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Updated: 2 hours 38 min ago

David Squires on … my favourite game: Swindon Town 2-2 Manchester United

Tue, 04/28/2020 - 11:28

Our cartoonist casts his mind back to March 1994 and a famous four-goal County Ground showdown

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The Manchester United v Arsenal rivalry revisited – Football Weekly

Mon, 04/27/2020 - 16:49

Max Rushden, Barry Glendenning, Nicky Bandini and John Brewin discuss Manchester United 0-1 Arsenal from 2002, Sir Alex Ferguson v Arsène Wenger, legacies, tackles, Mark Venus, ‘Project Restart’ and Detective Wilson

Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter and email.

Max, Barry, Nicky and John discuss the game between United and Arsenal towards the end of the 2001-02 season, where it sat in the evolution of the rivalry between Arsène Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson, violence in football, and the latest on the effect that Covid-19 is having on football.

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Manchester United's summer spending may be limited, warns Ed Woodward

Fri, 04/24/2020 - 22:30
  • Executive vice-chairman says ‘business as usual’ unlikely
  • Huge transfers unlikely to be seen anywhere this summer

Ed Woodward has warned it may not be “business as usual” for Manchester United in the next transfer window, the executive vice-chairman saying that spending hundreds of millions of pounds on a player could ignore the financial impact of coronavirus.

Covid-19 has caused the suspension of football since early March and there is uncertainty over when it will return. Woodward pointed to this when assessing the level of finance Ole Gunnar Solskjær may have to strengthen his squad.

Related: Manchester United's setup shines as seniors help locked-down youngsters | Tanya Aldred

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Manchester United's setup shines as seniors help locked-down youngsters | Tanya Aldred

Fri, 04/24/2020 - 08:00

Club’s compassionate approach recognises that lockdown life ‘leaves a big hole’ for children ripped from their usual routines

Last Friday I had a good old-fashioned nosy at Ryan Giggs’s kitchen, close enough to check out his fancy light fittings – if only virtually. Like much of the past month, it was a surreal experience, this one conjured up by the youth development team at Manchester United.

When, one Saturday morning in 2014, a man in a padded jacket slid along the touchline to hand me his number on a scrap of paper, I looked at him blankly. He said he was a scout for United and would like to get my son down to the development centre to take a closer look. I was pretty dubious – our little boy was only five.

Related: 'A player above millions of others' – the night Ronaldo lit up Old Trafford

Related: 'Beyond anything I’d played with': Rashford says Ibrahimovic key to his rise

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'A player above millions of others' – the night Ronaldo lit up Old Trafford

Thu, 04/23/2020 - 08:00

Manchester United hoped to overturn a first-leg defeat against Real Madrid in April 2003 but the Brazilian had other ideas

Seventeen years ago on Thursday Manchester United took on Real Madrid in a seismic Champions League quarter-final second leg at Old Trafford. United had lost 3-1 at the Bernabéu, Raúl scoring twice and Luis Figo once.

Ruud van Nistelrooy had given Sir Alex Ferguson’s team a precious away goal and for the return the manager, who was already without the suspended Gary Neville and Paul Scholes, dropped David Beckham. The game, however, was to be remembered by a glittering display for the away side from Ronaldo.

Related: Ronaldo at 40: Il Fenomeno’s legacy as greatest ever No9, despite dodgy knees | Rob Smyth

OTD in 2003...

Ronaldo's stunning hat-trick
Beckham's free-kick pearler
A seven-goal thriller ⚽️

Champions League fireworks at Old Trafford! pic.twitter.com/0TrEGWOdIV

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'Beyond anything I’d played with': Rashford says Ibrahimovic key to his rise

Tue, 04/21/2020 - 10:20
  • Manchester United striker also says Mourinho improved him
  • Rashford admits he would not have been 100% fit for Euro 2020

Marcus Rashford has said he is recovering well from a serious back injury and pointed to Zlatan Ibrahimovic and José Mourinho as key to his development at Manchester United.

The striker had scored a career-best 19 goals before sustaining a double stress fracture in mid-January. Ole Gunnar Solskjær said it was “touch and go” whether Rashford would play again this season, and the 22-year-old’s has benefited from football’s coronavirus shutdown in terms of his recuperation.

Related: Mourinho, tears and defiance: the story of Inter's 2009-10 season | Nicky Bandini

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Manchester United redraw budget and accept player of Kane's cost out of reach

Mon, 04/20/2020 - 12:33
  • Coronavirus brings change to United’s transfer strategy
  • Tottenham striker would cost in the region of £150m

Manchester United are redrawing their transfer strategy because of financial uncertainty caused by coronavirus and accept it will leave them unable to buy a striker as expensive as Harry Kane.

A proven goalscorer of the quality of Tottenham’s centre-forward is among prospective targets for Ole Gunnar Solskjær. In a regular summer United would make the money available for the manager to consider a move for the 26-year-old, who has said he will not stay at Spurs “for the sake of it” if he does not feel his boyhood club are going in the right direction.

Related: Tottenham's Son Heung-min starts military service in South Korea

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From Sørloth to Luis Alberto: 20 players who have thrived after leaving England

Sun, 04/19/2020 - 14:00

These players, one from each Premier League club, may not have made much of an impression in England but have proven their worth elsewhere

Arsenal – Kristoffer Olsson (Krasnodar) In two years at Arsenal the Swede appeared in one matchday squad and made it on to the pitch for 36 minutes of a League Cup tie at West Brom (scoring in the penalty shootout). He moved on, initially to Midtjylland in Denmark, and after a spell at AIK in Sweden he joined Krasnodar in January 2019. This season he has been a key player in midfield, with his team second in Russia’s Premier League.

Aston Villa – Pierluigi Gollini (Atalanta) A £4.25m signing from the Serie B side Hellas Verona in 2016, Gollini held down a first-team spot for barely four months before Steve Bruce brought in Mark Bunn, more than 10 years Gollini’s senior, before Christmas. “Bunn gives you that bit of experience,” he said. “I just felt with young Pier, it was a bit too much for him. I find him very young.” The following month he joined Atalanta, initially on loan, and he has been their first-choice goalkeeper since March 2019. He has had an outstanding season and made his full international debut in November.

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United's patchy form has blunted Paul Pogba, says Bruno Fernandes

Wed, 04/15/2020 - 13:10
  • Clubmate says ankle injury has limited Frenchman’s impact
  • ‘Everyone expects from Paul like from Ronaldo or Messi’

Bruno Fernandes believes his Manchester United teammate Paul Pogba was unable to perform to the “superstar” standards set by Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo as the club were struggling before an ankle injury ruled him out.

Before the season’s suspension because of the coronavirus pandemic, Pogba had not featured since United’s Boxing Day win against Newcastle, the last of eight appearances in a campaign disrupted by previous ankle problems. The 27-year-old drew constant criticism for his displays yet his teammate Fernandes pointed to United’s patchy form. The win against Newcastle followed a 2-0 defeat at Watford with United then in seventh place.

Related: Paul Pogba: 'I don't even know who Graeme Souness is'

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Paul Pogba: 'I don't even know who Graeme Souness is, really'

Tue, 04/14/2020 - 13:15
  • Manchester United midfielder ignores pundits’ criticism
  • ‘I’m not someone that looks always at Sky Sports News’

The Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba has claimed he did not know who his long-term critic Graeme Souness was.

Souness, in his role as a Sky Sports pundit, has often questioned Pogba’s attitude. But the France international, whose season has been restricted to eight appearances because of injury, said he takes little notice of the criticism.

Related: We may not see international football until 2021, says Fifa vice-president

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Crisis could lead to rehabilitation for Ed Woodward at Manchester United | Paul Wilson

Sun, 04/12/2020 - 10:00
Focus on securing noodle and mattress partners has brought derision but it puts club in a good position to weather storm

Ole Gunnar Solskjær broke cover a few days ago, appearing on Sky Sports to tell his pal Gary Neville that once the pandemic is over Manchester United are hoping to be able to exploit any unexpected transfer market opportunities caused by clubs being forced into financial difficulties through lack of income during the long layoff.

That was how the conversation was reported in most newspapers, anyway. The United manager did not choose the word exploit, and though Neville subsequently conceded his question might have been more diplomatically phrased, it is a little late now to be sparing the feelings of clubs struggling through real hardship. The clear message coming out of Old Trafford is that United are riding the storm and once football is back to normal they anticipate being able to turn a market-leading position into an advantage.

Related: Furlough furore over Premier League clubs ignores aim of protecting jobs | David Conn

Related: Carry on Barcelona: the comic tale of tragedy and drama that keeps on giving

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Sir Alex Ferguson thanks NHS for 'magnificent' coronavirus response

Thu, 04/09/2020 - 15:12
  • Two years ago the NHS saved my life, says ex-United manager
  • Old Trafford club offering extra support to health workers

Sir Alex Ferguson has praised the NHS for “saving my life” two years ago, and for its “magnificent” response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Ferguson’s comments came as Manchester United announced a package of additional measures to support the NHS, including medical and protective equipment, and use of the club’s vehicle fleet.

Related: Solskjær says footballers should act as role models but calls NHS 'real heroes'

Related: Luke Shaw says season should be scrapped if restart not possible

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Oldham Athletic v Manchester United: 1990 FA Cup semi-final – live!

Wed, 04/08/2020 - 17:47

5.47pm BST

111 min “Hi Rob,” says Dene Brown. “As I currently live in Edinburgh, where the match is not being shown, I’ve had to drive south of the border to watch it. We’ve taken my mate’s TV/Radio/Cassette player to watch it on. It only has a 4-inch screen. Black and white of course. It is well beyond its sell by date. There are three of us in my car in a layby on the A1 trying to watch the action. I hope the battery lasts until the end of extra time.”

In a different way, I suspect a few of the players share the sentiment of that last sentence.

5.45pm BST

109 min Joe Royle has an even broader smile on his face now. How can you not love Oldham Athletic? The intrepid brilliance of this team of cast-offs and nobodies almost brings a lump to the throat. They play like a team that has overdosed on Dead Poets Society. Carpe diem? They’ve seized the whole bloody season!

5.44pm BST

108 min: GOAL! Oldham 3-3 Manchester United (Palmer 108) For the umpteenth time this season, Oldham conjure an equaliser with time running out. The goal came from the free-kick that was given for Pallister’s foul on Marshall. Pallister headed it away, to loud cheers, but then Robins’ pass was intercepted by Milligan.

He chested it down and slid an instant pass to find Marshall in space on the left. United’s defence, who were in the process of pushing out after Pallister’s header, were all over the place. Marshall screwed a perfect first-time pass across the six-yard box, where Palmer walked the ball into the net.

5.42pm BST

106 min Marshall chases his own header and is hacked down by Pallister. He looks like a complete pain in the arse, and I say that with love. He’s relentless. All he does to defenders is nag, nag, nag, nag, NAG!

Pallister injured himself in the act of fouling Marshall and looks a bit groggy. United have no substitutions left. Jim McGregor wafts some smelling salts under his nose; I hope he didn’t mix them up with the poppers.

5.42pm BST

106 min After a quick changeover, United kick off from left to right.

5.42pm BST

Oldham need to go to the well yet again.

5.41pm BST

105+3 min Martin has surrendered to cramp, with Mark Robins replacing him. It’s not quite a like-for-like substitution. Robins will play as a makeshift left-winger, with Colin Gibson dropping to left-back.

5.39pm BST

105+2 min: FINE DEFENDING BY BARRETT! Ince finds the angle to release Wallace on the right with a great pass. He slides a low cross into the six-yard box towards Martin, who looks set to score only the second goal of his career (and he knew bugger all about the first) when Barrett appears to poke the ball off him and behind.

At first it looked like Martin had shanked it but I’m pretty sure Barrett got a touch first. Des Walker couldn’t have played better than Barrett today. I’m not sure Franco Baresi could have played better.

5.39pm BST

105+1 min: GOOD SAVE BY LEIGHTON! Barlow’s long ball forward somehow ran all the way through to Marshall, who got the wrong side of Bruce and poked it towards goal. Leighton flew from his line to narrow the angle and make an excellent block.

5.38pm BST

105 min Joe Royle has moved Neil Redfearn infield to play behind the front two. Oldham are now playing with one centre-back, Andy Holden. One centre-back! Barrett has gone to right-back, with Irwin moving into midfield.

Alex Ferguson responds by dropping Neil Webb into midfield to give extra protection. United are now playing 4-5-1, Oldham a kind of 3-4-1-2. Is that even a formation?

5.35pm BST

103 min A wishy-washy punch from Leighton almost causes problems for United, but Redfearn is penalised for pushing Webb. Now Webb is down with cramp, which is probably fair enough after so long out.

5.35pm BST

101 min Lee Martin, United’s young left back, is struggling with cramp. Joe Royle is still smiling, still having the time of his life. The man’s an animal.

5.32pm BST

100 min “It’s Joe Royle’s 41st birthday today,” says Alex Metcalfe, “which might explain why he looks so happy.”

That and the fact he’s in charge of the most charming football team in the country.

5.32pm BST

98 min Irwin’s cross goes straight out of play. With one or two exceptions, Ince the most notable, both teams look really tired. I’m amazed Oldham have anything left at all, this being their 461st game of the season.

5.28pm BST

95 min Roger Palmer, Oldham’s record goalscorer, comes on to replace Ritchie. He has had a fine game but, like Robson, he has been out for a while and he’s not in the first flush of youth. His race is run.

5.28pm BST

95 min Some good first-time passing from Webb, Wallace and McClair threatens to put Hughes through on goal. Barrett comes across, and you know the rest. He has been magnificent.

5.28pm BST

94 min “Big decision on Wednesday night if Oldham manager an equaliser,” says Vic Rushton. “ITV are showing Arsenal v Aston Villa live. A vital game in the title race or the replay of this on the BBC. What will people be watching?”

Despite the considerable temptations of Elton Welsby, I’ll be watching BBC1 if there is a replay. Nine times out of ten, the FA Cup > the title race.

5.25pm BST

United are ahead again! They barely had a kick for the first 90 seconds of extra time; and then they scored. A rare poor touch from Ritchie allowed McClair to nick the ball inside the United half. He moved away from the half-arsed challenge of Warhurst and clipped the ball straight down the middle of the pitch. Holden and Barrett had been pulled out of position by Webb and Barrett, which allowed Wallace to charge into a huge gap, away from Barlow and onto McClair’s pass. He had plenty of time to think about the shot - perhaps too much, because he scuffed it pretty badly. But it bobbled past the outrushing Hallworth and drifted slowly into the far corner.

5.24pm BST

91 min: BRUCE CLEARS OFF THE LINE! Well, sort of. Holden ran at Phelan and stood up a deep cross to Redfearn beyond the far post. He got above Martin and nodded it down to Marshall, whose snapshot was kicked away by Bruce in the six-yard box. Leighton was right behind him and probably had it covered, but it was another chance for Oldham.

5.23pm BST

91 min Oldham kick off from left to right.

5.18pm BST

For the second time today, we’re going to extra time. So much for After the Lord Mayor’s Show: this is the Lord Mayor’s Show Part 2!

5.17pm BST

90 min The camera cuts to the Oldham bench, where Joe Royle has a huge smile on his face. It’s not even a forced or nervous smile; he looks like he’s having the time of his life.

5.15pm BST

89 min More desperate United defending, this time from Bruce, who does really well to head Marshall’s cross away.

5.14pm BST

87 min This is a really strong finish from Oldham. Irwin’s cross just clears Marshall and is headed away desperately by Phelan.

5.13pm BST

86 min: CHANCE FOR OLDHAM! Marshall may look like an Emmerdale character but he’s a serious player and has been a handful for United all day. On this occasion, Rick Holden swings the ball towards him just inside the United half. He controls it deftly, slips away from Pallister and charges into the area from the left. Ritchie is waiting in the middle but Marshall goes for the shot and slices it well wide of the near post. The ball bobbled hideously, in his defence. But had he looked to his right he would have seen Ritchie waiting in front of an open goal.

5.11pm BST

84 min Oldham make their first substitution: Paul Warhurst, a lightning-quick 20-year-old who was once on Manchester City’s books, replaces Nick Henry in midfield.

5.10pm BST

84 min: A DOUBLE CHANCE FOR UNITED! Wallace moseys infield from the right and flicks an insouciant through pass to Webb. He runs away from Andy Holden and smashes a first-time shot that is beaten away by Hallworth. It bounces back towards Hughes, whose vicious shot is blocked on the six-yard line by – yep – Earl Barrett.

5.07pm BST

80 min Rick Holden, who has been very quiet for most of the game, is starting to look a little more dangerous. His cross is very well held under pressure by Leighton.

5.06pm BST

80 min This is becoming a bit repetitive, I realise, but there’s some more majestic defending from Earl Barrett to report. Ince slid a through pass to Hughes, who tried to run the last man Barrett and was swiftly disabused of the notion.

5.04pm BST

77 min Ince storms through the midfield before being legged up by Henry. He gets up looking for a row with the referee – but Joe Worrall settles for a word with Henry. There have still been no yellow cards, which is either brilliant refereeing or an egregious display of gross negligence, I can’t decide which.

5.04pm BST

77 min What a cup tie! What a day of cup ties!

5.04pm BST

They’ve done it again! No matter how many times Oldham are kicked, they keep springing back up with puppy-dog enthusiasm. Four minutes after going behind, Ian Marshall has walloped them level!

It was created down the right. Irwin took a short throw to Redfearn, who returned the ball back to Irwin. He shovelled it infield again to Redfearn, whose poor first touch turned into a happy accident that took him away from Ince.

5.03pm BST

76 min A speculative ball into the United area almost finds Redfearn. Bruce comes across to make a good interception.

4.59pm BST

Manchester United are 17 minutes from Wembley! And Neil Webb, who has only just returned from that awful Achilles injury, has scored his first goal since August! The substitute Wallace played a big part in the goal. He lost Barlow on the right with a good dummy and then sliced a left-footed cross beyond the far post. Gibson headed it back towards the six-yard line, where Webb looped a header over the outrushing Hallworth into the net.

I’m not sure Webb knew much about it: he jumped with Hallworth and Andy Holden, felt the ball hit his head and then started looking around to see where it had gone. It wasn’t exactly the goal of the 1990s, but nobody connected with United will care – least of all Ferguson, whose gamble to play Robson and Webb has paid off in spades.

4.58pm BST

72 min The first substitution: Danny Wallace replaces Bryan Robson, who has run himself into the ground. He hasn’t been as influential as usual in general play, probably because he’s about 40 per cent fit, but he imposed his will on the game with that equaliser in the first half. Brian McClair will take Robson’s place in midfield, with Wallace moving to the right wing.

4.57pm BST

71 min Now Oldham break three on three, but Redfearn delays too long and is eventually dispossessed by Pallister. Ritchie gives him a heartfelt brollocking for holding on to the ball too long.

4.57pm BST

70 min This is a decent spell for United, with the tireless Ince driving them forward. With 20 minutes remaining, all bets are off.

4.56pm BST

70 min: GREAT DEFENDING BY IRWIN! Webb played a good pass through to Hughes, who took the ball in his stride and was about to shoot when Irwin dived in to poke the ball away.

4.55pm BST

68 min Barrett is having a storming game. He beats Robson on the halfway line, then sells Hughes a dummy and waltzes past him as well. He’s a Rolls Royce of a defender.

4.55pm BST

68 min Irwin’s dangerous long cross towards Ritchie is cleared calmly under extreme pressure by Phelan.

4.55pm BST

68 min McClair puts Gibson clean through on goal – but the flag goes up against Webb to his right. Gibson might be glad that it did, even though it was a very dubious decision, because his first touch was a custodial offence and ran through to Hallworth.

4.53pm BST

66 min Redfearn has a goal disallowed for a push by Ritchie in the build-up. It was a confident finish from close-range, though everyone else had stopped playing by that stage. I’m not certain it was a foul by Ritchie, mind you. I’d like to see that again.

4.52pm BST

66 min United have only been given one penalty all season, on the opening day against Arsenal, and they missed that.

4.52pm BST

65 min: UNITED HAVE A BIG PENALTY APPEAL TURNED DOWN! Martin cuts infield from the left and floats an angled cross towards Webb, who goes down after a clumsy challenge from behind by Barlow. It was somewhere between a fair shoulder charge and an unfair push. Webb, and most of the United players, were certain it was the latter. Barlow certainly put hands on Webb, though it wasn’t as strong as Leighton’s push on Ritchie in the first half.

4.51pm BST

64 min Rick Holden tries to run Phelan, who matches him for speed and takes the ball confidently. Phelan has played Holden expertly until now.

4.49pm BST

63 min Leighton’s shorts were ripped during the collision. He whips them off, to a chorus of wolf whistles, so that the physio Jim McGregor can put on a new pair. I hope he gets paid well. Marshall then walks up to apologise and shake Leighton’s hand. There was nothing malicious in the challenge; they both threw themselves at the ball.

4.48pm BST

62 min Another long ball towards Marshall, this time from Ritchie, leads to a collision between Marshall and Leighton. Both missed the ball singular, but Marshall’s studs went right into Leighton’s plural.

4.48pm BST

61 min: GOOD SAVE BY LEIGHTON! Irwin’s long pass down the inside-right channel is gloriously controlled on the run by Marshall. He galumphs into the box, away from Pallister, and hits a stinging drive from a tight angle that is beaten away by Leighton. The power of the shot almost knocked Leighton off his feet.

4.48pm BST

61 min “The contrast between the two managers is stark,” says Peter Harthan. “Ferguson has looked out of his depth ever since he came to England from Scottish football and surely won’t last long. Royle has a long future and will probably be England manager in time, mark my words.”

He might be the next England manager. There are strong rumours that he’s on the FA shortlist if they need to replace Bobby Robson after the World Cup. As for Ferguson, our own David Lacey made a good point yesterday - that, if United win the FA Cup this season, it could be the equivalent of Matt Busby’s breakthrough triumph at Wembley in 1963. They were almost relegated that season as well. Five years later they were European champions.

4.47pm BST

60 min Hughes’s attempted through pass to McClair is blocked by Barrett. The ball runs loose between them, at which point Hughes boots Barrett straight up in the air. That was a tackle of pure frustration, although it’s probably generous to call it a tackle. It was a hack, essentially, and I’m slightly surprised Hughes didn’t have his name taken by Joe Worrall.

4.46pm BST

60 min And now Barrett does some more superb defending, coolly dispossessing Hughes down the United right. He then ignores a sliding tackle from Gibson, dummying him with a hint of disdain before passing the ball back to Hallworth. This kid is a class act.

4.46pm BST

59 min The pace is still frenetic, with no sign of either team slowing down. Ince does some more excellent defensive work, making up lots of ground to nick the ball off Henry. He has put out a lot of fires in front of the United back four.

4.45pm BST

57 min “I can see Ferguson getting the boot in the morning,” says Andy Poyner. “I am enjoying this in the Platt Lane End instead of studying for my GCSEs.”

4.43pm BST

56 min Ince, the last man in the United defence, does well to hold off Ritchie and Redfearn before being fouled. There’s a hint of aggro but then the pair shake hands and Ince pats Ritchie on the balding head.

4.41pm BST

55 min Oldham have been much the better team since half-time. United look like a team who are too aware of the consequences of defeat for their own good.

4.38pm BST

52 min: GLORIOUS SKILL FROM MILLIGAN! This deserves to go one of those ‘best of’ Christmas VHSes. He was running towards his own goal, having intercepted a loose ball, with Ince and Webb on his tail. Then, like a pickpocket scooting down an alleyway, he lost them both with a high-speed Cruyff turn.

Ince instinctively stuck out a leg and brought Milligan down, but it’s a reflection of how well Milligan had duped him that, by the time Ince’s momentum stopped, he had run so far that he was out of shot. What a player Milligan is: dynamic, composed, tough, intelligent, very mature for a 23-year-old. If he can’t get in Ireland’s World Cup squad – and it doesn’t look like he will – they must be in bloody good shape.

4.37pm BST

51 min United have started the second half as sluggishly as they did the first. Joe Worrall has a word with Steve Bruce – not about United’s sluggishness, it’s none of his business, but because of a very late tackle on Ritchie.

4.37pm BST

50 min “Afternoon Rob,” says Simon McMahon. “On the Barrett goal: surely, in such a technologically advanced society, it can’t be beyond the wit of man to come up with a foolproof method of deciding whether a player is offside or not? Some sort of video assisted linesman, if you will, or VIDAL for short. I doubt it’ll ever happen, though. And anyway, what would we moan about if all decisions were correct thanks to the wonders of TV evidence?”

‘Technologically advanced’! I guess one of us didn’t spend all of last night unsuccessfully trying to load R-Type on the Spectrum.

4.36pm BST

49 min Ritchie loses Pallister with another classy turn on the halfway line. Along with Webb, has been the cmost imaginative player on the pitch.

4.34pm BST

47 min Ritchie holds off Ince, surges away from Robson and stabs a pass towards Marshall on the edge of the D. He drags his shot well wide under pressure from Pallister.

4.31pm BST

46 min United begin the second half.

4.16pm BST

Oldham can’t play on grass, discuss.

4.16pm BST

45+2 min Webb twists away from Barlow on the right and curls a wicked cross that bounces across the six-yard box before being put behind by Irwin.

4.14pm BST

45 min Ritchie holds off Pallister on the left and plays a classy reverse pass towards Henry, who is tracked all the way by the increasingly impressive Ince.

4.12pm BST

43 min Gibson clips a pass forward to Hughes, who holds off Andy Holden just outside the area and hammers a left-footed shot that is held by Hallworth. That’s much better from Hughes, who has spent large parts of the first half in Earl Barrett’s pocket.

4.11pm BST

42 min The resulting corner, taken by Webb on the left, flashes past Hallworth and right across the face of goal.

4.11pm BST

41 min: NOW ROBSON ALMOST GIVES UNITED THE LEAD! We’ve had three near misses into the space of 90 seconds, culminating in this chance for United. McClair, found by Hughes, clipped a superb, dipping cross from the right. Webb lost Barrett smartly but then lost his balance. Behind him, Irwin got to the ball a split-second before Gibson and diverted it partially away from goal.

Robson charged imperiously onto the loose ball and looked certain to get his second, only for Irwin and Barrett – who had both been hurtling towards their own goal - to change direction and throw themselves at the ball to block the shot. Six or seven players ended up in a heap, including Robson, a demonstration of the total commitment on both sides. This is pulsating stuff!

4.09pm BST

40 min: OFF THE LINE BY INCE! Oldham almost take the lead from the corner. Leighton, under pressure from Ritchie, could only flap it straight to Henry in the D. He cracked a shot that went through the crowd, including Leighton, and was kicked away by Ince on the near post.

4.09pm BST

40 min: CHANCE FOR OLDHAM! Redfearn plays a good pass down the right to Irwin, who charges into a big space behind the United defence. Eventually he gets his head up and lofts a precise cross to the far post, where Marshall’s header is crucially blocked by Pallister.

The ball runs loose to Rick Holden, who is challenged by Pallister at the expense of a corner. The first intervention was the most important: with Leighton wrong-footed, Marshall’s header was going in.

4.07pm BST

38 min Oldham have responded really well to the disappointment of United’s equaliser. Milligan and Henry are still having the better of Robson and Ince in midfield. It’s a cracking battle, mind, and Ince has probably been United’s best player.

4.05pm BST

35 min Leighton takes a risk by blatantly shoving Ritchie in the back at an Oldham corner. Technically that should have been a penalty, even though it would have been soft. Leighton just wanted Ritchie out of his personal space, but you’re not really supposed to use both hands to push someone in the back. Joe Worrall definitely saw it, because he had a word with Leighton before the next corner was taken.

4.04pm BST

34 min Rick Holden gets away from Phelan to win a corner. Nothing comes of it but that will encourage Oldham, as it’s the first time Holden has had any joy down the left. He’s usually such an influential player.

4.01pm BST

31 min An Oldham free-kick is headed away to Redfearn on the edge of the area. He volleys it into orbit.

4.01pm BST

31 min Bruce is penalised for a late tackle on Ritchie. There’s a heck of a din now, 95 per cent of it from the United fans.

4.01pm BST

31 min: Brilliant defending from Barrett! United almost made it two in two minutes. Phelan drove a long angled pass up to Webb, who cushioned an excellent header into the path of McClair on the edge of the box. He was shaping to knock the ball into the area when Barrett flew through the air to stud the ball away. Plenty of the United fans appealed for a free-kick/penalty/ANYTHING REFEREE FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE IT’S BEEN A LONG SEASON, but the players realised it was a fair tackle.

4.00pm BST

30 min Alex Ferguson will be thrilled that the two players he gambled on, Webb and Robson, combined for the goal. It was a really good ball from Webb, a serene touch of class in this frenetic game.

4.00pm BST

If you want a job done properly, do it yourself. Having watched his team-mates blunder around for half an hour, Bryan Robson has dragged them level! After a game of pinball in the Oldham half, Bruce slid in decisively near the halfway line to beat Marshall to a loose ball. It ran through to Webb, who took a touch and angled a soft, early pass into the space behind the defence. Robson, who was on his arse a split-second earlier after a late tackle from Milligan, marauded through and forced a right-footed shot through Hallworth.

It wasn’t a perfect finish – Hallworth got a good piece of it – but it trickled over the line. This is the fourth FA Cup semi-final in a row in which Robson has scored – and it says a lot about his personality that three of those were equalisers. How many times is he going to pull United out of the malodorous stuff? He’s nowhere near fully fit, but here he is, bending yet another big match to his will. The word ‘hero’ doesn’t begin to do him justice.

3.58pm BST

29 min The Oldham captain Milligan, who is having a marvellous game in midfield, cushions a fine volleyed pass to Rick Holden on the left. His dangerous cross is excellently claimed under pressure by Leighton.

3.56pm BST

27 min Barrett dispossesses Hughes with another classy piece of defending. Ince then ploughs through Marshall, and snarls at the referee Joe Worrall for having the temerity to give a free-kick. He’s a fine player, Ince, but he’s got quite a mouth on him.

3.55pm BST

26 min “This match might be being played on grass, but Boundary Park is clearly the future,” says Matt Dony. “I’m pretty certain that, in ten years, all top-level football will be played on artificial turf. I’d stake my reputation on it.”

3.53pm BST

24 min Ritchie spots Leighton slightly off his line and tries an imaginative flat chip that drifts a few yards wide.

3.53pm BST

23 min “That Irwin lad looks pretty decent for Oldham,” says Charlie in Sheffield. “I can see him ending up at a big club like Man City next season.”

And get in the team ahead of Paul Lake? I don’t think so.

3.52pm BST

22 min Phelan’s long throw is collected by Hughes at the near post. He plays a bit of keepy-uppy, shielding the ball from Barrett, before volleying a cross on the turn that is stabbed away by Irwin in the six-yard box. That was a vital clearance because Robson had arrived late in the box with considerable intent.

3.52pm BST

22 min For the 42342393245425th time in his career, Barry Davies nails it:

If there’s a word that would sum up Manchester United’s performance so far, it is ‘uncomfortable’: all over the pitch, they are not enjoying what they are being asked to do.

3.52pm BST

22 min Hughes rumbles into the area and is muscled off the ball by the impressive Barrett. He runs the ball to safety and is then hoofed up in the air by Robson, who gets a talking-to from Joe Worrall. Barrett has been the best player on the pitch thus far. Never mind his goal; he has done an immaculate marking job on Hughes.

3.49pm BST

21 min After a bit of a scramble near the halfway line, Irwin lobs a clever pass over the top of the United defence. It looks like Ritchie is through for a moment, but Ince shows admirable pace to get back and clear the danger.

3.49pm BST

20 min “Despite that early goal I don’t fancy Oldham,” says Vic Rushton. “They were absolutely dreadful last Saturday in losing at Ayresome Park, despite Boro also having a Wembley hangover. Can also see there being a few goals as Hallworth and Leighton have been performing erratically all season.”

They’ve been the livelier team so far, though you do worry about how much they’ll have in the tank if it’s still tight in the second half.

3.48pm BST

19 min Webb, running away from goal on the right, digs out a splendid cross that is headed away by the under-pressure Irwin. Webb, on whom United are so dependent for creativity, is starting to look a bit livelier. He’s playing very high up the pitch, almost as a second centre-forward.

3.46pm BST

17 min There have been lots of offsides at both ends. That often leads to a ponderous, stop-start game, but not today. As soon as play resumes, both teams start charging round at 100mph again. It’s not entirely sophisticated but it has made for rollocking entertainment.

3.44pm BST

15 min Ince tries to surge away from Milligan, who matches him for speed and then dispossesses him with a beautifully judged sliding tackle. He plays the ball up to Ritchie, who loses Pallister with a lovely dummy.

The move came to nothing in the end but it showed both the graft and the class of this wonderful Oldham side. It’s a minor scandal that Andy Ritchie is not playing in Division One. It might be too late for him, at the age of 29, unless Oldham get promoted. But one way or another, it’s a matter of time before Milligan is playing in the top flight.

3.43pm BST

14 min Webb’s inswinging corner from the left is superbly claimed under pressure by Hallworth, arching his back like a limbo dancer in mid-air.

3.41pm BST

12 min Webb suddenly finds a bit of space on the right of the area and wins United’s first corner. It’s half cleared by Oldham and then headed down to Ince in the D. He waits for it to bounce and leathers a left-footed shot that is well blocked by Barlow.

3.40pm BST

11 min United have been really scruffy in possession. Hughes keeps getting caught offside, and their playmaker Webb has barely touched the ball. He’s nowhere near the pace of the game.

3.39pm BST

10 min The first signs of life from United. A long goalkick from Leighton is headed on by Hughes towards Gibson, and Andy Holden comes across to make a tremendous last-ditch challenge on the edge of the area.

3.37pm BST

8 min United are behind for the first time in this season’s FA Cup. They don’t have the happiest memories of this ground, either, having been plugged 5-1 in the derby last September.

3.37pm BST

7 min Bruce is penalised for a foul on Ritchie. There have been some crunching tackles all over the pitch.

3.36pm BST

7 min The replays of the goal aren’t conclusive on the Barrett offside, though my hunch is that he was onside when the cross came him. One thing that replays do confirm is that Leighton should have done better. He was under pressure from Ritchie, it’s true, but it was still a pretty straightforward take for a keeper of his class.

3.36pm BST

David has landed another one on Goliath: Oldham have taken the lead! It came from that corner on the right, which was headed back to the taker Holden. His awkward cross bounced through Leighton at the near post, and Barrett – in splendid isolation, with a whiff of offside – tapped it into the open net from four yards! His centre-back partner Andy Holden gives him a peck on the cheek in celebration. What a start for Oldham!

3.34pm BST

5 min A big scare for United! Ritchie’s cross from the right led to a mix-up between Leighton and Phelan, who was spooked by the hot breath of Rick Holden behind him. In the end Phelan knocked the ball past the outrushing Leighton and just wide of his own goal.

3.33pm BST

4 min In the build-up to this game, Alex Ferguson said that Oldham are one of the quickest teams in England, and that they would try to win the game in the first half hour. His prediction looks right; it has been a seriously frantic start to this game.

3.32pm BST

3 min Bryan Robson, who doesn’t really understand the concept of feeling your way back after injury, introduces himself to Andy Ritchie with a ferocious man-and-ball tackle. “The ball must have squealed!” says the BBC commentator Barry Davies with a squeal of his own.

3.31pm BST

2 min United are playing with Mike Phelan at right-back, Brian McClair on the right of midfield and Neil Webb much further forward, just behind Mark Hughes. Oldham are in their expected 4-4-2 shape.

3.30pm BST

1 min Peep peep! Oldham kick off from right to left as we watch. They are in their blue Bovis kit. United, sponsored by you-know-who, are in red.

3.24pm BST

Here we go, then. Oldham v Manchester United, for the right to place Crystal Palace at Wembley next month.

3.15pm BST

There’s another reason why so many people fancy United today: the match is being played on grass. All Oldham’s giant-killings have taken place on the plastic pitch at Boundary Park, which is also where they’ve picked up 42 of their 57 league points.

But they also played well in drawing away to Everton and Southampton before finishing them off in a replay, and Graham Taylor and George Graham – whose Villa and Arsenal sides were hammered at Boundary Park – both said it had diddly squat to do with the pitch.

3.13pm BST

Alex Ferguson has gambled big-time by picking both Neil Webb and Bryan Robson. Webb has started only one league game since August. Robson hasn’t played any first-team football since Christmas.

Oldham make one change from their defeat at Leicester in the week, with Jon Hallworth replacing Andy Rhodes in net.

9.55am BST

Hello and welcome to live coverage of After the Lord Mayor’s Show. The greatest match in FA Cup history ended a few minutes ago, with Crystal Palace beating Liverpool 4-3 in an absolute astonisher at Villa Park. Spare a thought for the players of Oldham and Manchester United, who have the impossible task of trying to replicate the drama when they kick off at Maine Road.

As if they’ll give a flying Fibonacci about that! A place in the FA Cup final is at stake, for goodness sake, and both teams would happily take the ugliest 1-0 win in history. Especially United. The FA Cup has become an obsession for them and their hapless manager Alex Ferguson, who was on the brink of the sack at the start of their cup run. If they lose today, he’ll be back on the brink.

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Categories: What the papers say

Luke Shaw says season should be scrapped if restart not possible

Mon, 04/06/2020 - 14:28
  • Manchester United defender wants fans present
  • ‘If we can’t carry it on, it’s got to be void’

The Premier League season must be scrapped and declared null and void if it cannot be restarted, Manchester United’s Luke Shaw has said.

The Premier League confirmed last week that the season, originally suspended until 30 April, will not resume at the beginning of May and will return only when the situation stabilises.

Related: Premier League players and pay cuts: the key questions answered

Related: Streaming service DAZN asks Premier League to defer rights payments

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Categories: What the papers say

Pay cuts, furlough or deferrals: what are the Premier League clubs doing?

Thu, 04/02/2020 - 12:00

From Arsenal to Wolves, we look at what the clubs are doing regarding pay for players, non-playing staff and casual staff

Arsenal continue to monitor the situation regarding player and staff wages and are playing an active role in the Premier League’s discussions. But there has been no decision taken and the focus has been on ensuring casual employees are looked after. All will be paid as normal until 30 April with the situation reviewed thereafter. Full-time employees were paid for the month on 27 March, as expected. For now there is little appetite to make redundancies. Nick Ames

Related: Premier League clubs fail the smell test by furloughing their staff | Paul MacInnes

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Categories: What the papers say

Solskjær says footballers should act as role models but calls NHS 'real heroes'

Wed, 04/01/2020 - 22:31
  • Manchester United manager: ‘Our players have been really good’
  • ‘Health is a critical thing, sorry for the political message’

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær believes footballers have a responsibility to act as role models and support the “real heroes” working in the NHS.

Football has been suspended across most of the world due to the coronavirus pandemic which is affecting every walk of life, with Manchester United and Manchester City working together to help people in the local area.

Related: United and City donate combined £100,000 to Manchester food banks

Related: Juventus 2-3 Manchester United: 1999 Champions League semi-final – as it happened

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Categories: What the papers say

Juventus v Manchester United: 1999 Champions League semi-final – live!

Tue, 03/31/2020 - 21:29

9.29pm BST

90 min Two minutes of added time. Two minutes before Manchester United can celebrate reaching their first European Cup final for 31 years, and the first for any English team since readmission in 1990.

9.28pm BST

90 min “I’m totally absorbed in this game, which is a good job as I’m currently stuck in Maryland, on an exchange year,” says Chris Goater. “Americans just don’t get Soccarball. I have tried to get my mates Heather, Mike and Josh interested but their more interested in making a crappy documentary about local folklore. I keep telling them the real drama’s here, man!”

9.28pm BST

89 min Stam provides one last reminder of his excellence, jockeying Amoruso away from goal before blocking his shot.

9.27pm BST

88 min: Just wide from Beckham! What a goal that would have been. Irwin, who has quietly had a great game, beats Fonseca, Deschamps and Conte on the left before crossing towards Beckham on the edge of the area. He ignores the flying challenge of Davids and bullets a volley that bounces a couple of yards wide. As he runs back upfield, Beckham looks across at Davids and says simply, “Fucking wanker”. Davids had a lot to say before the game, not so much now.

9.26pm BST

87 min Juventus need to score twice in the space of three or four minutes. Normally I’d say there’s a very slight chance, but they look completely shot, mentally and physically. United have broken their will. Their new coach Carlo Ancelotti is chewing a piece of gum like he wants to crunch it into a million pieces.

9.25pm BST

86 min Zidane is very lucky not to be booked for a karate kick on Beckham. He was going for the ball, I think, but he ended up studding Beckham in the back as they challenged for Yorke’s crossfield pass.

9.24pm BST

Manchester United are so close to the European Cup final now! Cole, who has had a storming game, gets the goal he thoroughly deserves to give United a two-goal cushion. It all started with Schmeichel, who belted a goalkick into the night sky. Montero clodhopped it straight to Yorke, 35 yards out, and he headed straight for goal. Do not pass ‘Go’, do not collect £200. He danced between Montero and Ferrara, taking advantage of a generous ricochet, and then went round the goalkeeper Peruzzi. He tripped Yorke up as he stretched for the ball, but Cole followed up to slide it in from a tight angle. I cannot believe this: Manchester United, who have never won a match in Italy, have come from 2-0 down to lead Juventus in their own backyard!

9.22pm BST

83 min United waste the best part of a minute with a good spell of possession. Eventually Neville and Yorke combine nicely to find Cole, whose shot from the edge of the area is comfortably saved by the tumbling Peruzzi. Cole had Butt in so much space to his left but didn’t see him.

9.21pm BST

82 min: Yet another sniff for Inzaghi! Zidane, on the left, eased a pass into the area for Fonseca, whose cutback somehow escaped Inzaghi in the six-yard box. He lunged at the ball at the near post, under pressure from Stam and Schmeichel, and it beat the lot of them before running safely to Irwin. Eight minutes to go. This is almost too much to bear.

9.20pm BST

81 min Fonseca’s dangerous cross from the right is headed behind for a corner by Johnsen, a superb bit of defending. United break three-on-three from the corner before Keane is fouled by Montero. At least I thought he was; the referee disagreed.

9.19pm BST

80 min: Fonseca clears off the line with his first touch! Beckham’s deep corner was headed back towards goal by Yorke, and the substitute Fonseca hacked it behind for another corner.

9.19pm BST

80 min The tireless Beckham gives United a bit of a breather by winning a couple of corners down the right. Juventus make their final change, bringing on another forward, Daniel Fonseca, for the makeshift right-back Di Livio.

9.17pm BST

78 min The pressure is starting to mount. United have 12 minutes to survive. I swear the clock hasn’t moved for the last five minutes.

9.15pm BST

76 min: Now Scholes is out of the final! Manchester United will be without two of their best midfielders if they reach the final. Beckham made a vital, desperate interception in his own area to deny Conte a clear chance, but Juve kept the pressure on until Scholes won the ball off Davids.

It ran loose between Scholes and Deschamps, who both went in two-footed for the 50/50 – but it was Scholes who was penalised and booked by the referee Urs Meier. Scholes turns away in anguish and receives a sympathetic pat on the head from Keane. Scholes definitely took the ball, and he went into the tackle horizontally – unlike Deschamps, who went over the top of the ball.

9.15pm BST

75 min Cole and Ferrara almost come to blows! Ferrara ushered the ball through to the keeper and was challenged by Cole. The two went head to head and then Ferrara shoved his hand in Cole’s face. He should have been sent off in the first half, and I’m surprised he wasn’t booked for that.

9.13pm BST

74 min Keane wins a 50/50 ball with Davids on the right. The ball runs loose - so Keane wins another 50/50, this time with Deschamps, before being fouled. That’s a microcosm of the midfield battle in this game. I think Keane has outimmensed even Jaap Stam.

9.12pm BST

74 min “It’s crazy that the Bayern match is on at the same time as this game!” says Steve Pollard. “In future, Uefa should put the semis on separate days so we can watch both.”

9.12pm BST

73 min United have been wonderful tonight, yet they are still only one Juventus goal from heartbreak. If they don’t go through, they will be haunted forever by some of their near misses.

9.12pm BST

72 min Cole does Ferrara with a dummy on the halfway line, only to lose his footing as he tries to run onto the ball. Cole has had a sensational game. If this isn’t proof that he is good enough for international football, then I don’t know what is.

9.11pm BST

71 min: Irwin hits the post! United come this close to giving themselves a two-goal cushion. They kept the ball for a long time on the right-hand side before moving it all the way across the field to Irwin, 40 yards from goal. He moved forward, away from a half-arsed challenge by Deschamps, and fronted up Di Livio on the edge of the area.

Di Livio invited him to go inside, so Irwin did just that before driving an almost nonchalant low shot that beat Peruzzi and bounced off the inside of the far post. It rebounded all the way back across goal to Irwin, who put the second chance into the side netting from a tight angle.

9.08pm BST

68 min: Inzaghi almost gets in again! Ferrara drives a very long pass to the edge of the penalty area, where Johnsen and Neville leave the ball to each other. Inzaghi nips between them – but then he miscontrols the ball, and that allows Johnsen to recover and clear the ball off him for a goal-kick. It looks like Inzaghi had been penalised, possibly for handball when he tried to control that pass. Either way, it was another hairy moment for the United defence.

9.07pm BST

67 min Alex Ferguson makes his first substitution, with Paul Scholes replacing Jesper Blomqvist. He has put in a fair old shift, much of it defensively, and looks knackered. That should give United a bit more protection in the centre of midfield, with Butt now playing from the left.

9.06pm BST

66 min A reminder of Juventus’s menace. Zidane moves balletically away from Keane, Irwin and Butt before finding Conte. He stabs a through pass towards Amoruso, who controls the ball on the run and is about to shoot when Stam comes round the side to make another brilliant interception. He has been immense.

9.02pm BST

63 min Tonight’s lottery numbers have just flashed up at the bottom of the screen. Piss off our land! We don’t ask Dale Winton to tell us the score of Colchester v Man City on a Saturday night, do we.

9.01pm BST

62 min: Inzaghi has a goal disallowed! Jesper Blomqvist is the most relieved man in the entire known universe. After Stam headed the ball out to the edge of the area, Blomqvist dithered and was robbed by Deschamps. Conte picked up the loose ball and dragged a shot across the face of goal, where Inzaghi gleefully ran the ball into the net. He was miles offside and can have no complaints. Okay, should have no complaints. He’s currently giving the linesman an earful. It was a decent chance in the first place for Conte, but he slipped as he tried to shoot and that’s why it went off target.

9.00pm BST

61 min Beckham’s outswinging corner finds Yorke, whose header is comfortably held by Peruzzi.

9.00pm BST

60 min A clever reverse pass from Beckham almost puts Keane through on goal. Ferrara strains every sinew to divert the ball behind for a corner, at which point Keane kicks the ball against an advertising board and implores someone – not Beckham – to play the ball first time. I’m starting to get the impression that Roy Keane has quite high standards.

8.57pm BST

58 min Zidane is jeered by the home fans after driving a pass straight out of play. United have calmed things down after a slightly fraught start to the second half. They’re 32 minutes away from the greatest win of their club careers.

8.54pm BST

55 min: Cole misses a great chance! Neville drives a long ball towards the halfway line, where Yorke beats two defenders in the air and flicks it on to release Beckham. He gallops into space and coaxes a gorgeous pass around the defence towards Cole, who tries to control the ball on the stretch and watches in horror as it runs away from him and out for a goalkick. He should have belted that first time.

8.53pm BST

54 min It’s been a nervous start to the second half for United. Juventus are having much more of the ball than they did in the first half and are getting a lot of joy down their left through a combination of Zidane, Pessotto and Inzaghi.

8.52pm BST

53 min: Davids is out of the final! Davids, who has faded badly after a flying start, ploughs through Beckham and is booked. It’s his second yellow card of the knockout stages, so he’ll miss the final if Juve get there. Beckham waved an imaginary card to the referee, who was happy to oblige. In fairness, it was a bad tackle and a clear yellow card.

8.51pm BST

52 min: Fine save by Schmeichel! Zidane, who has been influential since half-time, turns Neville and plays the ball to Pessotto on the left. He curls a fine first-time pass around Beckham and Johnsen to find Inzaghi, whose first-time shot is kicked away at the near post by Schmeichel. I think Inzaghi was offside that time, but the flag didn’t go up so it would have counted.

8.50pm BST

50 min Zidane floats a cross into the middle, where Juventus have two against one. Thankfully for United, the one is the monumental Jaap Stam and he stops Amoruso’s flick-on reaching Inzaghi. Seconds later, Inzaghi is wrongly flagged offside after running onto Zidane’s excellent through pass. Schmeichel dived at his feet to save anyway.

8.47pm BST

47 min Butt slices a snap-volley well wide from 25 yards.

8.46pm BST

47 min Johnsen nicks the ball off Inzaghi and dances forward, beating Davids and Deschamps before laying the ball off. That’s a reflection of United’s sky-high confidence.

8.45pm BST

46 min Juventus have made two half-time changes: the centre-half Paolo Montero, who wasn’t fit to start, has replaced Mark Iuliano, who wasn’t fit for purpose in the first half. The other change is a striker, Nicola Amoruso, for the right-back Alessandro Birindelli. That means Angelo Di Livio goes to right-back and Zinedine Zidane drops into a diamond midfield.

8.41pm BST

Alex Ferguson is doing his usual half-time interview with Gary Newbon

“I’ve told the players to keep believing in themselves. The [Juventus] back four is very nervous. Our front players have been marvellous – the whole team has been first class. We’ve given away soft goals, we can’t afford to do it again. I just hope we show good concentration - and keep going for that third goal.”

8.31pm BST

Even by Manchester United’s melodramatic standards, that was astonishing. It was one of the best halves of European football we’ll ever see. It ends with United ahead on the away goals rule after a spectacular comeback from 2-0 down, sparked by a symbolic goal from their inspirational captain Roy Keane. But he has also been booked and will miss the final if United get there.

If United play in the second half as they did in the last 25 minutes of the first, they will get there. Their performance was quite glorious, and I’m quite sure all supporters of English football – especially those in Liverpool, Leeds, north London and the other half of Manchester – will wish them well for the second half.

8.31pm BST

45+1 min Blomqvist wins the ball with a beautiful, Giggs-like sliding tackle on Birindelli just inside his own half, and off United go again. His angled pass infield is dummied by Yorke and runs to Cole, who waits for Blomqvist to catch up with the play and frees him on the left. Blomqvist tries to complete the one-two-three with a first-time cross towards Cole at the near post, where Iuliano does extremely well to get in front of Cole and poke the ball to safety.

8.28pm BST

44 min The board goes up to signal one minute of added time. Both teams have certainly earned their half-time wellness juice.

8.28pm BST

43 min Conte slashes a volley wide from Di Livio’s cross. It wouldn’t have counted anyway as Inzaghi had been flagged offside.

8.26pm BST

42 min Deschamps takes a quick free-kick to Zidane, who is wrongly flagged offside. He would have been through on goal, although Stam might have got back to him.

8.24pm BST

40 min This game is already an all-time classic, and it’s not even half-time.

8.23pm BST

40 min “Breathless stuff this, Rob,” says Chris Wilkerson (10 years, 8 days). “Dad has said I can stay up past bedtime! YORKE! Wow!”

8.23pm BST

39 min: Yorke hits the post! Neville floats a long pass towards Blomqvist on the edge of the area. Birindelli heads it away but only to Yorke, 25 yards from goal. A brilliant first touch takes him away from Iuliano, then he pushes the ball into the area and drives a ferocious low shot that beats Peruzzi and smacks off the far post!

8.22pm BST

38 min: Good save by Schmeichel! Inzaghi almost completes a first-half hat-trick to put Juventus back in front. Di Livio, on the left, lofts an angled pass to Inzaghi in the area. He backs into Stam expertly, then wriggles away from him on the edge of the six-yard box and hits a low shot that is excellently blocked by Schmeichel. The ball comes back to Inzaghi, who screws it wide from a tight angle. The first chance was the big one.

8.22pm BST

38 min In the other semi-final, Mario Basler has given Bayern Munich the lead against Dynamo Kiev. Bayern now lead 4-3 on aggregate, and the away goals rule means that Kiev needs to score at least twice.

8.22pm BST

38 min Cole and Yorke have been unplayable in the last 20 minutes. The Juventus defenders cannot cope.

8.21pm BST

37 min United are all over Juventus now. Irwin feeds a pass into Cole, who turns superbly and hammers a snapshot that is held by the tumbling Peruzzi.

8.21pm BST

36 min “Hi Rob,” says Michael Minihan. “Is there a hint of male pattern baldness creeping in with Zinedine Zidane?”

A hint?! That’s like saying there’s a hint of saturated fat in a full English.

8.19pm BST

United are ahead in the tie! This is an extraordinary turnaround. They looked finished at 2-0 down, and now they are ahead on the away goals rule! Neville pinched the ball off Di Livio with disdainful ease - Juventus just can’t get out - and drove a long straight pass towards the edge of the area. Beckham headed it down to Cole, in a bit of space 30 yards from goal. He controlled the ball and curled a magnificent half-volleyed pass over the defence to Yorke, who flew at the ball like a superhero to slam a diving header past Peruzzi.

What a goal! The pass from Cole - it would be an insult to call it a cross – was glorious, taking four defenders out of the game, and the finish was emphatic. It’s Yorke’s first goal in a month and a half.

8.18pm BST

33 min: KEANE IS OUT OF THE FINAL! If United do make it to Barcelona next month, they will be without their best player. Keane has been booked for a foul on Zidane. Blomqvist, just inside the Juventus half, played a slow square pass that Keane miscontrolled on the run. He tried to win it back with a lunging tackle, but Zidane got to the ball first and Keane brought him down. The yellow card was out straight away, and Keane accepted it without complaint.

He saved his tongue for Blomqvist, waving his hands and shouting “Pass the fucking ball!” Blomqvist would be well advised not to point out that pass the ball is precisely what he did. I suppose what Keane meant was ‘pass the effing ball properly’, forward and/or with pace, not slow and sideways.

8.17pm BST

31 min The TV camera zooms in on Didier Deschamps, who looks absolutely shattered already. He’s carrying plenty of water right now, most of it sweat.

8.15pm BST

30 min: Stam heads off the line! Zidane meanders down the left, away from Butt, and lobs a cross towards the penalty spot. Schmeichel comes but is beaten to the ball by Conte, whose header goes miles in the air and is about to dip into the net when Stam appears from nowhere to clear with his granite bonce.

8.13pm BST

29 min There’s a good example: Davids tries to find Inzaghi on the halfway line, Stam bounces him off the ball and United come again. Irwin’s long ball down the left is headed on by Yorke to Cole on the edge of the area. He returns it to Yorke, who drives well wide from 25 yards. It was another good link up from United’s front pair, who look as telepathic as at any point since that blizzard of goals at the start of the year.

8.12pm BST

28 min According to a graphic on ITV, United have had 62 per cent of possession in this game. I’ve no idea how they work that stuff out but I bet it’s a long time since any team has had that much of the ball away to Juventus. At the start it was a mixed blessing, because their passing was ponderous and Juventus were deadly on the counter. But in the last 10 minutes United have been relentless, with Keane’s progressive passing setting the agenda. I can’t believe I’m typing this but Juventus, the ultimate power team of the last few years, are struggling to live with United’s tempo. They can’t get out of their own half.

8.10pm BST

25 min This is European football.

8.09pm BST

The captain Roy Keane has dragged United back into the game! Beckham fizzed the corner to the near post, where Keane arrived late to flick an emphatic header into the far corner. He got between Pessotto and Zidane, who ended up his backside, and flashed it past Peruzzi. There’s no celebration from Keane: he points to Beckham, acknowledging the quality of the corner, and runs straight back to the halfway line to get on with business.

8.08pm BST

24 min United move the ball smoothly from right to left, where Cole wins a corner.

8.08pm BST

23 min “I’m watching this in The Dickens Inn in Philadelphia, Rob, and the mood is glum right now,” says Justin Kavanagh. “Although Andy from Norn Iron is wearing his “lucky jumper” (a red and black hoop Denis the Menace affair), it certainly isn’t working for United tonight. There we were dreaming of a Treble. Football, eh! It always kills the hope in you.”

8.07pm BST

22 min: Juventus should be down to 10 men! Ferrara has got away with a blatant professional foul on Yorke. It all stemmed from a Schmeichel goalkick, which was headed on by Butt on the edge of the centre circle. Iuliano misjudged the bounce of the ball, which allowed Yorke to slip past him and through on goal. He then cut across the covering Ferrara in the D, only to be dragged down by the shoulder!

United might still have scored through Beckham, whose shot from the edge of the area was blocked, and then Cole was given offside. Replays confirm it was a clear foul by Ferrara, although it was definitely outside the area. That’s scandalous refereeing.

8.05pm BST

20 min Beckham is brought down on the right wing by Di Livio; the free-kick is headed away by Deschamps. This is a decent little spell for United, whose passing is quicker and more rhythmic.

8.03pm BST

19 min That’s a little better from United. Blomqvist plays a clever reverse pass to release Irwin on the left. His low pass infield is dummied by Yorke and runs on to Cole, who lobs it back towards Yorke in the area. He takes it down on the chest but slices a volley high and wide. It was a tight angle and he was off balance. But the build-up play was encouraging.

8.02pm BST

18 min Davids, who has made another dominant start, yelps with pain after a late tackle from Keane. The referee Urs Meier has a word with Keane, who is one of the many players on a yellow card. If he is booked tonight he will miss the final should United produce a miracle.

8.01pm BST

17 min Nothing much is happening. United have at least restored a bit of order defensively.

8.00pm BST

16 min You have to wonder whether Alex Ferguson will ever win the European Cup. United have improved enormously since returning to the competition in 1996, but the final hurdle looks as insurmountable as ever. In fact, it could be a long while before any English team wins it.

7.59pm BST

15 min Butt plays a ball towards Yorke, who dithers and is robbed contemptuously by Iuliano. As in the first leg, Yorke and Cole are really struggling; the ball isn’t sticking at all.

7.59pm BST

15 min “Spare a thought for my brother Andrew,” says Jim Danson, “whose missing this game because he’s on a geography field trip in North Wales.”

7.59pm BST

14 min On the touchline, Ferguson looks relatively calm, chewing on gum and saying something to his No2 Steve McClaren “If he pulls this one out,” says Ron Atkinson on ITV Sport, “it’ll be the greatest achievement since he’s been at United.”

7.57pm BST

13 min “Well, that’s it,” said Jeff Black. “I’m going to switch over and watch Brookside.”

The Naked Chef is on BBC2, I’ve heard good things about that.

7.56pm BST

12 min Juventus have played United like a fiddle: sit deep, wait as long as it takes to win possession and then strike like a cobra.

7.56pm BST

Oh lord. Alex Ferguson’s European dream has gone up in smoke. The first goal may have been avoidable, but this was desperately unfortunate. Di Livio and Davids combined to find Pessotto, who eased a pass into Inzaghi on the left edge of the area. He waited until he felt Stam behind him, then shifted the ball down the line and hit a speculative cross-shot that took a wicked deflection off Stam and spun over the head of Peter Schmeichel. The bounce was a freak of physics. I don’t think it was on target before it hit Stam, but Inzaghi will claim it.

7.55pm BST

10 min I suppose Manchester United had to score anyway. The difference is that a 1-1 draw would take the tie to extra-time, whereas a 1-0 win would have put them through.

7.54pm BST

9 min Birindelli drives a long pass towards Inzaghi, who wrestles with the last man Johnsen and then falls over. The referee isn’t interested. But Juventus look so dangerous on the break.

7.52pm BST

8 min An immediate response from United. Keane chips a cute ball down the line for the overlapping Neville, who lobs it first time across the penalty area. Cole, 12 yards from goal, connects well with an overhead kick but hits it straight at Peruzzi.

7.51pm BST

It’s an even better start now! Filippo Inzaghi has given Juventus the lead from the corner. Zidane took it short to Di Livio, received the return and curled a wicked first-time cross into the six-yard area. Inzaghi was the only Juventus player in there, but he got away from Neville at the far post to volley in from two yards.

Neville’s defending was less than ideal. He was thrown by a sudden movement from Inzaghi and ended up trying to manhandle him, like a bouncer bundling somebody out the back door of a nightclub. He wasn’t even looking at the ball as it flashed across the face of goal onto Inzaghi’s right foot.

7.50pm BST

6 min Davids shields the ball from Keane near the halfway line, then suddenly opens United up with a marvellous pass down the inside-left channel. Beckham slides in ahead of Pessotto to concede a corner. This is a strong start from Juventus.

7.49pm BST

5 min The decidedly uncrowded Zidane has time to drive a long, angled pass over the defence. For a second it looks like Inzaghi is through, but Stam shows good pace to catch him up and put the ball out of play. Moments like that are exactly the reason United bought Stam, who is arguably the best one-v-one defender in the world.

7.49pm BST

4 min The early signs are that United have no special plan to deal with what Ferguson called “the Zidane thing” in the build-up. He is playing in the hole between the defence and midfield, and it looks like United are planning to crowd him rather than man-mark him.

7.48pm BST

4 min “I’m just about to finish college, the world is my oyster, everything seems rosy,” says Matt Dony. “Maybe my band will get the record deal we deserve. (Otherwise, I’ll probably end up as a boring, bitter middle-aged grump. Urgh.) The world is full of opportunity. I don’t even mind seeing United do well (although, they stand no chance tonight), because I’ve got a good feeling about Liverpool over the next few seasons. Next year will be our season.”

It’ll be Sean Dundee’s season. You heard it here last.

7.48pm BST

3 min A frantic start, although United have seen plenty of the ball. Zidane plays a first-time through ball towards Conte, and Schmeichel rushes from his line to claim.

7.46pm BST

2 min “Great pre-match tune featuring Ian Brown,” says Peter Oh. “Do you reckon that the Stone Roses will ever reform?”

No chance. They’ve got far too much class to go down that desperate road.

7.45pm BST

1 min Peep peep! United kick off from right to left as displayed by the Independent Television cameras. Drink!

7.37pm BST

There’s quite a din in Turin. The atmosphere is smoky, primal – and, even on a television screen, pretty damned intimidating. This is it.

7.34pm BST

Alex Ferguson is radiating calm during his pre-match interview on ITV. He looks excited but relaxed, with a half-smile on his face as he considers the match. “It’s a massive game and I feel good about it. I think we have a very good chance. It’s gonna be a tough game, we’re aware of that. They’ll start 100 miles an hour, they’ll try to finish us off in the first 30 minutes. We’ve got to make sure we’re ready for that, and counter-attack with real purpose. It’s gonna be a great night I hope.”

7.27pm BST

Pre-match mood music

7.19pm BST

“Hi Rob,” says Sean Doyle. “I’ve lost a lot of money this week betting on the weather but after Juve’s performance in the first leg I’m confident that my ridiculously large bet on a comfortable home win will turn my luck around.”

Come on: how much, and what odds.

7.18pm BST

Edgar Davids, Juve’s Dutch pitbull, was in bullish mood earlier in the week.

United are supposed to have the best midfield in the world but we had the better of them at Old Trafford. We were like a steam train, overrunning them. I felt sick to my stomach when Giggs equalised for them. The longer I was out there, looking at opponents who had been described as such big stars, the more I realised what was in it for us. I have no fears any more. I want to get at them again.

Related: A pony-tailed peril who has no fear

7.12pm BST

Twelve men, some angrier than others, are on a yellow card and will miss the final if they are booked tonight: Irwin, Johnsen, Keane, Scholes, Phil Neville, Conte, Deschamps, Davids, Di Livio, Zidane, Montero and Peruzzi. It was on this ground that Paul Gascoigne started shedding them during and after the Italia 90 semi-final.

7.00pm BST

There’s no Ryan Giggs, not even on the bench. Ferguson has decided to keep United’s width and replace him with Jesper Blomqvist rather than Paul Scholes. That’s one of two changes fron the first leg. The other was widely predicted: Nicky Butt replaces Scholes in central midfield, where United were outnumbered in the first half at Old Trafford.

Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole return to the starting line-up after being on the bench or in the stands for the last two games. They haven’t scored in over a month, and Yorke in particular had a beast in the first leg, but Ferguson was always likely to trust them in such a big game. They’ve scored 10 between them in this season’s competition, the same as the entire Juventus squad.

7.30pm BST

The sixth best team in Italy are also the most feared in Europe. Juventus may have taken most of the Serie A season off, but they still have an aura the size of a continent. If you don’t believe me, here’s Exhibit A: Gary Neville’s face when Juventus sneaked into the quarter-finals after drawing their first five group games.

Juve were still scary when they were crap. On current form, they’re terrifying. They took the leaders Lazio apart in Rome at the weekend, and they were awesome for the first hour of their 1-1 draw at Old Trafford two weeks ago. “We’ll score over there,” said a combative Ferguson after that game, and United will have to: if it ends 0-0, Juventus go through on away goals.

Related: Giggs throws United lifeline

Related: Giggs to sit out United's big night

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Categories: What the papers say

My favourite game: Manchester United v West Ham, 2001 FA Cup | Jacob Steinberg

Tue, 03/31/2020 - 09:50

West Ham’s win was all the more memorable because their talented group of youngsters were soon to be broken up

They moved the ball quickly and gracefully, the three kids at the heart of West Ham’s midfield. There was no hint of any fear, no sign of Michael Carrick, Joe Cole and Frank Lampard shrinking.

They took the ball in difficult areas and it was impossible not to admire how they determined they were to seize the moment against Manchester United, who would exit the FA Cup after Fabien Barthez’s foolhardy decision to impersonate a man hailing a cab allowed Paolo Di Canio to steal a famous win.

Related: Di Canio - Barthez didn't confuse my brain

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Categories: What the papers say

Marcus Rashford puts Manchester children first in coronavirus crisis

Mon, 03/30/2020 - 10:59

Marcus Rashford says helping children is his top priority after working to get food to those who relied on free school meals.

The Manchester United and England forward has been working with the charity FareShare to help local youngsters after schools were closed across the country because of the coronavirus pandemic. The 22-year-old revealed his own childhood has inspired him to want to make a difference to the next generation.

Related: Football's magnetism means doors should stay closed on crowdless matches | Simon Burnton

Related: Dave meets Marcus Rashford: ‘I rate you so highly, because you take football seriously’

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Categories: What the papers say

I know what we shouldn't have done last summer: what Premier League clubs would change | Jonathan Wilson

Sat, 03/28/2020 - 20:00

Tottenham and Manchester City are among the clubs who would probably make very different decisions if they could reset the Premier League as if it were Football Manager

The season must be completed. The season must be abandoned now. As the arguments gabble on, only occasionally acknowledging their own hypothetical nature given how little we know about how the virus will proceed, how long the lockdown may last and whether there may be a second wave of infections when it is lifted, it’s tempting t o dip into another hypothetical. What if this were like a game of Football Manager? What if we could quit without saving and go back and start again last summer? What would Premier League clubs, given their time over, do differently?

Let’s start with the obvious one: Tottenham’s decision to sack Mauricio Pochettino and replace him with José Mourinho. Once a path has been embarked on, there is perhaps some logic in pursuing it to its conclusion, but would Daniel Levy really take that road again? Tottenham are without a win in their past six games. They’ve gone out of the FA Cup and Champions League. They’re seven points adrift of fourth. They’ve kept three clean sheets in 26 games under Mourinho. For Spurs, this season has been a shambles.

Related: From the archive: Rob Smyth on why Euro 96 was overrated

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Categories: What the papers say

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