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Nobby Stiles: his life and times – in pictures

Fri, 10/30/2020 - 19:37

Nobby Stiles, the ‘toothless tiger’, was a World Cup winner with England in 1966 and won the European Cup with Manchester United in 1968. After his death aged 78, we take a look back at his football career

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Nobby Stiles obituary

Fri, 10/30/2020 - 18:02
Robust Manchester United and England footballer who made a memorable contribution to England’s 1966 World Cup victory

Of all the players who contributed to England’s World Cup victory in 1966, Nobby Stiles, who has died aged 78 after suffering from prostate cancer and dementia, was the most unlikely of heroes. But, with his socks round his ankles and his false front teeth left in the dressing room, he was a formidable opponent, a robust tackler and an implacable marker, as he showed in a memorable and crucial performance in the semi-final against Portugal, when he comprehensively – and fairly – squeezed the life out of the great Eusébio.

Eusébio had been a glittering star of the tournament, a gloriously talented and incisive attacker who had scored four of Portugal’s five goals in the quarter-finals against North Korea. But in the semi-final, Stiles man-marked him into ineffectiveness, enabling England to win 2-1. When Alf Ramsey had instructed him during the pre-match briefing to take Eusébio “out of the game”, Stiles had asked: “Do you mean for life, Alf?” However, his shepherding of the Portuguese star was not only beyond reproach but, in the estimation of his colleague George Cohen, “technically and morally brilliant”.

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Nobby Stiles was an enforcer who pioneered the holding midfield role | Paul Wilson

Fri, 10/30/2020 - 17:44

One of the most popular of England’s World Cup-winning team, his years as a regular encapsulate his country’s finest hour

Nobby Stiles was one of the most popular of England’s 1966 World Cup winners, not least because his toothless grin, dishevelled appearance and carefree cavorting around Wembley with the Jules Rimet trophy provided delight at the time and images to last for many decades longer.

Younger generations familiar with the well-groomed athletic young men who populate the Premier League might have difficulty recognising Stiles as a footballer at all, let alone a World Cup winner, and there were plenty of opponents back in the day who might have voiced the same opinion. Even though he played almost 400 games for Manchester United, winning the European Cup in 1968 after the title win in 1967, the feisty midfielder was frequently criticised for an over-physical approach to the game. Despite his diminutive stature – at 5ft 6in Stiles was no taller than his England teammate Alan Ball – he was what would be referred to today as an enforcer, though a few years ago in these pages Jonathan Wilson went further and described him as “a destroyer”.

Related: Nobby Stiles, 1966 World Cup winner with England, dies aged 78

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Nobby Stiles, 1966 World Cup winner with England, dies aged 78

Fri, 10/30/2020 - 16:44

• The ‘toothless Tiger’ was a skilful and creative midfielder
• Stiles won the European Cup with Manchester United in 1968

Nobby Stiles, one of England’s 1966 World Cup winning heroes, has died aged 78 after a long period with prostate cancer and advanced dementia.

A European Cup winner with Manchester United in 1968, Stiles will be forever remembered for his victory jig at Wembley two years earlier, clutching the Jules Rimet trophy in one hand, the “Toothless Tiger’s” false teeth in the other.

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Arsenal have specialised in failure at Old Trafford for decades

Fri, 10/30/2020 - 15:30

Arsenal have won as many league titles in the last 40 years as they have won league games away at Manchester United

By Steven Pye for That 1980s Sports Blog

Many clubs have struggled at Old Trafford in the Premier League era, but it’s perhaps surprising that Arsenal have such a poor record at the ground. FA Cup wins in 2003 and 2015 were delicious for travelling fans – as were the league victories during the double winning campaigns of 1997-98 and 2001-02 – but it’s a full 14 years since Arsenal last left Old Trafford with three points.

Arsenal’s poor record at Old Trafford is not just a recent phenomenon. There has been the odd success – they emerged victorious from the Battle of Old Trafford in October 1990 on their way to winning the league title – but a league visit to M16 has often been coupled with disappointment. Arsenal have won as many league titles in the last 40 years as they have won league games at Old Trafford – and all five of those victories ended 1-0 to the Arsenal.

Related: Golden Goal: Marc Overmars for Arsenal v Manchester United (1998)

Related: Sports quiz: football in the 1980s

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Dennis Walker: Manchester United's first and only black Busby Babe

Fri, 10/30/2020 - 13:00

A fluent Farsi and Arabic speaker, Walker became in 1963 the first black player to make a senior United appearance

On 19 September 1981, 20-year-old Remi Moses became the second black footballer to play in the league for Manchester United in a 1-0 home win over Swansea. But Moses had been just two years old when United’s first and only previous black player had debuted in 1963.

A lot of people, including Viv Anderson when we interviewed him, think that Tony Whelan was United’s black pioneer, but the club’s current assistant academy director never made it into the first team. In fact, Tony regularly corrects people when they cite him as the first black player to pull on the famous red shirt – an honour which goes to Dennis Allen Walker.

Related: Saint Marcus and the 'real' Ole Gunnar Solskjær? – Football Weekly Extra

Related: Black History timeline

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'Dealt with internally': Solskjær praises response to hammering by Spurs

Fri, 10/30/2020 - 11:14
  • Three wins, one draw for Manchester United since ‘brutal’ loss
  • Manager says Paul Pogba ‘can do everything on a pitch’

Ole Gunnar Solskjær has praised as fantastic Manchester United’s response to their “brutal” 6-1 hammering by Tottenham, his side having won three matches and drawn one since.

On Wednesday United beat RB Leipzig 5-0 in their second Champions League group game. The defeat of last season’s semi-finalists followed the previous week’s 2-1 victory at Paris Saint-Germain, the losing finalists. In the Premier League Newcastle United have been beaten 4-1 and Chelsea drawn with 0-0.

Related: Premier League: 10 things to look out for this weekend

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Marcus Rashford powered by positive thinking | Brief letters

Thu, 10/29/2020 - 17:33

Victoria Derbyshire | Success on and off the pitch | Cars on pavements | Marina Hyde

I sympathise with Victoria Derbyshire (Victoria Derbyshire apologises over Covid Christmas comments, 27 October) as I share the rule-of-six dilemma. My daughter and son-in-law have three teenage children and two “grannies” (mother-in-law and myself). We are both widows in our late 80s, living alone. We expect to spend Christmas together. She is geographically closer to the family than I am; I have only seen my grandchildren once since Christmas 2019. Which one of us should back away from the Christmas table?
Margaret Westwood
Guildford, Surrey

• Surely Victoria Derbyshire’s plan to break the rule of six by one person was in a “very specific and limited way” as justified by the government.
Janet Jones
Ossett, West Yorkshire

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Saint Marcus and the 'real' Ole Gunnar Solskjær? – Football Weekly Extra

Thu, 10/29/2020 - 16:03

Max Rushden, Barry Glendenning, Jamie Jackson, Lars Sivertsen and Archie Rhind-Tutt discuss Marcus Rashford’s heroic week, the rest of the Champions League and whether there’s more to Ole Gunnar Solskjær than meets the eye.

Is there anything Marcus Rashford can’t do? After raising over a million signatures for his petition to provide free school meals over the holidays then finding time to score a Champions League hat-trick off the bench, apparently there isn’t. The panel discuss Manchester United’s dominant performance over RB Leipzig, Julian Nagelsmann’s sartorial flair, Chelsea’s win against Krasnodar and the rest of the Champions League action.

Later, Jamie Jackson explains why he’s written a book about Ole Gunnar Solskjær, and answers the all important question - would it have been cancelled if he’d got the sack?

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Tales uncovered from Solskjær's past point to a bright future | Jamie Jackson

Thu, 10/29/2020 - 14:00

Voices gathered from Cardiff and Molde in writing a biography of Manchester United’s manager reveal much about the man

As Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s biographer, this writer was recently asked whether the military service the Norwegian performed as a 20-year-old aided the formation of a man whose career arc has taken in scoring Manchester United’s 1999 European Cup-winning goal to now being manager of England’s record 20-time champions.

The answer in essence was Solskjær has a self-possession that means it was immaterial; that whether or not he did the mandatory year in Norway’s army his would still have been a life and sporting career that is a triumph of self-determination.

Related: Diaries, astuteness and work ethic: the making of Solskjær the manager | Jamie Jackson

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Man Utd v Arsenal, Ali's debut and the incredible Didrikson Zaharias | Classic YouTube

Thu, 10/29/2020 - 10:00

Also featuring George Best, ‘Hitman’ Hearns and the late, great Ron Pickering on We Are The Champions

1) Manchester United meet Arsenal on Sunday, and it seems the two clubs have enjoyed some acceptable tussles in the past. Here’s a Friday night special from November 1984; Norman Whiteside booting David O’Leary and friends all round Old Trafford in January 1987; EVERYTHING that NO ONE wants to see, the brawl of October 1990; David Rocastle’s brilliant goal in October 1991; Arsenal’s crucial win in March 1998; and Keown v Van Nistelrooy.

2) Mildred “Babe” Didrikson Zaharias is one of the greatest athletes of all time. In the 1932 Olympics, she won gold in the javelin and 80m hurdles, plus silver in the high jump. Although she was also great at baseball and basketball, she went to golf next, where she fought discrimination to win 10 LPGA majors. Here’s a look back at her career, and another, and another.

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Rashford's stunning cameo shows Solskjær is using deep squad wisely | Paul Wilson

Thu, 10/29/2020 - 08:23

Forward’s hat-trick off the bench and substitute role for Fernandes in 5-0 win are signs of Manchester United strength

Ole Gunnar Solskjær keeps saying that having too many good players to use all at once is a sign of Manchester United’s standing and ambition, and perhaps by way of proving it he left out Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes against RB Leipzig.

That was quite a big call against an unbeaten side at the top of the Bundesliga. Rashford may have been making most of his headlines off the pitch in recent weeks and Fernandes finding himself a member of a rather crowded selection panel for midfield, but the pair are United’s leading goal scorers this season.

Related: Marcus Rashford hits hat-trick off bench as Manchester United thrash RB Leipzig

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Manchester United 5-0 RB Leipzig: Champions League – as it happened

Wed, 10/28/2020 - 22:18
  • Rashford bangs in hat-trick after coming off the bench

11.15pm GMT

Related: Marcus Rashford hits hat-trick off bench as Manchester United thrash RB Leipzig

10.18pm GMT

“[Rashford] came on and did well. We want that from the subs. That’s only possible, though, when the others have laid the ground work. What a shift they put in, because Leipzig do make you work. We had to really dig deep and work hard for each other. Spaces open up when you’re winning. Today we had to rest a few because this season is relentless so we had to use the squad .... This group is coming together. The more quality and spirit you have, the better chance you have of [getting] a performance.”

“We made some changes today because of Sunday [against Arsenal in the Premier League] because we’ve played a game less than everyone else in the league and we need to pick up points.”

10.07pm GMT

“Thanks for the great MBM!” declares Chris. “Please stick around long enough to share the inevitable hat-eating mea culpa from Niall O’Keefe?” Ah yes, Rashford providing yet another meal for others.

10.02pm GMT

“The manager just told us when we came on to try to up the tempo ... there were definitely spaces there and today we managed to find the passes. We got Bruno and Paul on the ball, and had Anthony running forward, and we looked dangerous every time we went forward. It was a real team performance. As a squad we can’t really ask for much more than that in terms of attitude, intensity and determination to kill the game off.”

9.57pm GMT

Stay tuned for as much reaction as we can get for you to today’s match. Solskjaer’s is sure to speak and we may even to hear from Rashford. Doubtless people will be queueing up to try to speak to him. With one shameless exception.

9.53pm GMT

What a satisfying win for United. They’ve started their Champions League campaign by beating two of last season’s semi-finalists to rack up six points from six. This was a disciplined, dynamic and ruthless display. For most of the match they played like an away team, absorbing pressure and looking to counter-attack. Greenwood shot them in front with a deadly finish. And then, in the second half, Fernandes and Rashford came off the bench to take the match away from the German league leaders with a devastating display of opportunism. There were plenty of other good individual performances from United, including Pogba, Fred, Wan-Bissaka, Martial and Shaw. And Solskjaer, too, can take pride from a plan that worked well. Upamecano? Not so much.

9.51pm GMT

After the selfless Rashford delegates penalty-taking duties, Martial strikes the ball low and hard into the corner

9.50pm GMT

Is there nothing he can’t do?! Rashford completes his hat-trick after lovely service from Martial, controlling the ball with on touch and then lashing it into the net from 10 yards. He arrived as a second-half substitute and will depart with the match ball to go with the admiration of a nation!

9.46pm GMT

88 min: Cavani sweeps the ball into the net with his left foot after a pass from Fernandes. But that one was blatantly offside so it won’t count.

9.43pm GMT

85 min: Sabitzer is deemed to have brought down Martial after sliding in to dispossess the Frenchman following an attack instigated by Rashford.

9.41pm GMT

84 min: Rashford channels his inner George Best and feints his way past two defenders at the edge of the area, then dodges another one and tries to get off a shot. But it’s blocked.

9.39pm GMT

81 min: United substitutions: Tuanzebe and Cavani on, Wan-Bissaka and Pogba off. Pogba had a good game.

9.36pm GMT

What a finish! The ever-busy Fred pestered Leipzig into surrendering possession, and when the ball broke to Rashford, the striker took it forward and rifled a powerful low shot beyond the keeper and into the net! The man who saves children from cruel governments in his spare time has wrapped up victory for United!

9.34pm GMT

76 min: Kluivert, moments after coming on for Kampl, clatters into Pogba and is shown a yellow card.

9.34pm GMT

As with Greenwood in the first half, VAR upholds the goal for United!

9.32pm GMT

74 min: Fernandes releases Rashford with a splendid first-time pass. Rashford runs half-way and finishes smartly, then the linesman raises his flag for offside. But the repay suggests Rashford was in his own half when the pass was made. Will VAR allow the goal?

9.31pm GMT

73 min: Rashfords sends Fernandes racing down the right with a lovely flick. The Portuguese fizzes the ball across the six-yard box, fractionally too far for Pogba, who had sprinted into the area in the hope of getting on the end of an assist.

9.28pm GMT

70 min: Freekick to United in a very dangerous position, three yards outside the D. Fernandez dinks it over the wall towards martial, who stretches out his leg but can’t get a crucial touch. A good idea tantalisingly close to successful execution.

9.27pm GMT

69 min: Leipzig have switched into all-out attack mode. They’re throwing even more players forward. Which puts United under more pressure but is also leaving more scope for counter-attacks ...

9.26pm GMT

67 min: United substitution: Fernandes on, Van de Beek off. The Dutchman had a quiet game on his first start. Did nothing wrong but did not exert as much influence as hoped, at least not in an attacking sense.

9.23pm GMT

66 min: Leipzig substitution: Sorloth on, Nkunku off.

9.23pm GMT

64 min: Fred penalised for tripping Poulsen. Freekick to Leipzig about 30 yard, and central. They take it short and then, when they eventually cross. Poulsen sends a looping header towards the top corner. But it’s slow enough for De Gea to be able to react and palm it over the bar.

9.20pm GMT

63 min: United substitutions: Rashford and McTominay on, Greenwood and Matic off.

Leipzig substitution: Sabitzer on, Henrichs off

9.18pm GMT

61 min: The ball drops to Pogba narly 30 yards out. He’s played well, he’s in the mood, a sensational volley into the roof of the net might just be on the cards ... or, as it turns out, the connection might be poor and the ball could trickle sadly wide.

9.16pm GMT

59 min: Upamecano fends off Martial, stopping him from getting a shot away after United launched an attach after Van de Beek won the ball in midfield with a challenge that angered Leipzig.

9.14pm GMT

57 min: Matic hooks the ball clear from inside his own six-yard box. The pressure is building from the visitors, who continue to dominate possession.

9.13pm GMT

55 min: Poulsen and Maguri are having a frank exchange of views after the striker went down in the box as if fouled off the ball by Maguire. The ref isn’t interested.

9.10pm GMT

53 min: Matic catches an opponent with his arm in another aerial challenge. It was very similar to the one that got him a yellow card in the first half. This time he gets away with an angry chiding from the ref.

9.10pm GMT

51 min: Pogba harasses Upamecano into losing possession in United territory, giving United a chance for a rapid counter-attack. United work the ball to Greenwood, whose blaster from the right-hand corner f the box is blocked by the keeper.

9.06pm GMT

49 min: Shaw slides in to poke the ball away from the feet of Henrichs after a flowing Leipzig move. The second half is following the pattern of the first, with Leipzig having most of the play and United absorbing it and looking or chances to counter-attack/

9.05pm GMT

48 min: Upamecano intercepts a loose pass and then strides forward, skipping past Fred. But he then misdirects a cross from the left.

9.03pm GMT

47 min: Henrichs booked for pulling back Pogba after the Frenchman rolled past him by the left touchline.

9.03pm GMT

46 min: Play resumes with a united kickoff.

9.01pm GMT

“I must give credit to the oft-maligned (including by me) Pogba,” ays Duncan Edwards. “He’s drawn a lot of attention from (up to four) players in that half but made the most of a bit of space to set up the goal.” True, and Leipzig haven’t shown any such quality in the final third.

8.48pm GMT

United are half-way to a fine result. It’s been an energetic and disciplined performance in which the hosts have played mainly on the counter-attack. Leipzig have had plenty of possession but United have kept them at bay without straining too much, and Greenwood gave them the lead thanks to a superbly clinical finish after good service by Pogba. Van de Beek hasn’t had much of a look-in yet.

8.45pm GMT

45 min: Corner to Leipzig. Nkunku pulls it back beyond the D, where Angelino collects it and tries to dink a cross towards the back post. But he overhits it and the ball drops out of play.

8.44pm GMT

42 min: A setpiece gives United a chance to threaten again. Shaw floats it over from the left, looking for Maguire. But it’s cleared.

8.43pm GMT

39 min: Martial drops deep into his own half to sabotage a Leipzig move. That sums up how things have been going for the last while.

8.40pm GMT

37 min: The hosts are playing like the away side now. Leipzig are camped in the United half, but Solskjaer’s team are staying tight and disciplined, preventing any breakthroughs. De Gea has been untroubled so far.

8.38pm GMT

35 min: Olmo unloads a shot from 20 yards after sustained possession by Leipzig. It cannons off Maguire’s head and rebounds to safety.

8.35pm GMT

33 min: Matic is booked for fending off Forsberg with his forearm in midfield. The game’s going through a scrappy spell. “I’m afraid Niall O’Keefe, like many others, is talking out of his bottom,” opines Arwell Jones, raising the question as to just how many people can talk out of one man’s bottom. “Who is he to say Ole did not plan this team four games in advance? What last season taught us is that we can’t play the same 11 week in/week out without burning the players out. And each game brings its own challenges which sometimes requires a change of approach. Leave Ole alone please, he’s doing a fine job.” The injury rate at other clubs would suggest there are good grounds for rotating lineups this season, especially with a squad as strong as United’s.

8.32pm GMT

30 min: It’s been a decent first half hour for United. They’re playing mostly on the counter-attack but have been very diligent and strong in the way they’ve prevented Leipzig from making any inroads and looked threatening when they’ve gone forward, and not only when they scored.

8.27pm GMT

27 min: Upamecano tries to blast one into the top corner from over 25 yards. He misses by miles.

8.26pm GMT

25 min: Two important clearances by Matic in the space of a minute as Leipzig crank up the pressure in search of an equaliser ...

8.25pm GMT

23 min: Leipzig counter-attack. Forberg picks out Nkunku at the right-hand corner of the United box. Nkunky booms a shot towards goal. De Gea bats it out for a corner.

8.24pm GMT

Fred won the ball in midfield and gave it to Pogba, who cantered forwad and then slipped a perfect pass through to Greenwood, who finished with impeccable accuracy, shooting low across the keeper and into the far corner. But wait, there’s a VAR review.

8.20pm GMT

20 min: When one of Leipzig’s back three have the ball United let them keep it ... until they try to enter the home half. That is when the United press is triggered. The hosts are looking well organised and highly driven. As they should be, of course, but it hasn’t always been the case.

8.18pm GMT

17 min: Fred pings a low pass to Martial, who takes it near the centre circle and spins away from his man before gaining ground and trying to pick out Pogba. He overhits the pass but Pogba sprints to the corner to retrieve it. The move eventually comes to nothing but that was an encouraging bit of play.

8.15pm GMT

15 min: Fred, who has been very busy and effective so far, charges back to hook clear a dangerous-looking cross by Leipzig.

8.14pm GMT

13 min: So far United have pretty much matched Leipzig’s intensity and have pressed well, if not particularly high. Can’t accuse anyone of laziness at this stage.

8.12pm GMT

11 min: This is a gripping enough contest so far, with both sides hinting at real menace. Wan-Bissaka has just had to clear the ball from inside his own six-yard box after a nice move by Leipzig that culminated in a shot by Forsberg.

8.10pm GMT

10 min: Upamecano makes a slack pass in his own half, gifting the ball to Fred, who helps it on quickly to Martial. The Frenchman scampers down the right but fails to pick out one of two teammates who were waiting for it in the box.

8.07pm GMT

7 min: After another bout of pressure from United, Shaw wraps his foot around a shot from 25 yards. He catches it nicely but Poulsen gets his head in the way to stop t reaching the target.

8.06pm GMT

6 min: Kampl clunks into Pogba from behind, giving United a freekick about 30 yards out, near the left touchline. Shaw curls it in. Maguire, soaring beyond the back post , heads it back into the danger zone. It’s cleared as far as Fred, who lets fly from the edge of the area. Gulasci plunges to the left to push it out for a corner.

8.05pm GMT

4 min: Van de Beek is a very advanced tip of the midfield diamond, looking for every opportunity to dart forward into the gap left when Martial and Greenwood split to let him through. That seems to be the theory, anyway. But United are going to have get a lot more of the ball to put it into practice. So far Leipzig have had most of it.

8.02pm GMT

2 min: It’s been a perky start by the visitors, zipping forward with their customary verve and mesmeric movement.

8.00pm GMT

1 min: Leipzig, wearing all white with red trims, get the game going.

7.58pm GMT

The teams amble out on to the grass, all looking very relaxed and cheerful...

7.57pm GMT

“I fear RB are a significantly sterner prospect than PSG and not sure our defence or indeed midfield will hold them back, especially with a back four,” trumpets Aran Scutcher. “I appreciate OGS doesn’t just have a ‘best 11’ these days and it’s really good to see DVDB starting but Pogba hasn’t shown much recently and not sure I see a future for him at United. On his day he’s wonderful but those days are too few and far between. Hopefully he’ll prove me wrong. Martial needs to get back to scoring ways (for us) too, be great if Cavani teaches him a thing or two. Our defence frailties are well known, Linderlof is like some travelling salesman wondering around the pitch offering freebees to the opposition whilst Maguire has a look of a child staring at a maths exam willing it to reveal its secrets. AWB was great defensively but has obviously been working on his offensive game and seems to be caught out of position a lot more. At least now he only darts for the byline 80% of the time before crossing. This is too depressing, I’ve not even got to Luke Shaw…”

7.55pm GMT

The final result from today’s other game in this group was Basahsekir 0-2 PSG, with Moise Keane bagging both goals after an unhappy spell in the Premier League. The man could be the new Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting.

7.52pm GMT

“Looking at Oles starting 11 over the past three games, I am increasingly concerned he has no masterplan,” announces Niall O’Keefe. “No long term vision. You would hope he would plan his starting eleven at least four games in advance. Sadly he looks like a lower league manager and is being found out again and again. I doubt tonight will be a repeat of Paris last week.” It certainly won’t be a repeat of Paris, since he seems to be taking a very different approach to this game, which is no bad thing in itself.

7.30pm GMT

Julian Nagelsmann wants his team to show what they’re all about today: “We have come here to take all three points,” says the Leipzig manager. “That is entirely possible ... They know what qualities we have and what we can do.”

7.21pm GMT

If you don’t want to know the latest score in this group’s other game, look away now. PSG have just taken the lead at Basaksehir thanks to a 65th-minute goal by Everton Moise Kean.

7.17pm GMT

“Our substitutions will be the difference tonight in a close 2-1 win,” reckons Neil Carter, who I’m going to assume is a United fan. They sure do have strength in depth and it’ll be no surprise if they need those subs to turn this game around.

7.09pm GMT

Well look at that! Solskjaer has decided to start both Pogba and Van de Beek in what will presumably be a midfield diamond, with Fernandes on the bench. It’ll be interesting to see how Wan-Bissaka and Shaw, full-backs in a flat back four, cope on the flanks. The visitors, meanwhile, will line up with a back three and have made four changes to the side that beat Hertha Berlin at the weekend, with Konaté, Halstenberg, Olmo and Poulsen all coming in.

Manchester United: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw; Fred, Matic, Pogba, Van de Beek; Greenwood, Martial

5.39pm GMT

Hello. Manchester United made an ideal start to a tricky Champions League group by winning in Paris last week; now they aim to capitalise on that by doing the business at home to the team whom PSG beat in last season’s semi-final, RB Leipzig. The visitors arrive in fine form: they, too, won their first group game and are top of the Bundesliga. What is more, they did not lose an away trip in this tournament last season, winning three times and drawing once. United, remember, have not won at Old Trafford since Anthony Martial scored a late second-leg winner against LASK Linz in last season’s Europa League.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team selection will be fascinating. Martial is available despite domestic suspension but the real intrigue is at the back and in the middle. Will the manager opt for a three-man central defence? That is what Leipzig tend to use and, of course, it was the system that worked so well against PSG, thanks notably to Axel Tuanzebe. Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof have played pretty well in the last couple of games but that won’t stop United fans from keeping an envious eye on Leipzig’s young French centreback Dayot Upamecano. United are longstanding admirers of the player – they tried to sign him when he was a teenager – and he is an obvious target if the club decide to spend big on a new centreback next year. But they’ll be hoping United’s attackers make him suffer at Old Trafford today. And what of United’s midfield? Will Solskjaer find a way to fit Donny Van de Beek and/or Paul Pogba into it? Answers to all those questions, and much more, are imminent. Let’s get it on!

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Marcus Rashford hits hat-trick off bench as Manchester United thrash RB Leipzig

Wed, 10/28/2020 - 22:01

Marcus Rashford continues to elevate himself. In Manchester United’s emphatic victory over RB Leipzig the striker joined the action after 63 minutes and proceeded to score a hat-trick in a cameo display of menace and ruthlessness that personified Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side.

The 22-year-old continues to be an inspiration in his unswerving fight against food poverty that has already caused one government U-turn and is aiming to provoke another. Against United’s German visitors he was a one-man demolition act, scoring on 74, 78 and 90 minutes, even having time to display the selflessness that drives him to help those less fortunate.

Related: Manchester United v RB Leipzig: Champions League – live!

Related: Moise Kean double earns PSG win, Jadon Sancho on the spot for Dortmund

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'I will tackle Solskjær': Bayern fan Nagelsmann jokes of revenge at Manchester United – video

Wed, 10/28/2020 - 12:56

RB Leipzig manager Julian Naglesmann has planned to exact revenge on Ole Gunnar Solskjær as his side head to Old Trafford in the Champions League. The German is a Bayern Munich fan and he was asked by a reporter how he felt coming up against the player that dashed his side’s dreams in the 1999 Champions League final. ‘First of all I will tackle him when I see him,’ said the 33-year-old coach

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Ole Gunnar Solskjær takes pop at pundits over Van de Beek comments

Tue, 10/27/2020 - 15:34
  • Midfielder has not started in Premier League this season
  • ‘It’s nice for some commentators to have a little go’

Ole Gunnar Solskjær offered a barbed response to pundits who have criticised Donny van de Beek’s lack of playing time for Manchester United, stating it is nice for them to have “a little go”.

The manager has not started the midfielder in United’s opening four Premier League games, Van de Beek having signed for £35m from Ajax. The 23-year-old has, though, featured in seven of United’s eight matches in all competitions, starting two EFL Cup ties – Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Chelsea being the first time he has not been used.

Related: David Squires on ... Marcus Rashford v the Tory government

Related: Diaries, astuteness and work ethic: the making of Solskjær the manager | Jamie Jackson

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David Squires on ... Marcus Rashford v the Tory government

Tue, 10/27/2020 - 11:57

Our cartoonist on the striker’s mission to provide meals for children in need, and the grimly predictable obstacles in his way

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Diaries, astuteness and work ethic: the making of Solskjær the manager | Jamie Jackson

Tue, 10/27/2020 - 09:00

In an extract from his new book about Ole Gunnar Solskjær, Jamie Jackson finds a future foretold during the Norwegian’s time as a Manchester United striker

See the three figures out on the green grass of Manchester United’s Carrington training base. Working in the hot June sun. Two are together, one stands apart. The two are practising finishing – the other encouraging, coaching, feeding them endless balls to try to score with. They are relentless in their quest to become better. They are Ole Gunnar Solskjær and Ruud van Nistelrooy. They are being schooled by René Meulensteen, a Dutch skills coach who will one day manage Manchester United reserves and have Ole as his assistant. Then one day René will be part of Sir Alex Ferguson’s inner circle, becoming first-team coach. For now, he is drilling Ole and his countryman Van Nistelrooy ahead of their coming internationals.

When he was on the bench, he was always looking at the game, analysing the game

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

Mon, 10/26/2020 - 09:17

Bamford continues to prove doubters wrong, Van de Beek should be unleashed and Saints find perfect pairing

Jamie Vardy proved his importance to Leicester City just as much when he was in the stands as he was on the pitch. The Foxes were flat from the off, without a functioning plan B to put into operation in Vardy’s absence. The team is so used to utilising the striker’s clever running in behind a defence, they seem to lack other creative ideas when he is not spearheading the team. Considering they ripped Manchester City apart just weeks ago, it will concern Brendan Rodgers that he cannot get his side to repeat that perfect performance, suffering home defeats to West Ham and Aston Villa in the two games that followed. Vardy’s arrival on the pitch enlivened Leicester, with his teammates looking more confident in the company of their talisman who duly scored a late winner. Rodgers might be best finding a striker in the mould of Vardy to ensure they can maintain the status quo whenever he is absent; otherwise they are just one tweaked muscle away from mediocrity. Will Unwin

Related: José Mourinho's free-scoring Spurs give fans something to cheer about

Related: Marcus Rashford shows how football can be a force for unity and good | Sean Ingle

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Marcus Rashford shows how football can be a force for unity and good | Sean Ingle

Mon, 10/26/2020 - 08:00

The Manchester United attacker has risen from sportsman to statesman with his campaign for free school meals

First Marcus Rashford put in a decent shift on the pitch. Then came an even more impressive one off it.

Barely 45 minutes after a pallid, punchless 0-0 draw with Chelsea on Saturday night, the Manchester United striker was back working his second job: a three-hour magic set in which dozens of cafes, churches, restaurants and ordinary folk all promised him they would donate free food to the poorest children in society during this half-term.

Related: Open letter from UK paediatricians about free school meals

Related: Children’s doctors attack Tories over free school meals

Related: The Observer view on the Commons vote to let poor children go hungry | Observer editorial

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