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Updated: 51 min 49 sec ago

‘Manchester United can achieve special things’ – Cavani signs one-year deal

Mon, 05/10/2021 - 15:57
  • Uruguay striker rejected move to Boca Juniors
  • Cavani has scored 15 goals in all competitions this season

Edinson Cavani has said he believes Manchester United can “achieve special things” after he signed a one-year contract extension.

The Uruguay international, 34, scored his 15th goal for United since joining on a free transfer last summer as Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side made sure of a place in next season’s Champions League by beating Aston Villa on Sunday. Cavani, who also found the net four times over two legs in United’s Europa League semi-final win against Roma, had been in negotiations about extending his stay at Old Trafford for some time having initially signed a one-year deal after leaving Paris Saint-Germain last year.

Related: Champions League final could be switched from Istanbul to Wembley

One more year of @ECavaniOfficial! #MUFC #Cavani2022

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Solskjær says youngsters in contention as Manchester United fixtures pile up

Mon, 05/10/2021 - 13:30
  • Shoretire and Diallo could be involved against Leicester
  • ‘I have to make changes. It’s not safe to keep playing them’

Ole Gunnar Solskjær insists he will not risk the welfare of his Manchester United players as they prepare for the second of three Premier League fixtures in five days, hinting players such as Shola Shoretire and Amad Diallo could come into the reckoning for Tuesday’s meeting with Leicester.

United’s victory at Aston Villa on Sunday, coupled with West Ham’s defeat to Everton, ensured back-to-back top four finishes for the first time since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement. The Premier League title race is also still technically alive for United, but with Manchester City needing just one more win to secure the league, plus a Europa League final against Villarreal this month to prepare for, Solskjær admits it is unlikely he will remain consistent with his team selection.

Related: Solskjær fears Manchester United could be without Maguire for a few weeks

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Solskjær fears Manchester United could be without Maguire for a few weeks

Sun, 05/09/2021 - 17:53
  • United’s captain injured his ankle during win at Aston Villa
  • Solskjær to make major changes for Leicester game on Tuesday

Ole Gunnar Solskjær says Manchester United could be without Harry Maguire for a “few days or a few weeks”, as they wait to assess the damage to their captain’s ankle and admitted he will be forced to make wholesale changes for the match against Leicester City on Tuesday.

Related: Manchester United win at Aston Villa to keep City waiting for Premier League title

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Aston Villa 1-3 Manchester United: Premier League – as it happened

Sun, 05/09/2021 - 16:28

Bertrand Traoré’s opener put Villa ahead but United fought back in trademark fashion to postpone Manchester City’s title party again

4.28pm BST

Here is Paul Doyle’s report from Villa Park. Thanks for joining me. Bye!

Related: Manchester United win at Aston Villa to keep rivals waiting for title

4.27pm BST

Next up for United: Leicester on Tuesday, and Liverpool on Thursday – both at home. Win those, and City would kick off against Newcastle on Friday with a four-point margin. They still only need one win from their last three games, but they’re taking their time getting it done.

Villa’s only real aim for the rest of the season is to clamber back into the top half; they face Everton on Thursday, then go to Selhurst Park on Sunday afternoon. Strong end-of-season vibes, there.

4.22pm BST

“In case I’m ever in Birmingham again, I just want to say that I’m not related to Chris Kavanagh,” emails Justin Kavanagh. What about Graham Kavanagh? Or 90s pop pretender Kavana?

4.16pm BST

West Ham v Everton is coming up next – join John Brewin for that one:

Related: West Ham United v Everton: Premier League – live!

4.13pm BST

Chelsea are about to win the WSL title – they’re 5-0 up against Reading. Bristol City are heading down and, in amusingly on-brand news, Manchester City have missed two penalties.

Related: Chelsea and Manchester City battle for title on final day: Women’s Super League – live!

4.06pm BST

“Cavani gives hope to us oldsters that we shouldn’t be put out to pasture just yet,” says Mary Waltz, still covering every blade of MBM grass. “What a lovely, precise header.”

4.04pm BST

That’s 31 points United have picked up from losing positions this season; without those points, they would be on 39 – level with Newcastle. Avoid defeat at Molineux on the final day, and they will also complete an unbeaten season away from home.

4.01pm BST

The quintessential United away win, then: they fell behind in the first half, but got level with Bruno Fernandes’ penalty. Mason Greenwood’s finish gave them the lead, and Edinson Cavani finished the job late on.

3.59pm BST

93 mins: We’re going through the motions here, if I’m honest. United will go 12 points clear of West Ham, so Champions League football next season will be officially sealed unless the Hammers beat Everton.

3.57pm BST

90 mins: Six minutes of injury time as the game turns spectacularly away from Villa. Henderson pulled his foot away, and Watkins wouldn’t have kept the ball in play, so it wasn’t a penalty for me. It wasn’t a particularly egregious dive either, with replays not clarifying if there was contact – that’s a bold call from the referee.

3.55pm BST

This is a strange one. Watkins, booked for a foul on Maguire in the first half, runs through on goal and flicks the ball away from Henderson. It looks like Chris Kavanagh has given a penalty – but instead, he hands Watkins a second booking for simulation!

3.53pm BST

This is so clever from Edinson Cavani, who lingers out wide as Luke Shaw’s shot is charged down. When Fred finds Rashford on the other flank, he makes his move – surging towards the near post and flicking his header past Martinez. Game over!

3.51pm BST

86 mins: Matic is on for Fernandes, whose penalty got United on level terms before Greenwood’s goal. Cavani’s shot is blocked by Matty Cash, the striker appealing for a handball. Not given, but it won’t matter ...

3.49pm BST

84 mins: Targett’s shot can’t find a path through a thicket of United defenders. Villa are effectively playing with four forwards, so it’s no surprise to see Nemanja Matic summoned from the United bench.

3.48pm BST

82 mins: Keinan Davis, operating alongside Wesley up top with Watkins drifting to the left, finds space inside the United area. Rather than go for goal he tries to pick out Watkins, who is closed down.

3.47pm BST

81 mins: Traoré jinks this way and that before drilling a low cross that Bailly scrambles away. A United counter is snuffed out by John McGinn, putting in a tireless, almost Waltzian shift in midfield.

3.45pm BST

80 mins: With Davis and Wesley waiting for the cross, John McGinn instead picks out Traoré, whose downward header is never troubling Henderson.

3.42pm BST

77 mins: Harry Maguire trots back on, but very quickly drops back to the turf, rolling his left sock down and wincing. Eric Bailly comes on in his place. For Villa, Keinan Davis and Wesley are on, replacing El Ghazi and Barkley, who wasn’t at his incisive best today.

3.39pm BST

75 mins: Maguire, a defensive ever-present in the league this season, is ushered to the touchline and looks a doubt to continue. In the meantime, Barkley hooks his free kick high and wide of goal.

3.38pm BST

West Ham v Everton is coming up next: John Brewin has events at the London Stadium covered.

Related: West Ham United v Everton: Premier League – live!

3.37pm BST

72 mins: Some less impressive defensive work from Cavani, losing the ball and tripping El Ghazi, who collided with Maguire as he went over. The United captain will need treatment after taking a hefty blow.

3.35pm BST

“What’s the most times a team has been 45 minutes away from winning the Premier League?” wonders Phil Grey. It does feel like Groundhog Day for Manchester City after yesterday’s shenanigans.

3.33pm BST

68 mins: Wan-Bissaka races across to stop the ball going out for a corner, but succeeds only in passing it straight to Matt Targett. His cross is nodded back across goal – but Cavani uses his aerial instincts well, moving to the far post to head it away!

3.32pm BST

67 mins: Maguire is booked for holding on to Watkins – who was booked in the first half for a clumsy foul on Maguire. The free-kick is swung in, and flicked away by Lindelof ...

3.30pm BST

66 mins: Jacob Ramsey comes on in place of the hapless Douglas Luiz, whose brain-fade allowed United to start turning the game around.

3.29pm BST

64 mins: Edinson Cavani is coming on, replacing goalscorer Greenwood. Having seen a replay of the possible handball, Greenwood was spinning on the edge of the area, the ball fired at him by Douglas Luiz. It would have been incredibly harsh to give that.

3.26pm BST

60 mins: Villa aren’t out of this yet! El Ghazi gets in behind and causes a flurry of panic with his ball back across goal. It’s worked back to Targett, and Maguire throws his head in the way of the cross, but Traoré’s shot still forces a save from Henderson. From the corner, there’s a big Villa shout for handball against Greenwood, but no dice, despite a lengthy VAR check as play continues.

3.24pm BST

59 mins: Tensions boil over between Konsa and Rashford after a penalty-box battle, the Villa defender having to be hauled away before losing his rag altogether. From the corner, Maguire heads wide.

3.23pm BST

A rapid turnaround from United, and credit to Mason Greenwood for taking the chance so clinically – but Mings was uncharacteristically weak with his challenge, and Martinez might feel disappointed by getting beaten at his near post.

3.22pm BST

And now they lead! Wan-Dissaka drifts in from the right and slips a pass to Greenwood, who turns Mings with unacceptable ease before firing a low shot beyond Martinez!

3.19pm BST

55 mins: Traoré gets into space down the right, but dallies for too long and United get numbers back. United currently on course for another point earned from behind ...

3.17pm BST

Bruno Fernandes steps up. Panenka, anyone? No, a stutter-step run-up, and a cool finish to Martinez’s left. The City champagne is back on ice!

3.16pm BST

United counter, and Pogba holds the ball up in the area. Douglas Luiz does well to shepherd him away from goal, then inexplicably lunges in with no chance of getting the ball. That’s a penalty.

3.14pm BST

49 mins: McGinn plays a through ball to Barkley, who looks a yard offside. He cuts it back to El Ghazi, whose shot tests Henderson at his near post ...

3.13pm BST

47 mins: Fernandes rolls the ball to Pogba, whose shot from the edge of the area balloons behind off Mings. United corner, punched clear by Martinez before Pogba’s cross is cut out by the rock-solid Ezri Konsa.

3.11pm BST

46 mins: Shaw looks aggrieved after getting whistled trying to win the ball high up the pitch. Another reminder: United are the league’s leading second-half scorers.

3.10pm BST

Villa get it started. Reminder: if the hosts hold on and win, Manchester City are champions – and a draw means United’s faint hopes would be purely mathematical. Long way to go, of course.

3.05pm BST

Here’s our report from Wolves 2-1 Brighton, for your consideration.

Related: Morgan Gibbs-White gives Wolves late win against depleted Brighton

3.04pm BST

“Waltzy’s had a great season,” says Matt Dony, game recognising game. “She’s a top, top contributor. I’m sure she’s saved something in the tank for this brutal run-in.”

3.03pm BST

“It would be typical of this underwhelming season if United follow City’s defeat yesterday with one of their own, thereby handing City the title in rather downbeat circumstances,” writes Rick Harris.

2.54pm BST

It’s a fine effort, steered firmly towards the bottom corner, but Henderson gets down well to keep it out. And that’s half time! City are 45 minutes from the title, but you feel Villa may need another to hold off United’s customary fightback.

2.53pm BST

46 mins: United play it out and Watkins tries to pinch the ball from Maguire, clattering the defender over like an over-excited puppy. He’s booked, but Villa resume their high press and Watkins has a chance to shoot ...

2.52pm BST

45 mins: One added minute, and Villa pour forward, Matty Cash injecting some urgency. Traoré’s cross doesn’t connect, drifting behind for a goal kick.

2.50pm BST

44 mins: Konsa is playing on after getting some physio treatment and emptying an entire bottle of water over his head. It does look a little warm at Villa Park, to be fair.

2.49pm BST

42 mins: The impressive Konsa nods Wan-Bissaka’s cross away with Fernandes lurking – if a little mismatched, height-wise. Konsa lands awkwardly and stays down holding his knee, which is a concern.

2.47pm BST

41 mins: United come again, Fernandes looking for options on the right-hand corner of the Villa area, then driving to the byline and crossing at pace. Martinez parries it out, and Konsa has to move smartly to make a two-touch clearance a yard from his own goal.

2.46pm BST

39 mins: Fernandes tees up Rashford, whose shot from 20 yards is well-struck, but straightforward enough for Martínez.

2.45pm BST

37 mins: Having been rocked back by the opening goal, United are building some momentum again. They’ve won 28 points from losing positions this season, which is frankly a bit ridiculous.

2.43pm BST

“I would love to think that I have something to save for my beloved Everton,” says Mary Waltz (see 14.10).” I fear that that much like the Toffees’ season, I may be running out of bullets. I will attempt to rise above mid table mediocrity, I hope my boys do the same.”

2.41pm BST

34 mins: Shaw gets upfield and sweeps a low cross across goal, but nobody is there to get on the end of it. Moments later, Fernandes tries to lob Martínez from 40 yards out, and is not particularly close.

2.40pm BST

33 mins: Villa free kick, which Targett slips wide to El Ghazi. His low cross is cut out by Fernandes, back helping out in defence. The hosts certainly have a spring in their step now.

2.37pm BST

30 mins: El Ghazi looks for Watkins at the far post, but a be-capped Dean Henderson collects. That chance came from more excellent work from McGinn. Villa fans may know better, but he rarely seems to have an off-day in that midfield engine room.

2.34pm BST

26 mins: Almost an immediate-ish response from the visitors, as Rashford’s low cross is cleared away by Tyrone Mings.

2.34pm BST

It had been an even first 25 minutes, but United appeared to have several more gears to click through. Traoré’s superb opener came against the run of the play, and it means Manchester City will win the title unless United fight back. They’ve done so about 1,500 times already this season, so don’t rule it out.

2.32pm BST

McGinn nicks the ball from McTominay and Douglas Luiz finds Traoré on the edge of the box. The winger tries what looks an ill-advised back flick, but Lindelof doesn’t deal with it and offers Traoré a chance from a tricky angle. He takes it, firing past Henderson and into the top corner!

2.30pm BST

22 mins: With the United front four pressing high up the field, Villa are going long – and McGinn’s through ball almost connects with El Ghazi. McGinn, tenacious as ever, wins the ball back in midfield ...

2.27pm BST

19 mins: United are operating in a fluid shape, with Pogba drifting in from the left, and Greenwood swapping positions with Rashford. Greenwood’s low shot almost falls at Rashford’s feet, but Matt Targett does just enough to squirrel the ball away.

2.24pm BST

16 mins: After a spell of midfield strolling, Villa get another corner which Lindelof flicks away. By the way, here’s the last time the title was decided by events at Villa Park.

2.18pm BST

12 mins: Another Villa corner, as Bertrand Traoré’s snap shot is deflected over the bar. Maguire directs the Slab onto it, and the danger is cleared.

2.17pm BST

10 mins: They do so effectively, and Matt Targett wins a corner. It’s worked backwards to the left-back, whose cross drifts out of play.

2.15pm BST

9 mins: Fred sends a low shot straight at Martínez, before Villa try to get a little time on the ball.

2.14pm BST

“Do you reckon those Zebra shirts have been washed from Thursday night or just pulled back out of the laundry basket?” asks Rick Harris. A quick spritz with Febreze would probably do the trick.

2.13pm BST

6 mins: It’s been a strong start from the visitors. Luke Shaw cuts in from the left and stings Martínez’s palms, before Pogba’s cross is fielded by the busy Villa keeper. At the other end, El Ghazi sends a speculator low and wide.

2.11pm BST

4 mins: Rashford’s shot loops up off Ezri Konza, presenting a half-chance to Greenwood whose shot from a tight angle is repelled by Emi Martínez.

2.10pm BST

“I’d welcome opinions from your esteemed MBM contributors (both of them if they have time and inclination) on whether Mary Waltz will be rotating her MBM input today, perhaps saving her strongest contribution for West Ham v Everton later?” asks Graham Moger.

It’s been a long season, and we’ve got to keep everyone fresh – especially with the Euros looming.

2.06pm BST

Both teams take a collective knee, before Manchester United get the ball rolling.

2.04pm BST

The teams are heading out onto the pitch. United are in their zebra kit, which actually looks pretty fresh with plain black shorts. Here we go!

2.01pm BST

And Ole Gunnar Solskjær:

"We'll deal with Tuesday and Thursday later on."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer speaks to Sky Sports ahead of today's game against Aston Villa.

Watch live on Sky Sports PL pic.twitter.com/xlyAUj5dsc

1.59pm BST

Some pre-match chat from Dean Smith:

Dean Smith speaks to Sky Sports ahead of Aston Villa's game against Manchester United.

Watch live on Sky Sports PL pic.twitter.com/mB2UTvyU5z

1.53pm BST

Wolves win! A great moment for Morgan Gibbs-White, who fires home a last-minute winner, five minutes after skying his shot with the goal gaping. It’s what we like to see, and it’s earned Wolves their first ever top-flight win over Brighton! After the final whistle, Neal Maupay was sent off for a tirade aimed at referee Jon Moss.

1.50pm BST

“I imagine the Tuesday fixture with Leicester will be when Ole’s B-squad will be deployed,” says Mary Waltz. It certainly looks that way; I’m not sure that will really help Leicester, who seem to raise their game against stronger opposition.

1.47pm BST

The Women’s Super League title is up for grabs today, with Chelsea aiming to hold off Manchester City. Manchester United host Everton, while Villa visit Arsenal and may need a favour from Brighton to stop Bristol City climbing above them in the race to beat the drop. Follow along with John Ashdown:

Related: Chelsea and Manchester City battle for title on final day: Women’s Super League – live!

1.42pm BST

Here’s Jonathan Wilson on last Sunday’s protests at Old Trafford and where we go from here in the post-Super League era.

Related: There are no easy answers to how football tackles its billionaire owners | Jonathan Wilson

1.37pm BST

Wolves are level! It’s Adama Traoré with the equaliser at home to Brighton, finishing sweetly after an intricate one-two with Fabio Silva. Elsewhere it’s the final day of League One, where all that’s still up for grabs is the final play-off spot. Portsmouth started the day in sixth but are losing at home to Accrington; as it stands, Oxford will join Blackpool, Sunderland and Lincoln in the play-offs.

1.26pm BST

Some quotes from Solskjær, care of the Manchester United website: “We’ve been handed a very bad hand ... the intensity of the Premier League is so, so high and the quality is so high. We’ve just got to make sure we tick one off [game] at a time. But the players are ready for it, I’m ready for it.

“It’s a challenge we’ll take head on. It’s not like we’ll just throw the toys out of the pram and feel sorry for ourselves. That’s not the way we are. But I had to express how unhappy I am with how they can risk injuries for the players. I’ve got to look after them.”

1.24pm BST

In Sunday’s early kick-off, Lewis Dunk has put Brighton 1-0 up at Molineux before getting sent off for a professional foul. Half an hour or so to go there, and it’s live on BBC One. As Paul Doyle mentioned here, Brighton are a curious bogey team for Wolves, who have never beaten them in a top-flight game.

1.16pm BST

In the end, there’s no drastic reshuffle from Solskjær with four changes from Thursday’s game in Rome. Dean Henderson replaces David de Gea in goal, Victor Lindelöf comes back into the defence, while Scott McTominay and Marcus Rashford replace Donny van de Beek and Edinson Cavani.

Villa go with the same XI that won at Goodison, despite a looming fixture pile-up of their own. Dean Smith’s side end the season with four games in 10 days, starting on Thursday with the return meeting with Everton.

1.09pm BST

Aston Villa (4-2-3-1): Martinez; Cash, Konsa, Mings, Targett; Douglas Luiz, McGinn; Traoré, Barkley, El Ghazi; Watkins.
Subs: Heaton, Wesley, Nakamba, Elmohamady, Hause, Davis, Ramsey, Philogene-Bidace, Chukwuemeka.

Man Utd (4-2-3-1): Henderson; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelöf, Maguire, Shaw; McTominay, Fred; Greenwood, Bruno Fernandes, Pogba; Rashford.
Subs: De Gea, Bailly, Cavani, Mata, Alex Telles, Matic, Williams, van de Beek, Tuanzebe.

1.00pm BST

Manchester United like playing at Villa Park. The last game they lost at Aston Villa was in the 1999 Worthington Cup, when Ole Gunnar Solskjær was in the United team. You have to travel back another four years for their last league defeat here, an opening-day embarrassment that led Alan Hansen to opine “you can’t win anything with kids”.

Solskjær might be tempted to test that theory today as United begin a run of three league games in five days. The manager is expected to at least rotate his team with home games against Leicester and Liverpool looming. Villa’s win at Goodison Park has arrested their end-of-season drift, and the hosts might fancy their chances of ending what is now a historic top-flight drought in a single fixture.

Defeat for United this afternoon would secure the title for Manchester City, while even a draw will leave the Reds needing snookers. In reality, United’s primary concerns are securing second place and keeping assorted hamstrings operational with a European final on the horizon. Another victory here would open a 12-point gap on fifth place, and make Champions League qualification a formality.

Of course, had you told Fergie back in 1995 that one day, almost 26 years in the future, United would field even a slightly weakened team at the risk of letting City win the title, he’d have fired up the hairdryer quicker than you can say European Super League. Modern football, bloody hell. Kick-off: 2.05pm, BST.

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Manchester United win at Aston Villa to keep City waiting for league title

Sun, 05/09/2021 - 16:21

For a moment Manchester City must have thought their title triumph would be confirmed. Their neighbours appeared to be wilting under the strain of a hectic schedule and inhospitable hosts. But for the ninth time in this season’s Premier League, Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side staged a second-half turnaround.

City will have to wait; and so will Aston Villa, who still have not beaten United in the league at home since 1995.

Related: Aston Villa 1-3 Manchester United: Premier League – live reaction!

Related: Morgan Gibbs-White gives Wolves late win against depleted Brighton

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Football’s super league fiasco underlines the need for levelling up everywhere

Sun, 05/09/2021 - 07:00

The bid by top clubs to break away was globalisation at its worst – and emblematic of the UK’s problems beyond sport

Four weeks on from what is turning out to be one of the biggest self-inflicted errors by any members of the business elite, the owners of the supposedly top six English football clubs must be wondering how on earth they got themselves into this mess. They are also probably, wishfully, thinking: “Head down, this will all blow over.”

Among the numerous fascinating aspects of the European Super League debacle, designed to ram through non-competitive staged events for Europe’s top teams, is that it arrived in the UK – England, specifically – at a time when the government is trying to resurrect its domestic mantra of “levelling up” after 14 months of challenges over Covid-19.

The enforcement of proper boards with true independent directors would be an extremely easy step, and a beginning

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Manchester United review security plan with further fan protests expected

Sat, 05/08/2021 - 22:30
  • Club reviewing staying at Lowry hotel before games
  • ‘We’ll keep it as normal as possible,’ Ole Gunnar Solskjær says

Manchester United are reviewing their use of the Lowry hotel before home games and their other security arrangements after last Sunday’s protests caused the postponement of their match against Liverpool.

United stay at the Lowry, in the city centre and a 20-minute drive from Old Trafford. While it is understood that the club has been contacted by other hotels in the area to offer their services, United are taking advice from Greater Manchester police and their own security staff.

Related: Manchester United lose £200m training kit deal over fans’ anti-Glazers campaign

Related: Joel Glazer vows to allow fans shares in Manchester United

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Manchester United lose £200m training kit deal over fans’ anti-Glazers campaign

Sat, 05/08/2021 - 21:48
  • The Hut Group pulls out of contract starting in July, sources say
  • Fans are campaigning for boycott of club’s commercial partners

Manchester United have missed out on a proposed new training kit deal worth £200m over 10 years after the Manchester-based company The Hut Group had concerns about the supporters’ campaign to boycott the club’s commercial partners in protest at the Glazers’ ownership, the Observer understands.

Richard Arnold, United’s group managing director, was told on Friday that THG had pulled out of a contract which was due to start on 1 July.

Related: There are no easy answers to how football tackles its billionaire owners | Jonathan Wilson

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There are no easy answers to how football tackles its billionaire owners | Jonathan Wilson

Sat, 05/08/2021 - 20:00

Fans are right to protest but unless the game’s riches are better redistributed the super-rich benefactors are here to stay

Whether you see in the demonstrations at Old Trafford last week an outrageous affront to law and decency or a legitimate mode of dissent, a public expression at last of long-held grievances, it is clear, perhaps for the first time in English football, that there is a real sense of militancy among fans. With the super-clubs in retreat, the possibility of change appears real – or at least more real than it has been for years. In which case fans should probably work out what they want.

Already it is notable that the serious protests have been focused at the two super-clubs who have most reason to be frustrated with their owners. The mutinous mood of the past few weeks feels multi-layered. Manchester United and Arsenal fans both have specific issues with their American billionaire owners that go far beyond a lack of success on the pitch, feeding into a broader sense that football is being taken away from its roots and the people to whom it used to “belong”. This is happening in a country beginning to emerge from lockdown into intense financial uncertainty; there is a lot of pent-up energy which may dissipate as life returns to something like normal – or it may not, particularly if the economic situation worsens.

Related: Premier League preparing measures to stop threat of breakaway leagues

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Aston Villa v Manchester United: match preview

Sat, 05/08/2021 - 09:00

Manchester United’s place in the Champions League next season is virtually guaranteed but a win against Aston Villa would still be another step to confirming their place. Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side will be in high spirits after cruising into the Europa League final but the manager will implore his side to maintain their momentum as he eyes a first trophy since taking charge at Old Trafford. Dean Smith will want the exact the same after a great win against Everton while Villa’s Tyrone Mings, Ezri Konsa and Ollie Watkins will be eager to keep impressing Gareth Southgate to make England’s squad for the European Championship this summer. Graham Searles

Sunday 2.05pm Sky Sports Premier League

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Football fan protests are a positive, legitimate response to deeper discontent | Barney Ronay

Fri, 05/07/2021 - 16:59

The game is an echo box for wider anxieties, because it is the place people gather, because it gives a hook to our feelings

There was something touching on Thursday evening about the sight of Martin Keown standing on a windswept dais in front of an empty super-stadium trying to rationalise the dissolution, by various structural forces, of the entity previously known as “Arsenal Football Club”.

Keown might not always pronounce players’ names correctly, but he is a good pundit and a man of substance. He did his best to offer Arsenal fans comfort after the 0-0 draw with Villarreal, another game marked by protest outside the Emirates at the club’s distant ownership. Keown pointed out that change can come from inside. He remembered that Arsenal were also badly run in the 1980s – and that they fixed themselves then, when all this really involved was getting a couple of capable people in the boardroom and maybe doing up the training ground.

Related: Mikel Arteta ‘devastated’ as Arsenal fall in Europa League semi-final

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Joel Glazer vows to allow fans shares in Manchester United

Fri, 05/07/2021 - 15:34
  • Club’s co-chairman ready to talk to supporters
  • ‘I want to acknowledge the need for change,’ he tells them

Joel Glazer has promised to “accelerate” discussions regarding fans owning shares in Manchester United and acknowledged the need for change called for by supporters disgruntled with his family’s ownership.

The co-chairman made the comments in an open letter to United’s fans forum, which has 11 representatives of match-going supporters. It is understood the Glazers hope for a period of calm to allow for consultation after Sunday’s protests at Old Trafford became violent.

Related: Solskjær ready to anger clubs chasing top-four spots with rotation policy

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'Protests must be peaceful': Jürgen Klopp on Old Trafford scenes – video

Fri, 05/07/2021 - 15:15

Jurgen Klopp said on Friday he believes Manchester United fans were within their rights to protest last Sunday at Old Trafford against the Glazers' ownership, which subsequently resulted in the game between the teams being postponed. However, the Liverpool manager added that he couldn't condone the behaviour of supporters given the protests weren't 'completely peaceful' as fans broke into stadium with police officers sustaining injuries.

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Categories: What the papers say

Solskjær ready to anger clubs chasing top-four spots with rotation policy

Fri, 05/07/2021 - 13:30
  • Manager may play entirely different XIs across next week
  • United face Leicester on Tuesday and Liverpool on Thursday

Ole Gunnar Solskjær has said Manchester United could skew the race for the top four because he cannot pick his strongest team at home to Leicester on Tuesday and Liverpool on Thursday. United’s manager acknowledged he could anger those clubs and others battling for Champions League places by naming entirely different XIs amid a fixture pileup.

“One of them might not be happy because I play a full team maybe in one and the next 11 in the other,” Solskjær said. “I’ve got to look after the players. That might be someone not happy with my team selection for one game or two games. That might affect whoever gets into fourth position or the Champions League. That’s not my problem.

Related: Solskjær hits out over Manchester United’s ‘impossible’ fixture pile-up

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Categories: What the papers say

Even in Super Bowl-winning Tampa, the Glazers are far from loved

Fri, 05/07/2021 - 09:29

The United owners are not as reviled in Florida as they are in Manchester. But US fans rarely erupt into mass protest - especially if the team is successful

Not that this will make Manchester United fans feel any better, but the Glazers are barely visible in the Tampa Bay too, even though the family has owned the local NFL team since 1995 and won the Super Bowl three months ago (thanks mostly to Tom Brady and a turbocharged defense).

The family front man, if he can be called that, is Joel Glazer, one of six children of the late Malcolm Glazer. Joel Glazer typically makes himself available to Tampa media just once a year, and although he has a pleasant demeanor, he is hardly expansive on his family’s dealings with the club.

Related: Fans saw the Glazers’ money tricks 16 years ago but no one listened | David Conn

Related: American fans love European football precisely because it isn’t like US sport

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Categories: What the papers say

Premier League: 10 things to look out for this weekend

Fri, 05/07/2021 - 00:23

The Champions League finalists meet, Manchester United begin a daunting run and Wolves face their bogey team

A fixture that could see Manchester City seal the Premier League title and is vital to Chelsea’s pushfor the top four has taken on the status of dress rehearsal. Pep Guardiola and Thomas Tuchel both devour great long dossiers on what their opponent might be doing, so there could yet be some subterfuge in advance of the Champions League final. With City having plenty in hand at the top and Chelsea three points ahead of West Ham in fifth, there would seem little point inrisking an entire tactical hand. Of the Premier League’s “big six”, these two have never quite hit on a white-hot rivalry to compete with City’s recent power struggle with Liverpool, or Chelsea’s collisions with Manchester United in the 2000s. But it is also worth considering how different English football might have been had Roman Abramovich landed the signature of Guardiola, as was once his desire. JB

Manchester City v Chelsea, Saturday 5.30pm, all times BST

Leicester v Newcastle, Friday 8pm

Liverpool v Southampton, Saturday 8.15pm

Related: From broken to brilliant, Chelsea have been transformed by Thomas Tuchel | Jacob Steinberg

Aston Villa v Manchester United, Sunday 2.05pm

West Ham v Everton, Sunday 4.30pm

Leeds United v Tottenham, Saturday 12.30pm

Arsenal v West Brom, Sunday 7pm

Related: Solly March: ‘The aspiration is always to play for as big a club as you can’

Wolves v Brighton, Sunday 12pm

Sheffield United v Crystal Palace, Saturday 3pm

Fulham v Burnley, Monday 8pm

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Categories: What the papers say

Solskjær hits out over Manchester United’s ‘impossible’ fixture pile-up

Thu, 05/06/2021 - 23:45
  • Club scheduled to play four games in eight days
  • ‘It’s made by people who’ve never played at this level’

Ole Gunnar Solskjær criticised “people who’ve never played football at this level” for crafting Manchester United’s congested schedule after his side added another date to the diary by securing their spot in the Europa League final against Villarreal, despite falling to defeat against Roma in the semi-final second leg.

United overcame the Serie A side 8-5 on aggregate, with the in-form Edinson Cavani scoring twice in a 3-2 loss on Thursday, the first of four matches in eight days. United return to Premier League action at Aston Villa on Sunday before home matches against Leicester City and Liverpool on Tuesday and Thursday respectively.

Related: Edinson Cavani sends Manchester United into final despite Roma surge

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Categories: What the papers say

Roma 3-2 Manchester United (5-8 agg): Europa League semi-final – as it happened

Thu, 05/06/2021 - 22:30

Manchester United survived a minor scare to emerge from a chaotic white-knuckle ride in Rome and will face Villarreal in the final

10.30pm BST

Jamie Jackson, our man on the Manchester football beat, provides his take on a helter-skelter night at the Stadio Olimpico.

Related: Edinson Cavani sends Manchester United into final despite Roma surge

10.29pm BST

“It’s unheard of,” he says. “It’s made by people who have never played football at this level. It’s physically impossible for the players to do it. After being here tonight, they have to play Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday which is impossible. We’ve not been dealt a good hand but we’ll have to play it as well as we can. We’rte going to need everyone in these four games but we’ll just have to be ready.”

10.25pm BST

“It feels good of course,” the Manchester United manager tells BT Sport. “We played one very, very good half at Old Trafford, which has brought us through. Today we did a job ... I’m disappointed we lost the game because I never like to lose a game, especially the way we did it, but it was always going to be one of these open games with chances for both teams. It could have been 6-6 or 8-g to them. It was strange game of football.”

What was bewhind Roma’s performance tonight? “Well, we kept giving them the ball. We kept losing it in bad positions but luckily we’ve got one of the best goalkeepers in the world. And luckily we have a No9 up there, up front who wants to score goals. Edi and David – two top performances by them.”

10.20pm BST

Nick Ames was at the Emirates Stadium to see Arsenal go out with a not entirely surprising whimper as Villarreal booked a date with Manchester United in the Europa League final. Read on ...

Related: Aubameyang hits post twice as Arsenal fail to reach Europa League final

10.10pm BST

Harry Maguire speaks: “It’s a great achievement,” says the Manchester United captain in an interview swith BT Sport. “Obviously we didn’t win the game tonight so that’s a big disappointment but we did the hard work in the first leg and put ourselves in a great position.

“Tonight we needed to start the first half well but I thought we were a bit edgy. We had chances, they had chances ... they actually played a man-to-man pressing style which made the game end-to-end like basketball and there were chances for both teams. We had a good result at half-time but in the second half we gave them too many chances. We need to improve for the final, but it’s a great achievement.”

9.56pm BST

Peep! Peep! Peeeeeeeeeep! It’s all over in Rome, where Manchester United survived a minor scare to emerge victorious from a marvellously entertaining semi-final played across two legs. Roma were terrific tonight, certainly creating enough chances to put the collective heart crossways in Manchester United, but ultimately coming up short following their disastrous performance at Old Trafford.

Manchester United are through to the Europa League final, where they will meet the Spanish side Villarreal. Unai Emery’s side have just dumped out his former employers Arsenal.

9.52pm BST

90+1 min: Somewhat harshly, Brandon Williams is booked for a rash challenge on Roger Ibanez.

9.49pm BST

88 min: On for Edinson Cavani, Marcus Rashford shoots high over the crossbar from distance. Moments later, Brandon Williams does the exact same thing.

9.47pm BST

86 min: Manchester United substitution: Juan Mata is on for Bruno Fernades, while Bryan Cristante has just been booked for something or other. Other yellow cards I forgot to tell you about in all the excitement: Rick Karsdorp and Edinson Cavani got booked for a bit of handbags some time ago.

9.45pm BST

Wow. Zalewski smashes the ball goalwards from a tight angle and the ball goes in off Alex Telles. There’s a hint of offside but the goal is given. Whether or not the debutant will get to keep it remains to be seen; I suspect it will be chalked up as an own goal.

9.42pm BST

82 min: Roma have had 11 shots on target in this game comapred to Manchester United’s four. Both sides have hit the woodwork, efforts which aren’t counted as being on target. It’s been quite the chaotic white-knuckle ride.

9.41pm BST

80 min: Roma swarm forward again and Mkhitaryan tries to play in Pellegrini. His touch lets him down and the ball carries through to De Gea.

9.38pm BST

77 min: Roma double-substitution: Nicola Zalewski and Borja Mayoral on for Pedro and Edin Dzeko.

9.36pm BST

76 min: Pedro crosses into the Manchester United penalty area, where Edin Dzeko heads over the bar.

9.35pm BST

75 min: Nothing comes of the set-piece, but Roma do win a freee-kick about 40 yards from the U|nited goal. Pellegrini curls the ball in and it’s put out for a corner. Harry Maguire clears the ensuing inswinger.

9.34pm BST

74 min: Another great chance for Roma! Mkhitartyan runs on to a through ball and thumps the ball against the foot of the post from a tight angle. It takes a nick off Harry Maguire en route and goes out for a corner.

9.32pm BST

72 min: This has been a terrific game of football. Way, way better than I think anyone was expecting. With a bit more precision up front, Roma could have given Manchester United a real scare. They’ve had the scoring opportiunities, they jkust couldn’t put them away.

9.31pm BST

71 min: Roma substitution: Davide Santon, formerly of Newcastle United, replaces Bruno Peres.

9.29pm BST

Panic over. Edinson Cavani beats the Roma offside trap to run into space and meet a Bruno Fernandes delivery. From ther penalty spot, he spanks a downwards header past Mirante and into the back of the net. That’s seven goals in his past six games for the Uruguayan.

9.27pm BST

67 min: One suspects Ole Gunnar Solskjær may be questioning the wisdom of removing his full-backs at half-time. Their replacements, Alex Telles and Brandon Williams, are being rent asunder down both flanks.

9.25pm BST

66 min: Mason Greenwood clips the ball over the goalkeeper and wide of the far post after meeting an excellent pass into the Roma penalty asrea from Bruno Fernandes.

9.24pm BST

65 min: Manchester United substitution: Nemanja Matic on for Paul Pogba.

9.23pm BST

62 min: And again! Another remarkable save from De Gea, who somehow keeps out a Mkhitaryan effort from close range after the Armenian met a Pedcro cross. I’m not sure the Manchester United goalkeeper knew much about that - Mkhitaryan’s effort hit his leg.

9.21pm BST

61 min: Oh wow! From close range, David de Gea saves brilliantly from Pedro. If that had gone in it would have been “game on” in a big way.

9.20pm BST

There’s another. A mistake by Fred giftspossession to Roma and Cristante shoots past De Gea from distance. It’s a beauty!

9.18pm BST

58 min: Fred is booked for an overzealous challenge on Ebrima Darobe.

9.17pm BST

The comeback is on! Edin Dzeko skims a header home from close range, getting on the end of a bouncing ball after Pedro had fired into the ground from the right.

9.15pm BST

54 min: Mancini is penalised for shoving Cavani to the ground just inside the Roma half. For reasons that remain unclear, the Uruguayan is sporting a white sticking plaster on one of his exquisitly sculpted cheekbones. Perhaps he cut himself shaving.

9.13pm BST

53 min: Pedro shakes his head in frustration after being denied a corner and it looks like he might have a case. The ball appeared to go out out of the shin of Bailly.

9.12pm BST

51 min: David De Gea is forced to make another save from the livewire that is Lorenzo Pellegrini. You have to hand it to Roma for plugging away in the face of an insurmountable lead.

9.10pm BST

47 min: The ball strikes the out-stretched arm of Maguire in the Manchester United penalty area, but referee Felix Brych doesn’t award a penalty. After a quick VAR check, play resumes with Roma being denied a spot-kick. Maguire flicked the ball onto his own arm and given the current state of the handball law and its myriad interpretations, I have no idea whether Roma are entitled to feel hard done by or not. I’ve certainly seen penalties given for a lot less.

9.06pm BST

46 min: Play resumes with two changes in personnel on the Manchester United side. Brandon Williams and Alex Telles replace Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw.

8.58pm BST

Elsewhere in the Europa League: It’s scoreless between Arsenal and Villarreal in the other semi-final at the Emirates, with Arsenal trailing 2-1 from last week’s first leg in Spain. Paul Doyle is keeping tabs on that one ...

Related: Arsenal v Villarreal: Europa League semi-final, second leg – live!

8.51pm BST

Peep! My hopes for this game were far from high but that was a tremendously entertaining first half. Manchester United sleptwalk through the opening 20 minutes and had to rely on David De Gea to keep the deadlock unbroken.

Edinson Cavani missed two good chances for the visitors before destroying any faint hopes Roma might have had of turning this tie around with his sixth goal in as many games. He’s been a terrific signing for United.

8.48pm BST

45+1 min: From the Roma byline, Donny van de Beek pulls thge ball back to Cavani, who tees up Fernandes. He curls his effort wide of the far post.

8.47pm BST

45 min: Bruno Fernandes ends up in a heap on the floor after attempting a scorpion kick on the edge of the Roma six-yard box. He failed to make contact with the ball that bounced his way from Mason, but it was worth a go.

8.44pm BST

43 min: Free-kick for Manchester United about 10 yards outside the Roma penalty area, a little left of centre. Bruno Fernandes, who won the free-kick, shoots the ball straight into the defensive wall.

8.43pm BST

41 min: Another fine save from David De Gea, who saves with a strong left hand from Mkhitaryan. Edin Dzeko played the ball to his team-mate at the far post and from close range he forced a very smart stop indeed from De Gea.

8.41pm BST

Game, set and match ... United. A ball in behind by Fred, who was sent on his way by a lovely touch from Fernandes, sends Cavani on his way in a one-on-one with Antonio Mirante. He makes no mistake on this occasion, smashing the ball past the Roma goalkeeper.

8.37pm BST

35 min: Roma need to score at least four goals to rescure to this tie and while they’ve failed to trouble the scoreboard operator this evening, it’s wortth noting they’ve had at least three excellent scoring opportunities. By the same token, of course, Edinson Cavani has gone close twice for Manchester United.

8.35pm BST

34 min: David De Gea gets down to save well from Pellegrini after the ball had squirted the Roma man’s way following a ponderous foray into the United penalty area by Edin Dzeko, who ran into traffic before he could fire off a shot.

8.33pm BST

33 min: Bruno Peres wins a corner off Aaron Wan-Bissaka. Nothing comes of it.

8.32pm BST

30 min: Henrikh Mkhitaryan gets on the end of a Pellegrini cross from the left and skims his header towards the far post wide. It’s a bad miss, considering he had a free header. The linesman raised his flag but I think the Armenian was onside.

8.31pm BST

29 min: Roma substitution: Chris Smalling off, Ebrima Darobe on. The nineteen year old Gambian comes on for only his second appearance for Roma.

8.29pm BST

28 min: It looks like the jig could be up for Chris Smalling, who goes down in need of treatment after smashing the ball out of play.

8.28pm BST

27 min: In the Roma goal, Antonio Mirante pulls off an astonishing save, somehow blocking and clawing away a howitzer of an Edinson Cavani shot from close range. Hats off to Bruno Fernandes, who picked out Cavani with a wonderful pass with the outside of his right foot.

8.27pm BST

25 min: Eric Bailly strides out of defence with the ball at his feet and is given the freedom of the park to advance as far as he likes. Approaching the penalty area, he attempts to play it wide to Greenwood, but passes it straight to Chris Smalling, who no longer plays on the same team as him.

8.25pm BST

23 min: Rick Karsdorp curls a wonderful long pass down the left flank, trying to pick out the run of Lorenzo Pellegrini. Luke Shaw beats the Roma No7 to the ball ... but only just.

8.23pm BST

22 min: Luke Shaw whips a nice cross into the Roma penalty area from the left but it’s headed clear.

8.21pm BST

19 min: Edinson Cavani runs on to a ball over the top, waits for it to bounce and lifts it over Roma goalkeeper Antonio Mirante. His effort is almost perfect in its execution but he rubs his hands through his long, luxurient locks in frustration upon seeing the ball clip the crossbar and roll on to the roof of the net.

8.19pm BST

18 min: Aaron Wan-Bissaka gets booked for a late tackle from behind on Bruno Peres. His team-mates argue that he got the ball (not that it matters), while referee Felix Brych quite correctly points out that he didn’t.

8.18pm BST

16 min: The game is still being played at a ridiculously frenetic pace, with Manchester United struggling to get a foot on the ball and slow things down to the more leisurely pace that would suit them. It’s scrappy but entertaining fare.

8.15pm BST

12 min: Roma continue to dominate but have yet to get the early goal that would really put a spring in their step. Pellegrini plays the ball forward to Mkhitaryan, who tries to flick it on with his heel to Edin Dzeko. It’s intercepted. The ball breaks to Pedro, who shoots high over the bar.

8.11pm BST

8 min: De Gea is forced to save again. Luke Shaw nods off and is beaten down the right by Rick Karsdorp, who pulls the ball back for Dzeko. De Gea sticks out a leg to save his effort. Roma are throwing the kitchen sink at Manchester United in these early stages.

8.08pm BST

6 min: Lorenzo Pellegrino attempts to reduce Roma’s arrears with a left-footed shot from the edge of the United penalty area. It’s well wide.

8.07pm BST

5 min: The ball had dropped for Mancini in the United penalty area and he attempted a scissors kick from close range - De Gea did splendidly to keep it out, although I suspect any goal the Roma midfielder may have scored would have been ruled out for a handball in the build-up.

8.06pm BST

3 min: Apologies for the minor delay in transmission - wifi issues. You join us shortly after David De Gera is forced to make an outsatanding save from Gianluca Mancini and just as Henrikh Mkhitaryan heads into the side-netting from the ensuing corner. Roma mean business.

7.59pm BST

Not long now: The teams are out on the pitch going through the last of the pre-match formalities, the players of Manchester United wearing their zebra-striped shirts, white shorts and white socks. Their hosts wear their traditional burgundy shirts, shorts and socks.

7.29pm BST

Those teams: Ole has picked an attacking side, spear headed by Edinson Cavani, with Mason Greenwood coming into the starting line-up for his 100th appearance for the club. Eric Bailly and Donny van de Beek also start. Scott McTominay, Victor Lindelof and Marcus Rashford drop out.

Roma make four changes from last week’s match, three of them enforced. Antonio Mirante starts in goal for the injured Pau Lopez. Gianluca Mancini, Bruno Peres and Pedro also start.

6.50pm BST

Roma: Mirante, Karsdrop, Smalling, Ibanez, Bruno Peres, Cristante, Mancini, Pedro, Pellegrini, Mkhitaryan, Dzeko.

Subs: Boer, Fuzato, Santon, Mayoral, Kumbulla, Bove, Ciervo, Darboe, Zalewski.

6.34pm BST

6.34pm BST

“We’re not going to play on the [first leg] result, we’re going to play to win this game,” said Manchester United’s manager. “That’s the only way I think we can play this game. Of course there might be one or two changes in the selection, but we have to get into the final. Everyone says it’s done but I’ve seen bigger upsets than this. Roma beat Barcelona in a second leg after being 4-1 down.

6.33pm BST

Paulo Fonseca speaks: “We have to be realistic, obviously it won’t be easy to win 4-0,” said Roma’s soon-to-be former manager. “But in football I have seen and experienced many things, there is nothing that is impossible.

“Compared to us they will certainly be fresher and, in addition, they have the advantage of the first-leg result, which will make them feel safe. However, we want to win and fight to the end.”

6.33pm BST

Having learned on Monday that he’ll be relieved of his duties come season’s end to be replaced by Jose Mourinho, who will take up the cudgels during the summer, Roma manager Paulo Fonseca may not be overly concerned by the long list of absentees he is forced to plan without tonight.

Related: Solskjær admits Glazer protests have left him in ‘difficult’ United position

12.37pm BST

Rome’s Olympic Stadium is the venue for the second leg of a semi-final that looks all over bar the shouting following Manchester United’s emphatic first leg victory. Having gone 2-1 down at Old Trafford, United spanked home five goals without reply to take what looks like an unassailable lead to the Italian capital.

Barring a collapse of quite frankly preposterous proportions, they will advance to the final in Gdansk, where they will meet Arsenal or Villarreal. Kick-off is at 8pm (BST) but stay tuned in the meantime for team news and build-up.

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Categories: What the papers say

Gareth Southgate’s Euro 2020 plans disrupted by European club finals

Thu, 05/06/2021 - 22:30
  • Preparations for delayed tournament thrown into disarray
  • Up to 11 players likely to miss June warmup matches

Gareth Southgate’s preparations for the delayed Euro 2020 finals have been thrown into turmoil by the involvement of English clubs in the Champions League and Europa League finals.

The England manager will name his 26-man squad for the tournament on 25 May – he wants to get them together on the weekend of 29-30 May – and they face warmup matches at Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium against Austria and Romania on 2 June and 6 June. England kick off the finals against Croatia at Wembley on 13 June.

Related: England could get extra Euro 2020 game at Wembley in Uefa reshuffle

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Categories: What the papers say

Edinson Cavani sends Manchester United into final despite Roma surge

Thu, 05/06/2021 - 22:02

Manchester United will face Villarreal in the Europa League final after an 8-5 aggregate victory that was closer than it should have been as Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s men endured a nervy second half. Here, Roma swept three past the impressive David De Gea which will not please the manager, though Solskjaer’s thoughts can now turn to the Gdansk showpiece and the dream of adorning an ever-improving two-and a-half-season tenure with his first trophy.

Do this and seal second place in the Premier League and United’s trajectory under the Norwegian will be firmly pointing skyward. Solskjær included Donny van de Beek in an XI that included eight of the same players who beat Roma last week. The Dutchman last started in United’s FA Cup defeat at Leicester City in March so what he did not require was for his first pass – aimed at Mason Greenwood – to go straight out.

Related: Roma v Manchester United: Europa League semi-final, second leg – as it happened

All eyes on... pic.twitter.com/fZDJp2HnPC

Related: Arsenal’s Aubameyang hits post twice as Villarreal reach Europa League final

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Categories: What the papers say