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Manchester United’s recruitment has been dysfunctional, admits Ed Woodward

Thu, 10/17/2019 - 23:17
• Chief executive says ‘non-experts’ not deciding football policy
• Woodward confirms belief in Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s abilities

Ed Woodward believes the perception he and other non-experts are making decisions over football policy at Manchester United is “insulting”, though the executive vice-chairman admits recruitment strategy was dysfunctional in the wake of Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement.

Related: Debt £511m but dividends galore: the Glazers’ legacy at Manchester United | David Conn

Related: Ole Gunnar Solskjær needs more time and respect at Manchester United | Rob Smyth

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Debt of £511m but dividends galore: the Glazers’ legacy at Manchester United | David Conn

Thu, 10/17/2019 - 16:20
John Henry’s FSG has put in a net £100m at Liverpool in nine years but at Manchester United the financial backdrop to their on-field struggles is very different

Through the long years when Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United were amassing trophies and cash, and Liverpool were stagnating in a derelict neighbourhood, Anfield could only dream of today’s reversal of fortunes. Liverpool, rebuilt and rebooted since 2010 under their US investor owners, arrive on Sunday as European champions and Premier League leaders at an Old Trafford groaning under United’s US owners, who have plundered the club and bungled the Ferguson succession.

Liverpool’s owners, John Henry’s Fenway Sports Group, did not fully understand what they were taking on when they bought a club so steeped in history and emotion, but they learned from their early missteps and gradually refurbished Anfield with expertise. United’s owners, the six siblings of the Glazer family, bought the club in their debt‑loading raid in 2005, enjoyed the fruits of Ferguson’s genius but are now on their fourth manager since his 2013 retirement with their former banker Ed Woodward in charge of the club.

Related: The big difference between Manchester United and Liverpool? Leadership | Eni Aluko

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The big difference between Manchester United and Liverpool? Leadership | Eni Aluko

Thu, 10/17/2019 - 11:56

United’s shortsighted approach has left Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side lacking character – especially compared with Klopp’s team

Liverpool go to Manchester United on Sunday top of the table, nearly eight months since they last dropped a league point, and knowing that another victory could leave United as low as 17th by the end of the weekend. Based on performances this season it is hard to see how this United team can hurt Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool, but perhaps the worst thing about the failure they are experiencing is that I believe they have no choice but to just live with it, for now at least.

By the end of his time in Manchester José Mourinho was making everybody miserable – his players, anyone forced to regularly watch them, and even himself. United were pretty much unbearable before he was sacked last December. But though the Portuguese is not widely associated with free-flowing football there is one thing he guarantees: trophies. In sacking him United effectively announced that some things – particularly a commitment to youth and attacking football – were more important to them than trophies.

Related: Ralf Rangnick: ‘I have to influence areas of development across the whole club’

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Ole Gunnar Solskjær needs more time and respect at Manchester United

Wed, 10/16/2019 - 20:16
The choice is simple: potential long-term success under Solskjær or guaranteed long-term failure under a load of different managers

It has been widely reported, not entirely without glee, that Manchester United have had their worst start to a league season since 1989-90. Plenty of those reports have excluded one not insignificant detail; that the manager of the club back then was Alex Ferguson.

Related: Paul Pogba and David de Gea to miss Manchester United v Liverpool

Solskjær inherited an inadequate, poisonous mess of a squad and now he has a major injury crisis as well

It would be unfair to say there is an anti-Solskjær agenda in the media but there is certainly an anti-Solskjær mood

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Paul Pogba and David de Gea to miss Manchester United v Liverpool

Wed, 10/16/2019 - 19:44
• Spain goalkeeper will have scan on a groin problem
• Pogba has been out of action with a foot injury

Paul Pogba has been ruled out of Manchester United’s Premier League match against Liverpool, with Ole Gunnar Solskjær also expecting David de Gea will be unavailable. The absence of two of key players for Sunday is a sizeable blow as the manager seeks to arrest a form slump in which United have not won in the league for more than a month.

Related: Ole Gunnar Solskjær needs more time and respect at Manchester United

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Premier League: the players whose stats have improved most this season

Wed, 10/16/2019 - 12:37

De Bruyne, Mahrez, McTominay, Traoré, Guendouzi and Matip are, according to our stats, playing much better than last season

By Martin Laurence for WhoScored

With more than a fifth of the Premier League season now behind us, the table is taking shape and players have had time to get back up to speed. Some have done so significantly faster than others and really kicked on compared to their performances last season. Here are six players who have made big improvements on their showings last season.

Related: Premier League: 10 standout statistics from the season so far

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Football transfer rumours: Mario Mandzukic to Manchester United?

Tue, 10/15/2019 - 09:55

Today’s whispers need to get a new Hive

Mario Mandzukic, without a minute of competitive football since May, is top of Manchester United’s shopping list in January. The Croatian is more out of favour at Juventus than Paul Simon at an Art Garfunkel gig, and seems set to sit on the sidelines until the January transfer window rolls around, having been left out entirely of the Old Lady’s Champions League squad.

United, meanwhile, are woefully short of options up top, with Tony Martial injured, Mason Greenwood a bit, um, green, and Marcus Rashford seemingly doing his best work these days off the left flank. Rumours are rampant that United already have a verbal agreement to sign Mandzukic in January, with the 33-year-old commanding a £9m fee and a £85,000-a-week contract. Ed Woodward always gets what he wants.

Related: Ryan Giggs and Daniel James under fire over actions after head collision

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Liverpool stride out of City’s shadow but can they win from the front? | Paul Wilson

Mon, 10/14/2019 - 16:12

After a perfect Premier League start Jürgen Klopp’s team must adapt to the pressure of holding their nerve while well ahead

When the Premier League resumes at the weekend all eyes will be on Old Trafford to see whether Manchester United can become the first team to take points off Liverpool.

On the face of it such an outcome seems unlikely, even if derbies often have a life of their own. United have been terrible in the last few weeks, leading to fevered speculation over Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s future and the wisdom of appointing him in the first place, while Liverpool have sailed on so serenely that Jürgen Klopp’s team building and tactics are now attracting more attention than Pep Guardiola’s at Manchester City.

Related: Alisson ready for injury return as Liverpool visit Manchester United

Related: Manchester City flirt with defensive dark side as Death Star’s flaws emerge | Jonathan Wilson

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Alisson ready for injury return as Liverpool visit Manchester United

Mon, 10/14/2019 - 12:10
• Goalkeeper has been out with calf injury for nine weeks
• Mohamed Salah is expected to recover from ankle injury

Liverpool will have Alisson available for the visit to Manchester United on Sunday after their first-choice goalkeeper stepped up his recovery from injury during the international break.

Related: Liverpool’s Harvey Elliott banned by FA over video mocking Harry Kane

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Premier League reserves: where kids on £300 a week mix with millionaires

Thu, 10/10/2019 - 10:52

Héctor Bellerín played well for Arsenal Under-23s while returning from injury, but not every big star is a great example

By Gavin Willacy for Playing in the Shadows

Most of the Arsenal Under-23 team will have been unfazed by the thought of playing Liverpool at Meadow Park in Borehamwood in front of a crowd of 358. But a few of them may have been starstruck when they looked around and saw Héctor Bellerín in their defence. Bellerín’s appearance was unusual for two reasons. Star players returning from injury usually play for less than an hour and only do so in reserve games at the club’s own stadium. Bellerín played the full 90 minutes at a local non-league ground, setting up Arsenal’s second equaliser in a 2-2 draw.

Lining up alongside an established international should help the young Arsenal players develop. However, star names often prove as much aggro as they are worth for Under-23s managers. One told me: “We get different first-team players every game and it’s always for the benefit of the first team – not us. I never know who I’m getting until the day before a game, or even later. Put it this way: I never write out my team until I get to the ground! If we’re playing away, unless it’s close or we’re playing at a decent stadium, I assume I won’t get any first-team players. But if we’re at home and there’s no first-team game for a while, I might get half a dozen.”

Related: The Dutch model of developing young footballers: let them sink or swim

Related: 'The public only see the highs': the reality of Premier League youth teams

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Manchester United take safety action after death of fan at Old Trafford

Wed, 10/09/2019 - 12:20

• 80-year-old died from head injuries sustained in 2017
• United say they have acted upon coroner’s recommendations

Manchester United say they have taken steps to improve fan safety following the death of a supporter after a fall at Old Trafford two years ago.

Richard John Whale, 80, died from head injuries sustained after falling down a flight of steps while leaving the Sir Alex Ferguson stand towards the end of a game against Manchester City in December 2017.

Related: Steve Bruce gets Alex Ferguson’s advice before Manchester United’s visit

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Premier League: 10 standout statistics from the season so far

Wed, 10/09/2019 - 11:48

Leicester love a tackle, Villa like a scrap, Wolves enjoy a late goal, Watford can’t finish and Arsenal still don’t know how to defend

By Martin Laurence for WhoScored

Despite their poor run of form, Ole Gunnar Solskjær has commended the spirit of his Manchester United players. However, the numbers tell a different story. When a team is short of ideas and quality in attack, it is always a good idea to go back to the basics of defending to rebuild. But United simply do not work hard enough to regain possession. They have won fewer tackles and interceptions combined (125 tackles and 66 interception) than any other team in the division. They are not be far behind Manchester City and Liverpool in those statistics but, crucially, United are not keeping the ball as well or pressing as effectively. They have won the ball in the attacking third just 27 times compared to City’s 49 and Liverpool’s 57.

Related: When Manchester United had an even worse start to the season ... in 1989

Related: Mauricio Pochettino and his broken Spurs hit their lowest ebb | David Hytner

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Bastian Schweinsteiger announces retirement from football at age of 35

Tue, 10/08/2019 - 17:16
  • Midfielder made final appearance in 5-2 win for Chicago Fire
  • German won World Cup and Champions league during career

The former Bayern Munich, Germany and Manchester United midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger has announced his retirement from football at the age of 35.

“Dear fans, the time has now come, and I will be finishing my active career at the end of this season,” he wrote in a post on social media on Tuesday. “I would like to thank both you, my teams FC Bayern, Manchester United, Chicago Fire and the German national team. You made this unbelievable time possible for me!

The Time has now come: I would like to thank both, you and my teams @FCBayern, @ManUtd, @ChicagoFire and @DFB_Team and of course @AnaIvanovic and my family for their support!

Thank you! pic.twitter.com/jNSrXGNpxF

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Buy a classic sport photograph: Alex Ferguson's hairdryer treatment

Tue, 10/08/2019 - 07:00

The fourth of a new Guardian Print Shop series featuring classic sports images from the likes of Gerry Cranham, Mark Leech and Tom Jenkins – yours to own for only £55 including delivery

What better way to depict Sir Alex Ferguson in a photograph? If there’s one football manager synonymous with ranting on the sidelines at players and officials, it’s the fiery Scotsman. This picture of Fergie was shot during a first division match against Luton in October 1987, less than a year after he joined Manchester United. At that point in time, he had every reason to chastise his players: old, unfit and too keen on booze, many of them were soon shipped out of the club and, over time, replaced with young academy prospects, precipitating the greatest period of domestic dominance in the Premier League era. Ferguson claimed 38 trophies at United – including 13 Premier League titles, five FA Cups and two Champions Leagues. By the time of his retirement in 2013, everyone from David Beckham to Cristiano Ronaldo could attest to the fury of Fergie’s so-called ‘hairdryer treatment’.

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Manchester United’s crisis is not of Solskjær’s making but can he fix it? | Paul Wilson

Tue, 10/08/2019 - 00:01
Manager’s limitations are being exposed on a weekly basis but the problems at United run deeper than the dugout

Should Ole Gunnar Solskjær need cheering up at any point in the next few days he can at least reflect that Manchester United are still the club everyone is talking about. In terms of the title race Manchester City’s defeat by Wolves was the shock of the weekend, the result absolutely no one was expecting, yet it was United’s altogether more predictable failure at Newcastle that has dominated the news agendas.

Related: Newcastle’s Matty Longstaff stuns Manchester United with goal on debut

Related: When Manchester United had an even worse start to the season ... in 1989

Related: Manchester misery, Figo in Guildford and lads, it's Tottenham – Football Weekly

Twitter: follow us at @guardian_sport

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Marcus Rashford the biggest victim of Manchester United fall from grace | Jonathan Wilson

Mon, 10/07/2019 - 10:00

United’s lack of an overarching plan is now clear for all to see, with Ole Gunnar Solskjær not entirely free from blame

Where does this rank in the litany of dreadful Manchester United performances? Not quite as bad, perhaps, as the equivalent game of the 1989-90 season, the last to start as badly as this, when in their eighth match they went down 5-1 at Manchester City. And not as bad, probably, as the 5-0 humbling at Crystal Palace in December 1972 that brought an end to Frank O’Farrell’s term as manager. But this was bad – bad enough that it is challenging for the post-war podium.

Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s mood after the game was reasonable and sad, but also vaguely numb as though he were in shock. There was no obvious anger, no great emotion, just a struggling man clinging desperately to the pat phrases of his profession: belief in the tactics, the need to work harder, perhaps a tweak before the game against Liverpool after the international break. But this needs more than a tweak; this needs a revolution, not only of tactics but of morale and self-belief – and probably personnel.

Related: Newcastle’s Matty Longstaff stuns Manchester United with goal on debut

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Football rumours: Mauricio Pochettino to Manchester United?

Mon, 10/07/2019 - 09:11

Today’s tell-all is on an international break

While opinions vary on who exactly is responsible for the current mess in which Manchester United find themselves, the Rumour Mill is prepared to take the holistic view that there is plenty of blame to go around. But while the owners, their executive vice-chairman and assorted players are all culpable to varying degrees, it is the first-team manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær who will ultimately be scapegoated once the denizens of Old Trafford turn on the club hierarchy and demand something approaching a bang for their buck.

Following yet another defeat for his team, arguably the worst Manchester United side in Premier League history, the vultures of the bookmaking community are circling overhead after slashing his odds of being the next Premier League manager out of a job. Having previously been of a mind to hire Mauricio Pochettino, before making the knee-jerk decision to over-promote Solskjær in a misguided attempt to ingratiate himself upon the fans, Ed Woodward will be monitoring the current situation at White Hart Lane with morbid fascination.

Related: Mauricio Pochettino and his broken Spurs hit their lowest ebb | David Hytner

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Premier League: 10 talking points from the weekend’s action

Mon, 10/07/2019 - 08:24

City need De Bruyne fit, Connolly is a rising star at Brighton and Everton’s Silva should beware the international break

Unai Emery, in his programme notes for the game against Bournemouth, spoke about the importance of balance and how he wants his side to be “competitive both defensively and offensively”. That is excellent in theory but it needs to be put into practice and yet again on Sunday there was little evidence of that. Arsenal won but they did not play well and the most glaring issue is the lack of an obvious plan. Are Arsenal meant to press aggressively, and if so why did that part of their game drop off so alarmingly? Are they meant to dominate possession, and if so why do their midfielders appear to spend more time running than playing passes? It is confusing and while injuries are an issue for Emery, particularly in regards to his first‑choice full-backs, it is fair to expect that after more than a year in charge his vision for the team would be much clearer. Sachin Nakrani

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Solskjær apologises as Bruce praises Matty Longstaff after Newcastle beat Manchester United – video

Mon, 10/07/2019 - 08:14

'I've got to say sorry to the fans,' Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær said after 1-0 loss to lowly Newcastle United. He said the team didn't seem to be able to control the ball: 'It was a hot potato ... bouncing off our feet.' 

Newcastle United manager Steve Bruce said he was delighted to get his first win over Manchester United as a manager

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‘Not acceptable’: David de Gea speaks out after Manchester United defeat

Sun, 10/06/2019 - 21:13
• Goalkeeper apologises to fans after United beaten at Newcastle
• Solskjær admits finishing in the top six will be ‘very tough’

A bewildered looking David de Gea described Manchester United’s form as “unacceptable” as a 1-0 defeat at Newcastle United left Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side only two points above the relegation zone.

The Spain goalkeeper joined his manager in apologising to travelling fans after a Newcastle counterattack following a visiting corner led to 19-year-old Matty Longstaff scoring the winning goal on his Premier League debut for Steve Bruce’s previously struggling side.

Related: Newcastle 1-0 Manchester United: Premier League - as it happened

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