Man Utd Must Fix ‘Mentality And Tactics’, Says Pogba

Manchester United’s French midfielder Paul Pogba applauds the fans at the end of the English Premier League football match between Leicester City and Manchester United at King Power Stadium in Leicester, central England on October 16, 2021. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP)

 

Paul Pogba delivered a withering assessment of the state of Manchester United’s form after a 4-2 defeat to Leicester left the Red Devils already five points adrift in the Premier League title race.

United have not won an English top-flight title since 2013 but were expected to challenge this season after splashing out to sign Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane in the transfer window.

However, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men have taken just one point from a possible nine against Aston Villa, Everton and Leicester in their last three league games.

United also crashed out of the League Cup last month and are under pressure for Wednesday’s Champions League clash with Atalanta after losing their opening group game to Swiss side Young Boys.

“If we want to win the title, these are the games we need to win, even if they are very hard,” Pogba told Sky Sports.

“We have been having these kinds of games for a long time and haven’t found the problem. We have conceded easy and stupid goals.”

United’s defence was easily exposed by a Leicester side that had not won since August before Saturday.

Solskjaer started with all of Pogba, Bruno Fernandes, Sancho, Mason Greenwood and Ronaldo and hinted afterwards he may have to sacrifice some of his attacking stars to better balance the side.

“We know that the fans were going to push and put pressure on us and we need to be more mature, play with more experience and arrogance – in a good way – by taking the ball and playing our football,” added Pogba.

“We need to find the key for this change because we deserved to lose.

“I don’t know if it is the mindset of the players. We need to change something. We need to find the mentality and tactics to win. We have to look as individuals and as a team to fix this.”

Former Manchester United captain Gary Neville said Solskjaer’s forward players were not working hard enough defensively.

“I love them as players those five, but having them all in the same team there’s not enough workhorses,” said Neville.

“We needed workhorses alongside the great players. Manchester United at this moment in time are imbalanced.”

The pressure is rising on Solskjaer to turn things around quickly ahead of a demanding run of fixtures.

Solskjaer’s men face Liverpool, Tottenham, Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal in their next six Premier League games.

Fernandes, Pogba Shine As Five-Star Man Utd Thrash Leeds

Manchester United’s English striker Jadon Sancho (R) comes onto the field during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Leeds United at Old Trafford in Manchester, northwest England, on August 14, 2021. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP)

 

 

Bruno Fernandes scored a hat-trick and Paul Pogba provided four assists as Manchester United thrashed Leeds 5-1 at a packed Old Trafford on Saturday to get their Premier League season off to a flying start.

In front of 73,000, the biggest football crowd in the United Kingdom since March 2020, United ran riot with their two midfield maestros sparking hope of a challenge for a first league title since Alex Ferguson retired as manager in 2013.

Fernandes gave the home side a deserved half-time lead, but Leeds levelled early in the second-half through Luke Ayling’s stunning strike.

However, with Pogba in scintillating form, United were not to be denied as the Frenchman teed up Mason Greenwood, Fernandes and Fred, while Fernandes completed his first United hat-trick in thumping fashion.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men finished a distant second to Manchester City in the Premier League last season with any hope of a title challenge undone by their poor record in front of an empty Old Trafford.

The Theatre of Dreams was transformed into a cacophony of noise by a full house, which resulted in a similar transformation on the field from United.

The home fans were on their feet even before a ball was kicked to welcome Raphael Varane as the French centre-back was paraded on the pitch following his arrival from Real Madrid for a reported £40 million ($55 million).

Varane was not registered in time to make his debut, while United’s other big money signing of the summer Jadon Sancho started on the bench.

United were also without Marcus Rashford and Edinson Cavani, but that allowed Pogba to star in his favoured role on the left of a front three.

The 28-year-old has again been the source of speculation in recent weeks after starring for France in an otherwise disappointing Euro 2020 for the world champions.

But Pogba finally produced his international form for United as he surpassed his tally of assists for the entire 2020/21 league season inside 90 minutes.

The only blot on the former Juventus midfielder’s day was his finishing as he slotted wide with just Illan Meslier to beat midway through the first-half.

Fernandes showed Pogba how to do it as United cut Leeds apart for the opening goal.

Pogba’s dinked ball over the top perfectly picked out the Portuguese and Meslier could not keep out his powerful effort despite getting his foot to it.

 

Manchester United’s Portuguese midfielder Bruno Fernandes (C) holds the match ball as he reacts with teammates at the final whistle during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Leeds United at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on August 14, 2021. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / 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. /

 

Leeds were lucky to go in at half-time only one goal behind and looked to have regrouped at the break when they levelled in stunning fashion three minutes into the second-half.

Ayling strode forward from right-back to unleash an unstoppable effort from 25 yards into the top corner for his first ever Premier League goal.

However, the jubilation of the travelling Leeds support was short-lived thanks to Pogba’s vision four minutes later.

Greenwood was the recipient of the defence-splitting pass this time as he sprinted clear of Pascal Struijk and fired accurately in off the far post.

Fernandes then slotted home his second of the afternoon from another Pogba pass before completing his first United hat-trick in style with a thumping finish into the roof of the net from Victor Lindelof’s long ball.

Leeds were thrashed 6-2 on their first league visit to Old Trafford for 16 years last season and Marcelo Bielsa’s men headed back to Yorkshire with their tails between their legs once more as United ran riot.

Pogba’s fourth assist of the afternoon teed up Fred to slot home a rare goal from the edge of the box.

Solskjaer could then afford the luxury of handing Sancho his debut with the game won as the £73 million winger and Anthony Martial were introduced for the final 15 minutes.

They could not add to the score, but United’s work was already done as they sent out an early warning to their title rivals.

Sancho, The $100m Man, Wants To Bring Trophies Back To Man Utd

Sancho. Photo: Manchester United

 

Jadon Sancho said he wanted to help bring trophies back to Manchester United after joining the English football giants from Germany’s Borussia Dortmund in a deal worth a reported £73 million ($100 million).

The 21-year-old England international, a former Manchester City youth player, has signed a five-year contract, with the option of a further year.

United have not won a trophy since the 2017 Europa League, with their last Premier League title success in celebrated manager Alex Ferguson’s final season before retirement eight years ago.

“It’s an honour,” Sancho told manutd.com of joining the Red Devils.

“Growing up, Manchester United was one of the biggest clubs that everyone knows, and of course there is also all the trophies they’ve won.

“That’s one of the reasons why I came to Manchester, because I can see the development that’s going on here and I want to be a part of it, especially because it’s such an iconic club and being part of it is kind of a dream come true.”

Unlike many young English players, Sancho decided to advance his career by moving abroad, joining Dortmund as a 17-year-old after failing to break into Manchester City’s first team.

And the gifted forward was in no doubt about the impact four years in the Bundesliga, which also included playing in the Champions League, had had on his development.

“It helped me grow as a player and I had the experience of playing in the Champions League and getting the feel of big games,” Sancho said.

“I feel like I did well in those big games and now I’m ready for a new challenge and a bigger step.

“(I’m) eager to win and determined to get trophies. Goals and assists and a bit of skills here and there,” he added.

Sancho’s move to Old Trafford follows a lengthy pursuit by United, who were reportedly put off by Dortmund’s initial £100m valuation.

The deal was announced just weeks after Sancho, together with new United team-mate Marcus Rashford and Bukayo Saka, received racist abuse following the trio’s penalty shoot-out misses in England’s Euro 2020 final loss to Italy at Wembley.

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‘Untapped talent’ 

Sancho is United’s major signing so far. Photo: Manchester United.

 

United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, describing Sancho as an “untapped talent”, was delighted to have got his man.

“We’ve followed him for a long time and decided to go for him and finally we made the breakthrough and got the deal done,” he said.

“We think his qualities will fit right in here at Man United. There is some untapped talent there I am sure, and coming into this environment will help him improve as well.”

“Jadon is a signing that we expect to stay at Man United for many, many years, so it’s also that part of it that we have a young, up-and-coming forward line.”

Solskjaer, himself a former United striker, guided the club to a second-place finish in last season’s Premier League, a huge 12 points behind champions Manchester City.

However, the Norwegian believes Sancho can help bring silverware back to Old Trafford.

“He’s got that DNA of exciting fans and entertaining and he’s also a winner,” Solskjaer said.

“He wants to win and that’s the next step for us. We need to take the next step, we want to take the next step and we feel that he can help us do that.”

AFP

Abraham Apologizes For Flouting COVID-19 Protocols Alongside Sancho, Chilwell

File Photo: Abraham-Sancho-Chilwell

 

Chelsea’s Tammy Abraham has apologised after footage emerged of him attending a party with England teammates Ben Chilwell and Jadon Sancho in an apparent breach of national coronavirus rules.

The Sun newspaper published the video, which appears to show the three players at a gathering in London with more than six people present on Saturday.

It comes a month after Phil Foden and Mason Greenwood were sent home for breaching Covd-19 protocols while with Gareth Southgate’s England squad in Iceland.

The Sun reports that the FA has seen footage of the party and quotes a spokesman as saying: “There will be no change to the England team at this stage.”

The England squad is due to assemble this week ahead of a friendly against Wales on Thursday and Nations League matches against Belgium and Denmark.

Chelsea pair Abraham and Chilwell and Borussia Dortmund’s Sancho are all in the 30-man group.

It was reported the party was organised as a surprise gathering for Abraham’s 23rd birthday.

The forward has apologised, telling the newspaper: “I arrived home to find a small surprise gathering.

“Though I was totally unaware this was planned, I would like to wholeheartedly apologise for the naivety shown for the organisation and attending of this gathering.

“All I can do now is learn from it, apologise to everyone and ensure it never happens again.”

-AFP

Sancho Travels With Dortmund For Pre-Season As Man Utd Transfer Deadline Expires

Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho attends a training session of the German first division Bundesliga team Borussia Dortmund at the team training grounds in Dortmund, western Germany, on August 3, 2020. INA FASSBENDER / AFP
Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho attends a training session of the German first division Bundesliga team Borussia Dortmund at the team training grounds in Dortmund, western Germany, on August 3, 2020. INA FASSBENDER / AFP

 

Jadon Sancho travelled with Borussia Dortmund to their pre-season training camp on Monday, the day the Bundesliga club’s deadline for the England winger’s possible transfer to Manchester United expired.

The 20-year-old is one of the brightest talents in Europe and Dortmund, who finished second in the Bundesliga last season, had slapped a 120 million euros ($140 million) price tag on him.

Media in the United Kingdom reported last week that United were close to signing the starlet.

Reports of a switch to United became rife over the weekend after Sancho was spotted at a party in London before returning to Dortmund.

In an interview last week, Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke ruled out a transfer of Sancho once their week-long camp in Switzerland started Monday.

 

AFP

Dortmund Dismiss Reports Linking Sancho To Man United

Dortmund’s English midfielder Jadon Sancho/ AFP

 

Borussia Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc has dismissed rumours that 19-year-old rising star Jadon Sancho is set for a move back to Manchester.

English youngster Sancho has flourished since joining Dortmund from Manchester City two years ago, and recently signed a contract extension which keeps him at the German club until 2022.

Yet Sancho, who picked up an assist in England’s 5-0 thrashing of the Czech Republic on Friday, has been repeatedly linked with a return to the Premier League.

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A recent report in The Sun alleged that Sancho’s agent was in talks with Manchester United, but Dortmund boss Zorc dismissed the rumours as “irrelevant”.

“I have no knowledge (of the talks), but it is also completely irrelevant,” Zorc told Bild.

In a recent interview with the same newspaper, Zorc admitted that it would be hard for Dortmund to hold on to Sancho long-term, but insisted that the youngster would remain at Dortmund next season.

“I can’t put a price tag around Jadon’s neck but I can say that even the biggest clubs in the world struggle to afford him at the moment,” said Zorc.

“Jadon will be playing at Borussia Dortmund next season. But it is obvious that the interest in him will keep growing, especially from English clubs. He will not end his career in Dortmund, that much is true.”

AFP

Southgate Keeps Sancho In Reserve For Croatia Revenge Mission

England’s midfielder Jadon Sancho speaks during a press conference following an England training at St George’s Park in Burton-on-Trent, central England on October 9, 2018 ahead of their UEFA Nations League match against Croatia on October 12. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

England manager Gareth Southgate resisted the temptation to hand 18-year-old Jadon Sancho his international debut as the Three Lions seek a measure of revenge against Croatia in the Nations League on Friday.

Just three months on since Croatia beat England to reach the World Cup final for the first time, the sides meet again looking for their first points in the Nations League after both were defeated by Spain last month.

Sancho has been in stunning form for Borussia Dortmund to earn his first call-up to the senior side but is left on the bench alongside fellow newcomers James Maddison and Mason Mount.

Ross Barkley makes his first England appearance since May 2016 as Southgate looks set to ditch the 3-5-2 system that worked so well in Russia for a 4-3-3 with Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford flanking Harry Kane up front.

FIFA’s world player of the year Luka Modric captains Croatia.

But the hosts won’t be able to count on any support in their first home match since the World Cup with the game being played behind closed doors in Rijeka.

Croatia are completing a UEFA sanction to play two games behind closed doors after a swastika symbol was carved into the pitch during a Euro 2016 qualifier against Italy in June 2015.

AFP

Dortmund Teenager Sancho Gets England Squad Call

Dortmund’s English midfielder Jadon Sancho applauds as he goes off during the UEFA Champions League Group A football match BVB Borussia Dortmund v AS Monaco in Dortmund, western Germany on October 3, 2018. Ina Fassbender / AFP

 

Borussia Dortmund teenager Jadon Sancho was a surprise selection as England manager Gareth Southgate named a 25-man squad on Thursday for this month’s Nations League matches away to Croatia and Spain.

Mason Mount and James Maddison were also given their first senior England call-ups by Southgate as it was announced that the 48-year-old had signed a new contract that will keep him with the national side until the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

The 18-year-old Sancho was called up having already played in the Champions League for German club Dortmund, with Mount rewarded for some strong displays at English second-tier club Derby after joining on loan from Premier League giants Chelsea.

Maddison was selected after a fine start with Leicester in the Premier League this term after signing for the Foxes from Norwich.

Southgate insisted he had no qualms in selecting youngsters for international duty.

“You never know with young players what they are capable of until they have an opportunity,” the manager told a news conference at the national St George’s Park training center.

“We gave Joe Gomez his debut against Brazil and he was man-of-the-match. We have done that over the last few years. It may be a bit early for them but they are having a big impact on important matches.”

The former England defender added: “Mason took a penalty at Old Trafford last week and he looked like he’d been there all of his life. Jadon has had a similar impact for Dortmund in big matches.

“I think very often we hold youngsters back too much. I’m always trying to find that balance, the messaging has to be correct, but it’s good for their development to see how they train with us.”

Winks recalled 

Harry Winks, capped once by England, was recalled after starting for Tottenham against Barcelona in the Champions League on Wednesday, while Chelsea’s Ross Barkley could win his first cap since a friendly against Australia in May 2016.

Injuries have led Southgate to make changes to World Cup semi-finalists England’s squad.

Dele Alli has been sidelined by a hamstring problem, while fitness doubts have seen the likes of Fabian Delph, Adam Lallana, and Jesse Lingard omitted.

England, second in group A4 of the Nations League, face third-placed Croatia in Rijeka on Friday 12 October before playing leaders Spain in Seville three days later.

England squad for Croatia and Spain

Goalkeepers: Marcus Bettinelli (Fulham), Jack Butland (Stoke), Alex McCarthy (Southampton), Jordan Pickford (Everton)

Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Joe Gomez (Liverpool), Harry Maguire (Leicester), Danny Rose (Tottenham), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), James Tarkowski (Burnley), Kieran Trippier (Tottenham Hotspur), Kyle Walker (Manchester City)

Midfielders: Ross Barkley (Chelsea), Nathaniel Chalobah (Watford), Eric Dier (Tottenham), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Mason Mount (on loan at Derby from Chelsea), Harry Winks (Tottenham)

Strikers: Harry Kane (Tottenham), James Maddison (Leicester), Marcus Rashford, (Manchester United), Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund/GER), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Danny Welbeck (Arsenal)

AFP