What the papers say
Ole Gunnar Solskjær feels Manchester United are at their most dangerous when Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Daniel James are all fit enough to play in the same forward line and he might be right, though at the moment it is the back-line that holding his side back.
United spent more than £100m on two members of their present back four in the summer, yet you would never have guessed from their uncertain start.Continue reading...
Clean sheets and winking managers in this week’s roundup of the best top-flight pictures
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Manchester United would have closed to six points behind Chelsea in fourth if Aston Villa had been beaten. Instead, after a sluggish opening-half display, they and their visitors engaged in a kind of high-speed ping-pong following which a draw felt the right outcome.
The breathless fare made a fine spectacle but for Ole Gunnar Solskjær the bottom line is that United have won only four of 14 league games this season. So unless Spurs, on Wednesday, Manchester City (Saturday) and Everton (Sunday-week) are beaten then Solskjær will not better the 24 points from 17 matches José Mourinho had accrued before being sacked on 18 December last year.Continue reading...
Manchester United are stuttering again and while the Europa League defeat at Astana on Thursday was with a youthful side, Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s team have to regain momentum. They will hope to do so against a Villa side with the worst away record in the division and who have won at Old Trafford once in 35 years. Jamie Jackson
Sunday 4.30pmContinue reading...
Flawed City defence meets hapless Newcastle attack, Leicester can end Silva’s service and only a miracle can save Emery
Steve Bruce said Newcastle were too passive during Monday’s sorry defeat at Aston Villa. One thing he can actively do about that is drop Jonjo Shelvey, who was irrelevant in midfield at Villa Park. With Sean Longstaff available again after suspension, and Matty Longstaff in line for a return to the starting lineup, Shelvey should be parked on the bench. Bruce probably wishes he could also make changes up front to try to exploit City’s defensive flakiness. There is not often a good case for starting Andy Carroll but this time there are two: City’s fragility and Joelinton’s haplessness. At least Allan Saint-Maximin shows signs of menace, even if his finishing so far has been down there with that of the bewildering Miguel Almirón. Mind you, Gabriel Jesus has not been looking sharp recently for City. So even though injury deprives both clubs of their best centre-backs (Jamaal Lascelles and Aymeric Laporte respectively), this match has the potential to end in a ridiculous 0-0 if midfielders do not step up to score. PDContinue reading...
Astana fought back to beat a youthful Manchester United side 2-1 at home on Thursday, earning their first points in the Europa League’s Group L this season.
The Manchester United captain, Jesse Lingard, fired them ahead in the 10th minute with a fizzing low shot from 20 metres before Dmitri Shomko and a Di’Shon Bernard own goal turned the match on its head shortly after half-time.Continue reading...
- Europa League updates from the 3.50pm GMT kick-off
- Solskjær hands debuts to trio of teenagers
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6 min: Nothing much comes of that, Eric smothering the ball with Greenwood in reasonably close attendance.
5 min: United continue to knock it around. Suddenly they pick up the pace, Lingard sliding a pass down the inside-left channel for Greenwood, who shoots violently towards the goal from a not particularly promising angle. But he gets his effort on target, forcing Eric to parry. Corner coming up.
4 min: A bright end-to-end start as Chong tears off down the right. He doesn’t have a whole load of support, though, and is forced to check back. But United keep hold of possession and ping it around confidently in a very pretty style.
2 min: A long pass down the Astana left. Murtazayev chases and wins a corner off Tuanzebe. United deal with the set piece with ease.
Here we go, then! United’s youthful team kick off. A feel of the ball for everyone at the back. Solskjaer shouts his encouragement from the bench. A few footballing journeys begin right here.
The teams are out! It’s a comparatively balmy eight degrees centigrade in the Astana Arena. The roof’s closed, you see. It’s minus 13 outside. A lovely scene in the tunnel beforehand, as Jesse Lingard made a concerted effort to say hello and talk to all of the mascots, making the young ones feel at ease. A lot of extremely wide smiles as they look up to the Manchester United captain with saucer eyes. Sweet. We’ll be off in a minute.
Ole! “It’s a great chance for the young players. A chance to show what they can do. It’s the start of something special I’m sure. One or two of these, we’ll definitely see a lot more of them. It’s exciting for us as coaches to see where we are at. Of course we want to win the game, but being away from home, and with such a long way to travel, this was the sensible decision. We’ve got a game on Sunday again. And we give the youth a chance to play in front of 30,000 people, to play men’s football, to get experience. Max Taylor has been an inspiration for all of us, we are so happy he is here. It’s great for the other boys to see that setbacks are sometimes part of life and you can fight back from it.”
United’s inner sanctum. Here’s their kit laid out in the changing room ahead of the match. Confirmation that they’ll be playing in their world-famous red shirts. Astana will be in their first-choice yellow.
As expected, teenagers Ethan Laird, Di’Shon Bernard and Dylan Levitt make their Manchester United debuts.
The veteran goalkeeper Lee Grant also makes his first United start. Laird (18) is a right-back who likes to bomb forward in the modern style; Bernard (19) plays in the centre of defence; and Levitt (19) is a central midfielder who can pick a pass. The 19-year-old defender Max Taylor, thankfully fit and healthy now after his cancer treatment, is on the bench.
Astana: Eric, Rukavina, Postnikov, Logvinenko, Shomko, Beysebekov, Maewski, Sigurjonsson, Rotariu, Sergei Khizhnichenko, Murtazaev.
Subs: Muzhikov, Pertsukh, Zhakipbayev, Janga, Mokin, Zhalmukan, Prokopenko.
Manchester United: Grant, Laird, Tuanzebe, Bernard, Shaw, Garner, Levitt, Chong, Lingard, Gomes, Greenwood.
Subs: Puigmal, Bughail-Mellor, Kovar, Taylor, Galbraith, Ramazani, Mengi.
Welcome to our coverage of Manchester United’s experimental seminar in Kazakhstan. Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side are already through to the knockout stage of the Europa League, so this fixture against Astana presents a chance to field some debutants.
Teenagers Ethan Laird, Di’Shon Bernard and Dylan Levitt, and 36-year-old goalkeeper Lee Grant, are expected to make their debuts at some point. There’s also a feelgood story in 19-year-old defender Max Taylor’s inclusion, promoted to the senior squad for the first time since cancer treatment.Continue reading...
• Ethan Laird, Di’Shon Bernard and Dylan Levitt to start
• Ole Gunnar Solskjær calls Max Taylor an ‘inspiration’
Manchester United will field the teenage trio of Ethan Laird, Di’Shon Bernard and Dylan Levitt against Astana in the Europa League on Thursday night. They, along with the 36-year-old goalkeeper Lee Grant, will make their debuts in Kazakhstan while the 19-year-old defender Max Taylor is in the senior squad for the first time since overcoming cancer.Continue reading...
Thirty years after his keepie-uppies at Manchester United, Knighton tells of his regrets, foresight and being underappreciated
“Don’t expect to recognise me from those pictures on the pitch 30 years ago,” Michael Knighton advises on the telephone before our meeting in a Pennines hotel. “I’m an OAP now. You’ll be looking for a fat, balding little man in his late 60s.”
In the event there are no problems with identification. Oddly enough, no one else in the small Yorkshire village happens to be dressed in immaculate three-piece suit, collar and tie. Knighton will always be recognisable anyway, because the manner in which he introduced himself at Old Trafford provided an image just as iconic and easily recalled as anything else from the turbulent and eventful year of 1989.Continue reading...
Today’s fluff is going undercover
At time of writing, Unai Emery is still the Arsenal manager, but it’s not looking good. The Spaniard’s office has been relocated to a trestle table in the basement, and Granit Xhaka is using his parking space. Metaphorically speaking, of course. Today’s tabloids reckon anything less than a win at Norwich on Sunday will see Emery permanently relocated at a travel tavern.
Details of the shortlist to replace him are sketchy, but the Mail report that the Wolves manager, Nuno Espírito Santo, is at its summit. Nuno’s rigid philosophy and surly post-match demeanour would be a refreshing change at the Emirates, but why he would take a sideways move at this stage is up for debate. If the club want a company man instead, they could turn to former players Mikel Arteta or Freddie Ljungberg.Continue reading...
• Jesse Lingard rejects suggestion he lost his focus on football
Max Taylor, a 19-year-old defender, is in Manchester United’s squad for the Europa League game at Astana on Thursday, having undergone cancer treatment and got the all-clear only in September.
It is the first senior call-up for the Manchester-born Taylor after Ole Gunnar Solskjær stood down many senior players for the trip to Kazakhstan because United have qualified for the knockout phase before the penultimate group match. There are 14 teenagers in his 18-man squad.Continue reading...
Wolves defying fears of Europa League slump, Harvey Barnes shows Leicester’s potential and Unai Emery’s woes deepen
One of Unai Emery’s buzz phrases nowadays regards the need to form a “connection” with the Arsenal fans. It has crept into his lexicon to the extent there would be no surprise if he was repeating an edict handed down from up high, and it certainly would be among the reasonable criteria against which to measure his performance. The club’s hierarchy will surely have noticed the response to Alexandre Lacazette’s equaliser against Southampton amounted to little more than a collective shrug, and things simply cannot continue this way for much longer. The danger is many around the Emirates have made up their minds what they think of a manager who just cannot get a tune out of his squad. The international break should have helped a stuttering team to reset; instead it was only an excellent Southampton side who took that opportunity. Emery’s demeanour after the match, when he readily lamented that a big chance to begin bonding with the support had been thrown away, suggested he knows he may not have many more. Nick AmesContinue reading...
• Roma remain behind neighbours Lazio who claimed late win
Chris Smalling scored a goal and had two assists as Roma moved into the top four of Serie A with a 3-0 win over Brescia in Serie A. The on-loan Manchester United defender nodded in Lorenzo Pellegrini’s corner after 49 minutes and then set up goals for Gianluca Mancini and Edin Dzeko. Mario Balotelli was left out of Brescia’s squad following a training ground dispute with the coach, Fabio Grosso.
Roma remain two points behind their neighbours Lazio, who claimed a fifth successive win thanks to the substitute Felipe Caicedo’s stoppage-time goal giving them a 2-1 victory at lowly Sassuolo.Continue reading...
Jose’s back and late, late goals in this week’s roundup of the best top-flight pictures
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• Sheffield United’s Chris Wilder says his team’s energy levels fell
Ole Gunnar Solskjær conceded his young Manchester United team were “very, very poor” for 70 minutes at Sheffield United on Sunday but maintained their late fight back to secure a 3-3 draw highlighted his players’ progress from last season.
“It was a very, very poor performance,” said Manchester United’s manager whose side were 2-0 down at Bramall Lane until three late goals in seven minutes from Brandon Williams, Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford briefly propelled them into an unlikely lead before Oli McBurnie’s last-gasp leveller for Chris Wilder’s side. “We did play badly first half, we didn’t win any challenges but we turned it round.”Continue reading...
Half-close your eyes, squint a little, do not think too hard and you could just about persuade yourself this was nearly a classic Manchester United comeback. But just as they were preparing to hail the youthquake, three goals by players aged 22 or under including one from Mason Greenwood, the third-youngest Premier League scorer in their history, Oli McBurnie popped up to point out that this is an imperfect simulacrum.
It bears certain clear similarities to Manchester United, it has a manager who is clearly Manchester United, it plays with the tropes of Manchester United and yet somehow it is not quite Manchester United.Continue reading...
As Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn, Jo Swinson and Nicola Sturgeon can testify, Sheffield is a tough place to audition for a job. None of the party leaders appeared to enjoy Friday’s live BBC pre-election debate but, if they found the South Yorkshire audience tough, Ole Gunnar Solskjær endured an even more excruciating time at Bramall Lane.
Granted the denouement could have been worse and his tactical switch did ultimately turn a 2-0 deficit into a 3-3 draw but this was an afternoon which will have only strengthened Mauricio Pochettino’s candidature for potentially succeeding the Norwegian at Old Trafford.Continue reading...
- Updates from the 4.30pm GMT kick-off at Bramall Lane
- Live scoreboard: the latest from all Sunday’s matches
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7 min: Fred tries and fails to find Martial, who is lurking just outside of the box. A poor pass. Sheffield United look comfortable.
5 min: Wan-Bissaka does well to bomb forward down the right before handing over the baton to Anthony Martial. Martial tries to flick the ball into the path of Daniel James but it’s wayward and Sheffield United hoover things up. No problem.
4 min: Jack O’Connell has a word with Mousset and the Frenchman is helped back to his feet. Mousset joins the cavalry in the box as Oliver Norwood whips in a corner. But he overcooks it and it bobbles out for a goal-kick.
3 min: Fred gives Lundstram a shove but Andre Marriner is having none of it. The Brazilian then catches Mousset on the achilles and the Sheffield United forward is down in a heap.
1 min: Phil Jones is playing to the left of Harry Maguire, with Manchester United matching up Sheffield United by playing with a three-man defence. An early touch for Brandon Williams, who nips in ahead of George Baldock to head the ball upfield.
And we’re under way.
The teams trudge out on to the pitch ...
We are less than 15 minutes away from a belting Bramall Lane rendition of Greasy Chip Butty. Before then, more from Solskjær on trying to improve Manchester United’s away form. “When I came in we went on a fantastic run away from home but now for one reason or another we haven’t got the results but with the form we got going into the international break, we’re hopeful we can change that.” Harry Maguire adds: “Liverpool came here and found it difficult. We have a lot of ability and we need to perform like we did against Brighton and the result will look after itself.”
Some pre-match reading on Wilder:
Chris Wilder talks. “Every game is an occasion in the Premier League,” he says. “It’s still Man Utd, regardless of anything else, with top players and top manager and we’re going to have to be at our best to get anything. Phil Jones is an England international and they still have the top three players at the top of the pitch that have to be wrapped up but we are still confident that we can cause them some problems going the other way.”
Ole Gunnar Solskjær speaks. “Phil [Jones] has been training well,” he begins. “He’s got experience of playing both central midfield and at the back. When you show the attitude he’s shown in training, it’s time for him to get a chance. Marcos [Rojo] is injured, Axel [Tuanzebe] isn’t really ready to come in so it was an easy option. Brandon [Williams] has played really well in every game he’s played. I didn’t find any reason to leave him out. It’s a testing stadium for him to play at so it’s a good opportunity to show his mentality because his temperament is one of his strengths.”
Let’s party like it’s 2015, when Phil Jones and Phil Jagielka lined up together for England in Italy. Roy Hodgson was in charge and Andros Townsend scored in a 1-1 draw in a friendly in Turin. Jagielka partnered Chris Smalling, ostracised by Gareth Southgate, in defence while Jones floundered in a midfield role and neither have played an awful lot of minutes since. On the bench that day was Rob Green, Ryan Mason and Michael Carrick, these days one of Solskjær’s sidekicks at Manchester United.
On the VIP list at Bramall Lane? Fergie, and Kyle Walker:
Team news news: Phil Jones starts, presumably as part of a back three, while the 19-year-old Brandon Williams gets the nod ahead of Ashley Young. Manchester United’s midfield looks rather lightweight, with Andreas Pereira teaming up with Fred. Jones replaces the injured Scott McTominay and Axel Tuanzebe is back on the bench. As for the hosts, Phil Jagielka makes his first league start since rejoining the club, his first league start in a Sheffield United shirt since May 2007. Meanwhile Simon Moore is in for Dean Henderson, who is ineligible to face his parent club.
Sheffield United (3-5-2): Moore; Basham, Jagielka, O’Connell; Baldock, Fleck, Norwood, Lundstram, Stevens; Mousset, McGoldrick
Subs: Verrips, Osborn, Besic, Freeman, McBurnie, Sharp, Robinson
Welcome to the
Harry Maguire Show
. The England defender, who came through the youth ranks at Sheffield United, will lineup against his former club but beyond Slabhead there are all manner of potent threats for Chris Wilder and co to be aware of, and the straight-talking Wilder knows as much. “It’s Manchester United and one of our former players will be playing for them,” he said. “But I don’t want it to be ‘the Harry Maguire Show’. I want it to be the Sheffield United Show. I want us to show how good we are.” The Blades are in pretty good nick, too, having not tasted defeat since September. They will be without goalkeeper Dean Henderson, who is ineligible to face his parent club so Simon Moore will make his first league start for 18 months, a 3-2 win at Bristol City in the Championship. That day Enda Stevens, Jack O’Connell, Chris Basham, George Baldock, John Lundstram and Billy Sharp all featured. Nothing new there, then. As for United, five wins from their past six matches have stirred a gentle excitement and another positive result would do Ole Gunnar Solskjær the power of good now that Mauricio Pochettino is handing out his CV, hunting high and low for a new employer.
Kick-off: 4.30pm (GMT)
Manchester United manager has detected an uptick in fortunes this month with his strikers all fit and willing to ‘have a go’
It says something about the state of the Premier League at the moment that Sheffield United, a promoted club, will be the closest challengers to a potentially breakaway top four should they win Sunday afternoon’s home game against Manchester United.
It is Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s job to prevent that happening, as well as to discourage speculation that the best four teams in the country have already been identified and the rest of the season will merely be about the order in which they finish. Victory at Bramall Lane would at least take Solskjær’s side closer to the Champions League positions, and the manager admits his team need to do better against this calibre of opponent.Continue reading...
Chris Wilder does not want Manchester United’s visit to turn into the “Harry Maguire Show” as the club’s one-time centre-back returns to his first club. From Bramall Lane’s academy Maguire progressed to Hull, Leicester and England, ultimately becoming the world’s most expensive defender when he arrived at Old Trafford in the summer. Sheffield United’s manager said: “I usually say it’s just the next game but perhaps this one does have a little more to it. It’s Manchester United and one of our former players will be playing for them. But I don’t want it to be ‘the Harry Maguire Show’. I want it to be the Sheffield United Show. I want us to show how good we are.” Dean Henderson, the home goalkeeper on loan from Manchester United cannot play so Simon Moore will get a rare outing. “It’s a great opportunity for Simon,” said Wilder. “I’m sure he won’t let us down.” Louise Taylor
Sunday 4.30pm Sky Sports Premier LeagueContinue reading...