What the papers say

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Inert, fearful Manchester United miss chance to escape their suspended reality | Jonathan Liew

Wed, 05/26/2021 - 23:36

Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side left their fate to spot-kicks and remain a big team who so often lose the big matches

In the end it all came down to this: goalkeeper against goalkeeper, winner takes all. For more than two hours Manchester United and Villarreal had circled each other like staggering boxers: tired limbs throwing tired punches and running through thick mud. The 61st game of Manchester United’s season and the 57th game of Villarreal’s unfolded in a manner we should probably have predicted. But as of 12.54am in Gdansk, as David de Gea stood over his fateful kick, all possibilities remained ridiculously open.

It was a game in which United began as favourites, went into half-time as underdogs, looked to have it in the bag by the hour and ended up losing in flabbergasting circumstances. In many ways it was an evening that summed up their season: oscillating wildly between extreme competence and extreme lethargy, sometimes in the same game, occasionally even in the same attack. By the end, it felt as if United were grateful simply to still be there. For Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s team, the means justified the soul-crushing end.

Related: Villarreal beat Manchester United 11-10 on penalties to win Europa League final

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Villarreal beat Manchester United 11-10 on penalties to win Europa League final

Wed, 05/26/2021 - 23:02

Manchester United suffered European heartache after a cruel 11-10 penalty shootout defeat via the unfortunate boot of David de Gea, who stroked his kick to the left of Gerónimo Rulli, whose save made him Villarreal’s hero.

It is always hard for whoever loses this way and for the goalkeeper to miss the vital spot-kick seems particularly cruel.

Related: Villarreal v Manchester United: Europa League final goes to extra time – live!

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Villarreal v Manchester United: Europa League final – live!

Wed, 05/26/2021 - 19:11

7.11pm BST

I’m going to take a short coffee break. See you in a peedie while.

7.09pm BST

@united_writing I also love the "Yellow Submarine"'s tops. The Aeroport Castelló classic from 2005 is odd in that the airport wasn't declared open until 2011 and then didn't receive its first flight until 2015.

I look forward to an English team being sponsored by Heathrow Third Runway next season.

7.07pm BST

Gerard Moreno is the biggest threat to Manchester United. He will almost certainly start for Spain at Euro 2021, and only Lionel Messi scored more goals in La Liga this season. Santi Cazorla, chatting on BT Sport, says he is “one of the best players in the world”.

7.03pm BST

Harry Maguire is among the United substitutes, though I’m not sure why as he has no chance of playing. Maybe it’s so that he gets a medal if United win. I’ll level with you: I haven’t a clue!

Villarreal (4-4-2) Rulli; Foyth, Albiol, Torres Pedraza; Yeremi, Capoue, Parejo, Trigueros; Moreno, Bacca.
Substitutes: Asenjo, Mario Gaspar, Funes Mori, Raba, Estupinan, Alcacer, Moreno, Coquelin, Pena, Jaume Costa, Moi Gomez, Nino.

6.54pm BST

Yeremy Pino, the thrilling 18-year-old who scored at Real Madrid on Saturday, starts for Villarreal. But there’s no Samuel Chukwueze, not even on the bench.

Here's how the Yellows will line up in Gdansk for the historic game.

Let's go, Villarreal! #UELFinal#ItsOurTime pic.twitter.com/GN2A9AFSx3

6.52pm BST

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has chosen an unusually attacking line-up, with Paul Pogba playing alongside Scott McTominay in the centre of midfield. That’s a risk with a Maguireless defence, and, since you asked, not the team I’d have picked.

There are no other surprises - David de Gea and Eric Bailly are preferred to Dean Henderson and Axel Tuanzebe.



Presenting our final starting line-up of the season ⬇#MUFC | #UELfinal

6.49pm BST

United have played in seven European finals, which is pretty modest for such a giant club. They have won five (1968, 1991, 1999, 2008, 2017) and lost two, both to Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona (2009, 2011). Anyway, enough of all that guff - the teams are in!

6.44pm BST

Of all the things to love about Villarreal, their kit is right up there. This season’s isn’t quite as good as the Aeroport Castello classic, but I’d still be proud to wheeze my way round a five-a-side pitch in it. And if they win tonight, it will have an enduring cachet.

6.41pm BST

Suited and booted @paulpogba #UELfinal pic.twitter.com/axTOL1q1Qw

6.34pm BST

Anniversary of the 4-0 win against Brighton. Does anyone from Villarreal wear a headband? #steviefosterwhatadifferenceyouhavemade

Never happened, Gordon Smith scored.

6.31pm BST

Related: Unai Emery the Europa League master plots Manchester United’s downfall

6.31pm BST

Related: Solskjær senses final moment to complete season of personal triumph

6.30pm BST

Of United’s likely starters, the only players with experience of a European final (I think) are David de Gea, Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford. That’s fairly surprising given United won this trophy four years ago. A lot has changed since then. Some of the probable subs have also played in European finals, including Juan Mata, Donny van de Beek and Nemanja Matic.

6.24pm BST

Here’s Paul Doyle’s Fiver, which includes the best and possibly only Gdansk joke I’ve read.

Related: The Fiver | Try telling Villarreal that this is a rinky-dink tournament

6.23pm BST

“It’s funny,” writes Niall Mullen, though he doesn’t appear to be laughing. “Until recently I had no real feelings towards Villarreal but just this morning I got the overwhelming urge to support them. Go figure.”

6.20pm BST

On today of all days

Related: ‘Honour Sir Matt’: Manchester United urged by Solskjær to win final for Busby

6.06pm BST

Cliffs Notes: Villarreal

This is a really brilliant piece from Sid on what this game means to Villarreal. If they do win, only the most one-eyed United fan will begrudge them.

Europa League final day. Villarreal covered for you...
—Here’s the story of how a club that had never been in the first division, in a town of just 50,000, with barley 2,500 fans grew into a European regular.https://t.co/oAxwJNTxlr

6.01pm BST

We’ll have a leisurely build up to kick off, including team news at around 6.45pm BST. While United are without Harry Maguire, Villarreal’s exciting Samuel Chukwueze should be fit for at least a place on the bench. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a few decisions to make, as discussed here.

There are at least three dilemmas for #Solskjaer as he picks his #MUFC team for tonight. #RobSmyth and I discuss them in this chat for @united_writing. Warning: may contain jokes about defensive midfieldershttps://t.co/hLCCXkTG4r

6.01pm BST

Previously on...

2005-06

Related: Rooney banned for two games

5.27pm BST

Hello and welcome to live coverage of the Europa League final between Villarreal and Manchester United in Gdansk. Styles make fights - but so do backstories, and when this match kicks off the score will be Villarreal 0-45 Manchester United. That’s the number of major trophies won by each side. Villarreal have never been in a major final before, at home or in Europe, and even the newspaper formerly known as the Manchester Guardian appreciates how beautiful it will be if they win tonight.

It’s tempting to think of this game, historically at least, as David v Goliath. If that’s the case, it comes with a twist. Villarreal are managed by Unai Emery, who has won this competition a record-equalling three times, whereas Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has never been close to a European final before. There are unconfirmed reports that, if Villarreal win tonight, Emery will get to keep the trophy and Uefa will pay tribute by commissioning a replacement in the shape of his face.

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The loaned out players returning to the Premier League with high hopes

Wed, 05/26/2021 - 12:40

Oliver Skipp, Harvey Elliott and William Saliba have had an impact on loan. Will they do the same for their parent clubs?

By Ben McAleer for WhoScored

With the season coming to an end, loan players across Europe will be wondering where their futures lie. Here are 10 players who are returning to the Premier League hoping to consolidate first-team spots at their parent clubs.

Related: Premier League 2020-21 season review: our predictions versus reality

Related: Premier League 2020-21 review: the big quiz of the season

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Manchester United fans attacked outside Gdansk bar before final

Wed, 05/26/2021 - 08:58
  • Club say they are assisting a number of supporters
  • United in Poland for Wednesday’s Europa League final

Manchester United fans were the target of an attack at a bar in Gdansk on Tuesday night before Wednesday’s Europa League final against Villarreal, the Premier League club said.

Video on social media shows a group, dressed predominantly in dark clothes, chanting and running from a bar in the city, leaving tables and chairs overturned.

Related: Solskjær senses final moment to complete season of personal triumph

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Solskjær senses final moment to complete season of personal triumph

Wed, 05/26/2021 - 08:00

Manager has fought internal fires and faced down his many critics. While a title challenge is a must for next season an elusive first trophy is the target in Gdansk

As Manchester United manager in a helter-skelter, pandemic-affected season the challenge for Ole Gunnar Solskjær has been to perform a quasi-renaissance act. Human resources expert, player counsellor, social media abuse fighter and the man charged with moving the team on from last season’s third position and triple semi-final disappointment: all are roles he has had to play and have been carried off impressively.

The prime test comes between the white lines. Here, the Norwegian has steered United to second in the Premier League and plotted a route to Wednesday’s season-defining finale: the Europa League final against Villarreal at the Gdansk Stadium when the club can end a four-year trophy drought. These achievements are linked to the manager’s ability to fight fires during a trying campaign.

Related: Unai Emery the Europa League master plots Manchester United’s downfall

Related: Villarreal ready for final frontier after long road to reuniting with United | Sid Lowe

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Unai Emery the Europa League master plots Manchester United’s downfall

Tue, 05/25/2021 - 20:00

Villarreal’s coach has reached five finals in eight years with three different clubs, but losing his last one was the beginning of the end for him at Arsenal

This is not a redemption story. This isn’t about Unai Emery, the loser. This is about Unai Emery, the winner. On Wednesday the former Arsenal manager leads Villarreal into the Europa League final against Manchester United in Gdansk. He has been here before – this will be his fifth final in eight years with three different teams – which is why he is here now, 18 months after being sacked by the club they defeated in the semi-final. It is also a big part of why Villarreal are in a final, for the first time in their 98-year history.

Fifteen minutes after the final whistle in the semi-final, as the size of the achievement sank in, the Villarreal president, Fernando Roig, stood on the Emirates pitch talking on the phone. Before long, Emery’s name came up. “This is what you brought him for, isn’t it, presi?” he was asked. The question was obvious, the reply swift. “Well, yeah,” Roig said. Emery, inside a press room he knows too well, was asked much the same. “I don’t think this is why I’m here,” he said, “[but] it was something talked about along the way.”

Related: Villarreal ready for final frontier after long road to reuniting with United | Sid Lowe

Related: Riyad Mahrez: from timid talent to ‘a monster’ inspiring Manchester City | Ed Aarons

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‘Honour Sir Matt’: Manchester United urged by Solskjær to win final for Busby

Tue, 05/25/2021 - 19:05
  • Sir Matt Busby’s birthday, 1999 European Cup win both 26 May
  • ‘We prepare to win. That is the pleasure of the pressure’

Ole Gunnar Solskjær has urged Manchester United to win the Europa League final to honour Sir Matt Busby and encouraged his team to enjoy the “pleasure of the pressure” of playing for a trophy that could start an era of success.

Busby is considered one of United’s two great managers alongside Sir Alex Ferguson, having led the club to its first European Cup in 1968. Wednesday’s final falls on Busby’s birthday, which is also the date when United won the 1999 Champions League final against Bayern Munich in which Solskjær scored the late winner. The Norwegian was asked whether he is superstitious.

Related: Manchester United’s Edinson Cavani a natural-born winner on a hot streak

Related: Unai Emery the Europa League master plots Manchester United’s downfall

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Premier League 2020-21: the best photos from a tumultuous season

Tue, 05/25/2021 - 08:00

Our picture editor Jonny Weeks selects his favourite images from the season including dodgy tackles, irate fans and unforgettable goals

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Manchester United’s Edinson Cavani a natural-born winner on a hot streak

Tue, 05/25/2021 - 08:00

Veteran Uruguayan has scored nine goals in his last 10 games and will give Villarreal plenty to worry about in Wednesday’s Europa League final in Gdansk

When Edinson Cavani’s 40-yard finish arrowed over Fulham’s Alphonse Areola 10,000 fans inside Old Trafford were wowed by the latest evidence of the bargain free transfer the Uruguayan has proved in a debut English season.

The scintillating ninth strike in his last 10 appearances came last week. Now, as Manchester United take on Villarreal in Wednesday’s Europa League final, they have a first A-list centre-forward since Zlatan Ibrahimovic five years ago, and a player who is hot at precisely the right time.

Related: Premier League 2020-21 review: matches of the season

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Villarreal’s Alberto Moreno: ‘I’ll go to my grave not understanding why I got all the blame’

Mon, 05/24/2021 - 20:00

As he prepares to take on Manchester United, the full-back recalls his last Europa League final as a Liverpool player in 2016

“I’ve already told some of my teammates: ‘I hope we win just so you can feel how heavy it is; you’re going to go nuts, you won’t believe it,’” Alberto Moreno says, and then the footballer who says he competes with Santi Cazorla to see who laughs more, whose last text to goalscoring goalkeeper Alisson Becker ran “bro, miles better than Salah, Mané and Firmino”, and who vows to hide if Villarreal lose the final and David de Gea messages him, falls about again. “I reckon it weighs more than the European Cup. The European Cup is heavy, but the Uefa Cup? Woah. A seriously big chunk of steel.”

On Wednesday Villarreal face Manchester United in Gdansk. It is their first European final; it is Moreno’s fifth in seven years. It is his third in this competition alone, and with three different clubs. “I was at Sevilla and we reached a Europa League final, went to Liverpool and we reached a Europa League final, came to Villarreal and we reached a Europa League final. The next team I join, I’m putting that in the contract,” he says, grinning as he mimes signing a deal.

Related: Villarreal ready for final frontier after long road to reuniting with United | Sid Lowe

Related: Solskjær’s new United in striking contrast to heroes of 2017 final | Jamie Jackson

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

Mon, 05/24/2021 - 00:01

Klopp’s underperformers pull their socks up, fearsome Fornals proves his worth and Foxes could mount a title challenge

A season that looked at once stage like a bona fide catastrophe for Liverpool has not only ended on a high but with a handful of their more maligned performers getting them over the line. Alisson put an error-riddled season behind him with last week’s glorious header. Trent Alexander-Arnold returned to the form that marks him out as a captain-in-waiting. Thiago Alcântara, whose integration to the side coincided with its calamitous downturn in form, swaggered majestically through the run-in. And Sadio Mané finished a campaign to forget with the goals that set the stage for next season. Which is not to say all is suddenly rosy at Anfield – the squad is getting no younger and one of Europe’s best midfielders has bid the club goodbye – but any talk of crumbling dynasties has been proved wildly premature. It says much about Jürgen Klopp that the most miserable year of his Liverpool tenure concluded with him grinning manically as he soaked up the acclaim of rapturous fans. Alex Hess

Related: Chelsea qualify for Champions League despite stumbling at Aston Villa

Related: Leicester give their all to the very end but the richest clubs prevail | Jon ath

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Man arrested after racist gesture to Rio Ferdinand at Wolves

Sun, 05/23/2021 - 22:03
  • Ferdinand was at Manchester United game as TV pundit
  • Wolves have apologised to former England defender

Wolves have apologised to Rio Ferdinand after a supporter was arrested having made a racist gesture towards the former Manchester United and England defender at Molineux.

Ferdinand was at the stadium working as a pundit as Wolves were beaten 2-1 by United in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon.

Related: Wolves wave goodbye to manager Nuno in defeat to Manchester United

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Wolves wave goodbye to manager Nuno in defeat to Manchester United

Sun, 05/23/2021 - 18:13

So Nuno Espírito Santo waved farewell to Wolves after four years, with a win ratio better than Stan Cullis’s and a defeat that summed up this disappointing final season. But the departing manager was left in no doubt as to the affection in which he will always be held here as Molineux, home to a crowd for the first time in 442 days, serenaded him with a full range of appreciative songs.

Goals from Anthony Elanga and Juan Mata, Manchester United players at opposite ends of their careers, ensured Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s team became only the third club in top-flight history to remain unbeaten away from home for the entire league season, joining Preston North End (1888/89) and Arsenal (2001/02 and 2003/4).

Related: Leeds mark Bielsa news with comfortable win over West Brom

Harry Kane has won the Premier League golden boot award for a third time after scoring in Spurs' 4-2 win at Leicester to take his season tally to 23. Kane, who looks likely to leave Tottenham this summer, also topped the scoring charts in 2015-16 (with 25 goals) and 2016-17 (29). Mohamed Salah went into the final day level with Kane, but could not find the net in Liverpool's 2-0 win over Crystal Palace.

Related: Pablo Fornals brace helps West Ham to celebratory win over Southampton

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Premier League 2020-21 fans’ verdicts, part two: Liverpool to Wolves

Sun, 05/23/2021 - 08:00

Fans review the season, and set out their transfer wishlists
Part one: Arsenal to Leicester

Strange season, not how I imagined it … It’s been all over the place, from carrying on where we left off last season before Christmas, to wondering when we’d get our next win. The game at Everton in October had a massive effect: losing Van Dijk for the season, and Thiago. That was the start of the unravelling. But here we are, going into the last game needing a win to salvage a season that looked to be over for us a few weeks back. 7/10

Related: Premier League 2020-21 fans’ verdicts, part one: Arsenal to Leicester

Related: Pep Guardiola hopes for a 30-goal striker with City linked to Harry Kane

Related: Marcus Rashford: ‘Whenever I hear “no”, I ask myself: why not?’

| David Moyes' current mood: pic.twitter.com/1Zdvc2OA2C

Related: Premier League 2020-21 fans’ verdicts, part one: Arsenal to Leicester

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Villarreal ready for final frontier after long road to reuniting with United | Sid Lowe

Sun, 05/23/2021 - 08:00

A town with a population of just over 50,000 is ready for its ‘humble’ club to feature in Wednesday’s Europa League final

By the entrance to the car park at Villarreal’s training ground, on the corner of the pitch where the first team prepare, is a concrete outhouse measuring maybe six metres by four. Hastily built then and faded yellow now, it is not much to look at and a bit out of place: alone, worn and in the way. But there are no plans to remove it. Once this was the dressing room. Piled high with kit, these days it is a storeroom and a reminder of who they are and how far they have come.

“When we arrived, there was just a typewriter and Llaneza,” the president, Fernando Roig, is fond of saying. Sitting in an office upstairs, the other side of the pitch where Unai Emery’s players work in the sunshine, the club’s CEO smiles. “Well,” says Fernando Roig Negueroles, who is also Roig’s son, “there was José Manuel [Llaneza] and two more people: Gumbau and a man who has passed away called Parra. Now there are 500 staff.”

Related: Atlético Madrid enter The Suárez Zone to tear up script in title drama | Sid Lowe

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Solskjær’s new United in striking contrast to heroes of 2017 final | Jamie Jackson

Sat, 05/22/2021 - 12:00

Much-changed from the Europa League final of four years ago, one key difference is that today’s side still lack silverware

To scan Manchester United’s XI for their triumphant Europa League 2017 final against Ajax is to land in another age. José Mourinho was the manager, Marouane Fellaini his No 10, Antonio Valencia the captain and right-back, Daley Blind a left-sided central defender, Paul Pogba the No 8, and Marcus Rashford centre-forward. The latter two illuminate how the United story has moved on.

When Ole Gunnar Solskjær sends his team out to face Villarreal for Wednesday night’s final at the Gdansk Stadium, Pogba and Rashford will be the only survivors from Mourinho’s side who can expect to have their tracksuits off for the pre-showpiece ceremony.

Related: Anti-Glazers email sent to Manchester United staff in new protest move

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Wolves v Manchester United: match preview

Fri, 05/21/2021 - 19:00

What may have been a nothing game against Manchester United now has huge significance for Wolves and those lucky to be attending Molineux. Nuno Espírito Santo is waving goodbye to Wolverhampton. Yes, its bye-bye Black Country, auf wierdesehen West Midlands. The M54 beckons to pastures that may be distinctly based in north London. But enough speculation, Nuno’s fine four seasons have completely transformed the club and brought a wonderful Portuguese flavour to Wolves. One that has made the club a force in the Premier League and the fans can only hope it lives on after he departs. Some ugly crying may be the required tonic over a Pastel de Nata or two when the dust finally settles. Graham Searles

Sunday 4pm BT Sport 1

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Anti-Glazers email sent to Manchester United staff in new protest move

Fri, 05/21/2021 - 14:59
  • Harry Maguire expected to miss Europa League final
  • ‘I don’t think we’ll see him in Gdansk,’ says Solskjaer

Protests against the Glazers have been stepped up with Manchester United staff receiving an email on Friday from “The Fans” which strongly criticises the owners.

The email, seen by the Guardian, was entitled NEWSLETTER #1 and is understood to have gone to numerous United employees. It said it wanted to give them a different perspective from the one they get within the club. “The briefings you receive [internally] are all very interesting but we’ll provide periodic updates giving a wider view,” the email said.

Related: Eight arrests made over racist online abuse of Tottenham player

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Eight arrests made over racist online abuse of Tottenham player

Fri, 05/21/2021 - 12:17
  • Player abused against Manchester United in April
  • ‘We hope this sends a message to others,’ says Kick It Out

Eight men have been arrested by police and four others interviewed under caution following an investigation into the racist abuse of a Tottenham Hotspur player.

The player was the subject of online attacks during Spurs’ Premier League fixture at home to Manchester United on 11 April. He has not been identified by the Metropolitan Police. On 30 April United banned six supporters for allegedly abusing Son Heung-min on social media on the day of the game.

Related: Harry Kane claims Spurs could be wise to sell and he will decide own future

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