What the papers say

Alexis Sánchez seals Inter switch in move saving Manchester United £40m

What the papers say - 11 hours 40 min ago
  • Forward turns loan at Inter into permanent deal to 2023
  • Chilean’s £390,000-a-week United contract had two years left

Alexis Sánchez has completed his free transfer from Manchester United to Internazionale on a contract to 30 June 2023.

The Chile international has been on loan at Inter since August but United have been covering a significant portion of his £390,000-a-week wages. The Italian club are understood to have committed to matching that salary for the first season of their deal.

Related: Martial strikes late against Lask then United finally offload Alexis Sánchez

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Martial strikes late against Lask then United finally offload Alexis Sánchez

What the papers say - Wed, 08/05/2020 - 21:59

Manchester United stuttered while keeping Lask at arm’s length in a last-16 second leg that was the very definition of a non-event given their five-goal advantage from the first game. They will not care, though, as thoughts for Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side turn to Monday’s quarter-final against Copenhagen, the Danish champions, in Cologne.

That is a straight knockout tie, as will be the remainder of the Europa League competition United won three years ago in Stockholm. For the manager and his emerging sideit now represents a golden chance to claim their first trophy and that will be the focus when they arrive in Germany.

Related: Manchester United v LASK: Europa League last 16, second leg – live!

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Manchester United v LASK: Europa League last 16, second leg – live!

What the papers say - Wed, 08/05/2020 - 21:38

9.38pm BST

80 min Another LASK substitution: Andres Andrade off, Petar Filipovic on.

9.37pm BST

79 min “Hi Rob,” says Matt Burtz. “If only because it might be my favourite Everton goal, I just want to note the similarities between Wiesenger’s goal and the one scored by Phil Jagielka at Anfield in 2014. Minus hitting the bottom of the crossbar, of course.”

Jagielka’s was much better I’d say - not just because of the crossbar porn, but because he cut across the ball where Wiesinger had the easier task of hitting it with the inside of the foot. Still a damn fine goal, mind.

9.35pm BST

77 min Mata has been much bettter in the second half, with lots of those familiar first-time passes into space. It’s still a dog of a game, but he has made it slightly more watchable.

9.34pm BST

75 min “In 2016, Mourinho inherited Martial and Rashford whilst Guardiola inherited/acquired Sane and Sterling,” says Digvijay Yadav. “By the time Mourinho left, the United duo were so far behind. Almost scandalous what Mourinho was allowed to do to them. Should have shown patience with them like Fergie did Rooney and Ronaldo from ‘04-‘06. Instead he went and bought Lukaku and Sánchez. Still fuming about that.”

One thing in Mourinho’s defence – he realised very early on, a lot sooner than most of us, that Rashford was a left-sided forward rather than a No9. But this is the first season in which they have both thrived since van Gaal’s last few months, albeit having swapped positions.

9.32pm BST

73 min Another LASK change. The teenager Thomas Sabitzer, cousin of the marvellous Leipzig midfielder Marcel Sabitzer, replaces the goalscorer Philipp Wiesinger.

9.30pm BST

73 min “Hi Rob,” says Craig Foley. “As a Swansea fan I’d bite your hand off if you offered us Dan James back on loan next season. He probably doesn’t need to worry about spot in the Wales squad for the Euros, but he’s still young (this is only his third season after all) and needs regular games to develop. Also, I saw John Williams play in a charity game last year. He still had a burst of pace but it was just the one burst in the entire game!”

That put him one up on most 52-year-olds, and me.

9.30pm BST

72 min Tahith Chong comes on for Brandon Williams.

9.30pm BST

71 min A fierce low shot from Reiter is saved at the near post by Romero, though I’m not sure he knew that much about it. He got in a bit of a tangle and the ball hit his leg before deflecting away.

9.29pm BST

71 min I pity the fool who has to write a ‘Five Things We Learned’ on this game.

9.28pm BST

70 min Pereira plays a good one-two with Mata but then crosses too close to Schlager.

9.27pm BST

67 min “How has OGS been vindicated on Lukaku?” says Tim Stappard. “Ridiculous statement. If Utd get to the final he could well be awaiting. Scored a brutal goal v Getafe.”

The clue’s in the word ‘Getafe’. I just think Martial is a much better No9 if you aspire to win the Premier League and Champions League. You disagree, which is fair enough, but in no way it is a ridiculous statement. Saying it’s a ridiculous statement is ridiculous, I’ll give you that, and now I feel ridiculous for pointing out the ridiculousness of you saying it was ridiculous!

9.24pm BST

66 min A LASK chance: Dominik Reiter for Husein Balic.

9.23pm BST

63 min Jesse Lingard and Fred are replaced by Paul Pogba and Andreas Pereira. Both don’t look thrilled to be substituted, Lingard in particular, but I would suggest their removal is a good sign given what’s to come.

9.22pm BST

62 min “Wondering how you feel Solskjaer is vindicated on Lukaku?” says Michael Bradbury. “He’s been banging them in for Inter (23 in 36). I guess because his absence has allowed Rashford and Martial to flourish?”

More Martial than Rashford, I think. Solskjaer effectively replaced Lukaku with Martial, who had the best season of his career and even managed a personality transplant. I don’t think you can win the Premier League with Lukaku in the team, but you might with Martial. It was a brave decision because the safer short-term bet would have been to keep Lukaku to score cheap goals against the weaker teams and buy Solskjaer some time. But it wouldn’t have done anyone much good in the medium term.

9.21pm BST

61 min Mata has a shot blocked and then Fosu-Mensah blazes a drive into orbit.

9.20pm BST

60 min On reflection, maybe it is Lingard’s goal. There is a split-second between Lingard’s shot and Wiesinger’s tackle, so if the original shot was going on target it will count as his goal.

9.18pm BST

59 min The goal may well be given to Lingard, which would be his second in two games, but I reckon that was Wiesinger’s goal.

9.17pm BST

Wiesinger does get his second goal of the game, but this one’s at the wrong end. Lingard, put through on goal by Mata, took an age to decide what to do. When he eventually had a shot, Wiesinger tackled him simultaneously and diverted the ball through Schlager’s legs.

9.15pm BST

56 min Wiesinger almost scores again! He ran onto a square pass, 25 yards out again, and this time drove a low shot just wide with Romero scrambling across his goal.

9.14pm BST

That was a spectacular strike from Philipp Wiesginger. A corner from the left was headed away by Fosu-Mensah at the near post and ran to Wiesinger 25 yards from goal. He had time to take a touch or three but instead sidefooted a booming first-time curler that beat the diving Romero and flew into the top corner.

9.13pm BST

Pick that out!

9.11pm BST

53 min Mata clips a nice first-time pass out to Williams, who moves into the area and slides a low cross that just evades the stretching James in the six-yard box. Williams had so much time there, almost too much.

9.09pm BST

51 min “Why this obsession with playing Maguire?” says Tim Stappard. “Whatever you think of him, and to me he’s the most overpriced defender ever, he needs a rest.”

I suspect Solskjaer gave the regular first XI the option to play tonight, and Maguire was the only one who said yes. Paul Scholes made the point that he looks like the kind of player who likes the rhythm of regular games, and this was never going to be the most taxing night.

9.09pm BST

50 min: United have their first shot on target Lingard and Mata combine neatly to find Ighalo, who evades Michorl with those deceptively quick feet but then shoots too close to Schlager.

9.05pm BST

47 min Lingard slides a good pass to find James, whose cross towards Ighalo is too close to the keeper. United’s final ball has been desperate.

9.04pm BST

47 min “Hi Rob,” says Peter Oh. “The visitors were riding high at the top of the Austrian Bundesliga before the pandemic-induced shutdown, but have endured a chaotic time during lockdown and the restart. They were docked six league points for violating lockdown restrictions, their manager was fired and they lost numerous matches (including their final three league fixtures on the trot) to finish well off the pace.”

9.03pm BST

46 min Peep peep! United begin the second half.

8.56pm BST

Half-time reading

Related: Solskjær needs more than Jadon Sancho to challenge for the big prizes | Jamie Jackson

8.56pm BST

“How many of these players do you think are in the shop window?” asks Digvijay Yadav. “I’d say Lingard and the absent Dalot, at least. More impressive than the incomings have been the outgoings under OGS: Fellaini, Darmian, Lukaku, Alexis Sanchez, Herrera etc. With the exception of Sánchez, not technically good enough for United.”

I liked Herrera, though I realise I’m in a minority. I’m really pleased Solskjaer has been vindicated on Lukaku, which was a brave decision and one for which he received pelters in the winter. As for this lot, I think most of them will stay next season. I’d say the only ones who might be sold this summer are Mata, Lingard and Bailly, plus Pereira on the bench.

8.52pm BST

“Hiya Rob,” says Adam Kline-Schoder. “Ever since that video surfaced of Dan James falling madly in love with a puppy, the mere thought of him being low on confidence makes me sad. More seriously, he was such a bright spark when he first came; hopefully he’ll be given the time to rediscover his mojo.”

I doubt he’ll make it at United, which is a shame as he seems a decent lad and I love the idea of United having somebody who is even faster than John Williams. I’d be tempted to send him out on loan next season.

8.49pm BST

Britain’s Nuclear Secrets: Inside Sellafield in on BBC Four at 9pm, you know.

8.48pm BST

45 min “If the last 20 minutes of the first half of this near meaningless Europa League tie against significantly weaker opposition is any guide, Jesse Lingard is BACK, baby,” says Barry Bryan. “Clearly the man to add depth to Fernandes’ position.”

He’s played nicely, hasn’t he. The thing that really stands out is his confidence, especially that lovely flicked pass to Ighalo.

8.47pm BST

44 min United will doubtless bring on some of their best XI in the second half, to give them a little workout ahead of the quarter-final, so LASK may have missed their chance of an historic yet kinda pyrrhic victory at Old Trafford.

8.46pm BST

43 min McTominay’s fizzed through pass almost finds Mata, but Renner comes across to cover on the edge of the area.

8.44pm BST

41 min “Hi Rob,” says Matt Burtz. “Re: Jesse Lingard, there’s a subsection of the Everton fanbase that thinks that he’s nailed on to come to Goodison. I disagree, but there is ample evidence of Everton taking the rejects of ‘bigger’ clubs and putting them on high wages (see Iwobi, Delph, Schneiderlin, Sigurdsson if you count his time at Spurs, etc.). I don’t think Carlo Ancelotti will operate this way, but as Jerry Seinfeld once noted, anything’s possible.”

I did think of Everton, then I was overwhelmed by an image of cuddly Carlo wagging a finger at me with a stern look on his coupon. It’s certainly not beyond the realms that he will join them, but I don’t expect it to happen. Lingard’s playing well tonight and looks very confident, so maybe that weird goal at Leicester will give him a new lease of life at United. The more I think about it, if he leaves United he’ll go to Spurs, where Mourinho will buy all the players who have done well under him elsewhere. Lingard and Mesut Ozil will float behind Harry Kane, with Ricardo Carvalho and Pepe setting a new Premier League record of 17 consecutive red cards clean sheets.

8.40pm BST

39 min McTominay is booked for introducing Balic to the lush Old Trafford grass.

8.40pm BST

36 min Lingard eases a through pass down the inside-right channel to James, whose low cross is put behind for a corner. United’s final ball has been very poor so far.

8.39pm BST

35 min Michorl is booked for a two-footed tackle on Lingard. He should have been sent off. I genuinely have no idea whether they are using VAR tonight, and am only too happy to share my expertise in this area.

8.35pm BST

32 min Lingard flicks a lovely first-time pass to Ighalo, who cuts back inside Trauner in the area and is about to shoot where Renner appears to poke the ball to safety.

8.34pm BST

30 min Mata’s gentle outswinging corner is headed a few yards wide by Maguire. That wasn’t much of a chance, because there was no pace on the ball and he was 12 yards from goal. Maguire only scored one goal in the league last season; he should really be getting six or seven, such is his set-piece threat.

8.31pm BST

28 min Another chance for LASK. Renner on the left curls in a terrific cross towards the near post, where Balic forces his way into front of Maguire and flicking a looping header that drifts just over the bar.

8.30pm BST

27 min “Dear Rob,” says Nick Gatto. “Re: your preamble. Rangers fan here. I seen what you did there.”

I did say the likeliest route to winning a trophy. Actually, I’ve just realised I didn’t say the likeliest route, but I should have done.

8.28pm BST

26 min James hares into space down the left, cuts into the area but then runs into trouble. He looks so low on confidence.

8.27pm BST

25 min Balic leaves it to - yep - Michorl, whose free-kick hits the wall.

8.26pm BST

24 min Fosu-Mensah fouls somebody 25 yards from goal. The free-kick is to the left of centre, and Balic is over it...

8.26pm BST

23 min LASK have had the better opening, such as they are. Trauner clips a good pass over the defence to Ranftl, who drives a low cutback towards the penalty spot. Balic gets to it first, just in front of Fosu-Mensah, but the ball slices off the outside of his foot and away. That was a chance.

8.24pm BST

22 min “Will the lesser-spotted Jesse Lingard be a United player next season if Sancho joins the already overcrowded forward roster?” asks Justin Kavanagh.

I think United will struggle to get rid of him even if they want to. He’s on pretty big money - £100,000 a week, reportedly – and I can’t think of an obvious fit in the Premier League. I might have said Brighton before they signed Adam Lallana. Actually, Mourinho might take him – Lingard played his best football, by far, under him.

8.24pm BST

21 min Nothing much is happening. But you knew that would be the case before the game.

8.19pm BST

17 min “Fosu-Mensah is, if not quite someone I’d carry a candle for, a player I really liked the look of when he first came about,” says Christopher Faherty. “Cover at right-back is an issue fpr us, Dalot’s a solid enough player when he lines out but appears to be made of biscuits.”

You were there at his birth? But seriously, Ole clearly doesn’t trust Dalot, rightly or wrongly, and Fosu-Mensah is certainly worth keeping. He’s still only 22. I’m not sure he’ll ever be good enough to be a regular but at this stage of United’s development I think he’s fine as a squad player.

8.18pm BST

16 min Michorl belts a first-time shot into orbit from 30 yards. He wants a goal at Old Trafford, doesn’t he.

8.16pm BST

14 min United haven’t really got going yet. Lingard looks quite bright, as does Fred, but James has been peripheral and Ighalo hasn’t had any decent service.

8.13pm BST

10 min LASK are bright and breezy in possession, and look like they have come to enjoy themselves. A long throw is headed behind by Maguire for LASK’s first corner. It’s booted behind for another by Fosu-Mensah. The second corner is whipped in dangerously by Michorl and headed up in the air by one of a number of bodies on the six-yard line. Andrade runs onto the loose ball and loops a header against the crossbar. The rebound eventually comes to Wiesinger, who whistles a shot just wide of the far post.

8.08pm BST

5 min Michorl receives possession 50 yards from goal, inhales the rarefied Old Trafford air and tries to drive a chip over Romero. It drifts well wide.

8.07pm BST

4 min Fred sprays a superb 60-yard pass across the field to Mata. He moves into the area and tries to find the unmarked Ighalo in front of goal, but his square pass is unusually scruffy and Andrade stretches to concede a corner.

Mata swings the corner to the far post, where Maguire heads over the bar. That was a decent chance.

8.05pm BST

3 min While LASK can’t go through, they can still win a match at Old Trafford, and that would mean plenty. Their odds (14/1 last time I looked) are pretty generous given they are playing against United reserves.

8.03pm BST

1 min Peep peep! After a minute silence, the players on both sides take a knee. And then LASK get the match under way, kicking from right to left. They are in white; United are in their new 2020-21 home strip. It’s not great, I can’t lie to you.

7.59pm BST

The players emerge on a cool evening in Manchester. There has been a bit of talk about players potentially forcing their way into the team for the Europa League mini-tournament, but realistically that’s not going to happen. With the possible exception of the goalkeeper, we all know what the starting XI will be against FC Copenhagen on Monday: de Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Williams; Pogba, Matic; Greenwood, Fernandes, Rashford; Martial.

7.57pm BST

It’s been 146 days since the first leg, and for once Uefa aren’t to blame. No, I can’t remember much about it either. Happily for both of us, Tim de Lisle has turned an apparently everyday match into a memorable piece of writing.

Related: My favourite game: Lask Linz v Manchester United, Europa League | Tim de Lisle

7.49pm BST

FC Copenhagen 3-0 Istanbul Basaksehir (agg: 3-1) is the final score in Denmark, so United will play Copenhagen in Cologne on Monday.

Shakhtar Donetsk have also qualified with a 3-0 win over VfL Wolfsburg (agg: 5-1). It was 0-0 after 88 minutes. Shakhtar will almost certainly play Basel, who lead Eintracht Frankfurt 3-0 from the away leg, in the last eight.

7.18pm BST

It looks like United will face FC Copenhagen in the quarter-final on Monday. They are 3-0 up against Istanbul Basaksehir, an aggregate lead of 3-1, with 25 minutes to play in Denmark

7.17pm BST

Pre-match reading

Related: Solskjær needs more than Jadon Sancho to challenge for the big prizes | Jamie Jackson

7.00pm BST

With a couple of exceptions, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has picked his B team. Harry Maguire and Brandon Williams are the only survivors from the team that started against Leicester 10 days ago. The big hitters are all on the bench and will probably stretch their legs in the last half hour.

Man Utd (4-2-3-1) Romero; Fosu-Mensah, Bailly, Maguire, Williams; McTominay, Fred; Mata, Lingard, James; Ighalo.
Substitutes: Grant, Pogba, Martial, Rashford, Pereira, Fernandes, Greenwood, Wan-Bissaka, Matic, Garner, Chong, Mengi.

1.35pm BST

Good evening. Look, let’s not get carried away: if LASK go through tonight, it will only be the most astonishing result in football history. They trail 5-0 from the first leg, and now they have to go to Old Trafford. They have two chances, and slim is self-isolating.

For Manchester United, this is a warm-up for the Europa League mini-tournament in Germany that starts next week. United’s potential route to a first trophy under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer sn’t easy, but nor should it keep them awake at night:

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Solskjær needs more than Jadon Sancho to challenge for the big prizes | Jamie Jackson

What the papers say - Tue, 08/04/2020 - 18:00

The Manchester United manager needs funds to buy defenders for his team to compete domestically and in Europe

Jadon Sancho has 11 England caps. He was in the Bundesliga team of the season at 19. He makes in-game decisions as prescient as a teenage Wayne Rooney. He is a two-footed, goalscoring assist maker with a Harry Houdini array of tricks.

Yet if Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s pursuit of the Borussia Dortmund forward is not backed by further transfers then Manchester United have only a distant hope of being contenders next season. Sancho is an expected £100m-plus signing who has to be the start, not end, of United Phase Two under Solskjær.

Related: Manchester United close to £90m deal with Dortmund after Sancho agrees terms

Related: Harrogate Town to groundshare with Doncaster while 3G pitch is removed

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Manchester United close to deal with Dortmund after Sancho agrees terms

What the papers say - Tue, 08/04/2020 - 14:01
  • England forward set to move for initial £90m
  • Sancho to earn about £250,000 a week on five-year deal

Manchester United and Borussia Dortmund are close to agreeing a fee for Jadon Sancho, with the England forward having agreed personal terms on a five-year contract at Old Trafford.

Both clubs are understood to be confident a deal to make Sancho the most expensive English player in history is nearing completion, with United expected to pay an initial €100m fee (£90m) over three annual instalments and a further €20m in performance-related add-ons. Dortmund would prefer to have the transfer completed by next week to help them bring in a replacement.

Related: Football transfer rumours: Chelsea to go for £18m Reguilón over Chilwell?

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Football transfer rumours: Chelsea to go for £18m Reguilón over Chilwell?

What the papers say - Tue, 08/04/2020 - 09:10

Today’s talk comes with clearing skies and drying eyes

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s heroics at Wembley have convinced Frank Lampard’s Chelsea that they need a defensive clear-out. Kurt Zouma, Andreas Christensen, Emerson Palmieri, Marcos Alonso are for the out, as is keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, who cost so much he will have to be loaned out. N’Golo Kanté is also being considered for sale as Frank looks to sign Declan Rice from West Ham and Atlético’s José Giménez.

Related: Manchester United in advanced talks with Dortmund over £90m Sancho

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Manchester United in advanced talks with Dortmund over £90m Sancho

What the papers say - Mon, 08/03/2020 - 14:12
  • Talks ongoing over record fee for English player
  • Sancho expected to sign five-year deal at Old Trafford

Manchester United are in advanced negotiations with Borussia Dortmund to sign Jadon Sancho for an initial €100m (£90m) - a fee that would set a new transfer record for an English player.

United have been tracking Sancho for some time, with talks over a move for the former Manchester City player having intensified in recent weeks. While there is no agreement yet with Dortmund as it stands, it is understood that the German club could accept a deal that would see United pay the fee in instalments over the next two or three seasons for the England forward, with a further €20m potentially due in performance-related add-ons.

Related: Jadon Sancho: ‘It hasn’t been easy. I’ve had to work for this’

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Premier League 2019-20 fans’ verdicts, part two: Manchester City to Wolves

What the papers say - Sun, 08/02/2020 - 08:00

Fans review the season, and set out their transfer wishlists
Part one: Arsenal to Liverpool

A strange season. Whether it’s judged as a success or not will depend on the Champions League. Winning the Carabao Cup again was great, but nine league losses is unforgivable for this City team, and the less said about the FA Cup semi the better. The decision not to sign a replacement for Kompany last summer was a huge error: the club needs to get the squad composition right for next season. Pep didn’t get much wrong, but could have blooded García and Foden earlier in the season.

Related: Premier League 2019-20 fans’ verdicts, part one: Arsenal to Liverpool

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The 1985 English Super Cup – podcast

What the papers say - Wed, 07/29/2020 - 05:00

The best stories from the beautiful game that you may never have heard before, written by some of the world’s leading sports journalists, and spanning more than 100 years of sporting history from across the footballing planet.

In this episode: after English clubs were banned from Europe in 1985, the Football League created a consolation competition for them.

Read the text version here.

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Premier League 2019-20 season review: our writers’ best and worst

What the papers say - Tue, 07/28/2020 - 12:00

The best players, greatest games and notable signings – plus those that didn’t work out, and what needs to change

Ed Aarons: The performances of Trent Alexander-Arnold, Sadio Mané and Jordan Henderson were crucial for a brilliant Liverpool team that left Manchester City floundering in their wake but Virgil van Dijk held it all together. An inspirational leader in a team inspired by their manager’s vision.

Related: Premier League 2019-20 review: goals of the season

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Premier League 2019-20 review: signings of the season

What the papers say - Mon, 07/27/2020 - 11:30

From scurrying strikers to impulsive wingers, here are our pick of the top flight’s best new arrivals. Also: Players | Flops
Gripes | Matches | Pundits | Goals | Managers | Young players

Welcome to theguardian.com review of the 2019-20 Premier League season. We have nominated some contenders for this category but this is just to get the discussion going: offer your suggestions below the line …

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Premier League 2019-20 review: young players of the season

What the papers say - Mon, 07/27/2020 - 11:00

This year’s suggestions are made up of players who were aged 21 and younger at the start of the season

Welcome to theguardian.com review of the 2019-20 Premier League season. We have nominated some contenders for this category but this is just to get the discussion going: offer your suggestions below the line …

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Premier League 2019-20 review: matches of the season

What the papers say - Mon, 07/27/2020 - 10:30

Watford’s jaw-dropping win over Liverpool and Brighton and West Ham’s slapstick six-goal draw stick in the mind

Welcome to theguardian.com review of the 2019-20 Premier League season. We have nominated some contenders for this category but this is just to get the discussion going: offer your suggestions below the line …

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Premier League 2019-20 review: players of the season

What the papers say - Mon, 07/27/2020 - 09:00

We select a few contenders for the Premier League’s player of the season – and invite you to have your say

Welcome to theguardian.com review of the 2019-20 Premier League season. We have nominated some contenders for this category but this is just to get the discussion going: offer your suggestions below the line …

Sadio Mané (Liverpool)

Related: 'It wouldn't be the end of the journey': Solskjær looks beyond top-four finish | Paul Wilson

Related: Jordan Henderson: criticism used to affect me but now it fuels me

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'A massive achievement': Solskjær proud as Manchester United clinch third place – video

What the papers say - Mon, 07/27/2020 - 01:46

Ole Gunnar Solskjær hailed his side's third-place finish in the Premier League as a 'massive achievement', after Manchester United beat fellow top-four contenders Leicester 2-0 to secure a place in the Champions League next season.

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Solskjær hits back at critics after Manchester United make top four

What the papers say - Sun, 07/26/2020 - 22:14
  • Manager says the doubters drove him on
  • ‘It didn’t seem like you were expecting this’

Ole Gunnar Solskjær has taken a swipe at his critics after leading Manchester United back into the Champions League, saying their gloomy forecasts had driven him on.

Solskjær’s team won 2-0 at Leicester on the final day to secure a third-placed finish – an achievement that had been hard to predict with any certainty at the end of January when they lagged six points behind fourth-placed Chelsea. On 30 January, they were 14 points off Leicester in third.

Related: Solskjær's simple plan hints at red dawn for new-look Manchester United | Barney Ronay

Related: Manchester United seal Champions League return as Leicester miss out

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Solskjær's simple plan hints at red dawn for new-look Manchester United | Barney Ronay

What the papers say - Sun, 07/26/2020 - 20:48

The win at Leicester offered few thrills but the no-frills way it clinched Champions League football will do United no harm

They’re back, baby, they’re back. Back with a whimper perhaps, at the end of an edgy, sluggish, winning performance at the King Power Stadium. But Manchester United are back in the Champions League all the same, a top-four place secured with a slow-burn 2-0 defeat of Leicester City.

This being planet Earth in the year 2020, it came in the strangest of circumstances. Seven minutes into injury time on a muggy late-July day Jesse Lingard could be seen rolling the ball into an empty net in front of a row of inspirational tarpaulins.

Related: Manchester United seal Champions League spot with win as Leicester miss out

Related: Solskjær hits back at critics after Manchester United make top four

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Manchester United reach Champions League after Fernandes sinks Leicester

What the papers say - Sun, 07/26/2020 - 18:15

When Manchester United signed Bruno Fernandes at the end of January, they were fifth in the Premier League and trailed Leicester in third by 14 points. After a fraught season finale at the King Power stadium, Fernandes’s team held on to a third-placed finish, breaking Leicester’s hearts in the process and, fittingly, it was Fernandes that struck the decisive blow.

The midfield signing from Sporting Lisbon has still to lose a league game in United’s colours and his tenth goal for them, from the penalty spot, was enough to make the difference.

Related: Leicester v Manchester United: Premier League – live!

Related: Premier League final day clockwatch – live!

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Leicester v Manchester United: Premier League – live!

What the papers say - Sun, 07/26/2020 - 16:23

4.23pm BST

24 min I’d love to see Roy Keane’s coupon right now.

4.22pm BST

23 min “Following your commentary from 40,000 ft above Norway,” says Osama Hanif.

Blimey, that is definitely a first for the Guardian MBM. Safe travels!

4.22pm BST

22 min Both sides look really nervous with and without the ball.

4.21pm BST

20 min Maguire lets the ball run under his foot, just inside the area, and is fortunate that Matic is behind him. Iheanacho would have been in on goal otherwise.

4.20pm BST

19 min Is there anyone reading who doesn’t want to know the other Premier League scores? If so, speak now or forever hold your peace. Either way, I’ll have to give updates from the Chelsea game (it’s still 0-0) as it is linked with this one, but if you prefer I won’t mention the other matches.

4.18pm BST

18 min “Hi Rob,” says Peter Oh. “That Maguire tackle on Iheanacho (9 min.) looked like a tribute to Paul Scholes.”

It reminded me of that Francis Begbie tackle at the start of Trainspotting, which is basically the same thing. (NB: Clip contains adult language/themes)

4.17pm BST

17 min Thomas’s cross bounces all the way across to his fellow right-back Albrighton. He moves the ball away from Williams and screws a shot wide of the near post. The angle was pretty tight.

4.15pm BST

15 min If you don’t want to know the other Premier League scores, don’t click this.

Related: Premier League final day clockwatch – live!

4.15pm BST

14 min Matic plays a miserable pass on the edge of his own area, straight to Iheanacho. He finds Tielemans, who invites Ndidi to shoot first time from 25 yards. His rising drive whistles a few yards over the bar.

4.13pm BST

13 min It’s cagey stuff out there. United are dominating possession but their passing has been a bit safe.

4.12pm BST

11 min Rashford, just inside the Leicester half on the left, floats a long ball over Evans to find Greenwood near the penalty spot. He has to take the header first time, on the stretch, and loops it over the bar. It was a lovely run and pass though.

4.10pm BST

9 min Maguire is booked for taking a shortcut through Iheanacho on the halfway line. Leicester are starting to come into the game. We’ve now seen a replay of that penalty appeal - I’d like to see it again to be sure, but I think Pogba pulled his leg away just before Iheanacho fell over.

4.08pm BST

8 min Iheananacho goes over in the area after a slightly absent-minded challenge from Pogba. Martin Atkinson isn’t interested.

4.07pm BST

7 min Williams plays a one-two with Rashford, moves into the area and is well tackled by Ndidi.

4.06pm BST

6 min It’s still all United, though everything has been in front of the Leicester defence.

4.05pm BST

5 min Martial plays a one-two with Matic on the left and wins the first corner. Fernandes curls it deep and Thomas heads clear.

4.03pm BST

3 min United have started like the home team, with most of the game taking place in Leicester’s half. Leicester won’t mind that, especially with Vardy’s pace. They’ve won bigger prizes than a Champions League place playing on the counter-attack.

4.02pm BST

2 min Greenwood plays an excellent pass to Pogba, who eases it behind the defence towards Martial. He is just offside.

4.00pm BST

1 min Peep peep! United kick off from right to left.

3.59pm BST

This is it, then. Twelve months of football comes down to one match. Annnnd it’s etc.

3.58pm BST

“If United win the Europa League, both sides will end up going through regardless of today’s result,” says John Delaney. “Is that correct or have I got all this wrong?

I think that if Leicester finish fifth and United win the Europa League, they would still most out. The only way England will get a fifth Champions League place is if United (or Wolves) win the Europa League and finish outside the top four. I think.

3.33pm BST

“Afternoon, Rob,” says Digvijay Yadav. “Do you remember during the last Cricket WC (I am sure you’ll remember it for the rest of your life) when England briefly floundered and looked like they might crash out of the competition prompting you to label them as ‘Bilateral Bullies’? That’s me with this United team if they lose. Boys. Just. Get. The. Job. Done.”

Remember it? I barely slept for five nights between the defeat to Australia and the win over India. It’s an interesting comparison, though I don’t really see it myself. I suppose one consolation for United, if they do lose today, is that they can still qualify through the Europa League. I have a feeling Leicester will win 2-1 (Vardy 2).

3.17pm BST

Pre-match reading

Related: Leicester’s labours must not cloud verdict on Brendan Rodgers' high-flyers | Jonathan Wilson

Related: 'It wouldn't be the end of the journey': Solskjær looks beyond top-four finish | Paul Wilson

Related: Rodgers urges Leicester to deliver 'result heard around the world'

3.06pm BST

Leicester make three changes from the team that lost heavily at Spurs a week ago: Marc Albrighton, Hamza Choudhury and Kelechi Iheanacho replace Ryan Bennett, Ayoze Perez and Harvey Barnes. It looks like James Justin will play as the right-sided centre-back, with Marc Albrighton at wing-back.

Luke Shaw hasn’t made it, so Brandon Williams stays at left-back for United. They make one change: Aaron Wan-Bissaka replaces Timothy Fosu-Mensah at right-back.

3.02pm BST

Leicester City (3-4-1-2) Schmeichel; Justin, Morgan, Evans; Albrighton, Choudhury, Ndidi, Thomas; Tielemans; Iheanacho, Vardy.
Substitutes: Ward, Bennett, Gray, Barnes, James, Mendy, Praet, Perez, Hirst.

Manchester United (4-2-3-1) de Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Williams; Pogba, Matic; Greenwood, Fernandes, Rashford; Martial.
Substitutes: Romero, Bailly, Fosu-Mensah, Mata, Lingard, Fred, James, McTominay, Ighalo.

12.43pm BST

Hello. After barely 18 months in charge, Brendan Rodgers and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer have taken Leicester and Manchester United to a Champions League final. Sure, if you really want to nitpick, it’s a final to decide who plays in the Champions League rather than who wins it. But it’s still progress for both clubs.

There is a small chance they will both qualify, but that’s only if they draw and Wolves win at Stamford Bridge. The likelihood is that this will be a straight shootout. United have the draw but they also have the pressure, having reeled Leicester in since they were 14 points behind at the start of February. Leicester arguably have nothing to lose, because most people think they’ve already lost the Champions League place that seemed a sure thing in the winter.

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'It wouldn't be the end of the journey': Solskjær looks beyond top-four finish | Paul Wilson

What the papers say - Sat, 07/25/2020 - 22:30

The Manchester United manager says sealing a Champions League place against Leicester on Sunday would be a step towards chasing down Liverpool and Manchester City

The number of times Ole Gunnar Solskjær mentions the journey Manchester United have been on this season you would think he is employed as a travel guide rather than the manager, but though it is tempting to view Sunday’s showdown at Leicester as journey’s end, the Norwegian insists otherwise.

“We’ve not ended up anywhere yet,” Solskjær says of the chance to clinch third place in the Premier League table and Champions League qualification. “If we get a result against Leicester I think people will say we’ve not had a bad journey this season. But whatever happens, it won’t be the end of the journey because we’ve still got some catching up to do on the two teams ahead of us.”

Related: Three into two will not go as race for Champions League enters final sprint

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