What the papers say

Rooney-mania had many ages but his defining moment remains the first | Jonathan Liew

What the papers say - Fri, 01/15/2021 - 19:43

It is the basic paradox of Rooney that a player of such emotional heft will ultimately be judged largely on numbers and records

In a way, it was the perfect understated ending: with a short, sober statement on the Derby County website. New manager appointed at struggling Championship club. Signs a two-and-a-half-year deal after a cautiously successful stint in caretaker charge. Liam Rosenior to be his assistant.

Meanwhile – buried in the seventh paragraph, as if an entirely incidental detail – England and Manchester United’s all-time leading goalscorer has decided to retire as a footballer.

Related: Wayne Rooney calls time on playing career to become Derby manager

Continue reading...
Categories: What the papers say

Mourinho taught Manchester United to be ‘savvy’ about penalties, says Rashford – video

What the papers say - Fri, 01/15/2021 - 09:59

Marcus Rashford has revealed Manchester United manager José Mourinho helped him become more 'savvy' about winning penalties in an interview with the Football Writers’ Association that rewarded the player with the 2021 tribute award on Thursday.

Continue reading...
Categories: What the papers say

Marcus Rashford says Mourinho taught Manchester United how to win penalties

What the papers say - Thu, 01/14/2021 - 23:47
  • Striker says pep talk showed players how to be more ‘savvy’
  • Klopp’s comment about United’s penalties annoyed United

Marcus Rashford has revealed a pep talk from the former Manchester United manager José Mourinho helped him become more “savvy” in the penalty area.

Rashford received the Football Writers’ Association 2021 tribute award on Thursday and in a wide-ranging interview was asked why United might be perceived to be getting more than their fair share of penalties. The question came in the wake of

Related: Kieran Trippier may never serve full betting ban after panel deals blow to FA

Related: RB Leipzig set to lose Upamecano for €42m in summer but won't sell in January

Continue reading...
Categories: What the papers say

Atlético Madrid sign Dembélé on loan, Fosu-Mensah joins Bayer Leverkusen

What the papers say - Wed, 01/13/2021 - 21:04
  • Lyon and Atlético agree future fee as Islam Slimani joins Lyon
  • Timothy Fosu-Mensah leaves Manchester United for Bundesliga

Atlético Madrid have confirmed the signing of the Lyon forward Moussa Dembélé on an initial loan deal.

The La Liga leaders will pay a €1.5m (£1.35m) fee to loan Dembélé for the rest of the season, with an option to make the move permanent in the summer. Lyon have announced that the agreed fee is €33.5m (£29.9m) with a further €5m (£4.45m) in add-ons.

Related: Men's transfer window January 2021 – all deals from Europe's top five leagues

Continue reading...
Categories: What the papers say

How do Solskjær's side compare with Manchester United's last title winners? | Marcus Christenson

What the papers say - Wed, 01/13/2021 - 15:54

United are top after 17 games for the first time since 2013. The similarities and differences between then and now are striking

The world was a very different place eight years ago. Britain was in the European Union, Donald Trump was a businessman and Sir Alex Ferguson was in charge at Old Trafford. Furthermore there was no pandemic (although we obviously did not realise quite how lucky we were to live in a pandemic-free world).

The 2012-13 season is also the last time Manchester United were top of the Premier League after 17 games of the season. The campaign had started as scheduled in August, which meant that the Premier League leaders had played 17 games by 15 December. United were top by six points ahead of Manchester City.

Related: Manchester United 'excited and hungry' for summit meeting with Liverpool

Continue reading...
Categories: What the papers say

'Great test': Manchester United ready for crunch clash with Liverpool – video

What the papers say - Wed, 01/13/2021 - 09:45

Ole Gunnar Solskjær says his Manchester United side are ready for a top-of-the-table clash with Liverpool. United currently sit in first after they secured their ninth win in 11 games, away at Burnley. 'You’ve got to go in there knowing that we’re playing against the team that’s been, by a mile, the best in the country for the last year and a half,' he said. 'They’re champions by right.' Three points separate the two sides going into Sunday's match

Continue reading...
Categories: What the papers say

Manchester United 'excited and hungry' for summit meeting with Liverpool

What the papers say - Tue, 01/12/2021 - 23:54
  • Solskjær relishing ‘test of character’ after 1-0 win at Burnley
  • Manchester United top of league after ninth win in 11 games

Ole Gunnar Solskjær said his Manchester United players are “ready, excited and hungry” before Sunday’s Premier League summit meeting at Liverpool.

Related: Manchester United go clear at top after Paul Pogba volley sees off Burnley

Continue reading...
Categories: What the papers say

Burnley 0-1 Manchester United: Premier League – as it happened

What the papers say - Tue, 01/12/2021 - 22:40

Paul Pogba’s second-half goal at Burnley earned Manchester United the three points by which they now lead the Premier League

10.40pm GMT

And with that, I’m off. Bye!

10.39pm GMT

Here’s Jamie Jackson’s match report from Turf Moor:

Manchester United are top of the Premier League and for this they can thank Paul Pogba whose influence grew after the break, the midfielder crowning his display with a sweet 71st-minute winner. This came when Bruno Fernandes found Marcus Rashford along the right and he crossed for Pogba to smash in a volley that beat Nick Pope via a Matthew Lowton deflection.

Victory means United go to 36 points and overtake Liverpool, with 33, after 17 games – this having last been achieved after the same number of matches when beating Sunderland 3-1 on 15 December 2012 under Sir Alex Ferguson. The upturn in United’s fortunes under Ole Gunnar Solskjær is further underlined by the 33-point swing they have engineered over Liverpool as they visit Anfield on Sunday: before last term’s corresponding fixture United were 27 points behind.

Related: Manchester United go clear at top after Paul Pogba volley sees off Burnley

10.38pm GMT

The managers have spoken! First, Ole Gunnar Solsjkaer, who is chuffed:

When you get three points in the Premier League it makes you smile. It was a hard fought three points though. It always is up here. I’ve not watched any of [the controversial moments] so I can’t really say. It might have been a foul by Luke apparently, so that’s probably the right decision. Definitely not a foul by Harry on his goal. We started playing after the [big long VAR check bonanza]. They disagreed with some of the decisions that were made out there and at half-time you’ve got to calm them down. Second half we played really well, then you expect the onslaught in the last five minutes. They are so well organised. There aren’t many spaces but we did look at some of the spaces. It was a great cross and a very well executed finish. Then we could have got one or two more to calm the nerves, but we did it the hard way.

Liverpool have had an unbelievable three and a half seasons, but we couldn’t have asked for a better time to play them. We’re in good shape, and we’re hungry.

I thought it was a good performance against a top side who are going well, we’ve been improving as the season’s gone on. I thought they dealt with [the VARfest] as best they could. I thought it was a foul immediately. On another day that tackle’s just a little bit too high, a little bit too late. You don’t want to see people red carded but on another day he might have gone off for that. But the game’s not about VAR for me. After half-time they had a good 20, 25 minutes and they scored a goal from a deflection. They had chances but not golden chances, and we created a few ourselves particularly at the end.

10.29pm GMT

Here’s Paul Doyle’s report on Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-2 Everton:

Michael Keane headed his third league goal of the season as Everton overcame problems with their strikeforce to claim a win that lifts them into the top four. Alex Iwobi shot the visitors into an early lead before Rúben Neves drew Wolves level in a contest in which the home side’s absences ultimately proved the more costly.

Related: Keane's fine header keeps Everton's top-four push on track against Wolves

10.26pm GMT

Paul Pogba has a chat:

We know that the game today was very hard, and obviously we wanted to win. It’s not easy to play here and we got the three points, and we’re happy for that. But there’s still a long way, and now we have to focus again for the rest of the season. The decision of the referee [not sure if this bit is about the Maguire non-goal, or the Brady non-red] which in my opinion I didn’t agree, but I’m not the boss on the pitch, he’s the boss. It was a goal [definitely Maguire now], for sure. It was a beautiful goal. When the referee decided that it was kind of strange, but we got the result we wanted so we’re happy.

It’s very hard to play here, they’re very strong and we had to keep our head down and focus on ourselves and the goal would come, and it did come. I’m always happy when I win. Today we won so I’m very happy. I’m happy we’re at the top, but there’s still a long way to go, we have big games coming up and we have to focus on that.

10.19pm GMT

The Premier League table is looking good tonight for United fans, or for neutrals licking their lips at the prospect of Liverpool v Manchester United on Sunday:

10.17pm GMT

Burnley had a decent first half, and an excellent final 10 minutes, but Manchester United’s dominance of the majority of the second period, when Pogba and Fernandes emerged as the game’s outstanding influences, allowed them to seal victory. I suppose Burnley should probably have had a penalty for a Maguire handball, but then Maguire’s disallowed first-half header should have stood, so it’s all good.

Turf Moor "a hard place to go" index (last 26 Burnley home games vs Big Six)


10.14pm GMT

90+8 mins: It’s all over! Manchester United have won, and are three points clear at the top of the table!

10.13pm GMT

90+6 mins: Now Matic is down and in apparent discomfort. Play continues.

10.12pm GMT

90+5 mins: Burnley pump the ball into the penalty area, McTominay (a recent replacement for Fernandes) heads it straight to Vydra, and he chests down and blasts over!

10.11pm GMT

90+4 mins: Martial limps from the field, having possibly pulled a muscle as he tried to chase down the loose ball after his shot is saved. Tuanzebe comes on for the final seconds.

10.10pm GMT

90+4 mins: Martial misses the chance to seal it! United break, and Martial leaves the ball to run on to Cavani, who loops a first-time pass back towards the Frenchman, who shoots rather sadly, straight at Pope.

10.09pm GMT

90+2 mins: Mee and Shaw end up on the ground, both holding their heads, and play is paused while they’re checked out.

10.08pm GMT

90+1 mins: Nearly an equaliser! McNeil’s cross comes off Bailly’s head and bounces towards Tarkowski, but it’s just behind him and he can’t divert it goalwards!

10.07pm GMT

90+1 mins: Rodriguez has come on for Barnes, and we’re into four minutes of stoppage time.

10.06pm GMT

88 mins: The corner eventually falls to Vydra, who blasts over the bar. There’s then a delay while the VAR checks for a possible handball on Maguire, and I’ve no idea how he got away with that one. As he jumps with Bailly and Mee his seems an entirely arm-based challenge, and though he didn’t know much about it the ball definitely hit an elbow.

10.04pm GMT

87 mins: A good dummy in the build-up and a good first-time shot from Vydra, but it deflects off Bailly and wide. Burnley have finally woken up here, and worked out that they can worry United.

10.02pm GMT

85 mins: Now the ball drops to Brownhill on the edge of the area, but he slices his half-volley wide.

10.01pm GMT

84 mins: Burnley find Vydra with a long ball, but Vydra is facing the wrong way and can’t find an elegant way to turn around, so he loses the ball instead.

9.59pm GMT

82 mins: Pogba’s pass somehow reaches Martial, who turns goalwards and looks certain to extend United’s lead. But he takes an unnecessary touch, and Tarkowski makes an excellent if slightly desperate challenge, and Burnley stay in the game.

9.57pm GMT

80 mins: Burnley bring Vydra on for Wood, and United bring Greenwood on for Rashford. Manchester United are 5-0 ahead on shots on target in this half, and Burnley really have offered very little.

| "Pick that one out!"

Michael Keane's thumping header gives Everton the lead at Wolves!

Watch on Sky Sports!
Follow #WOLEVE here: https://t.co/24qhQQMu9v
Download the @SkySports app! pic.twitter.com/uDs3bBrlVW

9.53pm GMT

76 mins: Cavani loses the ball thanks to an unfortunate bounce in midfield, and what follows will surely win him the 2021 Emmy for outstanding achievement in the field of wild gesticulation.

Breakthrough for #MUFC!

Paul Pogba's deflected strike gives them the lead at Turf Moor...

Watch on Sky Sports!
Follow #BURMUN here: https://t.co/JPE6syy79J
Download the @SkySports app! pic.twitter.com/v80ObafKqt

9.50pm GMT

74 mins: Another goal has gone in at Molineux, and Everton lead once again, this time through Michael Keane.

9.49pm GMT

72 mins: A bit fortunate that, in that Pope would surely have saved the shot had it not hit Lowton, but the pressure had been building and Rashford did well to bide his time on the flank rather than just send in a hopeful cross, instead waiting for the right moment, the right run, and the right man.

9.48pm GMT

Rashford crosses from the right, the ball landing on Pogba’s toe, just inside the penalty area, and he hits a handsome volley that flies low towards goal, flicks Lowton’s calf and deflects through Pope’s legs and in!

9.46pm GMT

69 mins: A United attack ends with Pogba and then Cavani going over but the referee ignoring both incidents. Burnley clear the ball up to Barnes, who then also goes over and is so sure he’s been fouled he grabs the ball on his way down. The referee finally gives a free kick, for handball.

9.44pm GMT

67 mins: The corner is weakly semi-cleared by Lowton to Cavani, who takes a nice touch inside to open up a shooting chance but then curls his effort wide with his left foot.

9.43pm GMT

66 mins: Rashford drives down the right before blasting in a cross towards nobody in particular, which goes behind off a defender.

9.41pm GMT

65 mins: We enter the substitution phase of the evening, with Dwight McNeil replacing Brady.

9.39pm GMT

62 mins: Westwood trips Fernandes, who is spending more time in pockets of space between Burnley’s lines and therefore more influential, and is booked.

9.37pm GMT

60 mins: Fernandes has the ball 25 yards out. He wants to find a pass, but everyone in front of him, from both sides, is standing still, so eventually he just has a shot, which Pope saves.

9.36pm GMT

59 mins: United are well on top here, but not finding the killer ball into the area, or the killer run that enables that ball.

9.33pm GMT

56 mins: United have supped their special tea at the interval, and are an improved team since the break. Fernandes lashes a low shot too close to Pope from 23 yards.

9.29pm GMT

52 mins: A good, fast United attack ends with Martial passing inside for Cavani, who mishits his shot when well placed!

9.28pm GMT

51 mins: Barnes has a phenomenally rubbish shot, which barely has enough power to reach the goalline but does in the end go out for a goal kick.

9.26pm GMT

50 mins: Dale Johnson, who has his finger on the VAR pulse, has an update on the first-half VARfest:

Ok, got updated info for VAR process in #BURMUN

The VAR, Stuart Attwell, looked at the possible red card for the challenge by Luke Shaw, but determined it was not a red card.

The VAR decided it should be a red card to Robbie Brady for denying a goalscoring opportunity. (cont)

9.22pm GMT

46 mins: Peeeeep! They’re off! Again!

9.21pm GMT

The players are back out and nearly ready to go.

9.18pm GMT

United will be relieved that the referee is feeling lenient (so didn’t send off Shaw), but aggrieved that he’s been too firm (so disallowed Maguire’s header), and also annoyed that he’s feeling lenient (so didn’t give that edge-of-the-area foul on Shaw). This must be confusing for them.

9.09pm GMT

“Good evening Simon,” writes Simon McMahon. “You know I’m not normally one to take an interest in the Scottish football scene but, in the absence of any goal action so far, Lawrence Shankland’s strike for Dundee United against St Johnstone tonight was, well, not very Scottish. Imagine David Beckham against Wimbledon, but better. Like Paul Scholes, I suppose.”

You be the judge:

Absolutely Unbelievable pic.twitter.com/lCe0Sg0Rbu

9.07pm GMT

45+5 mins: An underhit Wan-Bissaka cross is followed by an overhit Fernandes cross, and that’s half time! No goals, but plenty of intrigue.

9.06pm GMT

45+3 mins: Fernandes gets booked for a foul on United’s right flank.

9.05pm GMT

45+2 mins: Shaw runs at the Burnley box and is fouled as he reaches it, but the ball rolls to a teammate and the referee allows play to progress for the second or two it takes for nothing much to happen. I thought he could have called play back for the free kick, but he decides against it.

9.04pm GMT

45+1 mins: Into stoppage time we go, and there will be four minutes of it. It starts with a lovely curling, dipping Martial shot which is tipped over by Pope.

9.04pm GMT

43 mins: “I thought we were told that in the cases of foul play, that VAR could only be used to review possible red cards,” says Paul Keane, “so a yellow card is not an option. I’m not saying the yellow card is not the just outcome, but the process of getting there seems to be inconsistent with what we have been told.” VAR can’t deliberately check a booking, but it can go back to see if an offence was committed in the build-up to a key decision - a goal or sending-off - and I suppose a yellow card can be awarded if one is picked up.

8.57pm GMT

39 mins: A United corner. Barnes is marking Bailly, and as the ball is about to be taken he goes down. The first corner is very good, dipping dangerously towards the near post; the retaken corner is not so great. It remains goalless.

8.56pm GMT

38 mins: I think that was a very charitable decision. Pieters was never going to win that header, not where he was standing, and without jumping, but Maguire couldn’t win it without going into him.

8.54pm GMT

36 mins: A fabulous Shaw cross, and an excellent header as Maguire outjumps Pieters at the far post and heads in. But the referee thinks he fouled the defender before winning the header, and disallows it!

8.52pm GMT

34 mins: I’m not sure I’ve seen a this-side-gets-a-red-card-if-that-side-doesn’t-get-a-red-card VAR check before. In the circumstances I have to be a tiny bit disappointed that it somehow ended with neither side getting a red card.

8.51pm GMT

33 mins: And eventually the free kick is taken, curled over a crowded six-yard box and out for a goal kick.

8.50pm GMT

32 mins: Burnley try to take the free kick quickly, before the United defence is set, but the quick pass is to a player who’s offside! Their blushes are saved, though, because the referee wants to book Shaw before play restarts.

8.49pm GMT

32 mins: It’s a free-kick to Burnley! Brady’s yellow card has been rescinded!

8.48pm GMT

31 mins: I think Shaw just catches the ball, before he plants his studs on Gudmundsson’s shin.

8.47pm GMT

28 mins: They’re checking Shaw’s challenge on Gudmundsson. Brady could be sent off for denying a goalscoring opportunity if the VAR thinks it’s not a foul. And there’s a chance VAR might think that one’s a red card. Someone’s very possibly going off here, but who?

8.46pm GMT

27 mins: Action at both ends! At one, Gudmundsson seems to win the ball ahead of Shaw and goes down. The home side want a free kick but don’t get one, United break, Mee misjudges and Cavani goes clear. He checks onto his right foot, at which point Brady wipes him out. The referee shows yellow, but VAR will take a second look.

8.43pm GMT

25 mins: Matic intercepts the ball in midfield and finds Martial with an excellent first-time pass. The Frenchman nudges past Lowton and shoots with his left foot, but it curls just wide!

8.41pm GMT

23 mins: The referee calls over Maguire and tells him to tell Cavani to stop winding everyone up. “I understand the viewpoint of Richard Hirst but far worse is when you join one of those tipping games,” writes Malcolm Shuttleworth. “I find myself (as a Man Utd fan) willing teams like Man City or Liverpool to score a late winner, so I can get some points. When it happens, it’s like watching your mother-in-law drive over a cliff in your new car.”

8.39pm GMT

22 mins: Fernandes gives the ball away and Burnley put together a lovely little move to set up Wood for a shot, from just inside the area, that hits the sliding Bailly in the chest.

8.37pm GMT

20 mins: A nice dribble from Rashford, who passes to Fernandes, and from his cross Martial attempts an overhead which looks decent but hits a defender.

8.35pm GMT

17 mins: Shot! Shaw rolls the ball across the edge of the area, and Fernandes’ first-time effort is too close to Pope. Meanwhile, this touches-in-opposition-penalty-area stat is something:

Ruben Neves penalty box predator PL career update:

Games played: 91
Touches inside penalty area: 12
Penalties scored: 3
Goals scored when the ball is just sort of in the air, moving about and you find yourself quite near the net: 1

8.32pm GMT

15 mins: Another goal at Molineux, where it’s now Wolves 1-1 Everton, Ruben Neves with the equaliser.

8.31pm GMT

14 mins: Cavani and Mee go for the same high ball. Mee puts out his hand to hold off his rival, which lands on the back of the Uruguayan’s neck. Cavani goes down clutching his face.

8.30pm GMT

13 mins: The ball drops kindly to Mee, who hammers a shot wildly off target from distance.

8.28pm GMT

10 mins: Burnley have done all the significant attacking in the very early stages, and it seems their plan is to put Wan-Bissaka under maximal pressure with early high balls down their left flank.

8.25pm GMT

8 mins: There has been an early goal in tonight’s other Premier League game at Molineux, where Everton have taken a sixth-minute lead through Alex Iwobi.

| Everton lead at Molineux!

Alex Iwobi starts the move then finishes it off in style!

Watch on Sky Sports!
Follow #WOLEVE here: https://t.co/24qhQQMu9v
Download the @SkySports app! pic.twitter.com/IDJcHTOIy4

8.24pm GMT

7 mins: Gudmundsson’s high ball into the box is knocked down and nearly drops to Barnes, who flattens Maguire in his desperation to reach it and concedes a free kick.

8.23pm GMT

5 mins: “I’m deeply conflicted tonight,” writes Richard Hirst. “As a Fulham supporter I badly need Burnley to lose but as a paid up member of the Anyone But United brigade I can’t support them either. I’m hoping for a 0-0 draw with a mass brawl leading to both clubs having points deducted for failing to control their players. At least that would warm up a cold night!” One of the worst things about football supporting is when it leaves you wanting both sides to lose a game you happen to be watching.

8.19pm GMT

1 min: The game’s first shot comes within the opening 20 seconds, when a long ball from right to left bounces to Brady, who hammers a left-footer high from the edge of the box.

8.18pm GMT

1 min: Peeeeeeep! The whistle blows, Ashley Westwood kicks off, he realises everyone else is on one knee, so he does too and bashfully re-kicks-off a few moments later.

8.13pm GMT

Out come the players! It is apparently -1C in Burnley currently, with a gentle breeze.

8.10pm GMT

“In case by some strange twist of fate Man Utd are awarded a penalty this evening, is there a narrative/case to be made that the skippy jump of he who will take it constitutes “ungentlemanly conduct” and should be stamped down on like a Monty Python foot?”

I don’t think so, as he doesn’t come to a standstill. United were given 14 penalties last season, twice as many as the fourth most-penaltied team in the division and three ahead of No2, but they’re only joint second in this season’s penalty table with six, four behind Leicester and level with Brighton.

7.54pm GMT

“Big call by Ole to play Maguire IMO,” writes Peter Kingsnorth. “He’s a yellow card away from a one-match suspension. Liverpool would tear a Bailly-Lindelof pairing to shreds. Could have gone with Tuanzabe at left CB today. Decisions, decisions ... who’d be a manager, eh?” This is indeed a risk. For what it’s worth, Bruno Fernandes, Fred and Luke Shaw are all two bookings away from a ban (though they would have to get both bookings in the next three games including this one, after which they can get another five bookings before they are banned). Burnley’s most-booked players, Jay Rodriguez and Ashley Westwood, are both also two bookings away from a ban, and they have four more games before the yellow card mini-amnesty kicks in.

7.40pm GMT

Here is photographic evidence that Manchester United’s players have arrived at Turf Moor. Looks like they all have to show photo ID on their phones and have the right QR code before they’re let in.

7.22pm GMT

Four changes for Burnley, who bring in Westwood, Pope, Brownhill and Lowton and take out Cork, Norris, Stephens and Bardsley. United make loads of changes to the team that beat Watford - in come De Gea, Maguire, Shaw, Pogba, Matic, Rashford, Bruno Fernandes, Martial and Cavani - but the only changes to the team that started their last Premier League game see Fred and McTominay drop out, and Matic and Cavani come in.

7.18pm GMT

The team sheets have been submitted, and tonight’s key names are these ones:

Burnley: Pope, Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Pieters, Gudmundsson, Brownhill, Westwood, Brady, Wood, Barnes. Subs: Cork, McNeil, Stephens, Rodriguez, Norris, Bardsley, Vydra, Long, Benson.
Man Utd: De Gea, Wan Bissaka, Bailly, Maguire, Shaw, Pogba, Matic, Rashford, Bruno Fernandes, Martial, Cavani. Subs: Mata, Greenwood, Fred, James, Henderson, Alex Telles, van de Beek, Tuanzebe, McTominay.
Referee: Kevin Friend.

LINE-UP | Here is how the Clarets line-up against Manchester United this evening. ⬇️#BURMUN | #UTC | @eToro

All eyes on Turf Moor!

Here's your United XI to take on Burnley

⁰#️⃣ #BURMUN

4.32pm GMT

Manchester United have won eight and drawn two of their last 10 matches. They might not have spent much of the season looking much like a title-winning team, but that is title-winning form, and they start the evening second in the table, behind Liverpool on goal difference with this game in hand. Anything but defeat and they will sit alone at the top of the league by bedtime, and the last time they led the league as late into a season as this was eight years ago, Sir Alex Ferguson’s title-winning final campaign.

“We need to get points against Burnley before anyone can say you’re top of the table but that’s a position that we have put ourselves in,” says Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. “So I would like to think that we go into this game not thinking about where we’ll end up tomorrow night in the table but where we can end up in the table in May. That’s what matters. You accumulate the points throughout the season so if at one point you think ‘Ah, we’ve made it now, we’ve cracked it,’ and you relax, that’s when it’s going to hit you back. So we’re very focused.”

Continue reading...
Categories: What the papers say

Manchester United go clear at top after Paul Pogba volley sees off Burnley

What the papers say - Tue, 01/12/2021 - 22:29

Manchester United are top of the Premier League and for this they can thank Paul Pogba whose influence grew after the break, the midfielder crowning his display with a sweet 71st-minute winner. This came when Bruno Fernandes found Marcus Rashford along the right and he crossed for Pogba to smash in a volley that beat Nick Pope via a Matthew Lowton deflection.

Victory means United go to 36 points and overtake Liverpool, with 33, after 17 games – this having last been achieved after the same number of matches when beating Sunderland 3-1 on 15 December 2012 under Sir Alex Ferguson.

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

Continue reading...
Categories: What the papers say

Solskjær wants Manchester United squad to develop an 'inner justice'

What the papers say - Mon, 01/11/2021 - 22:30
  • United take on Burnley on Tuesday with chance to go top
  • Manager demands team ethic and togetherness in squad

Ole Gunnar Solskjær wants Manchester United to have an “inner justice” which ensures every player adheres to a team ethic and does not allow cliques that can be ruinous to success.

Solskjær takes United to Burnley on Tuesday knowing a point would take his side above Liverpool as leaders before Sunday’s visit to Anfield. The Norwegian praised United’s togetherness and was asked whether the ideal was for players to manage themselves.

Related: Fulham to play Tottenham at two days' notice after Spurs v Aston Villa called off

Continue reading...
Categories: What the papers say

FA Cup: Manchester United drawn against Liverpool in fourth round

What the papers say - Mon, 01/11/2021 - 20:07
  • Chorley get Premier League tie with Wolves after win over Derby
  • Everton could meet Spurs if both teams progress to fifth round

Manchester United will host the Premier League champions Liverpool in the FA Cup fourth round.

Monday night’s draw pitched United into battle with Jürgen Klopp’s men and the encounter will take place just a week after Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side take on Liverpool in the Premier League on Sunday. The last time the Merseyside club won the FA Cup, in 2006, they beat United on the way to the final, winning 1-0 in the fifth round.

Related: FA Cup fourth and fifth-round draw: Man Utd face Liverpool – as it happened

On Sunday Neil Kengni gave Tottenham a scare when his shot hit the bar in the 20th minute of Marine's FA Cup tie. On Monday he attended a Zoom tutorial on health and safety for his apprentice plumbing course from his home in Manchester. 

Continue reading...
Categories: What the papers say

Pogba, Lindelöf and Shaw in fitness race for Manchester United's trip to Burnley

What the papers say - Sun, 01/10/2021 - 22:30
  • United would top the table with a point at Turf Moor on Tuesday
  • ‘It’s great that our fans are excited,’ says Solskjær of title race

Paul Pogba, Victor Lindelöf and Luke Shaw are in a race to be fit for Manchester United’s trip to Burnley on Tuesday.

Related: Scott McTominay keeps his head to guide Manchester United past Watford

Related: Super-clubs lack patience for rookies like Arteta and Lampard to learn on job | Jonathan Wilson

Continue reading...
Categories: What the papers say

Scott McTominay keeps his head to guide Manchester United past Watford

What the papers say - Sat, 01/09/2021 - 22:00

Manchester United are into the fourth round courtesy of Scott McTominay’s early strike from a corner yet this was a stumbling outing, the high-paced game they like to play absent. Still, Ole Gunnar Solskjær was not overly concerned: in a hectic schedule it is solely about being in the hat for the draw and the manager’s thoughts now turn to Tuesday’s trip to Burnley. Win, or even take a point there, and United arrive at Liverpool next Sunday as Premier League leaders – a position Solskjær may not have dreamed of at the start of the season.

The manager was clear in heralding his captain-for-the-night’s performance. “Scott delivered and he always does,” Solskjær said. “He’s a leader and I thought today I’d give it to him to see how he reacts. He was brilliant. He should have scored a few more on set plays before now because he is a monster of a human being. I am very happy he got the goal.”

Related: Allardyce's wait for a win goes on as Blackpool dump West Brom out of Cup

Related: Emile Smith Rowe finds something extra to fire Arsenal past Newcastle

Continue reading...
Categories: What the papers say

Manchester United v Watford: FA Cup third round – live!

What the papers say - Sat, 01/09/2021 - 19:13

7.12pm GMT

Manchester United make a slew of changes to their starting XI. Only two players named for the 2-0 League Cup semi-final defeat to Manchester City retain their place: goalkeeper Dean Henderson and Scott McTominay, captaining the side for the first time. There’s a rare sighting of £35m midfielder Donny van de Beek, who makes only his ninth start in a United shirt, while former Watford striker Odion Ighalo takes a place on the bench.

Watford welcome back their 19-year-old Brazilian striker Joao Pedro from injury. Danish winger Philip Zinckernagel makes his debut after signing for the Hornets on New Year’s Day.

7.03pm GMT

Manchester United: Henderson, Williams, Bailly, Tuanzebe, Telles, van de Beek, McTominay, Mata, James, Lingard, Greenwood.
Subs: De Gea, Maguire, Wan-Bissake, Fernandes, Fred, Matic, Ighalo, Martial, Rashford.

Watford: Bachmann, Navarro, Sierralta, Troost-Ekong, Masina, Sarr, Chalobah, Hughes, Zinckernagel, Pedro, Gray.
Subs: Foster, Ngakia, Wilmot, Sema, Dalby, Barrett, Hungbo, Crichlow, Phillips.

1.03pm GMT

“I don’t believe in underdogs. At least not in the Cup. You respect the opposition, but it is a terrible trap to be overawed by them. The players must believe they have as much right to be on the field as anybody. Once they do, it’s just 11 men against 11.” The legendary Watford manager Graham Taylor there, in January 1982, after his promotion-bound Second Division side beat First Division title-chasing giants Manchester United in the third round of the FA Cup.

Their 1-0 victory came courtesy of a first-half Jan Lohman goal. The 18-year-old John Barnes man-marked an uncharacteristically ineffective Bryan Robson out of the game. Lou Macari had a header cleared off the line, and Garry Birtles had a couple of raspers saved by Steve Sherwood, but otherwise it was all Watford. “No complaints,” shrugged Ron Atkinson. “They were better than us in every department.” Watching on was Hornets chairman Elton John. “It was one of my greatest moments,” said the composer of Rocket Man, Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting and Don’t Go Breaking My Heart. “Tremendous cup tie.”

Continue reading...
Categories: What the papers say

Ole Gunnar Solskjær worried by Manchester United's set-piece frailty

What the papers say - Fri, 01/08/2021 - 22:30
  • United conceded from free-kick and corner in semi-final
  • ‘In big games against good teams we lose that bit of focus’

Ole Gunnar Solskjær has admitted he is concerned at Manchester United’s habit of conceding goals from set pieces by losing focus in “big games”, the latest two coming in Wednesday’s Carabao Cup semi-final defeat by Manchester City.

John Stones’s opener came after United’s centre-backs, Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelöf, failed to stop Phil Foden’s free-kick from reaching the defender, whose run was not tracked by the left-back, Luke Shaw. Fernandinho’s goal derived from a poor Aaron Wan-Bissaka clearance following a corner, the right-back’s header going straight to the Brazilian.

Related: Manchester United sign Amad Diallo as Cavani ban reasons revealed

Continue reading...
Categories: What the papers say

FA Cup third round: 10 things to look out for this weekend

What the papers say - Fri, 01/08/2021 - 00:05

Boreham Wood, Marine and Stockport are hoping for romance but a shadow of uncertainty is hanging over the competition

Chorley’s home tie against Derby always looked ripe for an upset and still does, albeit with the Championship side now in the role of underdogs against hosts from four divisions below. An outbreak of Covid-19 means Wayne Rooney and his senior Derby players will be watching from home as a team of youngsters deputise in order to fulfil the fixture. A similar scenario may unfold on Friday evening with Aston Villa fielding youth players at home to Liverpool. Chorley’s chances of reaching the fourth round have hugely increased, but manager Jamie Vermiglio has been left deflated by the fixture’s reduction in status to little more than a box-ticking exercise. At least, unlike Southampton’s game against Shrewsbury, it’s still going ahead. At a time when the virus looks likely to wreak havoc on fixture lists in all four divisions, there is little wriggle-room even without these added headaches. Whether or not Covid-hit games should be played this weekend is open to serious question, much like the wisdom of even attempting to carry on with this season’s FA Cup. BG

Chorley v Derby, Saturday 12.15pm (all times GMT)

Related: Aston Villa set to field youth players in Liverpool FA Cup tie due to Covid cases

Blackpool v West Brom, Saturday 3pm

Newport County v Brighton, Sunday 7.45pm

Related: Manchester City purring again after stumbling upon winning formula | Jonathan Wilson

Stockport v West Ham, Monday 8pm

Continue reading...
Categories: What the papers say

Manchester United sign Amad Diallo as Cavani ban reasons revealed

What the papers say - Thu, 01/07/2021 - 17:02
  • Winger signs deal until 2025 at Old Trafford
  • Solskjær: ‘He is one of the most exciting prospects in the game’

Manchester United have completed the signing of the Atalanta teenager Amad Diallo on a deal until 2025 with the option of a further year.

United reached an agreement with the Serie A club for the 18-year-old player on 5 October, subject to a medical, work permit and personal terms. United have confirmed those steps have been completed and an application has been made for a visa, which once issued will allow Diallo to travel to Manchester and join Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side.

Related: Men's transfer window January 2021 – all deals from Europe's top five leagues

Continue reading...
Categories: What the papers say

Pep Guardiola dedicates Man City's semi-final win to 'special' Colin Bell

What the papers say - Wed, 01/06/2021 - 23:31
  • Manager dedicates victory to City legend and his family
  • Guardiola praises John Stones for return to form

Pep Guardiola dedicated Manchester City’s Carabao Cup semi-final win at Manchester United on Wednesday night to one of his club’s enduring luminaries, Colin Bell, who died on Tuesday at the age of 74.

“It’s an honour to dedicate this victory to Colin Bell and his family,” said City’s manager, wearing a “Legend Bell” T-shirt in tribute to the former England midfielder as he celebrated leading his team into a fourth successive League Cup final.

Related: John Stones exposes Manchester United to return City to Carabao Cup final

Continue reading...
Categories: What the papers say

Guardiola's caution helps Stones shine and get back on England radar | Barney Ronay

What the papers say - Wed, 01/06/2021 - 22:18

It is a good time to be a Manchester City centre-back, if only because the team is more committed to the idea of defending

The Carabao kings march on. During Pep Guardiola’s four years at Manchester City much energy has been expended arguing over how much the great midfield-fetishist, the don of keep-ball, has changed English football. Who knew English football would end up changing Pep too?

City took the lead in this League Cup semi-final with a set-piece goal on 50 minutes, bundled in by a 6ft 4in English centre-half.

Related: 'I sense that desire': Mourinho believes Tottenham can end trophy drought

Related: Stones and Fernandinho book another Carabao Cup final for Manchester City

Continue reading...
Categories: What the papers say

Manchester United 0-2 Manchester City: Carabao Cup semi-final – as it happened

What the papers say - Wed, 01/06/2021 - 22:11

Second-half goals from John Stones and Fernandinho sent City to yet another League Cup final

1.12am GMT

Related: Pep Guardiola dedicates Man City's semi-final win to 'special' Colin Bell

Related: Guardiola's caution helps Stones shine and get back on England radar | Barney Ronay

10.11pm GMT

So congratulations to Manchester City; commiserations to Manchester United. It’ll be City v Spurs at Wembley in late April ... hopefully with fans in situ, fingers crossed. Thanks for reading this MBM. Stay safe, and nighty night.

Related: John Stones exposes Manchester United to return City to Carabao Cup final

10.10pm GMT

Pep Guardiola, wearing a LEGEND BELL t-shirt, talks to Sky Sports. “This is for him, for his family. This person helped to build something special for this club. It is an incredible victory for us, to beat United away, to reach the final, and of course this is for him. The team is ready. It was an outstanding performance. We were tired, they had two more days off to rest, but we achieved something incredible. I know the Carabao Cup is not the Champions League, but four times in a row to reach the final is incredible. I’m so impressed by the boys. The final is not next week. Tottenham is a top, top team but we will have time to think about it.”

10.04pm GMT

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer speaks to Sky. “City can score many great goals and you can accept that. But when you concede two set-piece goals, simple ones we should have cleared, you are very disappointed. We were just not good enough in those moments. We didn’t do enough to win the game, didn’t create enough big chances ourselves, we didn’t have the extra finesse in the games we’ve had in the league lately. We played against a very good team, they played well, and when they play well you have to play really well to beat them. That’s just the reality of where we’re at. We were just lacking that little bit. They deserve it. But we are getting closer. This is a much better version of Man United than a year ago. That’s positive, but that’s not enough. It’s not psychological, you meet good teams in semis and we just didn’t have enough. They are probably the best team in England. We wanted a final to look forward to, but it’s not going to happen. There are loads of things to play for.”

9.57pm GMT

The managers will be speaking soon. But while we wait for that, Jamie Jackson’s report has landed ...

Related: Fernandinho seals another Carabao Cup final date for Manchester City

9.48pm GMT

City’s goalscoring hero John Stones speaks to Sky Sports. “I’d like to send our condolences from everyone in the dressing room to Colin Bell and his family. How we played today was a reflection of him. A great moment for us, and I’m sure he’s looking down on the game today. Another final and another great occasion, and a derby won against a top team. They caused us problems but we dealt with them and had so many chances. Set pieces are vital in big games and it was good to get something on it.”

9.41pm GMT

Manchester City celebrate their victory with great feeling. A huge team huddle, followed by backslaps and hugs all round. They’ll face Tottenham Hotspur in the final, to be played on Sunday 25 April, all going to plan. If they win that, they’ll equal Liverpool’s record of eight League Cup victories, as well as their record of four consecutive wins, set all the way back in the early 1980s. More history there to be written by Pep Guardiola’s remarkable side, who have rediscovered their form in some style. But let them enjoy tonight for now: another derby win, and a lovely way to say farewell to the great Colin Bell.

9.37pm GMT

City reach their fourth League Cup final in a row! They were the better side and deserve their reward. A huge grin plays across Guardiola’s face. His opposite number, a grim-faced Solskjaer, walks off to contemplate a fourth semi-final defeat in a row.

9.35pm GMT

90 min +2: De Bruyne curls the resulting free kick into the mixer from the right. Nobody gets near it, but it doesn’t really matter now.

9.34pm GMT

90 min +1: Shaw stress-tests the referee’s patience a bit too vigorously, yanking Sterling to the floor. He’s booked.

9.34pm GMT

90 min: Three extra minutes separate Manchester City from yet another League Cup final.

9.32pm GMT

88 min: Shaw is doing his level best to goad his old foe Cancelo into a reaction that would earn him a second yellow. A couple of sly shoves in the chest, just on the right side of legality, as they compete in a tight space. Cancelo, who snapped fairly easily earlier, does well to keep his cool.

9.30pm GMT

87 min: Fred is replaced by the lesser-spotted Van de Beek.

9.30pm GMT

85 min: Martial tries to flick the ball around Dias and claims a penalty for handball, but again the referee shows no interest whatsoever. It looked a desperate shout.

9.29pm GMT

84 min: City celebrated that goal in the grand style. United had been asking a few questions, but that was some response. Guardiola beams broadly. Yet another League Cup final is within touching distance now.

9.27pm GMT

De Bruyne has a dig from the right of the D. The ball’s deflected out for a corner on the right. De Bruyne takes. Wan-Bissaka clears, but not with any power. The ball drops to Fernandinho, just to the left of the D. He meets it sweetly, threading a sensational fizzer into the bottom left, a flat-footed Henderson left with no chance!

9.25pm GMT

81 min: Greenwood garrinchas in from the right and nearly dribbles into shooting space. Dias intercepts, just in time, and City launch a counter through Sterling and De Bruyne, the latter crossing to nobody in particular.

9.23pm GMT

80 min: Fernandes hoicks a speculative long-range effort miles over the bar. A bit early for Hail Mary attempts like this.

9.23pm GMT

79 min: City respond to United’s substitution with a change of their own: the quiet Mahrez is replaced by Rodri.

9.22pm GMT

78 min: Cancelo is booked for going forehead to forehead with Shaw, who had knocked him over in the silent-movie style.

9.22pm GMT

77 min: United have enjoyed 77 percent of possession during the last five minutes. City seem perfectly happy about it, playing United at their own game, hoping to soak it all up and break dangerously if the chance presents itself.

9.19pm GMT

75 min: United make the first change of the evening, throwing on Greenwood in place of McTominay.

9.19pm GMT

74 min: It’s a good spell for United, who push City back. Suddenly Martial dribbles his way through a couple of gaps down the middle and enters the box ... before falling to ground over a non-existent challenge by Dias. Martial claims a penalty; a furious Dias demands retribution for the dive. Referee Martin Atkinson takes the diplomatic route by waving both claims away. We play on.

9.16pm GMT

72 min: Pogba busies himself down the left and pulls back for Fernandes, who attempts a curler towards the top right. He finds the top right of the Stretford End.

9.15pm GMT

71 min: A reminder that both teams can make up to five subs, in a maximum of three batches. United are playing well enough for things to remain as they are, but time is becoming a factor.

9.13pm GMT

69 min: Fred goes into the box for an agricultural swipe through the back of Gundogan. Meanwhile Peter Oh (56 min) scores an open goal: “No second coming, promise.”

9.12pm GMT

68 min: Fernandinho has a shot that has enough welly to knock Maguire to the floor. The deflection loops harmlessly into Henderson’s arms. This doesn’t feel like it’s going to end 0-1. But who scores next?

9.11pm GMT

67 min: Fernandes drifts in from the left and shapes to curl one towards the top right. He telegraphs his intention, and the resulting floater is easy meat for Steffen. United have responded well to falling behind.

9.08pm GMT

65 min: Fernandes has a dig from distance, but sends his shot straight down Steffen’s throat.

9.08pm GMT

64 min: Some space for Martial down the left. His low fizzing cross forces Dias to stick out a telescopic leg and poke the ball out for a corner. From the set piece, Maguire rises highest, but under pressure from Stones, can’t steer his header anywhere hear the goal.

9.06pm GMT

63 min: Nothing comes of the resulting corner.

9.06pm GMT

62 min: Fred has the ball stolen off his toe in midfield by Sterling. He feeds Mahrez, who opens his legs, strides down the middle, and powers a curler towards the top left. Henderson tips over spectacularly. Great football all round, with the exception of Fred, whose leisurely faffing nearly cost United dear.

9.04pm GMT

60 min: Martial contests a high ball with Zinchenko in the City box. It clanks off Martial’s chest for a goal kick. Martial claims the ball has hit Zinchenko’s hand, but neither ref nor VAR shows any interest. Then City break upfield, Sterling nearly rounding Henderson on the right, only for the keeper to snaffle just in time.

9.02pm GMT

58 min: Foden crosses from the left. Sterling heads towards the top corner. Henderson claws it out. From the resulting corner, the ball’s worked to Cancelo out on the right. He whips towards the far stick. Foden is a toenail clipping away from poking home. Goal kick.

9.00pm GMT

56 min: “Stones has come up roses for City,” quips Peter Oh, because somebody had to. But no more, please. This is the one.

8.59pm GMT

54 min: That’s the first goal United have conceded in this competition this season. But they’ve not been too shabby at recovering after conceding first this season - 18 points gained from losing positions in the Premier League illustrate that - so there’s no need for the hosts to worry quite yet. City are on top right now, though, playing with something of a swagger.

8.57pm GMT

52 min: ... and nearly doubled, as Cancelo drops a shoulder to glide in from the right and pearls a vicious rising shot towards the top left. Henderson can’t get anywhere near it, but the ball shaves the paint on the top of the bar. So close! That would have been a screamer.

8.56pm GMT

51 min: VAR sticks its unwanted neb in - of course it does, boys and their toys - but Stones wasn’t offside and the ball didn’t hit his arm. City’s lead is confirmed.

8.54pm GMT

It’s dangerous all right. Foden curls it in. The ball makes it all the way to the back post, where Stones - who accidentally trundled the ball into this very net early on - trundles another one into the bottom right off his thigh!

8.53pm GMT

49 min: Sterling busies himself down the left and is dragged back by McTominay. This free kick will be in a dangerous position, just to the left of the United box. City load it.

8.51pm GMT

48 min: Fernaninho slides in on Pogba from behind, unnecessarily so. The City player receives a double-whammy of punishment: a yellow card, plus he’s clouted on the follow-through as the players tangle on the turf.

8.50pm GMT

46 min: Shaw sends in a free kick from the left. Pogba flicks on. There are red shirts lining up at the far post, but Dias hoicks clear. A bright start to the second half by the hosts.

8.48pm GMT

United get the second half underway on a chilly night. No changes made by either side. Yet. So will either side finally get round to scoring after three consecutive goal-free halves in Manchester derbies? “What happened to ‘deadly strikers’?” wonders Phillip Wainwright. “It’s a shame that modern tactics lean toward the absence of a ‘proper finisher’ in a team. Even Cavani, arguably someone under this umbrella in modern times, misses a hatful of clear/easy chances every season. See also Rashford, Martial, Bamford, Bergwijn, Sterling, Werner, even Son at Spurs... Is it just my rose-tinted view or did Van Nistelrooy, Henry, Shearer, Fowler etc not miss as many easy chances? I am an enormous fan of Rashford, on and off the pitch, but if him and the enigmatic Martial were to not miss as many easy chances, Man Utd would be an infinitely more dangerous prospect. Imagine if they had Kane/Son.”

8.37pm GMT

Half-time advertisement. Those siding with the red half of Manchester may be interested in this new podcast, presented by a couple of chaps you may recognise.

Episode 5 of United Rewind is out now!

Rob Smyth and @DanielHarris look back at the raucous FA Cup third round tie at the Etihad in January 2012, when the Ginger Prince came out of retirement to help United to a 3-2 win...

Listen now!https://t.co/d2WJnEDGjI#MUFC #MUNMCI pic.twitter.com/fVrky5j9Nd

8.33pm GMT

Both teams have come close - there have been three disallowed goals plus one shot off the post - but it’s goalless at the break.

8.32pm GMT

45 min: Fernandes has a chance to release Rashford down the middle, but uncharacteristically makes a royal balls of the through ball.

8.30pm GMT

43 min: Rashford whips a ball into the City box from the right. It rears up and smacks Stones on the arm. Stones had been clumsily leaning into the ball, so there’s a big penalty shout, but his arm was just about in a natural position, and he gets the benefit of the doubt.

8.28pm GMT

41 min: De Bruyne strides into space down the right. He hooks into the middle, looking for the so-far-ineffectual Mahrez. Wan-Bissaka volleys clear.

8.26pm GMT

40 min: City continue to stroke the ball around, but they’re not forcing Henderson into too much action.

8.25pm GMT

38 min: Foden has the beating of Wan-Bissaka down the left. He twice gets past his man in the space of a few seconds, though on neither occasion delivers the killer ball.

8.23pm GMT

36 min: Fernandinho sends a glorious diagonal ball towards Sterling on the right. Sterling is in acres, and romps into the box. He just needs to jink past Shaw to make room for a shot from close range ... but clumsily runs slap-bang into the stationary defender, and doesn’t get the penalty he screams for.

8.21pm GMT

34 min: Goal machine Scott McTominay tries his luck from distance. It’s not a bad effort, sent towards the top left from the best part of 30 yards out on the right, but always sailing a few inches over.

8.20pm GMT

33 min: Rashford continues to look downcast after letting that chance slip by. He shouldn’t be too hard on himself; replays suggest he might have been a few millimetres offside, and he’d have been on the wrong end of one of those popular pernickety VAR decisions they have these days.

8.18pm GMT

32 min: Fred, quarterbacking from deep on the left, launches towards Rashford, who has timed his break down the middle to perfection. If he brings the ball down, he’s one on one with Steffen ... but he can’t control and the keeper cleans up. The flag conspicuously stayed down.

8.16pm GMT

30 min: Sterling one-twos with De Bruyne down the right. A crisp, quick exchange, and for a second it looks like Sterling will scuttle free into the box. But Shaw sticks to his shoulder like glue and hooks away brilliantly.

8.14pm GMT

28 min: The first lull of an entertaining evening. Both teams deserve to take their breather.

8.13pm GMT

26 min: Rashford sashays in from the right and looks to curl powerfully across Steffen and into the bottom left. That might have been going in, you know, but Dias sticks out a leg and deflects wide right of goal. At the resulting corner, Maguire flicks a weak header wide left, United having tried that thing with everyone at the near post again.

8.11pm GMT

24 min: Zinchenko scoops a pass down the left touchline to release Foden, Wan-Bissaka beaten all ends up. Foden is free on goal! He dribbles into the box before calmly slotting between Henderson’s legs. But for the third time in the game, the goal is disallowed for offside. Foden went far too early. The flailing Wan-Bissaka will be a relieved man.

8.09pm GMT

23 min: ... nothing of consequence happens.

8.09pm GMT

22 min: City slow it down with some sterile centre-circle stuff. Then suddenly they up the tempo, Fernandinho sweeping a pass down the right for De Bruyne, who wins a corner. At which ...

8.07pm GMT

20 min: United commit a few players forward, and nearly pay the price. Some overly intricate play between Pogba and Fernandes down the left is broken up, and City stream forward. The ball is shuttled upfield at pace, ending up at the feet of Foden, who nearly jinks his way into the United box down the middle. Maguire and Lindelof combine to usher him away from the danger zone.

8.04pm GMT

18 min: More City passing. United hold their shape, coiled to spring forward given the chance. A pattern, it could be argued, has been set.

8.03pm GMT

16 min: City are bossing this in terms of possession - over 70 percent so far - though United won’t be too worried about that. Not when Fernandes has the ability to pearl 50-yard passes from deep, nearly releasing Martial this time. De Bruyne and Zinchenko combine to close the door, just in time.

8.02pm GMT

15 min: United respond through Martial, who makes good down the left before falling over his own feet in the City box. A lame appeal for a penalty that’s never going to be awarded. Then City nip upfield, De Bruyne dribbling down the right and nearly breaking clear into the box. Not quite. This is great fun.

8.00pm GMT

13 min: Sterling strides down the inside-right channel and dinks inside for De Bruyne, who takes one touch and from 25 yards creams a full-fat rising shot towards the top left. Henderson is beaten all ends up, but the ball caroms off the post and clear. What a belt that was! City so unlucky.

7.58pm GMT

11 min: Cancelo passes long. Gundogan attempts to tee up Mahrez, but United clear. Fernandes backs into Fernandinho and is clipped on the ankle for his trouble. He points this out to the referee with great clarity, but it’s a foul and nothing else. Let’s keep an eye on this duel.

7.56pm GMT

10 min: United try something different at the corner, just about their entire team congregating at the near post. City refuse to become confused and clear their lines properly this time.

7.55pm GMT

9 min: A really dismal clearance by Stones is intercepted by United. McTominay tees up Fernandes, who sidefoots powerfully towards the top right. Steffen does extremely well to tip round for a corner.

7.54pm GMT

8 min: A lovely fast pace to this game. The polar opposite of the turgid nonsense these two teams produced here in the league last month.

7.53pm GMT

6 min: This is an absurdly entertaining start. Some room for Pogba out on the left. He crosses deep, hoping to find Martial. Too deep. Pogba grimaces, perhaps thinking he might have done a bit better. City were short at the back there.

7.52pm GMT

5 min: And now it’s City’s turn to have a goal disallowed! Some space for Foden down the left. He crosses low for Gundogan, who sticks out a toe and cleverly guides the ball across Henderson and into the bottom right! But the flag goes up; it’s another offside. What a start to this semi!

7.50pm GMT

4 min: City breathe again ... and stroke it around again.

7.49pm GMT

2 min: City spend the first 60 seconds stroking the ball around. Then Fernandinho tries to spring De Bruyne down the inside-right channel. Right idea, but too much pace. From the goal kick, Martial slips Rashford clear down the middle, simple as that! Rashford’s shot is spilled by Steffen, and the ball ricochets off Stones and dribbles into the net! But the flag goes up, correctly, for offside. What a farcical start that would have been!

7.47pm GMT

An emotional moment of silence perfectly observed ... Bell’s old team-mate Mike Summerbee is pictured in the stand wiping away a tear ... and we’re off. City get the League Cup semi-final underway.

7.45pm GMT

The teams are out! United in red, City in blue. The visitors came out wearing their early 70s retro No.8 shirts in honour of the late, great Colin Bell. A lovely touch. Also, that old-school badge is a bona-fide design classic. We’ll be off in a minute ... after a silent tribute to the King of the Kippax. RIP.

7.40pm GMT

Ole’s turn. “We have had to change a few players throughout the season, but with the rest between the games this is a fresh team so we can go for it. Lindelof and Harry have played well against City before. We should go and enjoy ourselves. Make it our game. We are at home, in a semi-final, and you just want to enjoy these games. But you only enjoy them if you win. We are playing one of the best teams in European football, so we have to defend well, keep our structure and shape perfect, and hit them on the break a few times. We want to make it our game and get our good players on the ball.”

7.30pm GMT

Pre-match Pep patter. “We took a bus 20 minutes ago from our home, and we travel here. And we are going to try to do a good performance to reach the final.” He looks relaxed and happy, despite large chunks of his squad having been laid low by coronavirus.

7.15pm GMT

Colin Bell, one of the genuine greats, passed away yesterday. City will take to the field in retro No.8 shirts tonight, there will be a minute’s silence, and both teams will wear black armbands in memory of a true legend of Manchester football. Pep Guardiola has paid his respects: “It is a sad day for all of us. We want to send our best wishes to the family. This club belongs to the players who made this club what it is. Thanks for personalities like Colin Bell.”

Related: Colin Bell wasn't a superstar. He just happened to be a brilliant footballer | Simon Hattenstone

7.00pm GMT

United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer makes two changes to the team that saw off Aston Villa on New Year’s Day. Dean Henderson takes David de Gea’s place in goal, while Victor Lindelof replaces Eric Bailly at the back.

Pep Guardiola makes two changes to the City side named for the victory at Chelsea on Sunday. Fernandinho and Riyad Mahrez are in; Rodri and Bernardo Silva drop out. Kyle Walker and Gabriel Jesus return from Covid isolation, and will start on the bench. With two keepers having tested positive for Covid, 18-year-old James Trafford - young Trafford, if you will - is named as a sub.

6.50pm GMT

Manchester United: Henderson, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw, Fred, McTominay, Pogba, Fernandes, Martial, Rashford.
Subs: De Gea, Telles, Bailly, Tuanzebe, James, Mata, Matic, Van de Beek, Greenwood.

Manchester City: Steffen, Cancelo, Stones, Dias, Zinchenko, Fernandinho, Gundogan, De Bruyne, Mahrez, Foden, Sterling.
Subs: Trafford, Walker, Jesus, Aguero, Rodrigo, Mendy, Nmecha, Harwood-Bellis, Mbete.

1.40pm GMT

Good luck calling the 184th Manchester derby. This League Cup semi-final arrives at a time when both United and City are in form and feeling good about themselves. United haven’t lost a domestic fixture since the start of November; City haven’t lost in any competition since the middle of that same month. United have the advantage in the head-to-head during the last 13 months, winning three out of five to City’s one ... but that one victory sealed semi-final triumph for City last time round. City are looking to win this trophy for a record-equalling fourth year in a row; United will think they’re due a semi-final victory after losing three of them last season. Yes, good luck calling it.

It’s not a two-legged affair this year, on account of that damned virus. This will be decided tonight, then, though there are limits to the pruning: we’ll still have extra time and penalties if needs be. Both teams will be able to make up to five substitutions, though they’ll only be permitted a maximum of three opportunities during the 90 minutes to do so. Should the game go to extra time, they’ll get one more opportunity. Who will face Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley in the April final? We’ll find out soon. It’s on!

Continue reading...
Categories: What the papers say