What the papers say
'To finish second in this group is always a success,' says Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho. His team missed the chance to finish top of its Champions League group as an understrength team lost 2-1 at Valencia, with an embarrassing own-goal by Phil Jones proving decisive. With first-place Juventus losing 2-1 at Young Boys, United could have jumped above the Italian team in Group H with a win at the Mestalla but manager Jose Mourinho's decision to play a virtual reserve lineup backfiredContinue reading...
• Manager insists campaign so far has still been a ‘success’
José Mourinho aimed another shot at his players, revealing his growing frustration as he insisted he had learned “nothing” and was not surprised by his team’s 2-1 defeat at Valencia.
Manchester United were unexpectedly handed the opportunity to finish top of their Champions League group but, while they wasted that chance and Mourinho admitted they could blame only themselves, he said he had no regrets about fielding a changed line-up and insisted that finishing second still represented “a success, never a failure”.Continue reading...
• Liverpool, Spurs and United face daunting prospects
The Premier League will supply a quarter of the teams in the Champions League last-16 draw, which will take place at 11am on Monday. Teams from the same country cannot be drawn against each other, and likewise teams who qualified from the same group. Group winners will be drawn against second-placed teams, with the top seed enjoying home advantage in the second leg. VAR will be used for the rest of the competition.Continue reading...
Manchester United are through to the next round of the Champions League, but we knew that already. They are also not very good, but then everyone knew that too. Switzerland’s Young Boys defeated Juventus 2-1 to gift United the chance to overhaul the Italian champions and take first place, but they could not accept it. Instead they were beaten 2-1 by Valencia, limping into the last 16. On this evidence, and the accumulated evidence of this season, it is hard to see them getting any further.
It was striking enough that United had got this far, securing a place in the knock-out phase already, given how poorly they have played; actually winning the group would have been too much. Yet that, unexpectedly, was a possibility. “I don’t think this result will be too important or make the difference,” Mourinho had admitted, while Sunday’s meeting with Liverpool was always going to take priority. Perhaps that lack of expectation helps justify this performance, but their failure to anticipate the opportunity to avoid Europe’s biggest teams might be one to regret now.Continue reading...
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Jones intercepts a cross from the right but heads it only as far as Soler, who takes a touch and swipes a terrific low shot with the outside of his right foot into the bottom corner from 12 yards.
14 min: The thinking when United’s lineup was revealed as that they’d be deployed in a 4-3-3 but it’s working out as more of a 4-1-4-1, with Fellaini stationed in front of the defence and Lukaku on his lonesome up front. If the lay behid the Belgian continues to be as stodgy, he’s in for a joyless day.
13 min: It’s slow and messy.
10 min: Valencia are temporarily down to 10 men as their left-back is off the pitch receiving treatment. United tap the ball around at a leisurely pace, going nowhere fast. Maybe that’s them being sporting. Honk!
8 min: The tempo of the early seconds has dropped, sad to say. Especially from United. It’s all starting to look a little dull.
5 min: Valencia play some tidy stuff in mindfield before Mina tries to send Batshuyai clear. He overhits his pass, but the striker applauds his intention.
3 min: Mina drives over a cross from the left. Romero dives through bodies to try to smother it. He does enough to clear.
1 min: Off we go. And in the opening seconds the pace is brisk and everyone looks eager for the ball. Rojo seems to be at left-back, Perreira in central midfield.
Here comes the teams. The hosts are in all white, while United sport their red jerseys with black shorts and white socks. By the sounds of it, the Mestalla is full and folks are mighty excited about what they are going to witness.
Asked what he hopes for today, Mourinho chuckles and replies: “I hope that Juventus doesn’t win and we win. But seriously, I don’t believe much that Juventus doesn’t win, but I have to believe that despite the many changes we make, people will try to motivate themselves ... and we will get a good result.” Specifically about Pogba and Lukaku, he says he wants them to use the match “to get their confidence levels back”.
Earlier to day United’s U-19s came from behind to beat Valencia 2-1 in the Uefa Youth League. And by, do we mean youth: in the 74th minute United’s manager, Nicky Butt, sent on substitute named Shola Shoretire. His age? 14 years and 314 days old. I was still struggling to get to grips with Subbuteo at that age.
“Valencia is playing against Valencia—it’s clearly going to be a draw, then,” quips Ric Arthur from Toronto. A reference there Unied’s right-back, making his third Champions League appearance of the season, which is one fewer than he has made in the Premier League.
Pogba, Perreira, Valencia and Lukaku all return as Mourinho makes eight changes to the lineup that started last Saturday’s stroll around Fulham. Youngster James Garner and Mason Greenwood are on the bench. Meanwhile, Valencia give a rare outing to goalkeeper Jaume Domenech and left-back Lato
Valencia: Domenech; Piccini, Ruben Vezo, Diakhaby, Lato; Soler, Kondogbia, Parejo, Cheryshev; Batshuayi, Mina
Hello. Meaningless matches don’t exist for Manchester United, especially not these days. Nothing much is at stake here in terms of qualification for the knockout stages because United are already through, most probably as runners-up in Group H unless Young Boys today do to Juventus something even more shocking than PSV did to Inter yesterday, and Valencia already have a spot in the Europa League. But if United merely go through the motions here, then José Mourinho can expect more flak, as can certain players. Paul Pogba’s performance will be particularly interesting, assuming Mourinho was not fibbing about giving him a start.
The midfielder is said to have been shocked at being dropped for United’s last two matches but his team did fine without him. So how will he respond? Produce his best and vindicate Mourinho but probably regain a starting place for the weekend’s showdown with Liverpool? Or drift through the game like an unhappy soul searching for a more understanding environment? Andreas Pereira is another interesting case: he is scheduled to make his first start since his dreadful display at Brighton in August. Perhaps this will be a more comfortable setting for him, given that he spent last season on loan at Valencia and did well.Continue reading...
• José Mourinho has omitted midfielder for two matches
• Scott McTominay preferred for 15 minutes against Fulham
Paul Pogba has been left shocked at being dropped by José Mourinho, with the Manchester United midfielder left out of the starting XI for the past two games, against Arsenal and Fulham.
The relationship between the midfielder and his manager has been rocky since the start of the season. Yet despite Mourinho having terse words for Pogba privately and publicly, the France international did not expect to be left out of the XI.Continue reading...
Bournemouth are looking threadbare, Pep Guardiola shows the stomach for a fight and Leicester pine for Jamie Vardy
With the issues piling up in terms of Arsenal’s defensive composition, it almost passed unnoticed that against Huddersfield they managed a league clean sheet – their first since September. Centre‑back concerns felt strongly under the microscope at the end of a week when Rob Holding suffered a cruciate injury, Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Shkodran Mustafi picked up simultaneous suspensions for their yellow card count, and the German skulked off with an injury in any case. Unai Emery has to find, to borrow an old Wengerism, internal solutions for Sunday’s game at Southampton. Stephan Lichtsteiner and Nacho Monreal, career full-backs, could be drafted in to a back three. Laurent Koscielny has not played for seven months and was not deemed fit enough to come on against Huddersfield. Emery will have to make do and mend. Amy LawrenceContinue reading...
• Striker has had to lose muscle mass he put on for Belgium
• ‘I wasn’t playing with enough intensity or aggression’
Romelu Lukaku has revealed that he bulked up for Belgium’s World Cup campaign during the summer and admitted having to lose the added weight as it was hampering his form for Manchester United.
The forward was United’s top scorer last season with 27 goals in all competitions. He has struggled this time around, however, with his goal in Saturday’s 4-1 win over Fulham only Lukaku’s second for the club since mid-September. So far this season, Lukaku has scored six in 20 United appearances, a return that caused José Mourinho to drop him for the recent games against Arsenal and Southampton.Continue reading...
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José Mourinho praised his team’s effort after Manchester United thrashed Fulham 4-1 at Old Trafford. The result ended United’s run of four games without a win and Mourinho said the convincing nature of their victory should earn the ‘respect’ of fans.
He confirmed that Paul Pogba, an unused substitute against Fulham, will return to the starting lineup against Valencia next week, adding that the game would be a chance for the France midfielder to ‘show everyone how good he is’.Continue reading...
If only Manchester United could play Fulham every week people might begin to take them more seriously. The joke before kick-off at Old Trafford was that Liverpool had done United a favour by winning so handsomely at Bournemouth, because goal difference might be important in the battle for eighth place.
Enter the Premier League’s bottom club, with a performance to prove that the table does not lie, and suddenly United are not just above Bournemouth but up to sixth. Admittedly Everton do not play until Monday but José Mourinho will take what he can at the moment. “We are unbeaten in four league games,” the allegedly happy one said beforehand, which was one way of putting positive spin on the fact that United had not won since before Bonfire Night.Continue reading...
Manchester United ever being relegated is now unthinkable but when it was a reality the club were revitalised
There was a good story at the start of this week’s BT Sport documentary Too Good To Go Down, a highly watchable 90-minute blockbuster about Manchester United’s relegation in 1973. Ten minutes into the film the United winger Willie Morgan starts to talk about Wilf McGuinness, who enjoyed an uneasy succession to Matt Busby.Continue reading...
José Mourinho’s distinctly odd campaign had its latest instalment in Jorge Mendes’s statement on Friday that said his client will not be vacating his post at Manchester United. He may, though, have zero say if United fail to beat Fulham, the bottom side, as sooner rather than later Mourinho has to start winning matches consistently. There has been no Premier League victory for over a month and United are a yawning 18 points behind Manchester City. Something, surely, has to change. Jamie Jackson
Saturday 3pmContinue reading...
Post on Manchester United’s Facebook page received more than 43,000 negative reactions
Premier League football teams including Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea have received thousands of homophobic responses on social media for showing solidarity with Stonewall’s pro-LGBT Rainbow Laces campaign.
Over the past two weeks the clubs have been posting pictures on social media of rainbow-striped logos and messages to back the annual campaign, which was launched by Stonewall in 2013 to kick out homophobia in football.Continue reading...
• ‘Day we are stronger defensively the horizons for Fred change’
José Mourinho has said that Fred, his only major summer signing, will struggle for selection until Manchester United are “defensively stronger”.
The Brazilian cost £50m but has been dropped by the manager, with the midfielder not in the 18-man squad for Wednesday’s 2-2 draw with Arsenal at Old Trafford. He has also been an unused substitute in five of the last seven games.Continue reading...
Today’s fluff is sniffly
Manchester United are said to be prepared to pay £40m to nab Mauricio Pochettino from Tottenham. Bit steep, though. Maybe Ed Woodward could just come back to Old Trafford with the much cheaper and the much more available Mauricio Pellegrino. Would anyone notice?
Maybe. In that case, United could just stick with PROVEN WINNER Jose Mourinho, the PROVEN WINNER who finds himself in an impressive eighth place after 15 games.Continue reading...
Chelsea are fragile before meeting Manchester City, Manchester United at home to the bottom club no longer looks a walkover and will it be same old for Saints despite a new manager?
It is far too early for any “I’m Sarri I haven’t a clue” headlines but the past few weeks have given a more accurate impression of the job Chelsea’s manager faces. Their defeat by Wolves was sloppy, particularly given they looked comfortable at 1-0 up, and with an evisceration by Spurs still fresh in the memory Sarri is presented with his first real bump in the road. The odds on things improving this Saturday, when Manchester City visit Stamford Bridge, are unpromising but Sarri has always been aware this would be a rebuilding effort and the squad still requires a mini overhaul if the gap with City is to be closed in the long term. The setback at Molineux proved that Sarri does not yet have the facility to rest key players: Jorginho, who stayed on the bench throughout, was missed and greater depth is surely a priority in January. City may show Chelsea how far there is to go; the hope must be that those in the club’s corridors of power are, for once, sympathetic. NAContinue reading...
Drip, drip, drip.
Watching Manchester United these days has taken on a strangely repetitive quality. Usually when giants flounder there is a grim fascination in seeing them fail, in watching players raised on success having to deal with defeat and misfortune. But not now, not any more. United grind on. They pick up some points, they drop some points. Nothing much changes. The narrative seems to have stalled. They have good players who can get them goals but they have a propensity for chaos that means 15 games into the season they have a negative goal difference. The slow erosion of everything Manchester United have been goes on.Continue reading...
Manchester United and Arsenal played out a gripping draw as José Mourinho's side twice responded to freakish goals and secured a share of the spoils at Old Trafford. Jesse Lingard secured a 2-2 draw just 75 seconds after a Marcos Rojo own goal put Arsenal back into the lead. It was a frantic, and at times feisty, encounter, which saw Unai Emery's Arsenal rack up a 20th unbeaten game in all competitions. Another winless league game leaves United off the pace in the top-four huntContinue reading...
• Draw with Arsenal means United winless in four league games
• ‘Our problem is we need a performance without the mistakes’
José Mourinho insisted he was “not under siege” but was still left frustrated by Manchester United’s 2-2 draw with Arsenal at Old Trafford, saying his team had yet again been their own worst enemies.
The manager had gone into the game under pressure following their tame 2-2 draw at Southampton and the opening up of an eight-point gap with Arsenal for the final Champions League place. It is now four league games without a win for United, but Mourinho was defiant when he was asked about that record on Tuesday night.Continue reading...