Tag Archives: Manchester

‘Another big loss’: Manchester United pile the pressure on Spurs as boss Jose Mourinho is outwitted by old club in Premier League

Jose Mourinho suffered a 10th league loss of the season for the first time in his managerial career as his Tottenham side were undone by a pristine second-half showing from Manchester United in Sunday’s Premier League action.

Tottenham’s hopes of securing Champions League qualification for next season appear to be dead in the water after a dismal capitulation to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s in-form side at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium – but what might have been?

After Edinson Cavani had a first-half strike bizarrely ruled out after a VAR inquest revealed that Scott McTominay’s pinky finger had scraped Son Heung-min’s face in the build-up, the South Korean – suitably replenished after a bout of histrionics on the turf – picked himself up to prod home at the near post after Lucas Moura capitalized on some lax defending from Victor Lindelof.

This would be about as good as it got for Mourinho’s side. After the break, United, who have been consistently slow starters all season, moved up a gear and leveled when Fred reacted quickest after Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris spilled another Cavani effort. 

The veteran Uruguayan finally etched his name on the scoreboard after 79 minutes, nodding in a Mason Greenwood cross to give his side the lead. 

With Tottenham badly in need of new ideas in the final third, Mourinho opted to send Erik Lamela into the fray while Gareth Bale, perhaps his most potent goalscoring option left in reserve, continued to warm the bench.

It was substitute Greenwood, though, who would make the lasting impact on the game as he fired past Lloris’ near post deep into stoppage time. 

We lost but I praise my players,” Mourinho announced to Sky Sports afterwards. “We have no complaints. It’s very difficult for me to analyse games with the media. I am always criticized when I try to analyze, so I prefer to be general.

To be general, I think we lost against a very good team. I praise my players and my compliments to United.”

Mourinho, though, clearly wasn’t willing to perform a post-mortem of his team’s defeat to the media.

We have a problem with holding onto leads, yes,” he said to the BBC. “I’m not ready to go deeper into it with you because every time I try to go a little bit deeper, there is always a reaction, so sometimes I feel a little bit in a grey area.

I don’t know if I should comment or share my views with you, or share my feelings and my ideas with you.”

Solksjaer, meanwhile, said that he was pleased with the result – but reserved some harsh words for the VAR decision which ruled out Cavani’s first-half goal.

The game has gone. The game has absolutely gone,” he said starkly. “If that’s a clear and obvious error, it’s an obvious error he had to look at it. It was a perfectly good goal.

We shouldn’t be conned. I have to say, if my son stays down for three minutes and he needs his 10 mates to help him up, he won’t get any food.

We weren’t conned: the referee was.”

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Tottenham chief Daniel Levy makes Harry Kane to Manchester United transfer decision

Kane is the joint-top goalscorer in the Premier League this season, with 17 goals to his name.

Transfer expert Fabrizio Romano has the same view that it looks unlikely for Kane to leave Spurs this summer.

And he says discussions over an extension to his contract is on the horizon.

“I think it’s difficult to see Harry Kane out of Tottenham,” Romano told GiveMeSport.

“I know what he said in the last interviews and obviously we are in March so at the moment there is nothing advanced, but what I’m told is that Tottenham are planning with Harry Kane as part of the team.

Manchester United's upper hand over Man City in Erling Haaland transfer battle

If Erling Haaland lands in Manchester later this summer the £150million Norwegian goal-machine won’t be just bringing his goals.

He’ll have Mino Raiola in tow too – and whichever club the Borussia Dortmund striker chooses, the super-agents’ hovering presence will raise the stakes for Pep Guardiola and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

So who would cope better in dealing with football’s most out-spoken and hard-nosed agent? Ole or Pep?

Old Trafford boss Solskjaer knows all about the confrontational Italian fixer after United’s trials and tribulations with Paul Pogba, one of Raiola’s A-list stars.

Mino Raiola, agent of Paul Pogba and Erling Haaland
Super-agent Mino Raiola isn’t afraid to ruffle feathers

City boss Guardiola has felt the full force of Raiola’s tongue too after a famous attack by the agent after the Spaniard froze out Zlatan Ibrahimovic at Barcelona[1].

Raiola gave Guardiola both barrels calling the Nou Camp legend a “cowardly dog” and saying: “As a manager Guardiola is great, but as a human he’s a zero!”

In a recent interview he even reignited his feud with Sir Alex Ferguson who wouldn’t bow to Raiola’s contract demands over Pogba back in 2012 and let the midfielder leave to join Juventus[2].

Raiola micro-manages the careers of his clients – and isn’t afraid to step on toes.

Manchester United's Paul Pogba celebrates scoring vs AC Milan
Raiola wants Paul Pogba to leave Manchester United

It’s believed at least one major Premier League[3] boss wouldn’t have a Raiola player in his club such is his distaste for the abrasive nature of the agent and the methods he employs to look after the interests of his players.

Raiola doesn’t care who he aggravates – and being diplomatic isn’t part of his customer service mission statement.

For the last couple of years, Raiola has frequently run to the Italian media to fire long range missiles at Solskjaer, Ed Woodward and United in general as a tactic to agitate a move for Pogba.

Man Utd boss Solskjaer has clashed with Raiola
Man Utd boss Solskjaer has clashed with Raiola

Just over a year ago the out-spoken agent directly criticised Solskjaer minutes before United played a crucial Premier League clash at Chelsea[4].

Raiola attacked Solskjaer for keeping Pogba “a prisoner” at Old Trafford, effectively called him out for breaking a promise to allow the French World Cup winner to leave and claimed the Norwegian had big problems at the club.

That followed a major assault on United at the end of 2019 when Raiola saying the club were so badly run “they’d ruin even Maradona, Pele and Maldini”.

Solskjaer’s neatly side-stepped Raiola’s goading and still has a solid relationship with Pogba even though he has almost no contact with the agent.

He’s learned to live with Raiola’s sniping – and still has Pogba despite being pressured to let him leave.

Pep Guardiola and Raiola are no strangers to one another
Pep Guardiola wouldn’t be afraid to bench Haaland

Those who know Guardiola, however, believe he’d be way less tolerant of Raiola’s outbursts – and flashpoints would be guaranteed.

That’s because the City boss picks his teams as he sees fit and would feel no pressure to select Haaland every time.

Guardiola has had Kevin De Bruyne on the bench in plenty of games, likewise Sergio Aguero, David Silva and all his top stars.

Imagine Raiola standing idly by while Haaland was left out for some games? No chance.

Raiola would be the fox in the hen coop, stirring up trouble and disrupting Guardiola’s world the first time Haaland was benched in a big, or small, game.

Haaland would guarantee goals in Manchester

Guardiola’s already had a taste of Raiola and it got nasty. Will he want a repeat if Haaland joins City?

Solskjaer seems better placed to deal with Raiola and it’s unlikely he’d have Haaland anywhere but up front leading United’s line.

Which ever half of Manchester Haaland chooses – red or blue – there will be a guarantee of goals galore.

And the sure-fire certainty of fireworks too.

References

  1. ^ Barcelona (www.mirror.co.uk)
  2. ^ Juventus (www.mirror.co.uk)
  3. ^ Premier League (www.mirror.co.uk)
  4. ^ Chelsea (www.mirror.co.uk)

[email protected] (Steve Bates)

Manchester United’s Erling Haaland transfer agreement means nothing because of Joel Glazer

And the Norway international has been spectacular in the Champions League, too, finding the net 10 times from just six appearances in the competition.

Behind the scenes, United’s key figures all want to see Haaland arrive at Old Trafford.

But history suggests that transfer agreement could count for precious little with Glazer, ultimately, having the final say.

Solskjaer, Murtough and Fletcher will have to operate within their means this summer. While United are financially stable they, like many clubs around the globe, have been impacted by the coronavirus crisis.

And Glazer could veto a deal – just like he did for Jadon Sancho last summer.

United went after the England international with vigour. Ed Woodward oversaw negotiations and, after learning Borussia Dortmund wanted £108million for the England international, relayed the news to Glazer.

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But it seems Pep Guardiola wants Grealish instead, with the Aston Villa star scoring six goals and registering 10 assists from 22 top flight matches.

If United sign Neto, history suggests he’d be a big hit at the Theatre of Dreams.

The club have had great success with Portuguese players over the years, starting with Ronaldo’s arrival from Sporting Lisbon 18 years ago.

The Juventus star arrived as a replacement for David Beckham and, after taking a little while to adjust to life in England, ended up being a huge hit by propelling them to three straight Premier League titles.

Nani touched down from Sporting in 2007 and, like Ronaldo, enjoyed much success throughout his time at the club.

Malaysian prince wants Glazer meeting to buy stake in Manchester United

Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim, crown prince of the state of Johor in Malaysia, has announced his intention to purchase a minority stake in Manchester United. The 36-year-old, who was recently at the centre of speculation involving a possible takeover of La Liga side Valencia, singled out the Red Devils after admitting that he is open to investing in European football on Friday.
United have been owned by the Glazer family since 2005, with their reign characterised by widespread discontent among supporters.

However, the Red Devils could be set to change hands in the near future if Tunku Ismail follows through with his plan to become a shareholder.

He revealed his desire to purchase a three to five per cent stake in the club, claiming that the 20-time Premier League champions are sustainable enough to warrant a significant investment.

“Manchester United is a club which will take decades for its commercial value to go down,” he said. “In terms of sustainability they are superb. So that is why I will try to have a meeting.”

Tunku Ismail already owns Malaysian outfit Johor Darul Ta’zim, one of the country’s most successful clubs.

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Last season they scooped their seventh successive domestic title and unveiled their brand-new Sultan Ibrahim Stadium, which holds up to 40,000 supporters.

Tunku Ismail’s ownership has seen the club transform from mid-table stragglers into the dominant force of Malaysian football, with a steady flow of investment helping to recruit the best local players alongside a handful of talented foreigners.

Meanwhile, United have consistently been ranked among the world’s richest clubs but saw their income plummet by around £112million last year, a huge drop when compared to the other sides near the top of football’s rich list.

Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich all placed above the Red Devils as three of the sport’s most valuable clubs.

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It was also revealed earlier this month that the club’s debt has increased by 16 per cent to £455.5m, which has been impacted by the financial effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Ed Woodward explained in a statement earlier this month that he feels United are making steady progress on and off the pitch under the current setup, but highlighted the negative effects of the pandemic on the club and football as a whole.

“”As we approach a full year since our last game with fans at Old Trafford, we reflect on an extraordinarily challenging 12 months for football and society as a whole,” he said.

“The rapid rollout of vaccines in the UK and beyond gives us confidence that we are now on a path towards normality, including the return of fans to stadia.

“While the disruption to our operations remains significant, we are pleased by the tremendous resilience the club has demonstrated through the pandemic, underpinned by the dedication of our people and the strength of our commercial business.

“We have been reminded of the importance of football as a source of community, entertainment and pride to fans around the world, even as we have sorely missed them at Old Trafford.

“The progress made by Ole and the players this season is clear and our thriving academy and women’s team are also adding to the optimism we feel about the future on and off the pitch.”

It remains to be seen whether Tunku Ismail is prepared to act on his interests and tempt the Glazers into selling a minority stake in United in the near future.

Manchester United double transfer agreement is great for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Manchester United have a new structure in place. Ed Woodward has given up some of his power at Old Trafford, with John Murtough and Darren Fletcher primed to aid Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on the transfer front. And the fact all three figures are in agreement over Declan Rice and Erling Haaland bodes well.
Manchester United’s transfer policy, under Sir Alex Ferguson, was brilliant.

The Scot signed top players time and time again, from unknown rookies such as Cristiano Ronaldo to established superstars like Dimitar Berbatov.

But in the years since Ferguson walked off into the sunset, United have struggled in that department.

In 2014, David Moyes wanted Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Cesc Fabregas and Leighton Baines. He got just Marouane Fellaini instead.

The following year, Louis van Gaal hoped to recruit Thomas Muller or Robert Lewandowski. Late in the day, the Red Devils got Radamel Falcao.

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And it was well-documented that Jose Mourinho missed out on his top targets, too, such as Harry Maguire, Toby Alderweireld and Gareth Bale.

Under Solskjaer, United haven’t got all their targets either.

They wanted Jadon Sancho, Jack Grealish and Jude Bellingham during the summer transfer window but, in the end, the trio all slipped through their grasp.

Since then, the Red Devils have had a tinker with their setup behind the scenes.

Murtough and Fletcher have been appointed as football director and technical director respectively, with the club now hopeful the double act will help to propel them to silverware in the future.

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And, already, it seems as if United’s key figures are all on the same page.

That hasn’t always been the case. Woodward never could quite see the logic in signing Baines when they had Evra, while he felt Falcao would be a more glamorous signing than Lewandowski or Muller.

But United’s key figures have already come to an agreement.

The Sun say Murtough, Fletcher and Solskjaer all believe Rice would be a good asset for the club, with the England international currently flourishing at West Ham.

Despite being denied a move to Chelsea back in the summer, Rice has knuckled down to help the Hammers climb up to fifth in the Premier League table.

United are well-stocked in the middle of the park with Solskjaer able to call upon the likes of Paul Pogba, Fred, Scott McTominay, Donny van de Beek and Nemanja Matic.

But with Matic entering the twilight years of his career, a move for Rice would certainly make sense.

Likewise, Haaland.

It was reported by the Manchester Evening News last week that United’s big three figures also believe the Borussia Dortmund star should be a priority target.

After all, it’s easy to see why. After scoring 19 Bundesliga goals from 20 matches this term, he’s established himself as one of the best young strikers on the planet.

United may need to replace Edinson Cavani this summer, with the 33-year-old being linked with a move to Boca Juniors.

And they’re also on the hunt for a new forward regardless amid the struggles of Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood this term.

United’s transfer business in the years since Ferguson walked away has been iffy, to put it mildly.

But with Solskjaer already working well in tandem with Fletcher and Murtough, better times could be on the horizon.

And, if they’re successful in landing Haaland and Rice, silverware might be too.

‘Perfectly steered by Ole’: Solskjaer outwits Guardiola AGAIN as Manchester United halt City's 28-game unbeaten run

Manchester City’s seemingly inevitable march towards the Premier League title hit a road bump on Sunday as Pep Guardiola’s men surrendered their 28-game unbeaten streak to city rivals Manchester United at the Etihad.

An early penalty from Bruno Fernandes and a second-half strike from Luke Shaw was enough to hand Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s charges a hard-fought three points, ending the unbeaten run which had propelled City to the top of the division – with United now being unbeaten in an impressive 22 away games.

Fernandes’ early strike set the tone for the remainder of the game, with Guardiola’s free-scoring side unable to break down Man United’s stoic rearguard.

In truth, City never really secured a foothold in the game. Raheem Sterling and Ilkay Gundogan, so often Manchester City’s talismen this season, struggled to make an impact. So too did Kevin de Bruyne who cut a forlorn figure on the pitch for much of the 90 minutes on the occasion of his 250th appearance for the team.

It’s always difficult to play against Manchester City,” Fernandes told Sky Sports after the game. “They are difficult on the ball and tough to play against. Today we did almost everything perfect.

It’s not about winning against City, it’s about winning every game.

Scoring in the first minute was perfect, we had more space to counter. We remained focused until the end of the game. When we defend well we know we’ll have chances to score. The league is not a sprint. It’s is a marathon. We have to do our best and not think about others.”

The win will be a particularly satisfying one for United’s occasionally under-fire boss Solskjaer who now – incredibly – is the only manager to hold a winning record against Guardiola, and more than the other 66 top-flight managers that the Spaniard has faced (three times or more) in his career.

Much like they did in the previous campaign, it was a tactical masterclass from the Norwegian whose team so successfully neutered the in-form City. 

Obviously I don’t think we started very well,” De Bruyne said of his team’s performance. “We knew it would be hard. We played into their hands with the first goal and we needed about 15 minutes to settle a bit. Then we played pretty good but we didn’t score and that made a difference and made a mistake with the pressing for the second goal.

It is not the best if you go behind after one minute but you still have 90 minutes after that. The second was a little worse but I think the mentality of the players was the same as always.

Sometimes it is necessary to lose games and have bad spells. Even in the winning run we had some bad spells but overcame then, we didn’t today. Sometimes it can be a positive.”

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The manner of United’s win, though, may well be bittersweet to some sections of their supporters after a recent run which saw them drop points in games with Crystal Palace, Chelsea and West Brom – results which almost certainly ended any realistic ambitions they might have held of closing even further ground on the runaway league leaders – something which Solksjaer emphasized in his post-match comments.

No, we just take one game time,” he said to Sky Sports. “They are too far ahead to think we can catch them. They have been excellent. Even today they put you under so much pressure.”

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Manchester United scouting Bayer Leverkusen star Edmond Tapsoba after tip-off

Manchester United have been scouting Bayer Leverkusen centre-back Edmond Tapsoba after receiving a tip-off from a well-respected figure in Germany, Express Sport can exclusively reveal. The 22-year-old, who was still playing football in Burkina Faso for US Ouagadougou in 2017, has emerged as one of the brightest defenders in the Bundesliga in the past year and is also under the watchful eye of two other Premier League clubs.
Tapsoba was snapped up by Leverkusen from Victoria Guimaraes in January 2020 when he cost an initial £15.5million in a deal that could still rise to £21.5m in add-ons.

The Bundesliga club’s recruitment team were enchanted by his confidence bringing the ball out from the back and maturity on the field at such a young age.

Now he is the heartbeat of the Leverkusen defence – that also includes former United academy graduate Timothy Fosu-Mensah – and has played every minute of league action this season, besides the two games he missed due to coronavirus in late November.

His current deal contains a release clause believed to be in the region of £44m and Leverkusen are not willing to listen to any offers below that figure and would like to tie him down to an improved contract.

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Tapsoba was the subject of a last-minute enquiry from Liverpool in the January transfer window as the Reds scrambled to bring in defensive reinforcements.

Yet the Premier League champions were told by Leverkusen that they had to pay the £44m release clause in full if they wanted to pursue a deal.

Leicester and Wolves are among those to have watched the player in the past year, something that Tapsoba has been made aware of and the latter are understood to be eyeing a summer deal.

The Foxes have since cooled their interest since completing the signing of Wesley Fofana from Saint-Etienne.

“They (Leicester and Wolves) often sent scouts over,” he said last year in an interview with The Athletic.

“However, I spoke to my mentor Boureima Maiga and he emphasised that it is important that I do not skip any steps in my development. Switching to the Premier League, where I might not play, would not have been a good idea.”

Tapsoba’s willingness to bring the ball out from the back as opposed to kicking it long stems from his unlikely idol: John Stones.

When asked who he used to watch as a kid growing up, Tapsoba named the Manchester City defender when speaking with the Bundesliga’s official website.

“I would say Per Mertesacker, from Germany, is a player that I liked a lot when I was younger,” he said.

“When I started to grow older I liked John Stones a lot too. I watched all the videos on YouTube. I would say that’s what inspired me.

“I also wanted to help my family, because they deserve it very much. They inspired me to work hard every single day.”

Manchester United have Bruno Fernandes problem that was clear in Crystal Palace draw

Man Utd: Solskjaer delivers Pogba fitness update

“They are missing Paul Pogba, without a shadow of a doubt. Me and Coley [Andy Cole] both said it,” said Clinton Morrison, who hit the nail on the head in the Sky Sports studio at half-time. “Bruno Fernandes is the main man but when it’s not going right for him, this is where you need Paul Pogba and he usually always steps up to the mark so they are missing him.”
The Frenchman’s prowess was sorely missed at Selhurst Park and you cannot help but feel United are starting to look flat without Pogba parading the middle of the pitch.

After all, it was his injection of quality and rise to the fore that saw United considered as genuine Premier League title contenders at the turn of the year.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer appeared to have unlocked the superstar who had threatened to full off the map at Old Trafford and now United had two world players capable of winning matches on their own, in their side.

Pogba’s absence now feeds into a wider problem, one that was glaringly obvious in tonight’s 0-0 draw at Crystal Palace, that Fernandes cannot do it all on his own. That’s been the case for a while.

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Bruno

Manchester United’s over-reliance on Bruno Fernandes is now a worry (Image: GETTY)

This was a nothing performance from the Portuguese talisman, who was playing his 40th match of the club season and looked leggy.

It begged the question of whether it was necessary to start him in last week’s Europa League last 32 second leg with Real Sociedad, with United already 4-0 to the good.

When Fernandes is not on song, United look like an entirely different team. It’s a scary and quite frankly worrying reality check of where they may have been without him.

As this season’s Premier League top scorers, it’s fair to say that United are the division’s entertainers but tonight’s showing in south London was enough to send you to sleep.

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“They’re so bad,” Gary Neville said during commentary in the second half. “Some of them can’t control the ball.”

Fernandes had tried though, with plenty of swings of his right boot. In the first half, no player gave the ball away more than him (11 times).

There was no urgency to United’s play and if they were to score, it was only ever likely to come from a set-piece, once again delivered by Fernandes.

United need goals and they need goals from the wide areas. It’s time Marcus Rashford is held accountable. He does not win enough games for Solskjaer and is supposed to be one of their main men. His lack of cutting edge is why he won’t start for England at the European Championships this summer.

Mason Greenwood has flattered to deceive too following a stunning breakthrough campaign last season, that saw him net 17 goals in all competitions.

He has managed just one in the Premier League this time around, while Anthony Martial has had similar troubles.

Seasoned veteran Edinson Cavani was feeding entirely off scraps but worked his socks off nonetheless.

This was a far cry from the service he received during his time at the Parc des Princes, where he gunned in 200 Ligue 1 goals during his time at the club.

In midfield, the likes of Fred and Nemanja Matic were solely deployed to provide stability, allowing the attacking players to do the damage going forward.

Yet when Pogba’s on duty, he has the ability to influence the game from deep. 

Manchester United never looked like scoring vs Crystal Palace

Manchester United never looked like scoring vs Crystal Palace (Image: GETTY)

“United haven’t had one midfielder attempt to break the lines,” added Neville, who was almost disgusted with the lack of innovation from United.

This game passed a large number of their players by, as they stop and stared at Fernandes and waited for something to happen.

It’s been a similar story in other matches this season, including Sunday’s 0-0 draw at Chelsea.

The same applies to draws with Arsenal and Liverpool and the embarrassing 2-1 defeat to Sheffield United.

Fernandes had little impact in either of those outings and ultimately it means, United’s powers wane in front of goal.

You can forgive Solskjaer for wanting to bolster his frontline this summer with Erling Haaland and Jadon Sancho among those who would rip up the script and make mockery of United’s toothless attack against Palace.