It Is Time For Rashford To Focus On Football, Says Solskjaer

In this file photo taken on December 01, 2019 Manchester United's English striker Marcus Rashford applauds supporters on the pitch after the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Aston Villa at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on December 1, 2019. Oli SCARFF / AFP
A file photo of Manchester United’s English striker Marcus Rashford. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Manchester United coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes it is time for Marcus Rashford to focus on football after winning widespread plaudits for his anti-poverty campaigning.

The 24-year-old forward hasn’t played since suffering a shoulder injury following England’s Euro 2020 final loss to Italy in July.

However, he could make his first appearance of the season in Saturday’s game at Leicester and Solskjaer wants to see his striker recover his peak form.

READ ALSO: NEC Proposes Psychiatric Evaluation, Drug Tests For Police, Army Before Enlistment

“Marcus has done remarkable things at a young age and he’s now coming into his best age for a footballer,” said the United boss.

“He’s learning. He’s getting more and more experience. He’s had time to reflect on what he’s done off the pitch as well, because he’s done some fantastic things, and now maybe prioritise his football and focus on football.”

Rashford has inspired a free school meals campaign and was honoured by Queen Elizabeth for his charitable efforts.

He was also presented with an honorary doctorate from the University of Manchester.

AFP

Ronaldo Rolls Back The Years With Dream Double On Man Utd Return

A supporter holds up a lifesized cut-out of Manchester United’s Portuguese striker Cristiano Ronaldo during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Newcastle at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on September 11, 2021. – Manchester United won the game 4-1. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP)

 

Cristiano Ronaldo enjoyed a dream return as a Manchester United player by scoring twice as the Red Devils beat Newcastle 4-1 in front of a rocking Old Trafford on Saturday.

Ronaldo now has 120 United goals to his name, but scored his first since leaving for Real Madrid 12 years ago to take Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men top of the Premier League table.

“He’s still a ruthless and clinical goalscorer,” said Solskjaer. “He smells the big moments when there is a goal in there.”

United were made to work harder than expected for the three points, but were able to rely on Ronaldo’s predatory instincts to strike twice either side of Javier Manquillo’s well-worked equaliser for the Magpies.

Bruno Fernandes then sealed a day where Portuguese stars shone with a stunning long-range effort 10 minutes from time before Jesse Lingard rounded off the scoring in stoppage time.

United’s fortunes on the field have declined dramatically since Ronaldo’s departure with no Premier League or Champions League success since Alex Ferguson retired as manager in 2013.

 

Manchester United’s French midfielder Paul Pogba gestures as he leaves after the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Newcastle at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on September 11, 2021. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) 

 

His return was enough to generate a feverish atmosphere among 74,000 in attendance not seen at Old Trafford for many years.

The 36-year-old was serenaded with songs in his honour long before kick-off and even received celebrations of the goals he scored in a shooting drill in the warm-up.

“The atmosphere has been electric around the club,” added Solskjaer. “The supporters have really enjoyed the last 10 days or so. There was loads of expectation on him and the team and he’s delivered.”

Ronaldo’s arrival has added even more firepower to an already loaded selection of attacking options on offer to Solskjaer.

Jadon Sancho and Mason Greenwood flanked Ronaldo in a front three with Fernandes and Paul Pogba supplying the ammunition from midfield.

 

Manchester United’s Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (R) congratulates Manchester United’s English midfielder Jesse Lingard (L) after the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Newcastle at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on September 11, 2021. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP)

 

The crowd who had come for a party were starting to get restless as Newcastle held out relatively comfortably until Ronaldo’s first big moment arrived in first-half stoppage time.

Greenwood had scored in all of United’s first three Premier League games and provided the spark once more as Freddie Woodman spilled his deflected effort and the ball fell perfectly for Ronaldo to smash home.

Rather than opening the floodgates for a comfortable win, Newcastle emerged for the second-half with a far more potent threat and cut United open to stun the home support 10 minutes into the second-half.

 

Newcastle United’s Spanish midfielder Javier Manquillo celebrates after scoring their first goal during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Newcastle at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on September 11, 2021. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP)

 

Miguel Almiron burst through midfield and released Allan Saint-Maximin, who rolled the ball perfectly into the path of Manquillo to slot home his first Newcastle goal in 85 appearances.

United on the other hand now have one of the deadliest finishers in the history of the game and Ronaldo ensured the day would be all about him on 62 minutes.

Despite his advancing years, the five-time Ballon d’Or winner showed no shortage of pace to burst away from Isaac Hayden to latch onto Luke Shaw’s pass and his powerful strike went straight through Woodman’s grasp.

Fernandes has been United’s talisman for the majority of the 20 months since he joined from Sporting Lisbon, just as Ronaldo did in 2003.

And the midfielder ensured he was not completely overshadowed by his compatriot with a sensational strike into the top corner from Paul Pogba’s pass.

 

Manchester United’s English midfielder Jesse Lingard (L) celebrates with teammates after scoring their fourth goal during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Newcastle at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on September 11, 2021. – Manchester United won the game 4-1. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) 

 

“Everyone knows what Cristiano means for the club, what he means for the world of football,” said Fernandes. “We are really happy to have him, but the most important thing is the team performance. At the end we got the result we want.”

 

Manchester United’s English midfielder Jesse Lingard runs through the Newcastle defence on his way to scoring their fourth goal during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Newcastle at Old Trafford in Manchester, northwest England, on September 11, 2021. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP)

 

Pogba now has seven assists in four games this season as he also created the fourth for Lingard as the English international turned onto the Frenchman’s pass and curled into the far corner.

Man Utd Manager Solskjaer ‘Delighted’ To Sign New Three-Year Deal

File photo: 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 has signed a new-three year deal, the Premier League club announced on Saturday.

The Norwegian, who took over from Jose Mourinho in 2018, will stay at Old Trafford until at least 2024, with the option of an extra year.

“Everyone knows the feeling I have for this club, and I am delighted to have signed this new contract,” Solskjaer told the club website.

“It is an exciting time for Manchester United, we have built a squad with a good balance of youth and experienced players that are hungry for success.”

Solskjaer led United to a second-placed finish in last season’s Premier League while losing in the Europa League final to Villarreal.

However, the 48-year-old, who this week added England winger Jadon Sancho to his squad, has his eyes firmly on the biggest prizes in English and European football.

“I have a fantastic coaching team around me, and we are all ready to take that next step on our journey,” he said.

“Manchester United wants to be winning the biggest and best trophies and that’s what we are all striving for. We have improved, both on and off the pitch, and that will continue over the coming seasons.

“I can’t wait to get out in front of a packed Old Trafford and get this campaign started.”

Solskjaer Defends Pogba, Diallo Over Displaying Palestinian Flag

Manchester United’s Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (R) consoles Manchester United’s French midfielder Paul Pogba (L) on the pitch after the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Liverpool at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on May 13, 2021. Liverpool won the game 4-2.
Michael Regan / POOL / AF

 

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer defended Paul Pogba and Amad Diallo for holding up a Palestine flag after Tuesday’s match with Fulham, saying they have a “right to have a different view.”

United midfielder Pogba appeared to be given the flag by a fan as the players made their way around the pitch during the traditional lap of honour after the 1-1 draw in the club’s last home game of the Premier League season.

French World Cup winner Pogba and Ivorian winger Diallo, who are both Muslim, displayed the flag in support of Palestine, with around 10,000 fans at Old Trafford watching on after coronavirus restrictions were lifted.

“We have players from different backgrounds, different cultures, different countries and we need to respect their views if they differ from someone else’s,” said Solskjaer.

“If my players think about other things than football, that’s a positive thing.

“We have seen that with some of my players before, that they do care. You see Marcus Rashford, for example, the difference he has made.

“So, no, we respect their right to have a different view.”

Israel’s bombing campaign on Gaza has killed at least 219 Palestinians, including 63 children, in over a week of fighting against Islamist group Hamas, according to the territory’s health ministry in Gaza.

Palestinian rocket fire has killed 12 people in Israel, Israeli police said.

Pogba and Diallo are the latest footballers to show their support for the Palestinians.

English midfielder Hamza Choudhury and French defender Wesley Fofana held a Palestinian flag on the pitch at Wembley after Leicester’s 1-0 win over Chelsea in the FA Cup final at Wembley on Saturday.

A social media post from Arsenal midfielder Mohamed Elneny showing his support for the Palestinian people has been hit by a backlash from Jewish fans.

The Egyptian posted on his Twitter account: “My heart and my soul and my support for you Palestine.”

Arsenal confirmed to Sky Sports that they have spoken with Elneny after concerns about the post were raised by one of the club’s sponsors, coffee maker Lavazza.

-AFP

Solskjaer Blasts United’s Tight Schedule After Reaching Europa League Final

Roma’s Portuguese coach Paulo Fonseca (L) congratulates Manchester United’s Norwegian coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (R) at the end of the UEFA Europa League semi-final second leg football match between AS Roma and Manchester United at the Olympic Stadium in Rome, on May 6, 2021.
Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer criticised football authorities for Manchester United’s punishing schedule after his side advanced to the Europa League final on Thursday, calling it “physically impossible” for his team.

United advanced to the May 26 showdown with Villarreal in Gdansk 8-5 on aggregate despite losing 3-2 to Roma in their semi-final second leg at the Stadio Olimpico.

And now his players have to face the prospect of four Premier League fixtures in 10 days after Edinson Cavani’s brace staved off a valiant attempt at a comeback from their Italian opposition.

On Sunday they travel to Aston Villa and by next Thursday they will have hosted Liverpool and Leicester, the visit of Fulham coming the following Tuesday.

“It’s unheard of. It’s made by people who have never played football at this level,” raged Solskjaer to BT Sport.

“It’s physically impossible for the players. We have not been dealt a good hand. We are going to need everyone for these four games. It’s a short turnaround but we have to be ready.”

The Norwegian coach was also angry about his side’s display on Thursday, admitting that had it not been for a sensational second half in the first leg which gave them 6-2 lead they could very well have been dumped out by a spirited Roma team who created, and wasted a hosted of opportunities in Rome.

“The second half today was disappointing, very, very poor, but we’re in the final,” he said.

“We played one very, very good half at Old Trafford which has taken us through.

“I’m disappointed we lost, especially the way we played in the second half.

“It could easily have been 8-6 to them. It was a strange game. We kept giving them the ball but luckily we have one of the best keepers in the world. We are in the final and are looking forward to 26 May.”

 

Manchester United’s Uruguayan forward Edinson Cavani celebrates after scoring a goal during the UEFA Europa League semi-final second leg football match between AS Roma and Manchester United at the Olympic Stadium in Rome, on May 6, 2021.
Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP

 

 Clinical Cavani

Cavani’s goals in the 39th and 68th minutes ensured United’s place in the final, the Uruguayan having also struck a double at Old Trafford.

Roma had gone ahead on the night midway through the second half with goals from Edin Dzeko and Bryan Cristante in a three-minute spell, and Alex Telles’ own goal gave the hosts a second-leg win with seven minutes to go.

Roma battled from the outset with Gianluca Mancini forcing an early save from United goalkeeper David De Gea, and Henrikh Mkhitaryan nodding the resulting corner into the side netting.

Cavani repeatedly proved dangerous, pouncing on a Roger Ibanez blunder to rattle the bar and then forcing a save from Roma keeper Antonio Mirante.

The Uruguayan finally broke through six minutes before the break, collecting a Bruno Fernandes through ball before firing past a beaten Mirante.

De Gea did well again to save from Mkhitaryan and Dzeko either side of the break.

The 33-year-old Dzeko levelled the match in the 57th minute when he got his head to Pedro’s cross to beat De Gea.

Cristante got the second three minutes later, connecting with a Lorenzo Pellegrini to revive Roman hopes.

De Gea then pulled off a miraculous double save on from a Dzeko header and Pedro’s follow-up, and Cavani struck again after 68 minutes when he headed Bruno Fernandes’ centre past Mirante.

Roma did not give up and Telles’ own goal offered some consolation to a team set to be coached next season by former Man United manager Jose Mourinho.

“It was important to come out with our heads held high and have a good game,” said Cristante.

“We deserved it, we had a great Europa League this year and it was right to end it like this.”

-AFP

Man United Fans’ Protest Went ‘Too Far’, Says Solskjaer

Supporters protest against Manchester United’s owners, inside 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.  AFP

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said the anti-Glazer protest that forced the postponement of Manchester United’s clash against Liverpool went “too far” but reiterated his call for supporters’ voices to be heard.

Anger at American owners the Glazers, who took charge of the club in 2005, spiked after their recent attempt to join the breakaway European Super League.

Thousands of protestors descended on Old Trafford demanding change before Sunday’s scheduled Premier League match against arch-rivals Liverpool.

Around 200 fans got into the stadium and invaded the pitch, while another group made their frustrations clear at the team hotel in Manchester.

Solskjaer, speaking on Wednesday for the first time since the chaotic scenes, said it had been a difficult day for United, who had wanted to beat Liverpool “for the fans”.

“That’s the players’ focus, that’s my focus but, as I said before the game, we have to listen,” he said ahead of Thursday’s second leg of his side’s Europa League semi-final with Roma in Italy.

“We have to hear the fans’ voice. It’s everyone’s right to protest, it has to be in a civilised manner, though. It has to be in a peaceful manner.

“Unfortunately, when you break in, when police officers get injured, scarred for life, that’s too far.

“That’s one step too far. When it gets out of hand like this, it’s a police matter. It’s not about showing your opinions anymore.”

Police patrol outside the stadium after a supporter’s 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. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

A police spokesman said on Tuesday that six officers were injured as flares were let off and bottles thrown, with one sustaining a fractured eye socket and another a facial wound.

A 28-year-old man was charged with a number of offences including throwing fireworks and use of threatening behaviour outside the Lowry Hotel.

Roma clash

United, seeking their first silverware since 2017, beat Roma 6-2 in the first leg at home and are almost certain to reach the final, where they will play Arsenal or Villarreal.

Solskjaer, whose team have stumbled four times at the semi-final stage over the past two seasons, said he would maintain a “laser focus on the football”, with talk of more protests from angry fans.

“My job, my focus has to be on the results, but you don’t really need to be a rocket scientist to see that we have challenges and frictions and things that have to be dealt with within communication,” the Norwegian said.

“Other individuals than me of course have started already, discussing with the fans, communicating with fan groups, which is going to be massive for us going forward.

“I think the players have done terrific to be where they are. I would be sad if all the good work the players have done is disrupted, so our focus is on playing well and getting through to a final now.”

United co-chairman Joel Glazer has apologised for the Super League debacle saying “we got it wrong”.

Asked whether the owners should speak directly to supporters, Solskjaer said: “I’ve been communicating with the owners. I’ve got an apology, personally.

“They’ve apologised to the fans that this came out. I know that there is communication between other individuals than me and the fans.”

AFP

Man Utd Crashed Out Of FA Cup Due To Fatigue – Solskjaer

 

Manchester United's Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gestures on the touchline during the English FA Cup quarter-final football match between Leicester City and Manchester United at King Power Stadium in Leicester, central England on March 21, 2021. Leicester won the game 3-1. Oli SCARFF / POOL / AFP
Manchester United’s Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gestures on the touchline during the English FA Cup quarter-final football match between Leicester City and Manchester United at King Power Stadium in Leicester, central England on March 21, 2021. Leicester won the game 3-1.
Oli SCARFF / POOL / AFP

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer defended his decision to field a weakened team as Manchester United crashed out of the FA Cup with a 3-1 quarter-final defeat at Leicester on Sunday.

Solskjaer made five changes from the United side that beat AC Milan in the Europa League last-16 second leg on Thursday.

Paul Pogba was back in the starting line-up but Bruno Fernandes was left on the bench until the second half, while Marcus Rashford was missing from the squad.

United responded to the switches with a lethargic display as they were beaten for the first time in 30 domestic away games.

READ ALSO: Leicester Advance To FA Cup Semis As Iheanacho’s Double Send United Out

Mason Greenwood cancelled out Kelechi Iheanacho’s opener, but second-half goals from Youri Tielemans and Iheanacho killed off United.

It leaves Solskjaer with only the Europa League left as a realistic opportunity to win the first silverware of his reign as United boss.

Insisting he had no regrets about his selection, Solskjaer said: “I would have started the same team again. Every team selection has reasons behind it.

“On Thursday Bruno broke all his records physically and the boy is not inhuman.

“He has played a game every three or four days. It was a chance to start both Donny (Van de Beek) and Paul (Pogba) but the accumulation of games maybe caught up with us.

“We knew we had substitutes who could come on and make a difference. Everyone could see we weren’t as sharp as we have been.”

Without a major trophy since 2017, United are 14 points behind Premier League leaders Manchester City and face Spanish side Granada in the Europa League quarter-finals in April.

“You are always disappointed, especially when it’s the end of the line of a cup run. We couldn’t find the normal spark, brightness and energy,” Solskjaer said.

“Maybe all the games caught up with us. Thursday was a big night and today we didn’t have the zip.”

Brendan Rodgers urged Leicester to create history after his team reached the FA Cup semi-finals for the first time since 1982.

Leicester have made four final appearances but have never won the competition.

“We are in the semi-final and we have a chance to get to the final and create history,” said Rodgers, whose side will face Southampton in the last four at Wembley in April.

“When it comes we will fight and give everything we can to achieve that.

“For the club to get to the final and win the trophy would be really special. It’s a trophy in their history they haven’t won. I would be so happy for the owners.

“There are lots of teams ahead of us in terms of budget or whatever else, maybe history, but the ambition is there to win titles and be competitive.”

 

AFP

‘We Have To Be Realistic’: Solskjaer Promises ‘Responsible’ Transfer At Man Utd

File photo: 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

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says Manchester United have to focus on realistic and responsible business as they target improvements to their squad during the coronavirus pandemic.

Next Monday marks a year to the day since Old Trafford last welcomed fans, with a full house roaring the hosts to a 2-0 derby victory against rivals Manchester City.

United have not beaten a traditional “big six” rival in the Premier League since and Solskjaer’s second-placed side are already 15 points behind City with just 12 matches remaining.

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The Norwegian knows there remains work to do if they are to bring success back to the club but Covid-19 has changed the landscape.

“We have to be realistic, we have to be responsible in the way we do our business both on and off the pitch,” he said.

“There’s improvements on the training ground, stadium. We just have to look at the whole picture.

“Where can we spend the money? And how much is there? It’s just the real world now. It has changed.”

Manchester United's Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reacts on the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Arsenal at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on November 1, 2020. Paul ELLIS / POOL / AFP
File photo: Manchester United’s Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reacts on the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Arsenal at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on November 1, 2020.Paul ELLIS / POOL / AFP

 

Solskjaer said young players at the club’s academy could be handed opportunities as a result of the changed circumstances.

“Of course, all clubs in the world are going through the same situation so it’s no different for other clubs than for us,” he said.

“I think there’s just going to be less and less transfers happening in the world of football until this changes.”

United left their transfer business until late last summer, with free agent Edinson Cavani arriving on deadline day on a contract until the end of the season with the option of a further year.

The 34-year-old striker’s future remains unclear beyond the end of this campaign and talk about a long-term solution continues, with Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland regularly linked with a move to Old Trafford.

“I always say that Mason (Greenwood), Anthony (Martial), Edinson… when we can really get them really firing that means we’re a very good team,” he said.

“But we’re always looking at better players, of course we are.”

AFP

19-Year-Old Mason Greenwood Signs New Four-Year Deal With Manchester United

Manchester United’s English striker Mason Greenwood runs with the ball during the English Premier League football match between West Bromwich Albion and Manchester United at The Hawthorns stadium in West Bromwich, central England, on February 14, 2021. (Photo by Nick Potts / POOL / AFP)

 

Mason Greenwood committed himself to Manchester United till 2025 on Tuesday with the club’s manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer saying it is his responsibility to ensure the winger “reaches his phenomenal potential”.

The 19-year-old’s new and improved deal which includes a one-year extension option comes after a series of impressive performances since he broke into the first team.

Greenwood has been with the club since the age of seven and gone on to make 82 first-team appearances and earning himself one England cap.

Solskjaer handed Greenwood his debut against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League in March 2019 and has been delighted with his progress.

“Mason is a fantastic talent and yet another fine example of the type of player that our academy produces,” said Solskjaer.

“He has made great progress this season, showing real maturity and adaptability to his game which has seen him develop into one of the best young players in the country.

“Whilst it is easy for people outside of the club to forget that Mason is just 19, it is our job as coaches to ensure he reaches his phenomenal potential and every step we take is to help him along that path.”

Greenwood for his part said it was thanks to the United Academy he had realised his dream of playing first team football.

“When you join the club at seven years old you just dream of playing for the first-team one day,” Greenwood said.

“I’ve worked so hard to reach this level and the last two years have been amazing.

“I want to thank the academy for everything they have done for me and for their continued support to this day.”

Greenwood — who has scored four times in 29 appearances across all competitions this term — said he wanted to reciprocate the faith shown in him by helping United win silverware.

“There is so much that I want to achieve in the game and I know that this is the perfect environment to play my football.

“There is a lot more to come from myself and this team and I am so committed to working week in, week out to help the group achieve success.

“I want to repay the club for the support that everyone has given me over the years and show everyone just what I am capable of.”

Solskjaer Brands Racist Abuse Of Man Utd Players ‘Disgusting’

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

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said racist abuse aimed at Anthony Martial and Axel Tuanzebe following Manchester United’s shock defeat against Sheffield United this week was “unacceptable and disgusting”.

Both players were attacked on social media following Wednesday’s 2-1 home defeat by the Premier League’s bottom side, which prevented the Red Devils reclaiming top spot.

United issued a strongly worded statement on Thursday demanding stronger measures against “mindless idiots”.

Solskjaer echoed that message at his pre-match press conference on Friday.

“It’s just incredible we have these scenes still, this abuse in 2021,” said the Norwegian, whose side play Arsenal at the Emirates on Saturday.

“We’ve been campaigning for a long time now with the Premier League and I think it’s working, but there are still some people that haven’t got it.

“They hide behind social media, be anonymous and it’s unacceptable and it’s disgusting.”

Solskjaer said 23-year-old Tuanzebe, who was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo but was brought up in England, was “fine”.

“I’ve spoken to him and, of course, it’s not nice but he’s a strong boy, strong character, got support from his family,” said the United boss.

READ ALSO: Man Utd Title Hopes Hit By Sheffield United Defeat

Solskjaer is keen to slim down his bloated squad before the transfer window shuts on Monday.

Jesse Lingard is on the verge of moving to West Ham on loan but Solskjaer said he hoped the attacking midfielder would return to Old Trafford “revitalised”.

The 28-year-old has found playing time limited this season, making just three appearances in all competitions for United.

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

 

“It’s likely that Jesse’s loan deal with West Ham is going through,” said Solskjaer. “We want Jesse to come back here revitalised and having shown at West Ham how good a player he is.”

Argentina defender Marcos Rojo looks likely to leave the club, with a move to Boca Juniors edging closer.

AFP

One Year Of Fernandes Transforms Man United From Title Pretenders To Contenders

File photo: Manchester United’s Portuguese midfielder Bruno Fernandes celebrates scoring during the English Premier League football match between Newcastle United and Manchester United at St James’ Park in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, north east England on October 17, 2020. Alex Pantling / POOL / AF

 

 

Manchester United may have surrendered top spot in the Premier League with a shock home defeat to bottom-of-the-table Sheffield United, but the fact the Red Devils are even involved in a title race is testament to Bruno Fernandes’s first 12 months at Old Trafford.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men travel to Arsenal on Saturday a year to the day since the Portuguese midfielder joined a side languishing 30 points off the top in fifth place.

Solskjaer’s days in charge looked numbered after a toxic response from the home support to a 2-0 defeat to Burnley in United’s final league game before Fernandes’s arrival.

In 52 appearances, the 26-year-old has scored 28 goals and provided 18 assists, earning comparisons to Eric Cantona’s talismanic turnaround in United’s fortunes.

solskjaer-man-united
File photo: Manchester United’s Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (C), FC Copenhagen’s Greek midfielder Zeca and Manchester United’s Portuguese midfielder Bruno Fernandes react at the end of the UEFA Europa League quarter-final football match between Manchester United and FC Copenhagen at the RheinEnergieStadion, in Cologne, western Germany, on August 10, 2020.
WOLFGANG RATTAY / AFP / POOL

 

Over the past year, no team has taken more Premier League points than United.

However, Fernandes’s impact goes beyond the stats.

For a side badly in need of a leader, the former Sporting Lisbon captain has come to the fore, demanding that others match his standards.

READ ALSO: Man Utd Title Hopes Hit By Sheffield United Defeat

“I don’t do anything like saying ‘I want to be a leader or I want to do things in a different way to someone’, it’s the natural way I have. It’s something that’s in my game,” said Fernandes.

“For me the point is helping everyone with my voice when I can and also with my energy and everything I do in the game to help the team.”

That has led to on-pitch rebukes of his teammates and frustration at Solskjaer whenever he is substituted or rested.

But it is also a commitment to excellence has often been missing from United in the eight years since legendary former manager Alex Ferguson retired.

“He’s never happy with me when I tell him to go inside after training when he’s playing the next day so he got some practice yesterday,” said Solskjaer after Fernandes came off the bench to score the winner with a stunning free-kick against Liverpool in the FA Cup last weekend.

“When you leave him out like I did today, he stayed about 45 minutes after training yesterday shooting free-kicks so I was pretty confident he could score one if he got the chance.”

The most successful club in English football history when it comes to league titles have not even competed for one since Ferguson’s departure.

“My mentality, my way to be in my life and football is about winning,” said Fernandes this week.

“I don’t conform with losing games is normal stuff. For me, losing is not normal so my mentality comes from that.”

 

Manchester United's Portuguese midfielder Bruno Fernandes (L) celebrates scoring their second goal with Manchester United's French midfielder Paul Pogba (R) during the English Premier League football match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Manchester United at the American Express Community Stadium in Brighton, southern England on June 30, 2020. Alastair Grant / POOL / AFP
File photo: Manchester United’s Portuguese midfielder Bruno Fernandes (L) celebrates scoring their second goal with Manchester United’s French midfielder Paul Pogba (R) during the English Premier League football match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Manchester United at the American Express Community Stadium in Brighton, southern England on June 30, 2020.
Alastair Grant / POOL / AFP

 

United had not suffered defeat in the league for 13 games stretching back to November until they were blunted by the Blades in midweek.

Manchester City have moved into the pole position at the top of the table with an ominous run for the other challengers of 11 consecutive wins in all competitions.

If United are to remain in the race, a return to winning ways is needed at the Emirates on Saturday, where they have lost on their two previous visits under Solskjaer.

Those defeats came prior to Fernandes’s arrival. In the past year, United have undoubtedly progressed, but without trophies to show for it.

Manchester United’s Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (L) shakes hands with FC Copenhagen’s Greek midfielder Zeca, next to Manchester United’s Portuguese midfielder Bruno Fernandes at the end of the UEFA Europa League quarter-final football match between Manchester United and FC Copenhagen at the RheinEnergieStadion, in Cologne, western Germany, on August 10, 2020. (Photo by WOLFGANG RATTAY / various sources / AFP)

 

Solskjaer’s men have lost four cup semi-finals in the past two seasons and crashed out of the Champions League at the group stages in December.

“I come to the club because I knew I will come to a club who wants to win everything,” Fernandes said on the attraction United still holds for top players.

A four-year drought without any silverware is too long for a club of United’s size, but it is thanks to Fernandes they are at least now contenders.

AFP

Manchester United Look To Extend Lead Over Chasing Premier League Pack

File photo: 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 Old Trafford in Manchester, northwest England, on January 6, 2021.
PETER POWELL / POOL / AFP

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has challenged his Manchester United players to show the relentlessness of champions when they welcome bottom-of-the-table Sheffield United to Old Trafford on Wednesday.

United will be confident of extending a 13-game unbeaten league run in the league that has taken them to the top of the table against the Blades, who have won only once in the top flight this season.

However, Solskjaer’s men could find themselves knocked down to second by the time they kick-off as Manchester City can go top if they beat second-bottom West Brom on Tuesday.

United’s fine form continued by knocking Liverpool out of the FA Cup on Sunday, winning a thrilling tie 3-2.

But Solskjaer is wary of his side slipping back into bad habits as they have done previously after good runs in his tenure.

“Now I want to see the reaction, how we can now mentally go again, against Sheffield United. That’s the challenge now,” said Solskjaer.

“We have beaten Liverpool, and everyone is elated, very happy and they should be, but tomorrow morning I want to see players thinking about Wednesday night.”

 

Manchester United’s English striker Marcus Rashford (2nd L) celebrates with teammates after scoring their second goal during the English FA Cup fourth round football match between Manchester United and Liverpool at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on January 24, 2021. Laurence Griffiths / POOL / AFP

United could be without Marcus Rashford, who limped off with a knee injury late on against Liverpool.

But Solskjaer will be able to welcome back Bruno Fernandes to the starting line-up after he came off the bench to score the winner against the English champions at the weekend with a stunning free-kick.

City face ‘genius’ Allardyce

City sit just two points behind United with a game in hand to come after a 10-game winning run that has made Pep Guardiola’s men favourites for the title after a slow start to the season.

Guardiola, though, will have to cope without Kevin De Bruyne for at least the next month due to a hamstring injury.

On paper, lowly West Brom should pose little threat to City, but they were the last team to take points off Guardiola’s men.

A 1-1 draw at the Etihad in December still was not enough to save Slaven Bilic’s job as Baggies boss as he was sacked the next day and replaced by Sam Allardyce.

The former England manager has managed just one win in seven games, but Guardiola warned of Allardyce’s ability to spring surprise results.

“Sam Allardyce is a genius to take these teams when everyone believes it’s over and get results,” said Guardiola on Monday.

“If it happens once, twice or three times, OK you can say it’s lucky, but that is not the case because he’s done it I don’t know how many times.”

Top-four battles

A draw with West Brom also sparked the collapse of Liverpool’s title defence as Jurgen Klopp’s men have failed to win in five league games to slip to fourth, six points off the top.

When the Reds hosted Tottenham just over a month ago it was a top-of-the-table clash. Now they meet again locked in a battle just to try and qualify for next season’s Champions League.

Spurs are a point behind Liverpool, but have a game in hand and have recovered from their own dip in form to take seven points from the last possible nine.

Leicester sit between the Manchester giants and Liverpool as they aim to recreate their title-winning heroics of 2015/16.

The Foxes travel to another top-four contender Everton, who were the last team to beat Brendan Rodgers’ men eight games ago.

Leicester will be without talisman Jamie Vardy for a few weeks after a hernia operation, but Rodgers believes his side can cope without the 34-year-old.

“We have scored 53 goals over the course of the season so far. Jamie has 13 and 40 of our goals have come from other people,” said Rodgers.

Despite speculation that Rodgers could be in the frame, Chelsea did not try to poach the Leicester boss as their new manager after sacking Frank Lampard on Monday.

Former Paris Saint-Germain and Borussia Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel is instead expected to be named Lampard’s successor and could even be in place in time for the visit of Wolves on Wednesday.

Fixtures (all times GMT)

Tuesday

Newcastle v Leeds, Crystal Palace v West Ham (both 1800), West Brom v Manchester City, Southampton v Arsenal (both 2015)

Wednesday

Chelsea v Wolves, Burnley v Aston Villa (both 1800),Brighton v Fulham (1930), Everton v Leicester, Manchester United v Sheffield United (both 2015)

Thursday

Tottenham v Liverpool (2000)