What the papers say
Bournemouth took a shock early lead at Old Trafford but Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial each scored to reach 20 goals and become the first Manchester United players to do so in the same season since Dimitar Berbatov and Javier Hernández in 2011.
The star, though, was the 18-year-old Mason Greenwood, who struck in each half to take him to 15 for the campaign in what was a topsy-turvy contest that featured two offside goals in addition to the seven legal ones as United ended nine years without a quintuple in the league at Old Trafford.Continue reading...
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4 min Nothing to report as yet. United have made a dominant start.
1 min Peep peep! Bournemouth, in their sky blue change strip, kick off from right to left.
“Fergie said that perch thing off-handedly in the early noughties,” says Digvijay Yadav. “That a lot of Liverpool people have brought it up straight away tells you how much it irked them and how long they have been holding it inside them. Like an English cricket fan waiting to snipe at the Aussies during the 90s.”
The interesting thing is that Fergie didn’t really knock them off their perch at all; George Graham and Arsenal did, with a bit of help from Steve Coppell and perhaps Graeme Souness. But he did clamber atop the vacant perch and do a silly little jig for the next two decades.
In other news deparment
“Hey Rob,” says J.R. in Illinois. “So are you excited for Superspeader Saturday or what? Will you be done working in time to go out for a couple yards later? Or maybe you were able to get to the pub when it opened at 6am to suck down a few pints before work? Well, over here in the U.S. of ‘Murica every day is Superspreader Day and yesterday our genius president got the holiday weekend off to a flying start with a lovely get together in the hopes of further dividing the country with the added bonus of likely increasing the spread of a deadly pandemic.”
This year has been a particularly absurd series of the Truman Show.
“From back atop our perch I feel generous enough to give Man Utd fans a tip,” says Ian Copestake. “With Bruno Fernandes in your team you have a great opportunity to do a chant to the tune of “Danny Nedelko” by Idles.”
How many times: LIVERPOOL ARE NOT BACK ON THEIR PERCH!!!!! (Yet.)
Bournemouth have never won at Old Trafford, not even back in the days when they were Bournemouth and Boscombe Athletic. That isn’t a completely bad thing, though. An unlikely and historic win today would be a fine way to start a great escape.
The story about Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes being doubtful after a collision in training was a hoax; both start in an unchanged United side. Bournemouth bring in Diego Rico, Lewis Cook and Junior Stanislas for Steve Cook, Philip Billing and Arnaut Danjuma.
Manchester United (4-2-3-1) de Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw; Pogba, Matic; Greenwood, Fernandes, Rashford; Martial.
Substitutes: Romero, Bailly, Williams, Mata, Pereira, Fred, James, McTominay, Ighalo.
On 22 January, Manchester United lost 2-0 at home to Burnley. It was their fourth defeat in seven leagues games, and there was a P45 with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s name on it. Since then, their record is all competitions is outstanding: P15 W11 D4 L0 F38 A4. It’s their longest unbeaten run in three and a half years, and the mood around the club is as positive as it has been since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson.
There’s one big reason for that. Bruno Fernandes has had the most profound impact of any United signing since Eric Cantona in 1992. It’s not just his goals and assists, either: with his infectious standards, he has dragged all the other players closer to his level. He may also drag them into the Champions League. A win over Bournemouth today would move United above Chelsea, who play Watford tonight, and keep them within range of third-placed Leicester.Continue reading...
United’s manager has been brave in cutting the squad and after going 15 games unbeaten the sense is of a more stable outfit
As a snapshot of Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s evolving Manchester United, rewind to Bruno Fernandes’s second goal in the 3-0 win at Brighton on Tuesday. On 50 minutes, a commanding Harry Maguire header initiated a wow moment. Wow because of what it suggested of Nemanja Matic, whose best days are supposedly gone. And wow because it confirmed how the Serb’s rejuvenation is part of the larger team renaissance that Solskjær is overseeing.
Matic took the ball on his chest, pivoted and found Mason Greenwood with a second sight-like vision that had the 18-year-old surging along the left, before a cross found the relentless Fernandes who volleyed home at the far post.Continue reading...
- Defence is key to the the team’s success, says midfielder
- ‘Everyone can see the team is improving,’ says Solskjær
Bruno Fernandes insisted Manchester United can achieve Champions League football this season after his two goals at Brighton helped his side to stretch their unbeaten run to 15 games.
United moved up to fifth place ahead of Wolves on goal difference, but Fernandes said their much-improved defensive performance was key to their current mood of confidence.Continue reading...
This is how Ole Gunnar Solskjær intends to restore Manchester United to former glories. The road back to the top of the Premier League is long and it is impossible to say that United will be challenging for the title next season, given the ridiculous levels of Liverpool’s current superiority. But a Bruno Fernandes-inspired performance on the south coast brought that most precious of commodities – hope.
It is what routinely kills supporters and goodness knows there have been false dawns for United in the years since Sir Alex Ferguson was manager. But with Fernandes roaming with menace behind a pacy and dangerous front three – in which the 18-year-old Mason Greenwood was the star turn – and Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic providing the control in the centre of the pitch, it was an evening when United made a statement.Continue reading...
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45+3 mins: Manchester United go into the interval with the double advantage of two goals and complete superiority.
45+2 mins: United ping the ball about on the left for an age, and eventually Montoya’s had enough and throws himself at Rashford. Free kick.
45+1 mins: There will be about two minutes of first-half stoppages.
44 mins: Brighton actually threaten! Propper’s cross from the right is pretty handy, and there are six home players in the penalty area, but the ball just evades them all, with Burn coming closest.
44 mins: United get numbers forward, Brighton get numbers back, and a very promising attack ends with Dunk intercepting Pogba’s underhit pass infield.
42 mins: A telling stat here from Tim de Lisle:
41 mins: There have only been two shots on target in this game.
39 mins: Dunk has the ball inside his own penalty area and Martial and Fernandes combine to gang up on him, eventually forcing him to hit out of play for a throw-in. Nothing comes of it but still, good work. In other news, the ball went out for what should have been a throw-in in the build-up to the first goal.
37 mins: United play the ball across their backline almost comically slowly, waiting on each occasion to be closed down before laying it off. Eventually it reaches Bruno Fernandes on the left, who smashes it high into the air. Given what came before, it seems almost an act of protest. Dunk wins the header.
33 mins: Brighton have an attack, and win a free-kick out on the right touchline. United eventually win it back, and play the ball out of defence in a manner which is can only be described as extremely competent.
32 mins: Brighton have a shot! Mac Allister is the man responsible, blasting the ball into Maguire’s ankles from inside United’s penalty area.
Another one! Rashford plays Shaw in on the left, who gets to the byline but can’t pick out Martial with his pull-back. It runs to Pogba outside the penalty area, who touches inside to Fernandes, whose first-time shot hits Mac Allister and spins past Ryan and inside the post!
28 mins: Lindelof goes on an endearingly optimistic run down the right, which ends after about 40 yards as he tries to trick his way into the penalty area without actually doing any tricks, and is consequently dispossessed.
26 mins: Play resumes, and United take control of the ball once more. Eventually Wan-Bissaka miscontrols and it rolls out for a throw-in.
23 mins: United win a corner, take it long to Maguire beyond the far post, and he beats Dunk to the header but sends it across goal and wide. The drinks break follows.
22 mins: Fernandes shoots, and gets the ball to dip savagely, but it never threatens to dip enough to get under the bar.
21 mins: Now they have a free-kick in a very handy position, as Pogba is fouled just outside the area.
20 mins: This is all looking excellent for the visitors. They are attacking at pace, in numbers, with width on both flanks, and Brighton can’t plug every gap.
The chance comes, the shot follows, and United lead! Greenwood pretty much makes it for himself, running infield from the right, leaving Stephens in his wake, bursting into the box, squaring up Dunk, jinking this way and that, and then shooting low and hard inside the near post!
15 mins: United are running at about 74% possession, and looking menacing with it, but so far no clear chances, or shots of any note from inside the area.
12 mins: Bruno Fernandes hits the post! Maguire’s long ball from left to right starts the move, Pogba’s pass infield finds the Portuguese, and his early, low shot from just outside the area thumps the near post.
11 mins: A few seconds later Mac Allister tries it again, and this time Connolly is on the move, but he uses an arm to control and that’s the end of that.
11 mins: Mac Allister picks the ball up in midfield and plays it through for Connolly, who hadn’t got the memo and was entirely flat-footed.
8 mins: United are hogging the ball, but not doing so much attacking. Bruno Fernandes nearly unlocked the home defence a couple of minutes back, but his Ryan ran out to booter his through-ball into touch as Rashford raced towards it.
5 mins: A breather for Brighton, as Maguire chests a long pass towards Lindelof, and Connolly nips in and goes down, winning a bonus cheap free kick.
3 mins: United have already put together two decent attacks down the left, but on both occasions the attack was snuffled out after they got into the box.
2 mins: Kick-off is preceded by a noisy countdown, on the stadium’s big screens and loud speakers. 10 ... 9 ... 8 ... 7 ... it goes. 6 ... 5 ... 4 ... 3 ... it continues. 2 ... 1, it concludes. And then, 10 further seconds of awkward silence while the referee completes his last-minute whatevers, noisy countdown completely ignored. The players take the knee for a few seconds after kick-off.
1 min: Peeeeeep! United get the game started.
The players are out, and the coin has just been tossed. Action imminent.
The players are making their way into the tunnel, with kick-off just a few minutes away.
“While I’m cheered that the fans are practising some social distancing by sitting one seat apart, I’m appalled they’re not wearing masks,” complains Eric Schwab of Brighton’s Thank You NHS Stand (photo below). “This seems like a very narrow, two-dimensional approach.”
Graham Potter submits himself to the Sky-flavoured inquisition:
I think we’ve had a positive couple of games, but we have to start again. We play against a really good side, a side in good form, so all that we’ve done is gone and we have to start again tonight and do our best. It’s a chance to win three points, that’s how we look at it. They’re a good team, and they’re fighting for the Champions League, but ti’s a chance to win three points and that’s what we have to focus on. I’ve reminded them that they’re good players, they need to work hard to get a result. History’s fine but it doesn’t count for anything tonight. We need a bit of luck against this quality of opposition, but we need to make sure we do our best.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a chat with Sky:
This is the same team as played less than a week ago against Sheffield United and played really well, so hopefully we can see that again. Everything has to be right. We’ve been here the last two years, we haven’t got any points. We know it’s going to be hard, we know we have to focus on one game at a time.
Brighton make three changes to the team that drew 0-0 at Leicester last Tuesday, bringing in Shane Duffy, Davy Propper and Martin Montoya. Manchester United make either no changes or eight of them, depending on whether you count the FA Cup game against Norwich or the last league game, against Sheffield United last Wednesday.
The team sheets are in, and these are the names upon them:
Brighton: Ryan, Duffy, Dunk, Burn, Lamptey, Propper, Stephens, Bissouma, Montoya, Mac Allister, Connolly. Subs: Maupay, Trossard, Gross, Murray, Mooy, March, Schelotto, Button, Bernardo.
Man Utd: De Gea, Wan Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw, Pogba, Matic, Greenwood, Bruno Fernandes, Rashford, Martial. Subs: Bailly, Mata, Andreas Pereira, Fred, James, Romero, Ighalo, McTominay, Williams.
Referee: Andre Marriner.
Before the restart I thought Brighton, winless in 2020 and with a pretty nasty fixture list, might end up in a hideous battle against relegation. Two games, two decent performances and four points later and given the miserable form of Bournemouth, West Ham, Aston Villa and Watford below them I make them a win away from safety. They are more likely to get that victory at Norwich on Saturday than against Manchester United tonight, with the visitors another side that has had a decent restart and motivated by the vicious scrap for European qualification in which they find themselves, but I wouldn’t put it past them. They are, after all, unbeaten at home against Manchester United since April 1982 (with four wins and a draw since then).Continue reading...
- Manager hopes run can extend to 15 at Brighton
- United still in FA Cup and Europa League
Ole Gunnar Solskjær believes Manchester United can go unbeaten until the end of the season to set comfortably their longest sequence without losing for a decade but warned complacency could cause them to be kicked where “you don’t want to be”.
United are at Brighton on Tuesday where they will aim to stretch their unbeaten run to 15. As they are in the FA Cup semi-finals and the Europa League last-16 Solskjær’s side have potentially 12 more fixtures after Brighton and could move to within two matches of equalling a 29-game undefeated run set from April to November 2010. Since then the club’s longest sequence without losing was 18 matches in 2012-13.Continue reading...
The midfielder failed to seize his chance against Norwich and his time at Manchester United may be running out
There was a moment early on in Manchester United’s drawn-out win at Norwich when Jesse Lingard picked up the ball on the edge of the box, feinted right, jinked left and, with a rapid shuffle of his feet, glided past Timm Klose. It was a welcome reminder of the player he used to be. What followed in a generally drab United performance was a less welcome reminder of the player he has been over the past year.
It was only last June that Lingard was having a goal for England against the Netherlands in the Nations League semi-final ruled out for the tightest of offsides. A year before that he scored a brilliant goal against Panama at the World Cup. And he scored the extra-time winner when Manchester United last won the FA Cup, an elegant finish against Crystal Palace in 2016.Continue reading...
With 117 minutes gone and the score 1-1, Harry Maguire leapt for a header in the Norwich City box and was bumped to the ground. Manchester United’s centre back had barely got to his feet before he was down again, writhing and stretching to poke a loose ball across the goalline after Paul Pogba had crossed back into a crush of exhausted human flesh.
Norwich, down to 10 men, had no time to restart their engines. As the final whistle blew both sets of players sank to the Carrow Road turf. A round of weary hugs commemorated the fact United had won this FA Cup quarter-final 2-1, and deservedly so on the balance of a slow-burn muddle of a game.Continue reading...
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77 min: United try to grab back the initiative in short order. First Greenwood and Ighalo nearly open Norwich up down the right; then Rashford bustles to earn a corner out on the left.
The underdogs are level, and this is a screamer! Cantwell is teed up by Hernandez, who had cut in from the left. He unleashes an unstoppable swerver into the bottom right from 25 yards! Romero was unsighted by Maguire and had no chance of getting a hand to it.
73 min: That’s drinks. Time for Norwich to swap Pukki with Drmic, and for the BBC to show a replay of that astonishing Godfrey incident. And good news for the Norwich defender: the ball was going wide, and Tettey, lurking nearby, may well have been flagged offside anyway. So he’s not denied his own team a goal. That’s good to know.
70 min: Greenwood clumsily barges into Lewis out on the left. Free kick. And what follows is truly farcical! The free kick’s whipped into the mixer by Buendia. Fernandes accidentally eyebrows the flying ball towards the bottom right. Romero is beaten all ends up, but the ball’s stopped on the line by Godfrey, who was in the process of falling over. It hit his shoulder; he could do nothing about it.
68 min: Cantwell has a whack from 25 yards, but Fred blocks. Norwich still haven’t forced Romero into serious action. Maguire, yes; the keeper no.
67 min: Rashford should spring the overtaking Shaw into the Norwich box, but his pass down the left channel is too heavy. Goal kick. Shaw, having hared after that at full tank-emptying pelt, won’t be particularly amused by that.
66 min: Cantwell is down, holding his jaw. There was a coming together with McTominay’s shoulder. Cantwell, back up, claims it was deliberate; neither referee nor VAR agree. We play on.
65 min: A free kick for United out on the left, Godfrey having whacked Ighalo upside the head. Fernandes swings the free kick into the mixer, but it’s an uncharacteristically directionless effort and Norwich clear with ease.
64 min: Norwich make a change too, sending on Hernandez in place of Rupp.
63 min: United prepare a triple substitution and take a year and a day to make it. Eventually Dalot, Mata and Lingard make way for Williams, Rashford and Greenwood.
60 min: Lewis skedaddles down the left and finds Pukki in the middle. Pukki over-elaborates and can’t get a shot away. Aarons fires a low ball in from the right, but it’s hoicked clear by Maguire. That’s a little better from Norwich, who are slowly recovering from the blow of conceding.
57 min: Another tricky run by Lingard, this time down the left. He does extremely well to dribble his way into enough space to cross, but there’s nobody in red in the middle. United have been so much better since the restart.
56 min: Lewis attempts a curler from the left-hand edge of the United box, but his shot is blocked by his own man Pukki, wandering around in the confused style.
54 min: Fernandes cuts back to Lingard, sashaying in from the left. Lingard looks to curl one into the top right, but the ball balloons up, allowing Krul to claim under pressure from Ighalo.
53 min: Norwich respond well, McLean driving down the left and earning a corner. Godfrey challenges Maguire but the United defender wins the aerial duel. Pukki tries to keep the pressure on, but his cross from the right is blocked.
United get their act together. Maguire swans forward. He sends Shaw off down the left. Shaw hooks in for Mata, who dinks forward for Ighalo, onside in acres of space. Ighalo swivels and prods the dropping ball past Krul. A classic poacher’s strike.
49 min: Mata nearly finds Fernandes inside the Norwich box with a dainty flick down the right channel. Not quite. Much, much better from United, though. Solskjaer has obviously delivered the classic Get Your Act Together speech.
47 min: Cantwell romps down the left but can’t quite find Pukki in the middle with a fierce cross-cum-shot from a tight angle. Now it’s Norwich’s turn to waste a corner. Both teams have clearly been given the hairdryer treatment at half-time. The pace is notably quicker.
46 min: Nothing comes of the corner. There were no half-time changes, incidentally.
United get the ball rolling for the second half. After a fashion, that is, Bruno Fernandes having taken his own sweet time to return. And they’re quickly on the front foot, Fred floating a delicious pass down the inside-right channel to find Fernandes, whose timing is off again as he attempts a spectacular Mark Hughes style swivel kick. He doesn’t connect properly, and Klose slashes out for a corner.
During two added minutes, Lingard whips a wayward shot over the Norwich bar from distance, and that’s that. Daniel Farke will be happy enough, his team having come closest to scoring. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be pondering some half-time changes, because United need to crank it up a notch. A reminder that this tie will go to extra time and penalties if needs be. Back soon!
45 min: Aarons threatens to scamper clear down the right, but Fred does extremely well to usher him out of play. Norwich have visibly grown in confidence, United having posed very little threat during this first half.
44 min: Cantwell dances his way down the left and pulls the ball back for Rupp, in space just inside the box. Rupp peals a fine shot towards the bottom right. It’s heading in, with Romero rooted to the spot, but United are saved thanks to a superb last-ditch block by Maguire. That was a fine Norwich move and some defending from the top drawer.
42 min: Cantwell’s back up and running. Maguire tries to spread the play with a left-to-right diagonal rake towards Dalot. A fine pass, but Dalot lets the ball roll under his foot and out of play. Another reason for Maguire to frown hard. The captain’s annoyed.
41 min: Cantwell is down, having slipped into Maguire, who was looking the other way and couldn’t avoid contact. A sore one, doubtless, but it looks as though the sting of pain has subsided quickly and he’ll be good to continue.
39 min: There really is nothing going on. This is a non-event right now.
37 min: Maguire tests Romero with a fizzer of a backpass. He’s lucky the keeper has good reactions, and feet to match. Maguire has the good grace to furrow his brow in contemplation.
35 min: United stroke it around to no effect whatsoever. They could really do with Martial or Rashford up front. Norwich are completely comfortable right now. The second half maybe.
33 min: Cantwell sends Pukki clear down the inside-right channel, United’s defence having gone AWOL. But Pukki has no pace whatsoever, and Shaw is permitted to get back into the race. Pukki holds up, then involves Cantwell and Buendia, but the resulting attempt to keep the attack going is over-elaborate and the ball breaks harmlessly through to Romero. United would have been in serious trouble there if Pukki had the legs.
32 min: McTominay strides into the Norwich box from the right and pearls a shot goalwards. But it’s blocked by Lewis. From the resulting throw, Dalot is fouled by Cantwell. Fernandes swings in the free kick. There’s a mild hubbub, nothing more. Norwich clear.
30 min: Another corner for United, out on the left. Fernandes delivers. Bailly heads harmlessly over. This is all very nearly-not-quite. Norwich will undoubtedly be the happier team, expectation levels and all that.
28 min: Mata is brushed off the ball with absurd ease by Buendia. McLean takes up possession and hares down the middle, before flaying a dismal shot miles over the bar. He had time to line that up properly and work Romero.
27 min: Ighalo tries to turn a Dalot infield pass round the corner in the hope of releasing McTominay down the inside-right channel. A cute idea, but it doesn’t come off.
25 min: All gone! [taps upside-down cup, wipes mouth] The game restarts.
23 min: Aarons blooters wildly into the stand behind the United goal, and that’s drinks!
22 min: United string a very pretty move together. Fernandes pings a pass towards Shaw on the left. Shaw cuts inside and lays off to Fred, who slides a forward pass down the channel for McTominay. He backflicks first time, and very nearly springs Ighalo clear on goal. But Ighalo can’t make the ball behave and Krul gathers.
20 min: Fernandes quarterbacks from deep, floating a diagonal ball towards Dalot, just inside the Norwich area on the right. Dalot can’t get it under control, and a brief window of opportunity to shoot is gone.
18 min: Pukki romps into an absurd amount of space down the right. He’s got options in the middle, but stands one up in exactly the wrong place, and it’s an easy clearance for Dalot. United break up the other end, but Ighalo can’t end a purposeful sortie with any sort of shot.
17 min: United continue to hog possession, but it’s all a bit flat. Shaw and Lingard attempt to combine down the left, but the attack is easily blotted out. Norwich look relatively comfortable at the minute.
15 min: Lewis is getting plenty of space and opportunity down the left. It’s not always clear where Dalot is or what he’s doing. But once again Lewis fails to find a team-mate. United need to address this situation.
13 min: Lingard dribbles, ball glued to his boot, down the middle in intricate style. He nearly breaks through a forest of Norwich defenders, but Rupp is one man too many and he blocks before a shot’s sent goalwards. That was a lovely run, shame it led to nothing.
11 min: United have had 68 percent of possession so far. Lingard and Mata combine down the right and win a corner. Nothing comes from it.
9 min: Lewis finds some space down the left and crosses to the far post. Buendia can’t get a header goalwards, and the danger is gone. After a slow start, some entertainment is threatening to break out.
8 min: The first corner of the day is United’s. It’s swung in from the left. Maguire rises at the far post and loops a header across goal and towards the top left. Krul plucks it from the sky.
7 min: A ridiculous 60 seconds for Bailly. First he executes a preposterous belly flop upon being shoved lightly in the back by McLean. Then he stands on the ball near the left-hand corner flag with Cantwell applying pressure. Cantwell can’t find anyone in yellow in the middle, and Bailly breathes a long sigh of relief.
5 min: Buendia drives down the right, with Rupp by his side. United look a little light at the back, so they’re grateful that Buendia takes his eye off the ball and dribbles straight into Fred.
3 min: Aarons miscontrols a simple pass from Godfrey and it’s a United throw deep in Norwich territory. Fred drives at the Norwich box from the left, and the hosts are relieved when he miscontrols. The ball’s finally cleared.
2 min: United quickly assume control. Dalot and Mata probe down the right. Then McTominay takes his time before floating a diagonal ball towards nobody in particular. Goal kick. A gentle start, in other words.
Norwich get the ball rolling ... but only after all 22 players take a knee. Black lives matter.
Before we kick off, there’s a minute of applause for those working on the frontline during this pandemic. Also a time to remember the souls lost to the virus.
The teams are out! Manchester United emerge from the tight tunnel first, according to distancing protocol. They’re wearing their famous red shirts and black shorts. Norwich soon follow in their trademark yellow and green. We’ll be off soon!
Now it’s the turn of United’s Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, and he appears extremely relaxed, laughing off a question about his eight changes. “Ah, it’s only one change from the last round! And Harry Maguire was meant to play that one but he was sick! This is a team that deserved another chance in the FA Cup. They played well against Derby and we decided to give them another go. I feel we’ve got a strong squad, we trust the players to go out there and show what they are capable of. There’s ten full internationals there, so it should be a good team. The FA Cup is a great tournament. To be able to lift it, for a team that is coming together, that would be fantastic. But all eyes on this one. The boys are ready.”
Norwich boss Daniel Farke speaks! “We know we are the underdog. It’s in the DNA of Manchester United, they are always competing for titles and it’s their last chance this season, so they will be highly motivated. And they are 12 games unbeaten, with all their players more or less available. So we are full of respect. We know we need something really special, but we are really motivated.”
Of course, we had been expecting to be waist-deep in the Euros by late June. But here we are, concerned with the FA Cup instead. Strange times, strange times. For those suffering a pang of Euro withdrawal, today marks the four-year anniversary of this ...
Norwich City make three changes to the side defeated at home by Everton three days ago. Onel Hernandez, Ondrej Duda and Josip Drmic are replaced by Emiliano Buendia, Todd Cantwell and Teemu Pukki.
Manchester United make eight changes to the team that brushed Sheffield United aside midweek. Cup goalkeeper Sergio Romero replaces David de Gea. Elsewhere, in come Diogo Dalot, Eric Bailly, Scott McTominay, Fred, Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard and Odion Ighalo; out go Victor Lindelof, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Paul Pogba, Nemanja Matic, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood.
Norwich City: Krul, Aarons, Godfrey, Klose, Lewis, Tettey, McLean, Rupp, Buendia, Cantwell, Pukki.
Subs: McGovern, Vrancic, Leitner, Hernandez, Stiepermann, Trybull, Drmic, Duda, Idah.
Manchester United: Romero, Dalot, Bailly, Maguire, Shaw, McTominay, Fred, Mata, Fernandes, Lingard, Ighalo.
Subs: De Gea, Fosu-Mensah, Williams, Pereira, Matic, Pogba, Greenwood, Martial, Rashford.
Norwich City have a better record against Manchester United in the FA Cup than you might imagine. A far better record. United won the first tie between the two clubs in 1906 easily, 3-0 at their old Bank Street ground; they won the last time the clubs met in the cup in 1994, Eric Cantona and Roy Keane doing the business at Carrow Road. But in between, there were three other meetings ... and Norwich won them all.
January 1959: United, en route to a second-place finish in the league, are stuffed by third-tier Norwich in the third round. Terry Bly is the two-goal hero of a 3-0 shock in the Carrow Road snow. The legendary John Arlott was in the stand, reporting for the Observer. “The East Anglian roar, which had risen through defiance and hope to expectation, ended in a bugle of exultation. It wasn’t merely a famous, but a well-won, victory.” City made it all the way to the semis, before losing narrowly to Luton Town of the First Division.Continue reading...
- Manchester United manager pays tribute to champions
- ‘We’re going to do everything we can to go past them’
Ole Gunnar Solskjær believes Liverpool will find it difficult to emulate the sustained success of Manchester United’s 13 Premier League titles in 20 years under Sir Alex Ferguson.
Jürgen Klopp’s side clinched a 19th championship when Manchester City lost at Chelsea on Thursday. This ended a 30-year wait and Liverpool’s 23-point lead over City with seven matches left suggests a period of dominance could be established but Solskjær questioned whether United’s fiercest rivals – or any other club – could repeat Ferguson’s achievement.Continue reading...
Max Rushden, Barry Glendenning, Lars Sivertsen and Marcus Bean look back at the midweek Premier League games as Liverpool now stand on the verge of the Premier League title. The team also discuss Anthony Martial’s hat-trick, Arsenal dishing out contracts like it’s Christmas, the latest action in Europe and they preview the FA Cup quarter finals
We start at Anfield, where Liverpool swept aside in-form Crystal Palace to close in on their long-awaited Premier League title, which could be secured on Thursday evening if Manchesyer City do not beat Chelsea. We ask what they need to do to be considered one of the greatest teams the league has ever seen.
We then move on to the rest of the Premier League action, which saw important wins in the battle for European football by Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and Wolves. We also look at the relegation battle as Norwich sunk further, while Villa gained an important point on their rivals.
In the final part, Lars gives us a brief European roundup before we preview the FA Cup quarter-final matches and speak to Marcus about his director of football training, Black Lives Matter and the upcoming League One play-offs.
Anthony Martial scored Manchester United’s first Premier League hat-trick since Robin van Persie for Sir Alex Ferguson’s title-winners in April 2013 as Sheffield United were cuffed aside.
It was also the Frenchman’s inaugural career hat-trick, moving to a best ever tally of 19 in all competitions for United, who stretched their unbeaten run to 13 matches and took their points tally to 49 with seven games left, two behind Chelsea in fourth, who play Manchester City on Thursday. Of Martial, Ole Gunnar Solskjær said: “I’m very happy for Anthony, it’s a shame he couldn’t celebrate with out fans.”Continue reading...
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59 min: Martial plays the ball wide to Rashford, whose attempted cross from the left is put out for a corner. Again, nothing comes of the set piece. On the touchline, Chris Wilder is losing his mind, effing and jeffing like a sailor at the top of his voice.
56 min: Mason Greenwood tries another shot from distance after receiving a pass from Paul Pogba. His low drive takes a deflection of Phil Jagielka and goes out for a corner. Nothing comes of the set piece. This is mind-numbingly tedious fare, which will suit Manchester United just fine. They’re controlling possession and letting Sheffield United’s players run their legs into stumps trying to get the ball back from them.
54 min: Relentless pressure from Manchester United against a Sheffield United side who seem to know their goose is cooked and are focussing on containment. Another Manchester United goal would finish this match as a contest and a spectacle altogether.
53 min: Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Anthony Martial combine down the right, the former winning a throw-in deep in Sheffield United territory when his attempted cross is blocked and put out of play.
51 min: Manchester United corner. With what looks suspiciously like a mis-kick, Bruno Fernandes pulls the ball to the edge of the penalty area, where Victor Lindelof is caught by surprise.
49 min: Chris Basham sends in a delightful cross from the right flank. It’s on a plate for Oli McBurnie at the near post, but he fails to make any contact with the ball as he leaps to head it home. That’s poor.
46 min: John Fleck tries to play David McGoldrick in behind but short changes him with his pass. The man they call “Dizzy” has to stretch to control the ball and loses possession to Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
46 min: Play resumes with Sheffield United having made two changes at the interval. Lys Mousset and Oliver Norwood are both off injured and have been replaced by Oli McBurnie and Sander Berge.
A brace from Anthony Martial separates the sides as they go in for the break, the Frenchman scoring at the beginning and end of a half in which Manchester United had it very easy. The hosts also had a goal disallowed, while Marcus Rashford missed a sitter - all available evidence suggests Chris Wilder’s men have a mountain to climb in the second half.
45+2 min: Manchester United have been making hay down the right flank and they try to do so again. Martial tees up Greenwood, whose scuffed shot from distance doesn’t trouble Moore in the Sheffield United goal.
45+1 min: That’s a real kick in the swingers for Sheffield United, who had got themselves back into the game after a very poor opening 25 minutes. You can’t see them coming back from that particular hammer-blow and it’s no surprise to see that on their bench, Chris Wilder has his head in his hands.
Martial scores his second - stabbing the ball home from eight yards out after getting on the end of a low Aaron Wan-Bissaka cross from the right.
43 min: Paul Pogba clips a deft little pass over the top towards Rashford on the edge of the six-yard box. It’s headed clear by a defender.
41 min: In tonight’s three other 6pm Premier League kick-offs it’s scoreless across the board. Of course it is. Lifting the nation’s morale, see.
40 min: On the touchline, McBurnie is made to wait as Mousset decides to see if he can make it to half-time.
39 min: Lys Mousset goes to ground and kicks off his boot. It looks like his race is run, but he’s getting treatment from a physio who’s wearing a facemask and what look like scuba diving goggles. On the touchline, Oli McBurnie prepares for action.
37 min: Enda Stevens and John Fleck combine down the left flank and win another corner for Sheffield United, who have looked much improved since the drinks break. Lys Mousset is visibly struggling for them, limping badly. For the second time in quick succession, the ball drifts out of play from the corner. What a waste ...
36 min: Worrying times for Manchester United fans as Bruno Fernandes adjourns to the side of the pitch to receive treatment for a knee injury. There’s no break in play and after about a minute he sprints back into action.
33 min: Sheffield United win a corner from which nothing comes after Victor Lindelof puts the ball out of play.
32 min: Bruno Fernandes tries to pick out Marcus Rashford with a reverse pass in behind but the pair get their wires crossed and Sheffield United are able to clear. Marcus Rashford looks to be lacking a tiny bit of sharpness since returning from his busy lockdown - he had a quiet game against Tottenham and despite teeing up Martial for Manchester United’s opener tonight, has since missed an open goal. He’ll come good soon enough - there’s no denying his talent.
30 min: Sheffield United enjoy a rare period of sustained possession on the edge of the final third but are unable to unpick the lock and Manchester United’s defence holds firm. John Lundstram eventually tries a shot from distance but his effort sails wide.
28 min: George Baldock plays a cross-field pass from right to left to Enda Stevens, but the Irishman is robbed of possession by Mason Greenwood.
26 min: “Sheffield United need to work out a way of winning the ball higher up the pitch,” says Gary Neville on Sky Sports. “They’re just going deeper and deeper.”
Water break: What are the chances, do you think, of these water breaks becoming permanent fixtures and football matches being turned into games of four quarters rather than two halves? Before too long, don’t be surprised if TV networks start sneaking in a couple of adverts. Or maybe I’m just too cynical.
23 min: It’ll be time for the water break any second now and I suspect it can’t come quickly enough for Chris Wilder, who will doubtless have some instructions for his players after their diabolical start to this game.
21 min: Another corner for the hosts. Fernandes plays the ball to the far post, where Harry Maguire heads home. Anthony Taylor blows his whistle for a two-handed Maguire shove on Jagielka as he rose to head the ball and the goal is disallowed. A quick check by Stuart Attwell at VAR HQ later and play resumes.
19 min: More Manchester United pressure. Bruno Fernandes tries his luck from distance but Phil Jagielka blocks his effort. Fernandes looks a great signing for United.
18 min: Bruno Fernandes tries to whip the ball into the top left-hand corner but Simon Moore tips the ball out for a corner. From the set piece, the referee spots an infringement as the ball comes into the penalty area and awards Sheffield United a free-kick.
17 min: Rashford plays the ball forward to Luke Shaw in the inside left channel and he’s pulled to the ground by George Baldock. Free-kick for Manchester United, between the left side of the |Sheffield United penalty area and the touchline.
15 min: A reminder that it’s the hottest day of the year in Manchester, if not the entire UK. Early indications suggest it could be a very long evening for Sheffield United.
13 min: With Manchester United attacking on the break and Simon Moore committed, Martial turns provider and plays the ball a couple of yards to his right into the path of Marcus Rashford. The striker somehow contrives to side-foot the ball wide with an empty goal gaping in front of him. That was a lightning fast counter-attack, but Jack Robinson got back and did just enough to put Rashford off. That’s a shocking miss.
12 min: Sheffield United seem a bit shell-shocked after going behind so early. George Baldock advances into the Manchester United penalty area and gets a sight of goal, but his shot is blocked.
8 min: Martial really needed his wits about him there, doing well to convert a screamer of a delivery from Marcus Rashford. The patron saint of hungry British school children got in around Phil Jagielka at the byline and pulled the ball towards the edge of the six-yard box with phenomenal speed, but Martial was alert enough to get in front of his man at the near post and poke home from three yards.
Manchester United lead as Anthony Martial converts a bullet-like low pull-back from Marcus Rashford at the near post.
5 min: Manchester United go on the counter-attack and win their first corner when Anthony Martial tries and fails to take the ball past Chris Basham. Bruno Fernandes swings the ball into the Manchester United penalty area, where it’s only half cleared. A subsequent Nemanja Matic pass towards Mason Greenwood from the edge of the penalty area is cleared by Enda Stevens.
4 min: Simon Moore gets his first touch of the game in the Sheffield United goal, fielding a back pass and sending the ball forward.
2 min: Sheffield United begin on the front foot and Victor Lindelof is forced into action to deal with an Oliver Norwood cross aimed towards George Baldock.
1 min: Following a minute’s silence for former Manchester United full-back Tony Dunne, who died two weeks ago, the players take a knee and play begins. A Dubliner, Dunne played left-back in the Manchester United side that won the European Cup in 1968.
Not long now: The teams are out on the pitch, the Stone Roses soundtracking their arrival in the empty Old Trafford with This Is The One. The stands are empty, but there are 40,000 digital images of fans from around the world in assorted stands. It looks quite good, to be fair.
On Sky Sports: Graeme Souness is in as a pundit alongside Jamie Redknapp and is defending himself against the relentless criticism he gets for his relentless criticism of Paul Pogba.
“I get hammered for this,” he says. “The midfield is the only position on the pitch where you’re trying to do the exact same thing ss the person you’re marking,” he adds, explaining that just for once he’d like to see Pogba go out and say he’s going to work harder than the guy he’s marking, rather than try to outdo him in the fancy tricks and flicks department.
For Manchester United, Ollie Gunnar Solskjær makes three changes from the side that started against Tottenham Hotspur. Paul Pogba gets his first start since September, while Nemanja Matic also starts in midfield with a beefed up Mason Greenwood playing in a front three. Fred, Scott McTominay and Dan James make way for the trio of newcomers.
Five of the personnel who started Sheffield United’s defeat at the hands of Newcastle United are out today, with two of the changes enforced. Simon Moore starts in goal instead of Dean Henderson, who isn’t allowed to play against his parent club, while Phil Jagielka is in for the suspended John Egan. Further up the field, Lys Mousset, David McGoldrick and John Lundstram start, while Sander Berge, Billy Sharp and Oli McBurnie drop to the bench.
Manchester United: De Gea, Wan Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw, Pogba, Matic, Greenwood, Bruno Fernandes, Rashford, Martial.
Subs: Bailly, Mata, Andreas Pereira, Fred, James, Romero, Ighalo, McTominay, Williams.
The view inside Old Trafford pic.twitter.com/1dhUr1ecA4
Manchester United came from 2-0 down to take the lead but Oli McBurnie’s 90th-minute equaliser survived a VAR check for a 3-3 draw between the sides at Bramall Lane in November. Louise Taylor was there for the Guardian ...
Referee: Anthony Taylor
A paucity of fit centre-backs means Sheffield United’s manager could be forced to change his formation for the first time this season tonight, switching from three to four at the back. “There’s a thought process of letting them go again and just replacing like for like, Simon [Moore] or Michael [Verrips] coming in [as goalkeeper] and most probably Jags coming in as the middle centre half,” he told BBC Radio Sheffield. “There’s also a situation where I might change the shape.”
“We’ve developed over the season and I think now we had a spell of 11 unbeaten,” said Manchester United’s in the build-up to today’s game, when asked if he was planning a summer transfer splurge. “But then you add Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford to that and you’re thinking ‘Yeah, we’re not too far away and I’m very happy with the squad.
Paul Pogba could make his first start for Manchester United since 30 September after impressing off the bench against Tottenham. Despite limping off against Tottenham, Victor Lindelof is available for selection, while Phil Jones and Axel Tuanzebe – unlikely starters at the best of times – remain sidelined with injuries.
An eerily empty and echoey Old Trafford is the setting for today’s match between Manchester United and Sheffield United, two teams harbouring notions of playing in next season’s Champions League.
Five points behind Chelsea and just ahead of Wolves on goal difference, the hosts are fifth in the table but, with the outcome of Manchester City’s appeal against their Champions League ban still to be announced by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, have no idea if that will be good enough to earn them a return to European football’s top table. They must aim to reel in Chelsea and finish fourth.Continue reading...
- Manchester United manager defends his goalkeeper
- Henderson will play for England and United, he says
Ole Gunnar Solskjær has described David de Gea as the world’s best goalkeeper while stating Dean Henderson can one day be the Manchester United and England No 1.
De Gea’s position is again under scrutiny after the error that allowed Steven Bergwijn’s shot to squirm in during United’s 1-1 draw at Tottenham on Friday. In the latter part of last season the Spaniard made a series of mistakes that cost goals and points.Continue reading...
- McTominay extends contract until 2025
- Solskjær praises ‘vital part of our midfield’
Scott McTominay has signed a new contract at Manchester United to 2025 with the option of a further year.
The 23-year-old has established himself in midfield, having made his debut under Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s predecessor, José Mourinho, as a late substitute in a 2-0 defeat at Arsenal in May 2017.Continue reading...
Johnny Gorman made his international debut at 17. A decade on he now hopes to help other young players as a psychologist
Johnny Gorman was still at school when he won his first Northern Ireland cap against Turkey in May 2010. He made his next appearance for the national team away in Italy in a Euro 2012 qualifier, playing against Andrea Pirlo and Daniele de Rossi in midfield. At the end of the game, De Rossi sought out the teenager to give him his jersey. By the time Pirlo and De Rossi were playing for Italy in the Euro 2012 final the following summer, Gorman’s time at the top was all but over.
Today, at 27, Gorman is in his second year at Bath University studying for a degree in psychology. He plays for the university XI but his days as a professional are long gone. Preparing for Pirlo has been swapped for psychology tutorials and pints in the university bar. “I wasn’t really a typical footballer,” he says. “Although I really liked the game, it was never the be-all and end-all for me. I just had so many other interests growing up.”Continue reading...
Ole Gunnar Solskjær said his team had improved since before lockdown started after Manchester United came from behind to draw 1-1 with Tottenham on Friday and said he was 'happy' Paul Pogba was back after injury.
The draw leaves United in fifth place, two adrift of fourth-placed Chelsea, with Tottenham in eighth and six points adrift of Frank Lampard's side
- Tottenham manager diving Bruno Fernandes ‘exposed’
- Mourinho also suggests five subs rule favours ‘powerful squads’
José Mourinho said he was “really upset” at how Tottenham were pegged back late on for a 1-1 draw by Manchester United, complaining at the nature of the equalising penalty and an even later incident that VAR ruled on, before making a point about how the new five substitutes rule favours clubs with greater resources.
Paul Pogba, on as a second-half substitute for United, won the penalty that Bruno Fernandes converted, getting in front of Eric Dier with a piece of skill and then going to ground. United almost had another spot-kick when Fernandes went down under another Dier challenge only for VAR replays to show that he had dived and make the over-rule.Continue reading...
When Paul Pogba came on against Tottenham, United had their two biggest talents on the pitch together for the first time and this could prove decisive in the run-in
It was, you suspect, a move that Paul Pogba had been practising barefoot in his Cheshire front room for the last three months: tweaking, fine‑tuning, waiting impatiently for the moment when he could unleash it on some poor unwitting mug of an opponent. And here, 10 minutes from the end of a taut and enthralling game, it was Eric Dier who found himself desperately lunging at thin air, giving away the penalty from which Bruno Fernandes earned Manchester United a deserved share of the points.
Pogba and Fernandes. Fernandes and Pogba. And Scott McTominay, of course, although you suspect he’ll struggle to share top billing. If not quite the most ambitious crossover event in history, then the entrance of Pogba as a substitute in the 63rd minute – joining the Portuguese international on the pitch in a competitive fixture for the first time – marked the point at which United fans got their first look at their new £136m midfield axis. The early auguries, it has to be said, were good.Continue reading...