What the papers say

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Updated: 1 hour 49 min ago

Premier League: 10 things to look out for this weekend

Fri, 04/05/2024 - 00:00

Everton’s Sean Dyche badly needs a win while Liverpool and Manchester United renew their historic rivalry

Michael Olise’s anticipated return from injury for Crystal Palace against Manchester City could not be more timely for Oliver Glasner’s struggling side. The France Under-21 international has been in sensational form this season on the rare occasions he has made it on to the pitch – Olise has played only 755 minutes so far in just 11 appearances, but in that time has scored six goals and provided three assists. City are believed to be one of several clubs who have been monitoring his progress and will be wary of the threat he poses to their title ambitions, especially if he can adapt quickly to Glasner’s favoured 3-4-2-1 formation. Like Palace, who are still not quite safe given their testing run-in that only features games against sides above them, Eberechi Eze has not been in his best form so far under the Austrian. But could the return of Olise help the England midfielder also rediscover his touch? Ed Aarons

Crystal Palace v Manchester City, Saturday 12.30pm (all times BST)

Aston Villa v Brentford, Saturday 3pm

Everton v Burnley, Saturday 3pm

Fulham v Newcastle, Saturday 3pm

Luton v Bournemouth, Saturday 3pm

Wolves v West Ham, Saturday 3pm

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Manchester United no nearer elite than when Erik ten Hag took over | Jacob Steinberg

Thu, 04/04/2024 - 23:49

Chelsea took advantage on a wild night when the visitors lost composure and shape – and the match – in stoppage time

At first there was no hint of panic from Manchester United. They played it well after this bewilderingly ragged game ticked into eight minutes of added time. They seemed to be in control of the situation, Bruno Fernandes and Mason Mount calmly running down the clock by guarding possession on the left flank, Chelsea’s frustration building as they edged closer towards a 3-2 defeat that would have been entirely of their own making.

Ultimately, though, there is nothing secure about Erik ten Hag’s United. The initial composure faded, the shape disappearing, Noni Madueke given one last chance to run at Diogo Dalot on the right. A slip, a tumble, a blow of the referee’s whistle and suddenly the mood changed. Cole Palmer, nerveless from the spot, made it 3-3 with his second penalty of the evening. United were going to have to settle for a point.

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Chelsea 4-3 Manchester United: Premier League – as it happened

Thu, 04/04/2024 - 23:19

Cole Palmer snatched a hat-trick in a thrilling game that United led until the 100th minute and yet still lost

1 min Chelsea kick off, go long, and then get pegged back.

The players are out there and Chelsea are in a tight huddle. As they disperse, the cameras home in on Cole Palmer, and then Kobbie Mainoo. The future may be brighter than the present.

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Palmer’s added-time double seals 4-3 Chelsea win against Manchester United

Thu, 04/04/2024 - 22:38

From joy to despair and now this, Manchester United have certainly showcased their addiction to drama in recent weeks; theirs the story that keeps on giving. If the FA Cup victory over Liverpool had given their supporters a rosy glow for what felt like weeks, the nature of Saturday’s draw at Brentford was the definition of a reality check. In a crowded field, was it the worst performance of a chaotic season?

The latest instalment was scarcely credible. Despair to joy and back again – hard – within one game, it felt like the death of their Premier League season; a ratcheting up of the pressure on Erik ten Hag, too, should there have been any further scope for that.

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‘I’m a realistic man’: Ten Hag admits Champions League hopes look bleak

Wed, 04/03/2024 - 22:30
  • Manchester United go to Chelsea reeling from new injuries
  • Ten Hag ‘doesn’t care’ if wounded list counts in job review

Erik ten Hag has admitted Manchester United will struggle to qualify for the Champions League with the club’s mounting injury list a big factor.

United travel to Chelsea for Thursday’s late kick-off in sixth position with Lisandro Martínez and Victor Lindelöf the latest defenders to suffer muscle problems. The club announced on Tuesday that they will be out for at least a month.

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Manchester United’s Lisandro Martínez and Victor Lindelöf both out for a month

Tue, 04/02/2024 - 21:08
  • Argentinian defender sustained a calf strain in training
  • Swede forced off against Brentford with a hamstring injury

Manchester United’s hopes of Champions League qualification and winning the FA Cup have been engulfed in a defensive crisis after Lisandro Martínez and Victor Lindelöf were ruled out for a minimum of a month due to muscle problems.

Erik ten Hag’s team are in sixth place on 48 points, 11 behind Aston Villa in fourth and nine from Tottenham, who are fifth, having played a match less, ahead of Thursday’s trip to Chelsea. Martínez and Lindelöf’s respective injuries will cause both defenders to miss at least five league games plus the FA Cup semi-final against Coventry on 21 April.

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‘I’ve damaged my body’: Raphaël Varane warns against trauma of concussions

Tue, 04/02/2024 - 14:40
  • Manchester United defender stresses dangers of heading
  • ‘My son plays football and I advise him not to head the ball’

The Manchester United defender Raphaël Varane has said ­concussions have damaged his body as he stressed the importance of creating more awareness among players around the dangers of heading the ball.

Varane said he had suffered a ­concussion a few days before playing in France’s 1-0 defeat by Germany in the quarter-finals of the 2014 World Cup, as well as at his former club Real Madrid when they lost to Manchester City in the last 16 second leg of the 2020 Champions League.

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The Premier League’s era of vanity worship may be over but the future won’t be equal

Tue, 04/02/2024 - 08:00

The league has bared its teeth on teams in breach of profit and sustainability rules. But the current enforcement has solidified the disparity between clubs

This Premier League season will be remembered for many things: as the season when the Kop lost its Klopp, as the season of “Well done boys, good process”, as a time in which the “agent of chaos”, whether named Darwin or Jérémy or Kaoru or Kai, offered a brief and sparkling reprieve from the monotonous precision of the relentlessly rehearsed modern game. Mostly, though, it will be remembered as the season of teeth.

By near-universal consensus, the points deductions imposed on Everton and Nottingham Forest, as well as the ongoing investigation into Leicester City’s finances (not to mention the 115 charges still pending against Manchester City), prove at long last that the Premier League’s profitability and sustainability rules “have teeth” – or “unexpected teeth”, as one commentator put it. The Super League fiasco and the ongoing failure of the Premier League to secure an equitable deal for the distribution of media revenue down the football pyramid, meanwhile, have highlighted the need for a “regulator that has real teeth” – a need that the recently introduced football governance bill, many believe, may help address. The age of the soccer regulators is upon us, and suddenly their fangs are everywhere. Not since the days when Luis Suárez was feasting on the arms and shoulders of his opponents has there been quite so much attention paid in English football to matters of dentition.

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Manchester United make approach for Southampton’s Jason Wilcox

Mon, 04/01/2024 - 19:38
  • Formal talks mark next step in Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s overhaul
  • Saints’ football director previously oversaw City’s academy

Manchester United have made a formal approach to take Jason Wilcox from Southampton as part of Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s summer recruitment overhaul. United want Wilcox, who joined Southampton as director of football last year, to fulfil a prominent role in the revamped footballing ­department as technical director.

United are confident of ­securing Wilcox but Southampton, who are vying for an immediate return to the Premier League, are seeking a greater compensation ­package and are unhappy at the timing of ­United’s approach. United are believed to have offered around a year of the former Blackburn winger’s ­salary in compensation with ­Ratcliffe viewing him as a pillar in his ­reshaping of the club.

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‘We didn’t deserve to win’: Ten Hag asks for more desire after Brentford draw

Sat, 03/30/2024 - 23:31
  • United conceded 99th-minute equaliser after taking late lead
  • ‘My big disappointment was we didn’t bring it over the line’

Erik ten Hag criticised his players’ lack of aggression as Manchester United scraped a 1-1 draw at Brentford, but seemed unconcerned by the number of shots his side continue to concede.

United struggled all game but took the lead through Mason Mount after 96 minutes, before Brentford’s 31st shot of the game finally beat André Onana for a 99th-minute equaliser. “We didn’t deserve to win,” Ten Hag said, “but if you’re winning you have to take this. I would say normally we are very good in these circumstances.

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Brentford 1-1 Man Utd: Premier League – as it happened

Sat, 03/30/2024 - 22:14

A dominant Brentford hit the woodwork on four occasions before Mason Mount and Kristoffer Ajer both scored in injury time

10 min Rashford has started quite brightly at the other end, where United are having the majority of possession. That suits both teams.

7 min Jensen’s outswinging corner is met by Toney, who loses Rashford far too easily near the penalty spot. His downward header bounces a few yards wide of the far post. That wasn’t great from Rashford, who at times this season has looked allergic to defending.

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Ajer rescues point for Brentford in Manchester United thriller

Sat, 03/30/2024 - 22:11

It doesn’t matter what they did two weeks ago, this is still the modern Manchester United, and they are still dismal. A 1-1 draw hardly tells the story of the game. Brentford had 31 shots, four of which hit the woodwork. They didn’t score until Kristoffer Ajer equalised in the ninth minute of injury time, by which point they were mystifyingly behind, but really by then they should have won almost as comfortably as they did in this fixture last season.

The problem for United under Erik ten Hag has been that, while there have been decent performances and results, they have rarely been followed by anything approaching a consistent run. Quite what the win over Liverpool in the FA Cup was, other than thrilling, is unclear.

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Premier League: 10 things to look out for this weekend

Fri, 03/29/2024 - 00:00

Everton must find goals, Forest need tight games to go their way and there’s a mighty showdown in Manchester

Eddie Howe turned radical as Newcastle lost their FA Cup quarter-final at Manchester City earlier this month, deploying a back three. For a confirmed four-at-the-back manager, it represented quite a departure but retaining it might just suit Newcastle’s personnel – particularly against West Ham at St James’ Park this Saturday. Given that Sven Botman is sidelined for nine months following ACL surgery – and with hindsight the Dutch defender should have had that operation when he first damaged his knee in September – the best back three would surely be Jamaal Lascelles, Fabian Schär and Dan Burn flanked by Kieran Trippier, if fit, or Tino Livramento and Lewis Hall. Hall has disappointed following his summer loan from Chelsea but a left wing-back position might finally enable him to demonstrate why many once believed he was an England player in the making. With Schär showing off his ball skills at sweeper, 3-5-2 might yet propel Newcastle into Europa League combat next season. Louise Taylor

Newcastle v West Ham, Saturday 12.30pm GMT

Bournemouth v Everton, Saturday 3pm GMT

Chelsea v Burnley, Saturday 3pm GMT

Nottingham Forest v Crystal Palace, Saturday 3pm GMT

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Crunch time: Easter games that have shaped the Premier League title race

Thu, 03/28/2024 - 17:00

As the sharp end of the season fast approaches, here are four classic matches that helped to decide title battles gone by

“I always wanted to kick Peter Schmeichel for some reason,” Michael Owen said, looking back on how he became the first player to be sent off in a Premier League fixture between Manchester United and Liverpool. He was first booked for kicking the goalkeeper and, minutes after scoring to cancel Ronny Johnsen’s opener, Owen earned his second yellow for a lunge on the Norwegian in the 40th minute. Johnsen had to be carried off on a stretcher. Earlier in the season United had comfortably beaten Liverpool 3-1 at Anfield, and the Merseyside club were keen to ruin the party and ensure their rivals did not get a boost in their title race against Arsenal.

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'They wanted me to speak, I spoke': Eric Cantona reveals reason for 1995 seagulls comment – video

Wed, 03/27/2024 - 20:06

When Eric Cantona said at a 1995 press conference: “When the seagulls follow the trawler, it is because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea,” everyone was left scratching their heads. Cantona made the statement after being ordered to speak to the press to explain his notorious kung-fu kick on an abusive Crystal Palace fan at Selhurst Park in January 1995. After nearly 30 years Cantona has revealed the inspiration for the quote and admitted his silence was his little revenge on the press.

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‘It just came out’: Eric Cantona reveals inspiration for 1995 seagulls comment

Wed, 03/27/2024 - 17:17

Former Manchester United star says his near-30-year silence on subject has been his revenge on the press

It was one of the most baffling utterances ever made by a footballer.

When Eric Cantona said at a 1995 press conference: “When the seagulls follow the trawler, it is because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea,” everyone was left scratching their heads.

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‘They can be exploited’: clubs help young footballers navigate digital age

Wed, 03/27/2024 - 12:00

Child prodigies attract huge followings but Premier League clubs are warning against the consequences of early fame

As a six-year-old with four million Instagram followers, Arat Hosseini was not your typical academy footballer, but although “Mini Messi” is an extreme example, the young Iranian epitomised the challenge confronting England’s top football clubs as the digital-native generation of young players comes through.

The headline-making child prodigy has now left Liverpool, where he spent three years, but there are others: “Kid Messi” and “Kid Ronaldo”, children whose parents have documented their “careers” on Instagram, YouTube or TikTok. Boot deals are signed aged 11 and one’s fame was such that he was mobbed while playing at a recent tournament.

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‘He said I didn’t look happy’: McTominay credits Steve Clarke for upturn in form

Mon, 03/25/2024 - 22:30
  • Midfielder praises conversation with Scotland manager last year
  • McTominay: ‘Sometimes you just need to enjoy football’

Scott McTominay has revealed that a conversation a year ago with the Scotland manager, Steve Clarke, made him realise he was not happy due to a lack of game time for Manchester United and ignited a stellar run of form for club and country.

In the subsequent 12 months McTominay has scored seven times in eight Euro 2024 qualifiers, including both goals in the 2-0 win over Spain at Hampden Park on 28 March 2023. That followed a previous double from the midfielder in the 3-0 victory against Cyprus three days earlier, the opening qualifier and first match since speaking with Clarke about his demeanour.

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Golden goal: Wayne Rooney for Manchester United v Fenerbahce (2004)

Mon, 03/25/2024 - 12:00

The teenage signing from Everton captured the imagination at Old Trafford with a storybook debut hat-trick

For all the adulation modern footballers receive, most will never comprehend the impact they have on young people. Sure, you get 21st-century icons such as Jack Grealish or James Maddison, who cut through all that silly public scrutiny on their hair or fashion choices and manage to connect with young supporters, but the vast majority can never truly know what they mean to fans.

I’ve worked in football journalism for almost a decade and met a fair few figures who could be deemed idols. Going to a José Mourinho press conference as a student on work experience was surreal. Making my first visit to the Old Trafford press box felt like a landmark as a boyhood Manchester United fan, as was shaking hands with Ole Gunnar Solskjær after covering a United pre-season friendly in Norway.

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James Weir: ‘My Manchester United debut was an out-of-body experience. I wouldn’t change that for anything’

Mon, 03/25/2024 - 08:00

Midfielder on those early days under Louis van Gaal, spells in Hungary and Slovakia, and how injuries led to retirement at 28

“I have had so many operations on the left side that my body now tilts, and some days I could barely pass the ball,” the former Manchester United midfielder James Weir says. The 28-year-old is explaining why he has announced his retirement after a career plagued by injuries.

Weir made his Premier League debut as a last-minute substitute under Louis van Gaal on the same day as Marcus Rashford. The England striker scored a double against Arsenal that afternoon in February 2016 and his story needs no more telling, whereas Weir spent the following years on a somewhat nomadic journey, culminating in a sixth-month spell at Zlate Moravce, who sit bottom of the Slovakian top flight with five points from 24 games. Last month he called it a day.

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