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.

READ ALSO: Fans Urged To Stay Away From Olympic Marathon Over COVID-19 Fears

‘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

‘Players Sign For United To Win Trophies:’ Solskjaer Confident Of Victory Against Villarreal 

In this file photo taken on January 13, 2019 Manchester United’s Norwegian caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer applauds the fans following the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United at Wembley Stadium in London. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been confirmed on March 28, 2019 as full time manager of Manchester United.
Adrian DENNIS / AFP

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the hero of one of Manchester United’s greatest European nights, will aim to guide the club to a first title in four years Wednesday against a Villarreal side coached by Europa League specialist Unai Emery.

United’s last trophy came in the 2016-17 Europa League under Jose Mourinho when they beat Ajax 2-0 in Stockholm to become just the fifth club to win all three major UEFA competitions.

Defeat to Sevilla last season was the third of four semi-final losses for Solskjaer since replacing Mourinho in December 2018, but an 8-5 aggregate win over Roma finally broke the curse.

“These are big nights for us. It might be the stepping stone for something better to come, a bright future because this team is a young team,” Solskjaer, who scored the winning goal in the 1999 Champions League final, said in Gdansk on Tuesday.

“It’s a team that we’ve rebuilt over the last couple of years, so hopefully this is the start of something more.

“The players when they sign for Man United, they sign to win trophies.

“They accept the challenge of being the best because this is the best club in the world, so that’s the pleasure of the pressure of Man United.

“That’s something they are ready for because they wouldn’t have signed here if they weren’t top players.”

United finished second to Manchester City in the Premier League and will go into the final as clear favourites against Villarreal, who came seventh in La Liga in Emery’s first season.

Solskjaer has steered United to back-to-back top-three finishes for the first time since Alex Ferguson retired as champion in 2013.

“You can define a season tomorrow, we’ll only go home happy if we win tomorrow,” added the Norwegian, who is likely to be without captain Harry Maguire due to injury.

Eric Bailly could face his former club and fill in alongside Victor Lindelof at the back.

“These players are ready for this. I’ve seen in them something growing inside of them, more and more confident, robust and resilient to setbacks as a group. I’m confident we’re ready for this.”

Solskjaer said he will give Maguire as much time as possible to recover, but the England defender took no part in the final training session at Gdansk Stadium.

The United manager also has a decision to make in goal between David de Gea and Dean Henderson, who have split the eight Europa League games this term.

“It’s always difficult to leave players out but it’s throughout the whole season,” said Solskjaer.

Villarreal break down barriers
Not only are Villarreal appearing in a first European final and seeking a first major trophy, but they have the added incentive of Champions League qualification at stake in Poland.

Villarreal spent much of their history in Spain’s lower divisions before eventually reaching the top tier in 1998.

File photo: Arsenal’s Spanish defender Pablo Mari (C) and Arsenal’s French-born Ivorian midfielder Nicolas Pepe challenge Villarreal’s Spanish forward Gerard Moreno (L) during the Europa League semi-final first leg football match between Villarreal and Arsenal at the Ceramica stadium in Villarreal on April 29, 2021. Jose Jordan / AFP

 

They had lost four previous European semi-finals before dumping out Arsenal in the last four, and are unbeaten on the continent this season, winning 12 of 14 matches.

Emery, a three-time Europa League winner with Sevilla between 2014 and 2016, said facing English opposition gave him no extra motivation despite a tricky 18-month spell with the Gunners.

“I have no thoughts of revenge against an English club or anyone else. All I do is to try and bring the best that Villarreal can achieve. It’s a great club,” said Emery, who also took Arsenal to the 2019 final, losing 4-1 to Chelsea in Baku.

“This competition has improved hugely and it’s full of powerful teams of the top level who are desperate to win it and Villarreal has earned a place in that group.”

Gerard Moreno’s career-best 23 goals in La Liga this season put him level with Karim Benzema, with only Lionel Messi scoring more (30). The 29-year-old was one of two Villarreal players called up to Spain’s Euro 2020 squad this week along with centre-back Pau Torres.

“For most of us this is our first European final and most important game of our careers so far. We’re going to try and enjoy it,” said Torres, who has been linked with a summer move to United.

Up to 9,500 spectators — 25 percent of the stadium’s roughly 40,000 capacity — will be allowed to attend the final, with each finalist allocated 2,000 tickets.

AFP

Manchester United’s Match Against Liverpool Postponed

Supporters protest against Manchester United’s owners, outside English Premier League club Manchester United’s Old Trafford stadium in Manchester, north west England on May 2, 2021, ahead of their English Premier League fixture against Liverpool. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Manchester United’s Premier League clash against Liverpool was postponed on Sunday after fans invaded the Old Trafford pitch as part of a protest against United’s owners, the Glazer family.

Hundreds of fans managed to make their way into the ground, chanting “we want Glazers out.”

Large numbers of supporters had also gathered outside the stadium and there were clashes with police as they moved in to disperse the crowd.

“Following discussion between the police, the Premier League, Trafford Council and the clubs, our match against Liverpool has been postponed due to safety and security considerations around the protest today,” United said in a statement.

“Our fans are passionate about Manchester United and we completely acknowledge the right to free expression and peaceful protest.

“However, we regret the disruption to the team and actions which put other fans, staff and the police in danger. We thank the police for their support and will assist them in any subsequent investigations.”

The match had been due to start at 1630 local time (1530GMT), but had been delayed by over an hour before the decision to call the match off was confirmed.

“The security and safety of everyone at Old Trafford remains of paramount importance,” the Premier League said in a statement.

“We understand and respect the strength of feeling but condemn all acts of violence, criminal damage and trespass, especially given the associated COVID-19 breaches.

“Fans have many channels by which to make their views known, but the actions of a minority seen today have no justification.”

 

Supporters protest against Manchester United’s owners, outside English Premier League club Manchester United’s Old Trafford stadium in Manchester, northwest England on May 2, 2021, ahead of their English Premier League fixture against Liverpool.  Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Manchester City could have been crowned Premier League champions on Sunday had United lost the match.

No rearranged date has yet been agreed for the fixture to be played.

“Liverpool Football Club was in full agreement with the decision to postpone today’s fixture as a result of ongoing events at Old Trafford and the surrounding area,” Liverpool said in a statement.

“It is our position that public safety must be the number one factor in any such decision, with the ability to provide a secure environment for the participants, staff and officials being a particular priority.

“It was clearly not possible for this to be guaranteed today due to a situation which escalated rapidly.”

– Anger reignited -Anger towards the Glazers has been reignited by United’s part in a failed European Super League (ESL) project, that collapsed within 48 hours last month due to a backlash from fans, players, governments and governing bodies.

United and Liverpool were reportedly two of the leading drivers behind the project that sought to guarantee top level European football for 15 founder members every season without the need to qualify on the pitch.

In a rare public statement, United co-chairman Joel Glazer apologised to fans last month for signing up to the ESL.

“You made very clear your opposition to the European Super League, and we have listened. We got it wrong, and we want to show that we can put things right,” he said.

United fans also breached security at their club’s training ground in the days after the ESL proposals were made public to protest against the Glazers.

The Americans have owned United since a controversial leveraged takeover in 2005 saddled the club with hundreds of millions of pounds worth of debt.

As the English giants have paid off huge interest payments, the Glazers have still regularly drawn out millions in dividends from their shares.

United fans wore green and gold colours to matches early in the Glazers’ reign, the colours of Newton Heath, the club founded in 1878 that eventually became Manchester United 24 years later, as a sign of protest.

Green and gold scarves and flares were back at Old Trafford on Sunday, while there were a number of banners aimed at the Glazers.

United’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward has already announced he will be leaving his role by the end of the year amid the fallout from the failed ESL project.

“There’s huge discontent, not just across Manchester United fans, but I think for football fans up and down the country and I think they are just saying enough is enough,” former United captain Gary Neville told Sky Sports.

AFP

 

Europa League: Man Utd Demolish Roma To Banish Semi-Final Hoodoo


Manchester United’s Portuguese midfielder Bruno Fernandes celebrates with teammates after scoring the opening goal of the UEFA Europa League semi-final, first leg football match between Manchester United and Roma at Old Trafford stadium in Manchester, north west England, on April 29, 2021. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Bruno Fernandes and Edinson Cavani each scored twice as Manchester United took a huge stride towards the Europa League final by coming from behind to thrash an injury-hit Roma 6-2 at Old Trafford.

Fernandes’s early opener was quickly cancelled out by Lorenzo Pellegrini’s penalty before Edin Dzeko put Roma in front at half-time.

But the Italians lost three players to injury before the break and United took advantage with a dominant second-half performance.

Two predatory finishes from Cavani turned the tie around before Fernandes also fired home from the spot.

Paul Pogba and Mason Greenwood rounded off the scoring in a sensational second-half performance.

READ ALSO: 10-Man Arsenal Lose To Former Coach Emery’s Villarreal 

United are aiming to get to a final under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at the fifth time of asking after four semi-final defeats in the past two seasons.

But only a second leg collapse will prevent them from facing Villarreal or Arsenal in Gdansk on May 26.

In contrast to the vast majority of games this season, United came flying out the blocks and led after just nine minutes.

Pogba and Cavani teed up Fernandes, who dinked the ball over the advancing Pau Lopez for his 25th goal of the season.

Roma fans had urged their side to “make sure he remembers us” after taking umbrage to Solskjaer’s admission he did not know much about the current Roma squad in his post-match interview after seeing off Granada in the quarter-finals.

 

Manchester United’s Uruguayan striker Edinson Cavani hits an unsuccessful shot during the UEFA Europa League semi-final, first leg football match between Manchester United and Roma at Old Trafford stadium in Manchester, north west England, on April 29, 2021. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Sitting seventh in Serie A, this competition represented Roma’s last realistic chance to qualify for the Champions League next season and they reacted like a side whose season depended on it.

Pogba was penalised for handball as he slid in to try and block Rick Karsdorp’s cross and Pellegrini confidently beat David de Gea from the spot.

Dzeko was a persistent thorn in United’s side in four years as a Manchester City player and scored for the sixth time at Old Trafford when he tapped home Pellegrini’s low cross on 34 minutes.

By that stage Jordan Veretout and Lopez had hobbled off injured and Leonardo Spinazzola followed before the break, leaving Roma without the chance to make any further substitutions in the second-half.

United seized upon their opportunity with arguably their best 45 minutes of the season after the break.

Another fine team move involving Pogba, Fernandes and Cavani ended with the Uruguayan firing into the top corner three minutes into the second-half.

Cavani was then guilty of missing a glorious chance from Luke Shaw’s cutback, but was in the right place for a tap in when substitute goalkeeper Antonio Mirante parried Aaron Wan Bissaka’s shot into his path.

Two Roma players Solskjaer would have been aware of were Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Chris Smalling, who were both making their return to Old Trafford.

Smalling had a night to forget, but was harshly penalised when he clashed with Cavani as a ball flashed across the Roma goal.

Fernandes was clinical from the spot to give United breathing space.

The Portuguese turned provider for Pogba to power home a header 15 minutes from time.

And Greenwood came off the bench to land the final blow as he rounded off a counter-attack thanks to some more weak goalkeeping by Mirante.

AFP

Man Utd Fans Breach Training Ground Security, Protest Against Glazers

In this file photo taken on August 19, 2016 Manchester United’s US co-chairmen Joel Glazer (R) and Avram Glazer (L) attend the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Southampton at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England.  Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Manchester United fans breached security at their club’s training ground on Thursday as they protested against the Glazer family for the owners’ role in the failed European Super League plot.

United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was forced to speak to around 20 supporters after they blocked both entrances to the Carrington headquarters.

The protestors unfurled banners that read “51% MUFC 20”, “We decide when you play” and “Glazer out”.

The 51 percent is a reference to fans holding the majority of voting rights at a club, which is commonplace in German football.

They posed for photos outside the entrance to the main building and on the first-team training pitch.

READ ALSO: Perez Comes Out Swinging In Defence Of New Super League

“At approximately 9am this morning a group gained access to the club training ground,” a United statement said.

“The manager and others spoke to them. Buildings were secure and the group has now left the site.”

United have been under the American family’s ownership since they completed their controversial takeover in 2005.

The Glazers have never been liked by United fans but their reputation sank to a new low after their leading role in attempting to launch the European Super League.

United co-chairman Joel Glazer was named vice-chairman of the despised breakaway competition, which collapsed on Tuesday when all six Premier League clubs involved were forced to withdraw due to the furious public backlash.

In the fall-out, United announced executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward would leave by the end of the year, while Glazer admitted “we got it wrong” in an open letter to fans on Wednesday.

Glazer has not attended a United game in over two years and his apology speech marked his first communication with supporters in almost 16 years.

The letter read: “You made very clear your opposition to the European Super League, and we have listened. We got it wrong, and we want to show that we can put things right.

“Although the wounds are raw and I understand that it will take time for the scars to heal, I am personally committed to rebuilding trust with our fans and learning from the message you delivered with such conviction.

“We continue to believe that European football needs to become more sustainable throughout the pyramid for the long-term. However, we fully accept that the Super League was not the right way to go about it.

“In seeking to create a more stable foundation for the game, we failed to show enough respect for its deep-rooted traditions – promotion, relegation, the pyramid – and for that we are sorry.

“This is the world’s greatest football club and we apologise unreservedly for the unrest caused during these past few days.”

Solskjaer will face questions about the Super League for the first time since the collapse at his next press conference on Friday ahead of Sunday’s Premier League match at Leeds.

AFP

Greenwood Bags Brace As Man Utd Sink Burnley, Fulham Frustrated By Arsenal


Manchester United’s English striker Mason Greenwood (C) celebrates with teammates after scoring their second goal during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Burnley at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on April 18, 2021. GARETH COPLEY / POOL / AFP

 

Manchester United moved within eight points of Premier League leaders Manchester City as Mason Greenwood’s double inspired a 3-1 win over Burnley, while Eddie Nketiah’s last-gasp goal gave Arsenal a 1-1 draw against struggling Fulham on Sunday.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side are unlikely to catch City, but Greenwood’s late winner puts a little pressure on their bitter rivals with six games left.

Greenwood had opened the scoring early in the second half at Old Trafford before James Tarkowski equalised moments later.

Greenwood’s second made him the joint-top scoring teenager in Premier League history for United, level with Wayne Rooney on 15 goals.

Edinson Cavani grabbed the third goal in stoppage-time as second placed United won six consecutive Premier League games for the first time since January 2019.


Manchester United’s Uruguayan striker Edinson Cavani (R) celebrates with teammates after scoring their third goal during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Burnley at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on April 18, 2021. GARETH COPLEY / POOL / AFP

 

Although they have probably left it too late to overhaul City, United are on course for a second place finish and could still win the first silverware of Solskjaer’s reign.

They face Roma in the Europa League semi-finals after easing past Granada in the quarter-final second leg on Thursday.

United were beaten in three of their opening six league matches this season but have lost only one of their subsequent 26.

Amid talk of United being one of six Premier League teams who have agreed to join a proposed European Super League that would replace the Premier League, Solskjaer’s team looked far from elite in a scrappy first half.

They were fortunate not to fall behind in the opening minute when Chris Wood’s header was disallowed for offside after keeper Dean Henderson failed to reach Matt Lowton’s cross.

Greenwood opened the scoring in the 48th minute with a clinical close-range finish after Bruno Fernandes cleverly dummied Marcus Rashford’s pass.

The England forward’s fourth goal in his last six appearances was cancelled out 114 seconds later.

READ ALSO: Chelsea End Man City’s Quadruple Quest To Reach FA Cup Final

Burnley defender James Tarkowski out-muscled Harry Maguire as he climbed high to head Ashley Westwood’s corner past Henderson from six yards.

Greenwood restored United’s lead in the 84th minute when his shot deflected in off Jack Cork before Cavani slotted home from Donny van de Beek’s pass in the final moments.

Arsenal Snatch Draw

Arsenal were seconds away from a first ever home defeat against Fulham as they laboured to find a response to Josh Maja’s second half penalty.

But Nketiah’s leveller pushed Fulham closer to relegation deep into stoppage-time.

It was a major setback for third bottom Fulham, who are six points from safety and have just five games left to beat the drop.

Fifth bottom Brighton travel to Chelsea on Tuesday and, like fourth bottom Burnley, will still have a game in hand on Fulham after that match.

“I’m disappointed and gutted,” Fulham boss Scott Parker said. “I’ve just seen their goal back. Rob Holding looks offside to me.

“That’s what’s disappointing. We were so close so it’s painful.”

 

Arsenal’s English striker Eddie Nketiah (R) shoots to score their late equalizer during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Fulham at the Emirates Stadium in London on April 18, 2021. The game finished 1-1. Ian Walton / POOL / AFP

 

Ninth placed Arsenal are nine points adrift of the top four and their best hope of reaching next season’s Champions League is winning the Europa League.

Mikel Arteta’s men face Villarreal in the semi-finals after cruising to a 4-0 victory at Slavia Prague in the quarter-final second leg on Thursday.

“We have to just focus on the boys playing away in Europe and arriving here with the desire to go all the way to the end,” Arteta said.

Fulham midfielder Mario Lemina burst into the penalty area in the 59th minute before making a theatrical tumble after Gabriel stood on his foot.

After a lengthy VAR review, Maja took the penalty, lifting it high into the net for his first goal in nine games and only his third since arriving on loan from Bordeaux in February.

But Fulham’s nerve cracked with seconds left in seven minutes of stoppage-time.

Bobby Decordova-Reid needlessly conceded a corner and from the set-piece, Arsenal keeper Mat Ryan came up and remarkably rose highest for a header that reached Granit Xhaka.

Fulham’s English defender Tosin Adarabioyo (2L) and team-mates including Fulham’s English midfielder Harrison Reed (2R) react after Arsenal score a late equalising goal for 1-1 during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Fulham at the Emirates Stadium in London on April 18, 2021. FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA / POOL / AFP

 

When Xhaka’s low drive was pushed out by Alphonse Areola, Nketiah was on hand to break Fulham’s hearts as he tapped in from close-range.

AFP

Man Utd Ask For Fans Help In Anti-Racism Battle

File photo: Manchester United’s French striker Anthony Martial (1st-R) celebrates scoring his team’s first goal during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Manchester City at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on March 8, 2020.
Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Manchester United have set up an online system encouraging supporters to report incidents of racism and other hate crimes.

United’s “See Red” campaign follows Arsenal’s launch earlier this week of an action plan called #StopOnlineAbuse.

United stars Antony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Fred have all been subjected to racist abuse this season.

READ ALSO: CAF Fixes Date For Next Africa Cup Of Nations In Cameroon

Fred hit back saying “we cannot feed that culture” of racism after he was racially abused following his side’s FA Cup quarter-final defeat by Leicester.

Former Arsenal star Thierry Henry recently quit all his social media platforms in protest at the rise in internet abuse.

In this file photo taken on December 16, 2018 ex-Monaco’s French head coach Thierry Henry reacts during the French L1 football match between Lyon (OL) and Monaco (ASM) at the Groupama Stadium in Decines-Charpieu near Lyon, central-eastern France.  ROMAIN LAFABREGUE / AFP

 

“We challenge our fans, and indeed fans of every club, to watch this and think about their own favourite memories, their top teams and their most celebrated players,” United group managing director Richard Arnold said.

“How different would those memories be without the diversity of some of the best players in the world who have graced our game and our club?

“Sadly, footballers across the country continue to receive abuse online, seemingly without fear of censure.

“It is not good enough for us all to sit silently on the sidelines when we see or read racist remarks or behaviour.

“Inaction has a consequence. We must call it out. We must not tolerate it. If you see it or read it — report it.”

United will collaborate with the Premier League “to escalate any complaints received to the social media platforms and the relevant authorities.”

The club also urged social media platforms to punish the “online racists” with “tough action”.

AFP

‘We Are In Good Shape’: United’s Solskjaer Confident Ahead Liverpool Showdown

Manchester United’s Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reacts at the final whistle during the English League Cup semi final first leg football match between Manchester United and Manchester City at Ol d Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on January 6, 2021.
PETER POWELL / POOL / AFP

 

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says his side are in “good shape” as they visit defending champions Liverpool in a Premier League showdown on Sunday.

Solskjaer believes the game could not have come at a better time after moving top of the Premier League for the first time in three years.

Paul Pogba’s deflected strike earned United a hard-fought 1-0 win at Burnley on Tuesday to move three points of clear of Liverpool, who have failed to win in their last three league games.

“It’s a brilliant position to be in,” said a smiling Solskjaer, whose future as manager had been under threat just a few months ago after a slow start to the season and group-stage exit from the Champions League.

“We know we are going to the champions, they’ve had an unbelievable three-and-a-half seasons, we know that’s going to be a difficult game, but we’re ready for it.

“We couldn’t be going there at a better time to play them because we are in good shape, good form, hungry, these boys want to get better and that’s a test again.”

In recent weeks Pogba has become an increasingly important influence in United’s first serious title challenge since Alex Ferguson’s retirement as manager in 2013.

The French World Cup winner dominated the midfield in the second half at Turf Moor and fittingly got the winner when his strike from the edge of the box took a deflection off Matt Lowton to wrong-foot Nick Pope.

 

Manchester United’s French midfielder Paul Pogba (C) celebrates scoring the opening goal during the English Premier League football match between Burnley and Manchester United at Turf Moor in Burnley, north west England on January 12, 2021. Clive Brunskill / POOL / AFP

 

Pogba’s agent Mino Raiola has spoken openly about wanting to move his client on at the end of the season, but Solskjaer insisted the 27-year-old is a major part of his plans.

“I’ve always said Paul is a big, big player for us,” added Solskjaer. “He is a good character in the dressing room, he is always one the lads look to (because) he’s a world champion.

“We are seeing the best of Paul at the moment. He’s getting better and better every game.”

 

I Am Always Happy When I Win – Pogba

Manchester United’s French midfielder Paul Pogba (C) celebrates scoring the opening goal during the English Premier League football match between Burnley and Manchester United at Turf Moor in Burnley, north west England on January 12, 2021. Clive Brunskill / POOL / AFP

 

Paul Pogba said he is “always happy” when he is winning after scoring the only goal in a 1-0 victory at Burnley that took Manchester United top of the Premier League for the first time in three years on Tuesday.

Despite continued speculation over his future, Pogba has played an increasingly important role in recent weeks to aid United’s first serious title challenge since legendary former manager Alex Ferguson retired in 2013.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men now lead defending champions Liverpool by three points ahead of a top-of-the-table clash between the two most successful sides in English football history at Anfield on Sunday.

“I’m always happy when I win,” said Pogba, who has been consistently linked with a move away from Old Trafford at the end of the season.

“I’m happy we are playing well and happy we are at the top, but there is a long way to go and we have big games coming up.”

READ ALSO: [FA Cup] Manchester United To Face Liverpool

United have now taken 29 from the last possible 33 points to recover from just two wins in their opening six games of the season.

The signing of Bruno Fernandes shortly after Burnley won 2-0 at Old Trafford nearly a year ago in the last meeting between the sides has transformed United’s fortunes.

And if Pogba can finally produce consistent displays worthy of the then world-record fee United paid for the Frenchman in 2016, there is a reason for Solskjaer to believe he can end the club’s eight-year wait for a league title.

“I’ve always said Paul is a big, big player for us,” added Solskjaer. “He is a good character in the dressing room, he is always one the lads look to (because) he’s a world champion.

“We are seeing the best of Paul at the moment. He’s getting better and better every game.”

The manner of victory against a Burnley side that had not lost at home since October also suggests United have the ability of champions to grind out a result when they need to.

Manchester United’s French midfielder Paul Pogba is mobbed by teammates after scoring the opening goal during the English Premier League football match between Burnley and Manchester United at Turf Moor in Burnley, north west England on January 12, 2021. Clive Brunskill / POOL / AFP

 

The first-half was dominated by controversy over a series of VAR reviews as both sides escaped without having a man sent-off for challenges by Luke Shaw and Robbie Brady, while United had a goal harshly ruled out for a slight push by Harry Maguire when he powered home a header at the back post.

The visitors upped the pressure in the second half and got their reward 19 minutes from time when Pogba’s volley from Marcus Rashford’s cross deflected off Matt Lowton and through the legs of Nick Pope to head to Anfield leading Liverpool.

“We couldn’t be going there at a better time to play them,” added Solskjaer. “We are in good shape, good form, hungry, these boys want to get better and that’s a test again.”

– Everton win at Wolves –
Everton moved back into the top four and within four points of United as they overcame an injury crisis to beat Wolves 2-1 at Molineux.

Carlo Ancelotti was forced to start without a recognised striker without Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison only fit enough for a place on the bench.

The Toffees took an early lead when Alex Iwobi converted Lucas Digne’s cross but were pegged back when Ruben Neves levelled for Wolves.

Michael Keane’s towering header won the game 13 minutes from time to bolster the Blues’ European ambitions.

“We adapted really well to the characteristics of the players we had,” said Ancelotti.

At the other end of the table, Sheffield United ended a 20-game winless league run as Billy Sharp’s penalty earned a 1-0 victory over 10-man Newcastle.

The Blades still face an uphill task to haul themselves off the bottom of the table as they sit nine points adrift of safety.

But Chris Wilder’s men ensured they will not set an unwanted record by going a full top-flight season without a win thanks to another night to forget for Newcastle.

“It looked like we got our identity back,” said Wilder. “It was us with the handbrake off, going for it and playing well in and out of possession.”

The Magpies could yet find themselves dragged into a relegation battle as they remain eight points above the drop zone in 15th, but have played two games more than Fulham in 18th.

AFP

Man United Recreating Habit Of Winning Games Late, Says Solskjaer

Manchester United’s English striker Marcus Rashford (L) reacts after scoring the opening goal as Manchester United’s French midfielder Paul Pogba (C) chases him during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on December 29, 2020. Michael Regan / POOL / AFP

 

Manchester United manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes his side are recreating the old habit of winning games late following Marcus Rashford’s extra-time winner against Wolves in a Premier League tie on Tuesday.

“It’s one of the points we brought up early in the season, that we didn’t win many points towards the end of games,” the Norwegian said after the team’s 1-0 win over Nuno Espirito Santo’s men that catapulted them to second and within two points of leaders Liverpool.

“We have a tradition for it at this club. Obviously we’ve normally got many more supporters helping us to do that.

“Now we’ve won many more points towards the end of games and that’s both a mental aspect and a physical aspect.”

Labouring Hard

United laboured for long spells against a youthful Wolves side despite having a day’s extra rest than the visitors, who were in action just 48 hours previously against Tottenham.

But Solskjaer described snatching victory from an uninspired performance as a “big step forward” as United beat Wolves for the first time in five meetings between the sides since Nuno Espirito Santo’s men returned to the top flight two-and-a-half-years ago.

“We didn’t perform as well as we want to do but we win a game against a very difficult side to play against,” added Solskjaer.

“We’ve struggled against them, this is the first win in the league. We’ve played them seven times (over the past three seasons) and there has never been many goals in the games.

“This is a big step forward that you don’t perform, but you still win.”

Manchester United’s English defender Luke Shaw (bottom) tackles Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Spanish midfielder Adama Traore (C) during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Old Trafford in Manchester, north-west England, on December 29, 2020. Laurence Griffiths / POOL / AFP

 

United’s victory continues an excellent run of 23 points from the last possible 27 to mount a title challenge that looked unlikely after winning just two of their opening six league games.

READ ALSO: Arsenal Win Again At Brighton To Ease Pressure On Arteta

Solskjaer’s men host Aston Villa on New Year’s Day before travelling to face Liverpool on January 17, in a match which could have huge ramifications on the title race.

“We cannot get too far ahead of ourselves,” said Solskjaer. “We’ve got to a decent position at the moment but we are not even halfway, there is a long, long way to go.”

A Cruel Defeat

Defeat was harsh on Wolves, who competed manfully given the tight turnaround for two hugely demanding fixtures.

However, the visitors again lacked a goal threat in the absence of Raul Jimenez, who is expected to miss much of the rest of the season due to a fractured skull.

“This is football and a learning process,” said Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo. “It’s cruel in the moment but you can’t stay feeling sorry. You have to move forward.”

Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Portuguese head coach Nuno Espirito Santo during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Old Trafford in Manchester, north-west England, on December 29, 2020.
Martin Rickett / POOL / AFP

 

The last clash between the sides at Old Trafford in February was Bruno Fernandes’s debut for United.

The Portuguese has had a transformative impact on the United’s fortunes, but he could not beat international teammate Patricio with by far the hosts’ best chance of the first-half as he snuck in at the back post to meet Mason Greenwood’s cross.

Solskjaer lauded Edinson Cavani’s predatory instincts on the eve of the game, suggesting the Uruguayan will be handed an extension to his contract for next season.

The 33-year-old did find the net with his only chance 20 minutes from time but was offside as the ball broke his way from a corner.

Manchester United’s Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (L) celebrates with Manchester United’s Serbian midfielder Nemanja Matic (C) and Manchester United’s French midfielder Paul Pogba after the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on December 29, 2020. Martin Rickett / POOL / AFP

 

Instead, it was Rashford who made the telling impact as he raced onto Fernandes’s hopeful long ball over the top.

The England international cut inside, but Patricio looked to have his shot covered until it hit Saiss and flew in at the near post.

‘Odion Knows How Much We Value Him’: Solskjaer Hails Ighalo’s Impact

Norwich City's English-born Northern Irish defender Jamal Lewis (L) clocks a shot from Manchester United's Nigerian striker Odion Ighalo during the English FA Cup quarter-final football match between Norwich City and Manchester United at Carrow Road in Norwich, eastern England on June 27, 2020. Joe Giddens / POOL / AFP
Norwich City’s English-born Northern Irish defender Jamal Lewis (L) clocks a shot from Manchester United’s Nigerian striker Odion Ighalo during the English FA Cup quarter-final football match between Norwich City and Manchester United at Carrow Road in Norwich, eastern England on June 27, 2020. Joe Giddens / POOL / AFP

 

Manchester United boss, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has poured encomiums on former Super Eagles star, Odion Ighalo following his performance for the side on Saturday. 

The Nigerian scored the opening goal for United in their quarter-final FA Cup win against Norwich City at Carrow Road.

Ighalo scored the goal in the first five minutes of the match when he jabbed the ball over Tim Krul in goal for Norwich, his fifth in four games for the club, leaving Solskjaer proud of the former Watford man.

READ ALSO: French Club Appoint Ex-Super Eagles Star Enyeama As Goalkeeper Trainer

“Odion knows how much we value him in and around the dressing room and, of course, on the pitch,” the coach told the club’s website.

Solskjaer described Ighalo as “a goalscorer and a poacher” who is strong on the ball.

He noted that the striker gives the team options and “the chance to rotate with Marcus [Rashford], Anthony [Martial], and Mason [Greenwood] so they can get a rest and be fresh for every game.”

Repaying United’s Trust

Ighalo signed a loan extension with United on June 1, a deal which would see him stay at the Premier League club until the end of the season.

Ighalo’s initial loan deal from Shanghai Shenhua expired at the end of May, but the 30-year-old has been rewarded for an impressive return of four goals in eight appearances for United before football was shut down by the coronavirus pandemic in March.

“Manchester United have reached agreement with Shanghai Greenland Shenhua to extend the loan deal for Odion Ighalo,” United said in a statement.

“He will now remain with the Reds until 31 January 2021, enabling him to build on an impressive start to life with the club he supported as a boy.”

Mourinho Meets Familiar Foes Man Utd As Liverpool Resume Title Quest

Mourinho Blames National Coaches For United's Injury Woes
Manchester United’s Portuguese manager Jose Mourinho gestures from the touchline after the final whistle in the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on August 27, 2018.
Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho is hoping to exact revenge on former employers Manchester United, while Liverpool aim to move within one win of the title as the Premier League’s return kicks up a gear across a four-day weekend of action.

The English top flight got its first taste of empty stands and strict hygiene protocols on Wednesday as Aston Villa’s goalless draw with Sheffield United and Manchester City’s 3-0 victory over Arsenal restarted the campaign.

Despite the muted atmosphere, there remains plenty to play for at both ends of the table with the clash between Tottenham and United pivotal in the battle for Champions League qualification.

Both sit outside the top four with nine games remaining. However, United’s position in fifth could be good enough to secure a return to the Champions League if Manchester City’s appeal against a two-season ban from European competition is unsuccessful.

Spurs could prove to be the biggest winners of the three-month lockdown.

Before the break, Mourinho claimed he could not wait for the season to finish as injuries to Harry Kane, Son Heung-min, Moussa Sissoko and Steven Bergwijn appeared to have ended their campaigns.

All four are now fit again and victory would lift Tottenham to within one point of the club that sacked Mourinho in December 2018.

“The reality is we are now in a better position to where we were before,” said Mourinho.

“We got Harry and Sonny back, the players with the best stats in terms of scoring and assists. They give us this kind of attacking power.”

United were the form side in the league prior to the lockdown.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men are unbeaten in 11 games but also benefited from the break as Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba return from long-term injuries.

Rashford has made waves for his power off the field with a campaign to provide vulnerable children with food vouchers forcing a British government U-turn.

But the England international is desperate to get back on more familiar ground after being sidelined by a back injury since January.

“It’s been a long time, but I think I needed it,” Rashford told Sky Sports.

“Within my body I definitely feel confident again and ready to play games. The timing has worked out well for me.”

Solskjaer said Pogba is “raring to go” after an injury-ravaged season and could be paired with January signing Bruno Fernandes in the United midfield for the first time.

– Liverpool excitement building –

City’s victory over Arsenal means Liverpool cannot seal a first league title in 30 years against Everton on Sunday, much to the blue side of Merseyside’s relief.

Jurgen Klopp’s men are just two wins away from the historic feat and victory at Goodison Park will allow them the chance to win the league on home soil when Crystal Palace visit Anfield on Wednesday.

“You can feel it,” said Klopp of the excitement building around his side’s return. “I feel the intensity everywhere.”

The match will take place in Liverpool despite fears over fans congregating outside both stadiums in the city. Goodison and Anfield are separated by less than a mile.

Klopp has urged his supporters to be “the best stay at home fans in the world”.

The earliest Liverpool could now be crowned champions is on Monday should the Reds win and City lose at home to Burnley.

At the other end of the table, Norwich, Villa and Bournemouth sit in the relegation zone, but just three points separate second-bottom Villa from Brighton in 15th.

Rock-bottom Norwich can ramp up the pressure on those above them even more should they close to within three points of safety in the first match of the weekend against Southampton.

Friday (all times GMT)

Norwich v Southampton (1700), Tottenham v Manchester United (1915)

Saturday

Watford v Leicester (1130), Brighton v Arsenal (1400), West Ham v Wolves (1630), Bournemouth v Crystal Palace (1845)

Sunday

Newcastle v Sheffield United (1300), Aston Villa v Chelsea (1515), Everton v Liverpool (1800)

Monday

Manchester City v Brighton (1900)