wow, that’s incredible, and at least we don’t see that here… that has to be stamped down (on).”

The cover has attracted widespread criticism and the players had their say on Twitter on Thursday.

Roma’s Smalling said the front page was “wrong and highly insensitive” while Lukaku, who left United in August, accused the paper of “fuelling negativity and racism”.

Corriere dello Sport defended its itself with a front page headline on Friday that said: “Who are you calling racist? Lynching of a newspaper that for a century has defended liberty and equality.”