What the papers say

Fernandes penalty earns Manchester United draw in tense Tottenham finale

What the papers say - Fri, 06/19/2020 - 22:26

The reaction of Eric Dier, the Tottenham defender, said it all. He had just conceded one penalty, which allowed Bruno Fernandes to equalise for Manchester United, and now it appeared that he had conceded another at the very end.

Dier knew that he had not touched Fernandes before the United man went to ground but the referee, Jon Moss, had bought it and pointed to the spot. Dier was flabbergasted. Enter VAR. When the first replay was shown, it was plain that Fernandes had, at best, initiated the contact and, at worst, dived. Dier was reprieved. No penalty. Spurs breathed in collective relief.

Related: Southampton's Danny Ings eases back into groove by sinking feeble Norwich

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Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester United: Premier League – live!

What the papers say - Fri, 06/19/2020 - 21:33

9.32pm BST

57 min: This match is beginning to open up, as players get tired during the first game back. This may well benefit United more than Spurs, but we’ll see.

9.30pm BST

55 min: Martial runs at the Spurs defence, then lays off to Fernandes on the right. Fernandes has a whack first time. His low diagonal fizzer whistles past the left-hand post, an inch or so away. So close. Lloris makes out like he had it covered, but I’m not so sure. Had that been on target, tucked tight in the corner, it’d have been in.

9.28pm BST

53 min: McTominay takes a speculative shot from distance. It slaps Fernandes in the back. United can’t get going up front at all. “Entertaining as Keane’s tirade was, I can’t help thinking he was performing for the cameras,” argues Thomas Atkins. “It was just some sub-optimal defending followed by a goalkeeping error, but Keane went off like they were losing 8-0. It’s the Michael Bolton problem. If you turn everything up to 11 in the first verse, where do you go from there?”

9.26pm BST

51 min: A free kick for United out on the right. Fernandes curls it in. It’s easily headed clear by Dier. Spurs stream up the other end, Lamela attempting to slip Son clear down the inside-left channel. But once again his final ball is appalling. He’s been better breaking things down than building them up today.

9.24pm BST

49 min: Martial has only had nine touches so far tonight, Kane ten. Fair enough, it happens to strikers sometimes. But Sissoko’s only touched the ball ten times, too. He’s playing in the centre of midfield! God help him when Jose discovers that stat.

9.22pm BST

47 min: James has a wee probe down the left and nearly works his way into the box, but he’s got no options inside and is eventually forced to turn tail.

9.21pm BST

The actual football can’t live up to that majestic Roy Keane broadside, in that sense we’re done here for the evening. But here we go again. Spurs get the ball rolling for the second half.

9.20pm BST

On Sky Sports, Roy Keane is fuming at footage of the Spurs goal. The teeth are bared, the brow is furrowed, and there’s quite a lot of steam coming out of his lugs. “I’m shocked at that goal ... I’m fuming here, watching that game of football ... I can’t believe [spits] Shaw, heading the ball up in the air and then running forward ... I am staggered at Maguire, [with great emphasis] staggered at an international player getting done like this ... and I am sick to death of this goalkeeper. I would be fighting him at half time, there is no getting away from that. I would be swinging punches at that guy. This is a standard save for an established international goalkeeper. I am flabbergasted. Maguire! And De Gea ... I wouldn’t even let him on the bus after the match. Get a taxi back to Manchester. Shocking, I am disgusted. De Gea?! Maguire? Letting people run past you while playing for Manchester United? That De Gea is the most overrated goalkeeper I’ve seen in a long time.” He then suggests he would have saved the Son header De Gea tipped over too. In fact De Gea should have caught it. Patrice Evra and Kelly Cates allow themselves a smile and a guffaw, but as Cates cuts to commercials, Keane sits quietly fuming. Magnificent television. Swinging punches, a taxi home ... what a glorious tirade!

9.09pm BST

Half-time entertainment. Give our new Forgotten Stories podcast a whirl, you won’t regret it. The latest edition tells the wonderful story of Fred Spiksley, the outside-left who dabbled in film and became embroiled in a wartime escape mission.

Related: Fred Spiksley: wing wizard, film star and POW escapee – podcast

9.06pm BST

And that’s the end of the first half. United were beginning to get on top when Spurs broke and scored, a combination of Bergwijn’s brilliance and De Gea’s weak wrists. Since then, the hosts have been the better side. Some thinking to do for Ole at half-time. Will we see Pogba?

9.04pm BST

45 min +3: Fernandes jinks his way past Winks and lashes a swerver towards goal. Lloris is right behind it.

9.03pm BST

45 min +2: Wan-Bissaka and James combine down the right and earn a corner off Son. Fernandes takes. Maguire attacks it with a view of winning a header, but Dier gets in the way.

9.02pm BST

45 min +1: Aurier has a crack from the right-hand edge of the United D. The ball curls harmlessly wide left, never troubling the goal.

9.01pm BST

45 min: United could do with the half-time whistle. They’ll hear it in three minutes’ time.

8.59pm BST

43 min: ... Winks blazes over the bar from distance. The shot deflected off Fernandes’ toe, but Spurs aren’t getting the second corner they’re owed.

8.58pm BST

42 min: Lamela and Aurier work the ball wide right for Son, who has a belt from the edge of the box. The shot is deflected out for a corner, from which ...

8.57pm BST

41 min: Lamela taps Rashford on the ankle. He’s surely tested the referee’s patience once too often ... but no, still no booking. Then Dier barges into James. No foul, though it should be. James, a ball of frustration, hacks back at Dier, and into the book he goes.

8.56pm BST

40 min: A game of head tennis breaks out.

8.54pm BST

38 min: Something of a lull as the game gets scrappy, in the early/pre-season style.

8.54pm BST

36 min: Spurs are getting plenty of joy down the right. Sissoko, Aurier and Bergwijn ping a couple of triangles and nearly open United up. Not quite. Shaw has clearly been identified as a weak link by Mourinho. Like that’s breaking news.

8.51pm BST

34 min: Lindelof tries to shepherd a long Spurs punt out for a goal kick. Kane gives him a cheeky little shove in the back, and the ball deflects off him and out for a corner. Lindelof looks aggrieved, but that was careless. Nothing comes of the resulting corner, which is just as well for the Swede.

8.48pm BST

32 min: De Gea makes up for his mistake with a wonderful save! Bergwijn springs a rickety offside trap and romps down the right. He crosses deep for Son, who guides a header back across goal towards the top right. It’s heading in, but De Gea tips over the bar for a corner, from which nothing comes.

8.46pm BST

30 min: ... nothing much happens. United were very close to getting back on terms in short order, there.

8.46pm BST

29 min: A free kick for United out on the right. Fred curls it in. Rashford gets in ahead of Sanchez, but can’t get a clean header on target from six yards. The ball’s bundled out for a corner, from which ...

8.44pm BST

United were in the process of gaining the upper hand, but they’ve gone behind! Bergwijn picks up a Sissoko header, just inside the United half. He drives down the right, steps inside, leaving Maguire for dust, and batters a shot through De Gea and into the right-hand side of the net! It’s a hell of a run, and some finish, though the keeper might have done better.

8.42pm BST

26 min: Fernandes is beginning to call the shots. He slithers in from the left and rasps a fierce low shot straight at Lloris, who handles a fizzing ball extremely well. Seconds earlier, James skittered down the right but couldn’t find Rashford or Martial with a poor cross. United are on top here.

8.41pm BST

24 min: Drinks break! As the players imbibe, the virtual fans yammer on. “Football’s new normal, as everything is now tediously called, reminds me of the early years of soccerball in America where the visiting Alex Ferguson was amused by ‘the crowd cheering at all the wrong times’,” writes Justin Kavanagh. “I’m watching on NBC who give viewers the option of added crowd noise or not. How Lord Ferg would have liked that in the era of the noisy neighbours.”

8.39pm BST

22 min: Fernandes whips a ball in from the right. Sanchez’s clearing header is hopeless, and falls at the feet of Rashford, ten yards out just to the left of goal. His low drive, angled towards the bottom right, is kicked away adroitly by Lloris. United quickly come again, Fred having a batter from distance. Lloris deals with that one easily.

8.37pm BST

21 min: Fred drives down the middle of the park and is clumsily brought to ground by Davies. Yet another challenge that could easily have ended in a yellow card, but the ref’s in a good mood tonight.

8.35pm BST

19 min: Rashford swings one in from the left. Davies is forced to head out for a corner. Fernandes has two goes, and neither of them are particularly good. Spurs clear their lines.

8.34pm BST

17 min: Lamela wildly shoves McTominay from behind. He should go in the book but the referee opts to give Spurs a free one as well.

8.32pm BST

16 min: Then suddenly Spurs spring, latching onto a loose ball and pouring forward. Again Lamela has the opportunity to send a team-mate clear; again he hesitates and the chance to release Kane down the inside-left channel is gone.

8.31pm BST

15 min: United stroke it around the back awhile. They go nowhere, and Spurs are quite happy to sit back.

8.29pm BST

13 min: Son sashays in from the left, drops a shoulder, and makes space to shoot. He dribbles a miserable long-range effort towards the bottom left. It’s no problem for De Gea.

8.28pm BST

11 min: United stroke it around the back awhile. Then Wan-Bissaka suddenly rakes one down the right, nearly releasing Bruno Fernandes. Davies steps in to put a stop to Fernandes’ gallop, and Lamela bustles up the other end. He’s hauled back by McTominay, who is told by the referee in no uncertain terms to get his house in order. But there’s no yellow card. Next time he’ll probably not be so fortunate.

8.26pm BST

9 min: Lamela picks up the ball in the centre circle and should send Son clear down the middle. United’s defence is all over the shop! But Lamela dillies and dallies, making what looks like a simple pass extremely hard. When he eventually tries an elaborate chip, Son has wandered offside and the pass is wayward anyway. Son should have been bearing down on goal, one on one.

8.23pm BST

7 min: Shaw flicks a pass down the left for Rashford, who looks as though he’s got the beating of Johnson Sanchez. The pair come together, and it looks like a free kick to United, but the ref’s not interested and it’s just a goal kick.

8.22pm BST

6 min: A cute flick from Son on the left, inside to Lamela, who shuttles the ball on to Bergwijn. He lays off to Kane, who sprays a pass down the right for Aurier, in acres. Where’s Shaw?! Aurier tries a low diagonal shot that’s not great, although it deflects out for a corner. Nothing comes off the set piece. Both sides look in the mood to go for this.

8.20pm BST

4 min: McTominay is upended out on the left wing, punishment from winning the ball well off Bergwijn. The free kick’s hoicked into the mixer, and Rashford wins a header, the ball deflecting off Dier and out for a goal kick. But the flag goes up for offside, correctly so.

8.18pm BST

2 min: United, having got the ball rolling, are on the front foot quickly. A long ball pumped down the middle forces Dier to hack out under pressure from Martial. United commit plenty of men forwards, but lose possession from the throw and Bergwijn threatens to break clear. He can’t launch an attack but at least Spurs have cleared the danger.

8.17pm BST

The referee blows the whistle to get the game underway ... and all players take a knee. Black lives matter.

8.15pm BST

Before kick-off, there’s a minute of solemn reflection and polite applause, in memory of those who have lost their lives to the coronavirus. We’ll be off in a minute.

8.11pm BST

It’s a miserable evening in north London. Rain falling steadily at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Such a beautiful arena; so odd to see the stands completely empty. But here we are ... and here come the teams. Spurs are in their famous lilywhite, while Manchester United wear their equally storied red.

8.06pm BST

Ole speaks. “When you are happy outside football, you can be happy on the pitch as well. And Marcus Rashford is a fine human being, a fine young man, and he’s been looking really good in training. I think we’ll see the best of him. We’re excited to get back in the swing of things. Then again, the empty stadium and lack of emotion is going to be a new experience for the boys.”

8.05pm BST

Jose speaks. “We have options [at centre-half]. We try to analyse the moment, and that depends on the players’ bodies, how they react to this long period. United is a powerful team in counter-attack and we choose the two that can cope better with it. We want to play. We want the game to start, focus on the game, and forget the stadium is empty. When we start the game it cannot be strange, we have to focus.”

8.01pm BST

Black lives matter. Both teams warm up. Both teams send a loud and clear message to racists: do one.

7.35pm BST

Retro reports. Here’s what happened when Tottenham hosted Manchester United last season ...

Related: Rashford’s strike and De Gea’s brilliance earn Manchester United win over Spurs

Related: Rashford exposes Tottenham to ruin Mourinho’s Manchester United return

7.27pm BST

Harry Kane is back, fit for the first time since New Year’s Day. Meanwhile Eric Dier gets the nod ahead of Toby Alderweireld in the Spurs defence; Erik Lamela is preferred to Giovani Lo Celso up the other end; Tanguy Ndombele still hasn’t completely won Jose over and is on the bench; and Dele Alli is suspended for a social-media transgression. It gets everyone in the end, you’d all be well advised to turn it in.

Paul Pogba is fit again, but he only makes the Manchester United bench. Scott McTominay gets the midfield anchor role ahead of Nemanja Matic. And like Kane, Marcus Rashford plays for the first time since January.

7.19pm BST

Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris, Aurier, Sanchez, Dier, Davies, Sissoko, Winks, Son, Lamela, Bergwijn, Kane.
Subs: Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Lo Celso, Sessegnon, Gazzaniga, Ndombele, Skipp, Fernandes, White.

Manchester United: de Gea, Wan Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw, McTominay, Fred, James, Bruno Fernandes, Rashford, Martial.
Subs: Bailly, Pogba, Mata, Lingard, Romero, Ighalo, Greenwood, Matic, Williams.

4.00pm BST

The lockdown came at exactly the wrong time for Manchester United. Here’s what they did in their last 11 matches before the Premier League was suspended in March: Win! Win! Draw! Win! Draw! Win! Win! Draw! Win! Win! Win! The last six matches in that sequence saw them rattle up an aggregate score of 19-1. Their chops were up all right after that tricky start to the season.

Tottenham Hotspur were far happier to press pause. Here’s what they did in their last six matches before the lockdown: Lose! Lose! Ship a half-time lead to lose! Lose a penalty shoot-out before exchanging views with members of the crowd! Draw! Get thumped by Leipzig! The following three barren months have provided a welcome opportunity to take stock.

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'An unknown for all of us': Mourinho on Spurs' Premier League return – video

What the papers say - Thu, 06/18/2020 - 19:18

Tottenham manager José Mourinho spoke as his side prepare to face his former club Manchester United in their Premier League return on Friday.

'How the boys are going to react, how they are going to control their feelings, their emotions, or lack of it – playing in an empty stadium, it's the unknown for all of us,' he said. 

Mourinho confirmed that the previously injured Harry Kane, Son Heung-min and Moussa Sissoko will all start, but Dele Alli misses out through suspension

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Solskjær on Marcus Rashford: 'He's a top footballer and fantastic human being'

What the papers say - Thu, 06/18/2020 - 11:30
  • Manchester United manager backs Rashford to captain England
  • ‘He’s changed the lives of so many kids this summer’

Ole Gunnar Solskjær believes Marcus Rashford is a potential future England captain and says it is an honour to manage the Manchester United striker, whose campaign over free meals for schoolchildren forced a government U-turn.

On Tuesday Boris Johnson reversed a decision not to give vouchers for use in the summer holidays, with the prime minister praising Rashford and his determination on the issue. Rashford has also donated time and money to the FareShare charity, which has raised £20m to help feed vulnerable children.

Related: Marcus Rashford and other black athletes have run out of patience and are forcing change | Derek Bardowell

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The Guardian view on Marcus Rashford's triumph: a political masterclass | Editorial

What the papers say - Tue, 06/16/2020 - 18:31

By persuading the government to extend the free meal voucher scheme, the Manchester United footballer has taught the prime minister a lesson on solidarity

This Friday, Marcus Rashford will hope to play a starring role for Manchester United, as his team resumes its interrupted Premier League campaign. Even if the 22-year-old striker scores a match-winning hat-trick, it will still not come close to being his best performance of the week.

On Monday, Mr Rashford published an open letter to MPs. In it he called for an extension, through the summer holidays, of the voucher scheme that has provided children from poorer families with free meals during lockdown. With cool condescension, Downing Street initially let it be known that, though the footballer had used his fame to “highlight some very important issues”, Boris Johnson would not be taking up his idea. The scheme, it was needlessly pointed out, ordinarily operated only during term time.

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Marcus Rashford: Goalscorer who forced U-turn over school lunches | Jacob Steinberg

What the papers say - Tue, 06/16/2020 - 15:13

Manchester United striker’s campaign to extend free school meals programme, initially rejected by Boris Johnson, has struck a chord with the wider public

A young man renowned for hitting the target on and off the pitch. The Manchester United and England striker has a social conscience as vast as his footballing talent and has rarely put a foot wrong since bursting on to the scene as an unheralded 18-year-old in 2016. Rashford became an instant hero after hitting four goals in his first two games for United, underlined his potential by scoring three minutes into his England debut and has performed wonders for the community during the coronavirus pandemic, culminating in him forcing the government to row back on its decision not to extend its free school meals voucher system for low-income families in England over the summer holidays. Boris Johnson initially stood firm but the prime minister quickly discovered that Rashford was not going to budge. The 22-year-old kept urging Johnson to relent and he duly did so on Tuesday, announcing a new £120m voucher scheme. “I don’t even know what to say,” Rashford tweeted. “Just look at what we can do when we come together, THIS is England in 2020.”

Related: Boris Johnson makes U-turn on free school meals vouchers

Related: 'Protect the vulnerable': Marcus Rashford's open letter to MPs

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Grealish to Ndombele: six Premier League players with a point to prove

What the papers say - Tue, 06/16/2020 - 14:00

After a three-month hiatus, some players are in desperate need of a successful end to the season

Even before a lockdown during which he received a stern talking to from Arsenal for standing too close to his valet and then appearing to inhale nitrous oxide from a balloon, this has been a challenging campaign for Lacazette. After entering it as Arsenal’s player of the season, an early ankle injury stripped his confidence bare. His struggles in front of goal led to a nine-game drought until February, made worse by the fact that his presence shifted Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to the flank. This seems like an important opportunity for him to return with a clean slate and provide Mikel Arteta with some enthusiasm for his future at the club. Otherwise there will be many questions.

Related: Jack Grealish: 'I am a footballer but I’m still human. We all make mistakes'

Related: Paul Pogba's marriage of convenience with Manchester United may get unlikely spark | Jonathan Wilson

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Marcus Rashford speaks of experience with childhood poverty in bid for free school meals – video

What the papers say - Tue, 06/16/2020 - 10:22

Manchester United and England footballer Marcus Rashford has stepped up his campaign for the government to fund free meals for struggling children through the summer, a measure he says he had to rely on as a boy.

The 22-year-old has helped to raise million of pounds with charity FareShare UK to supply meals to families who are ‘existing on a knife’s edge’ and written an open letter to MPs to reconsider the decision to cancel the government’s food voucher scheme over the summer holidays.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast on Monday, Rashford said: ‘What families are going through now, I’ve once had to go through that and it’s very difficult to find a way out. It’s very important for me to help people who are struggling’

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Boris Johnson rejects Marcus Rashford's plea for summer free school meals

What the papers say - Mon, 06/15/2020 - 15:38
  • Manchester United striker wrote open letter requesting u-turn
  • Downing Street said prime minister would respond to Rashford

Boris Johnson has rejected a plea from Marcus Rashford to reconsider the government’s decision not to extend its free school meals voucher system for low-income families over the summer holiday period.

The Manchester United and England striker has urged politicians to perform a u-turn and ensure that vulnerable pupils can continue to access the national voucher scheme, which was introduced in March to help poorer families feed their children when schools were closed under lockdown measures.

Related: 'Protect the vulnerable': Marcus Rashford's open letter to MPs

Related: 'This has to stop': Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford join calls for change

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'Protect the vulnerable': Marcus Rashford's open letter to MPs

What the papers say - Mon, 06/15/2020 - 06:00

I would be doing myself, my family and my community an injustice if I didn’t stand here today with my voice and my platform and ask you for help

To all MPs in parliament,

On a week that would have opened Euro 2020, I wanted to reflect back to 27 May 2016, when I stood in the middle of the Stadium of Light in Sunderland having just broken the record for the youngest player to score in his first senior international match. I watched the crowds waving their flags and fist-pumping the Three Lions on their shirts and I was overwhelmed with pride not only for myself but for all of those who had helped me reach this moment and achieve my dream of playing for the England national team.

Related: Fears for gambling frenzy as Premier League and Championship return

Related: 'This has to stop': Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford join calls for change

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Premier League fans preview the restart, part 2: Man City to Wolves

What the papers say - Sun, 06/14/2020 - 08:01

Fans have their say on the run-in, the lockdown, and what they missed most – and least – about football
Part 1: Arsenal to Liverpool

This is the first time we’ve had a fully fit squad this season, with Laporte and Leroy back. And the various changes should suit City: Pep’s cerebral and intensely detailed brand of football should be easier to implement given the lack of emotion in the fixtures, and the ability to make five subs. That helps the bigger clubs.

Related: Premier League Project Restart: the key questions answered

Related: Premier League fans preview the restart, part 1: Arsenal to Liverpool

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Premier League restart preview No 12: Manchester United

What the papers say - Sat, 06/13/2020 - 11:59

Confidence was high going into the break and Paul Pogba’s and Marcus Rashford’s return could inspire a top-four finish

What was the situation like when the league was suspended on 13 March? United were almost as frustrated as Liverpool at the timing of the break. They had just completed their first league double over Manchester City in a decade and after an up and down season under Ole Gunnar Solskjær were looking a good bet – only three points behind Chelsea – for a fourth-place finish.

Related: Manchester United, Sheffield United and the case of Dean Henderson | Paul Doyle

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Manchester United agree for Dean Henderson to stay at Sheffield United

What the papers say - Fri, 06/12/2020 - 15:28
  • Goalkeeper in line to extend loan for rest of season
  • Deal agreed in principle and only final details remain

Dean Henderson is set to remain at Sheffield United on loan from Manchester United for the final matches of the elongated season, with an agreement for the goalkeeper to do so having been reached in principle by the clubs.

There are still some details to be ironed out, but it is expected to be done before 23 June – the deadline for clubs to extend the contracts players whose deals expire on 30 June.

Related: Manchester United, Sheffield United and the case of Dean Henderson | Paul Doyle

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Stoke scrap Manchester United friendly after O'Neill tests positive for Covid-19

What the papers say - Tue, 06/09/2020 - 23:06
  • Championship club confirm manager has virus
  • O’Neill already at Carrington when he learned of result

Stoke were forced to cancel a friendly against Manchester United at the last minute after learning that manager, Michael O’Neill, had tested positive for coronavirus.

The Championship side had already travelled to United’s Carrington training ground before the match was hastily called off.

Related: 'A disgrace': Peterborough furious as League One and League Two curtailed

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Manchester United, Sheffield United and the case of Dean Henderson | Paul Doyle

What the papers say - Tue, 06/09/2020 - 19:00

On-loan Blades keeper is due to back at Old Trafford on 30 June but his club would be subject to questions if they enforce it now

Manchester United have a clear opportunity to sabotage one of their closest rivals in the chase for Champions League qualification but it would belittle them to seize it. There has been a lot of talk about sporting integrity in recent months, sometimes to camouflage something more base, but the case of Dean Henderson is one where the spirit of the game leaves no doubt about the only respectable outcome.

Henderson has been on loan to Sheffield United since 2018, an initial season-long stint having been renewed last summer. The young goalkeeper was enjoying another excellent campaign until the Premier League was suspended on 13 March, the day after he turned 23.

Related: Sheffield United’s Chris Wilder: the old school manager with new ideas | Louise Taylor

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Tony Dunne, Manchester United European Cup winner, dies aged 78

What the papers say - Mon, 06/08/2020 - 23:07
  • Left-back was part of side that beat Benfica in 1968 final
  • Republic of Ireland international played 535 games for United

Tony Dunne, one of Manchester United’s European Cup heroes of 1968, has died at the age of 78.

The left-back Dunne was part of the side that famously lifted the trophy for the first time after defeating Benfica 4-1 at Wembley. The Republic of Ireland international spent 13 years at Old Trafford, having been signed by Sir Matt Busby for 5,000 in 1960, also winning two First Division titles and an FA Cup.

One of our greatest-ever full-backs. An integral part of the 1968 European Cup-winning side. A player who made 535 appearances in the red shirt of Manchester United.

Our heartfelt condolences go to the loved ones of Tony Dunne. May he rest in peace. pic.twitter.com/M8xYNdqMcU

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Paul Pogba's marriage of convenience with Manchester United may get unlikely spark | Jonathan Wilson

What the papers say - Sat, 06/06/2020 - 20:00

New reality caused by pandemic means a move away is unlikely and with the arrival of Bruno Fernandes the future looks much brighter for United

Last summer, as Manchester United toured Japan, Paul Pogba was openly talking about seeking “a new challenge somewhere else”. Frustrated at United’s failure to qualify for the Champions League and with the general sense of drift at the club, and in the expectation of a lucrative move, it made sense for him to be considering his future. A year on, it seems increasingly probable he will stay at Old Trafford. If Pogba does stay United will, for the first time since Alex Ferguson left, have a squad that looks vaguely coherent.

Nothing in football is certain – particularly where Mino Raiola, Pogba’s agent, is concerned – but the sport’s new economy militates against a move. Pogba’s contract expires next summer but United have the option of triggering an additional year. With advertising and sponsorship down, no immediate prospect of fans returning and a more general sense of uncertainty, it’s difficult to see any club being prepared to pay the sort of fee United would demand or the wages Pogba (and Raiola) would expect, particularly given he has managed five starts in the league this season because of an ankle injury. Even if a super-club does feel an urge to splash out, younger and more appealing talents have emerged to tempt them. Such is the fickle nature of these things.

Related: Manchester United warn of long-term economic effect of virus to clubs

Fernandes has been revelatory since his arrival – he appears the tactical key that makes everything else make sense

Related: Pogba and Rashford ready to return for Manchester United, says Solskjær

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'It's still ridiculous' – Van Persie's 2012-13 season at Manchester United

What the papers say - Wed, 06/03/2020 - 20:00

Jonny Evans and Anders Lindegaard pull back the curtain on how the Dutchman gave Sir Alex Ferguson his final title

This was Robin van Persie in the 2012-13 season: 26 goals, two hat-tricks and the Premier League golden boot. It was a campaign in which the Dutchman elevated new teammates and was the X factor in Manchester United’s 20th and most recent championship triumph.

Van Persie’s move from Arsenal in the summer of 2012 was the final masterstroke of Sir Alex Ferguson’s gilded 27-year tenure. The £24m purchase on 17 August had echoes of the Scot’s signing of Eric Cantona from Leeds United in November 1992 for £1m.

Related: Premier League at 25: the best player – Eric Cantona | Paul Doyle

Related: Manchester United v Galatasaray, 1993 – podcast

His biggest contribution was making everyone else 10% better. There was a sense nothing could stop us from winning

Related: Nemanja Matic: 'I've had my doubters. I knew I would prove them wrong'

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Premier League: the 10 most in-form players before lockdown

What the papers say - Wed, 06/03/2020 - 14:32

Harry Maguire, Mo Salah, Harvey Barnes and Sébastien Haller will be hoping to pick up where they left off

By Martin Laurence for WhoScored

With a return date now in place and anticipation building, it is easy to forget just how the season was left off. Bruno Fernandes had made a fine start to life in England after his arrival from Sporting in January, yet others had dipped. Having looked back at the last six rounds of fixtures, here are the 10 players who were enjoying the best form before the league was suspended in March.

Related: The footballer who signed his first EFL contract a fortnight before lockdown

Related: Football quiz: when Manchester United won the 2008 Champions League final

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Categories: What the papers say

Football quiz: when Manchester United won the 2008 Champions League final

What the papers say - Wed, 06/03/2020 - 11:54

Manchester United beat Chelsea in the first all-English Champions League final in 2008. Do you remember the details?

More Champions League final quizzes: 1999, 2005, 2006, 2012

Manchester United did not lose a game in the Champions League that season (the most recent winners who can say that). Which team beat Chelsea over 90 minutes earlier in the competition?

Liverpool

Fenerbahçe

Schalke

Olympiakos

What was the local time in Moscow when the game kicked off?

5.45pm

9pm

10.45pm

11.30pm

Which member of the Chelsea squad had already scored in a Champions League final before the game kicked off?

Michael Ballack

Nicolas Anelka

Juliano Belletti

Michael Essien

How many times did Alex Ferguson select the starting XI that he picked for this final?

One

Three

Six

Nine

Which players started at right-back?

Rafael and Ashley Cole

Fabio and Branislav Ivanovic

Wes Brown and Michael Essien

Mikaël Silvestre and Paulo Ferreira

Who scored in the game and the penalty shootout?

Cristiano Ronaldo

Frank Lampard

Ryan Giggs

No one

Who was the last player to touch the ball that night?

John Terry

Nicolas Anelka

Ryan Giggs

Edwin van der Saar

There were 14 penalties in the shootout. Who would have taken the 15th?

Rio Ferdinand

Nemanja Vidic

Owen Hargreaves

Carlos Tevez

This was the first all-English Champions League final, but not necessarily the first final between two clubs from the same country. Which country was the first to provide two finalists in the same year?

Italy

France

Germany

Spain

Which of these anniversaries did Manchester United observe in 2008?

40 years since they won their first European Cup

50 years since the Munich Air Disaster

100 years since they first won the league

All of the above

Fourteen Chelsea players made it on to the pitch that night. How many of them retired without having won the Champions League?

None

Two

Four

Six

When looking back at the final two decades later, Alex Ferguson said he had one regret about the night. What was it?

That he forgot to set his TV to record the game

That he did not deliver a line as iconic as “football, bloody hell” for the post-match interview

That he did not learn some Russian to speak to Vladimir Putin

That he did not find a place for Park Ji-Sung on the bench

Which Chelsea player followed up losing the Champions League final by losing the European Championship final a month later?

Juan Mata

Michael Ballack

Claude Makélélé

Nicolas Anelka

What went wrong for United during their celebrations?

Rio Ferdinand dropped and damaged the cup and it had to be taken away to be fixed

Their team bus broke down on the way to their after party

There power went off in the stadium at 2am and they had to light candles in the dressing room

They could not find any champagne

Why was Ferguson given "plenty of stick by the players" at the after party?

He said it was the 'happiest moment of his life' and his wife did not look amused

He had sworn on live TV after the game

He was wearing trainers

He got a little drunk and nearly fell off a chair while giving a speech

1 and above.

JT, is that you?

3 and above.

JT, is that you?

2 and above.

JT, is that you?

5 and above.

JT, is that you?

4 and above.

JT, is that you?

6 and above.

You made it to the final but lost on penalties

7 and above.

You made it to the final but lost on penalties

8 and above.

You made it to the final but lost on penalties

9 and above.

You made it to the final but lost on penalties

10 and above.

You made it to the final but lost on penalties

11 and above.

Sir Alex, is that you?

12 and above.

Sir Alex, is that you?

13 and above.

Sir Alex, is that you?

14 and above.

Sir Alex, is that you?

0 and above.

JT, is that you?

15 and above.

Sir Alex, is that you?

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