What the papers say
Manchester United’s home-produced forward is 18 and scoring for fun. The post-pandemic mini-season is the perfect time to be a teenage prodigy
At times this week it has been tempting, but not that tempting, to feel a bit sorry for Mason Greenwood. Brilliant teenage striker plays for Manchester United. Brilliant teenage striker scores in three league games in a row. Brilliant teenage striker has a way of moving around the pitch that suggests he’s playing with the benefit of a half-second delay, a man with a slightly more refined understanding of angles and gravity.
Meanwhile the world outside has turned into a pre-zombie apocalypse montage sequence. The Euro has been cancelled. And large parts of the country are sitting around losing themselves in six weeks of reheated microwave football.Continue reading...
- Chelsea to meet Napoli or Barça if they achieve Bayern miracle
- Manchester United could play Wolves in Europa League semi
Manchester City will play Juventus or Lyon in the Champions League quarter-finals, should they progress against Real Madrid. Their path to the final would then be blocked by Napoli, Barcelona, Chelsea or Bayern Munich.
City hold a 2-1 advantage over Real going into their last-16 second leg at the Etihad Stadium early next month. Juventus take on Lyon in Turin trailing 1-0.
Route to the final
Route to the finalContinue reading...
- Striker scores his eighth Premier League goal of season
- Solskjær: ‘It’s all down to him – he can go as far as he wants’
Ole Gunnar Solskjær has warned Mason Greenwood he must “live his life properly” to reach his true potential after the teenager scored his eighth Premier League goal of the season to help Manchester United maintain their pursuit of a top-four finish.
Paul Pogba registered his first United goal since April 2019 to round off a 3-0 victory at struggling Aston Villa after Bruno Fernandes had opened the scoring with a controversial penalty and Greenwood added a second just before the break with a superb long-rang strike. The 18-year-old’s sensational form since the restart has yielded four goals in his last three appearances, with Solskjær admitting Greenwood had made it impossible for him not to select him.Continue reading...
Dean Smith called his strikers into a video session this week to show them how to run smarter and finish sharper. Then Mason Greenwood gave them a demonstration of his own at Villa Park, scoring a goal of rare class to propel Manchester United closer to the top four and deepen Aston Villa’s relegation woes.
Paul Pogba crowned the scoring with another immaculate finish. But although United swaggered to victory in the end, Villa were entitled to fume about the way the visitors took the lead, as Bruno Fernandes began the beating with a contentious penalty. Villa must turn their minds quickly to Sunday’s clash with Crystal Palace, which could be critical to their survival hopes. United, meanwhile, have moved to within one point of fourth-paced Leicester.Continue reading...
A dodgy penalty, won and scored by Bruno Fernandes, and a belter from Mason Greenwood set United up for another impressive victory
Peep peep! Manchester United continue their superb league form with a fourth successive three-goal victory. A dodgy penalty, won and scored by Bruno Fernandes, gave them the lead, but it was Mason Greenwood’s belter on the stroke of half-time that really shattered Villa. The second half was a stroll for United, with Paul Pogba scoring the third after a nice corner routine with Fernandes. That’s your lot, goodnight!
90+2 min Reina makes an excellent save with his feet to deny Rashford, who was put through by a lovely ball from Pogba.
90 min Three minutes of added time.
89 min This is the Premier League table since Bruno Fernandes joined United at the end of January. United are a point behind the leaders Liverpool with a game in hand. And Burnley are above Man City.
87 min Fred is booked for what looked like a fair tackle on Grealish.
84 min Villa make another substitution. Douglas Luiz is replaced by Indiana Vassilev.
83 min At the other end, Williams makes a fine block from Hourihane’s shot.
82 min Rashford lifts the free-kick over the bar.
81 min James runs 50 yards and is tripped by Nakamba, who is booked.
78 min A double change for United: Odion Ighalo and Daniel James replace Greenwood and Martial, who is not happy to be taken off when he hasn’t scored.
75 min Rashford slides a good pass down the left side of the area to Shaw, whose low cross is put behind for a corner.
75 min Both teams are waiting for the final whistle.
71 min Another United change: Fred replaces the marvellous Bruno Fernandes, who continues to have the most profound impact of a new United signing since Eric Cantona.
70 min “Quite apart from all the VAR stuff, it must be noted just how limp Villa look and how poorly their captain is playing, says Andrew Donald. “Grealish barely attempted to block Pogba’s shot for the third goal and has the look of a man resigned to leaving at the end of the season.”
Yes, he doesn’t demand the ball nearly as much as he was a few months ago. There are a few possible reasons, but his morale looks very low.
69 min Time for a drinks break. This game is over.
67 min One important thing about Greenwood, which he showed again on his goal, is that he is brilliant at finding a bit of space 20 or 25 yards from goal - just enough space for him to turn and either run at the defence or launch one into the corner. That level of awareness is very unusual in a teenager.
66 min Grealish curls well wide from the left side of the box. And Manchester United make two changes: Scott McTominay and Brandon Williams replace Matic and Wan-Bissaka.
65 min If it stays like this, United will become the first team in Premier League history to win four consecutive games by three goals. I think.
64 min Jack Grealish has a problem with his left ankle. He wants to continue but surely he should be taken off as a precaution.
63 min Villa’s next game is pretty much a must-win: Palace at home on Sunday.
62 min “Sure, Greenwood is alright, I guess,” says Matt Dony. “But you just wait until Brewster lights up the Premier League next season...”
He’ll score millions.
61 min: Martial hits the bar! This could get nasty for Villa, and not in a good way. Fernandes plays in Martial on the left side of the area, and he thunders a shot off the underside of the bar with his left foot.
59 min A triple change for Villa. Conor Hourihane, Keinan Davis and Marvelous Nakamba replace McGinn, El Ghazi and Samatta.
Paul and Bruno, sitting in a tree. This is a fine goal, another example of the burgeoning relationship between Fernandes and Pogba. Fernandes dragged the corner deliberately back to Pogba on the edge of the D, and he had an age to set himself and curl a low shot into the bottom corner.
57 min Rashford plays in Martial, who is superbly denied by the sliding Taylor. Great tackle.
56 min Pogba has a goal disallowed for offside. He was miles ahead of the last defender when Rashford’s shot hit him and beat Reina.
55 min Tom Levesley writes in to remind me that VAR hasn’t been entirely unkind to Villa this season.
54 min McGinn’s long-range shot is comfortably held by de Gea.
53 min Konsa is booked for pulling back Rashford.
53 min “Loving all the ABU moaning,” says Andrew Reinholds. “A sure sign United are heading in the right direction!”
52 min Villa have made a poor, subdued start to the second half.
50 min “Evening Rob,” says Brad McMillan. “I hate VAR too, and tonight I’ve been wondering about its potential impact on football in future, particularly on youth development. It’s not a new anti-VAR argument to suggest football should be played according to the same rules everywhere, at every level and at every age, but it had never occurred to me before now that we could see rich clubs introduce this on their youth training grounds and effectively start to create a new breed of VAR-savvy player, only the like of which could go on to succeed at the top levels where VAR is used.”
I know what you mean, but how do you become VAR-savvy when it’s such a capricious shambles?
49 min Wan-Bissaka misses a great chance, heading just wide from six yards after a delicious cross by Rashford.
48 min Samatta falls in the area under challenge from Maguire. There was a bit of contact but nothing penalty-worthy.
47 min “I know the Spurs game was AWFUL and this one not massively better, but thank god for football,” says Rachel Clifton. “Four months of lockdown in NYC made much more bearable…”
46 min Peep peep! Villa begin the second half.
“Hey Rob,” says J.R. in Illinois. “What was Konsa thinking letting Fernandes stand on his ankle like that? Silly man. VAR really is something else though, innit? I’m not even tired of it. The fivefold sense of injustice you mentioned makes me feel five times as alive. I’ve got a business proposal. How about we co-publish a book which contains all my emails to you that mention VAR? We can split the proceeds 60/40. How much do you think we’d rake in?”
What’s 60 per cent of 12p?
“1995-96 Manchester United away kit press release” is the subject of Mac Millings’ email. Trust me, it’s better than it sounds.
“Villa are in claret and blue. United are wearing their away strip. Breaking away from the traditional colours of a United away jersey, the shirt features a fresh stratus-toned aesthetic and intricate patterned design, that takes its inspiration from the mosaic of clouds that adorns the skies of Manchester’s creative distr- well, *all* Manchester’s districts, if we’re being honest.
“You’re right that Fernandes one was ‘such a tight one’ - did he deliberately stamp on Konsa’s ankle or not?” says Stefan Volkmann. “Hard to say whether it he should have been a red. A penalty is an absolute joke. Fernandes literally ran into him and stamped on him as he did so. You usually do a good job of staying impartial but I fear you’ve got the Fergie goggles on there.”
Thanks for the patronisation. I said that having seen one replay, while trying to do a million other things. Then I saw more replays, and realised – and wrote – that it was a dreadful decision. This stuff isn’t easy, you know, especially when your cognitive function is on a slippery one.
A Bruno Fernandes penalty and a Mason Greenwood cracker have put United on course for another three points. The penalty decision was a joke - and so, in a more modern sense of the word, was Greenwood’s finish just before half-time.
Martual played a square pass to Greenwood, in a bit of space 22 yards from goal. He moved the ball away from Douglas Luiz, onto his right foot, and simply belted it past Reina. He is an extraordinary finisher.
He’s done it again! An explosive finish from Mason Greenwood has put United 2-0 up.
45+3 min Matic is booked for fouling someone.
45+1 min Four minutes of added time.
45 min: Bruno Fernandes misses an excellent chance! Shaw played a neat one-two with Martial on the left side of the area and stood up a fine cross towards the unmarked Fernandes. He leapt dramatically towards the ball but headed it this far over the crossbar.
45 min I’m bored.
44 min “Look no further than penalties for Man United for arguments against VAR,” says Mat Oakley. “Four awarded to them since the restart. At least three should have been overturned. Only one was.”
You do know that all professional football is fixed to benefit the big teams, right?
43 min This game has been pretty anodyne, that VAR shambles aside.
42 min Here’s Ian Copestake. “VAR should be reviewed VAR-style at season’s end and the percentile of bad decisions against helpful ones divvied up and put through an electoral college to determine the winner in a Eurovision contest format vote decided at home by you the viewer.”
40 min McGinn’s deep free-kick is half-volleyed wide by Hause at the far post. It wasn’t much of a chance.
40 min Wan-Bissaka was booked for an ill-conceived, poorly executed tackle on Samatta.
40 min “One of the worst decisions involving VAR that I’ve seen,” says Keith Sanderson. “If anything it was dangerous play by Fernandez. Villa have been mugged there.”
Yes, it was a real stinker.
39 min McGinn’s long-range shot is blocked by Maguire.
39 min No penalty. It was a slightly clumsy challenge for Douglas Luiz but nowhere near enough contact for a penalty.
38 min United appeal unsuccessfully for a penalty when Rashford is bounced to the floor by Douglas Luiz. There will be a fake riot if VAR gives this.
37 min Reina makes a better save to deny Greenwood. He received the ball 25 yards from goal, ran to the edge of the area and dragged a low shot that was palmed away by the sprawling Reina. Greenwood didn’t connect cleanly with the shot.
35 min Martial runs at Konsa, moves the ball onto his right foot and hits a low shot that is comfortably saved by Reina.
34 min That penalty decision is getting worse with every replay. Fernandes fell into Konsa, and also stood on his ankle by accident. Konsa didn’t even foul Fernandes a split-second later, as I first thought. As far as I can see, he did absolutely nothing wrong.
33 min “I thought VAR was looking at a possible red card against Fernandes,” says Simon McGrother. “That is a bizarre decision.”
I hate VAR. It’s one thing to suffer a bad decision, but when it’s VAR-approved the sense of injustice increases fivefold.
32 min That was United’s 13th penalty in the league this season, which equals the record set by Andy Johnson in 2004-05 and Leicester City in 2015-16.
31 min “Villa fan here,” says David Bertram. “Outside of Grealish, who else will jump ship when the obvious is made official?”
I’d imagine there will be a lot of interest in Mings and McGinn.
30 min The more I see that replay, the less I think it was a penalty. Fernandes didn’t dive, it was just a collision as he pirouetted to shield the ball from Konsa.
A good penalty, dragged into the bottom left corner. I feel sorry for Villa there; I’m not sure that was a foul by Konsa.
PENALTY GIVEN! Fernandes did well to shield the ball from Konsa, but if anything he fouled Konsa before Konsa brought him down a split-second later. It might also have been outside the area. This is such a tight one, because I don’t know whether there’s enough evidence to overturn the decision. Apparently there isn’t: the decision has been upheld.
PENALTY TO UNITED! Konsa has been penalised for fouling Fernandes. Villa are convinced it wasn’t a foul - and I think they might be right. VAR are looking at it.
25 min: Trezeguet hits the post! Pogba dawdled on the edge of the centre circle and was robbed by Trezeguet. He ran to within 22 yards of goal before curling a low shot that beat de Gea and hit the outside of the post.
23 min Time for a drinks break.
21 min Martial’s pass to Greenwood goes behind for a goalkick, a reflection of a sloppy start from United.
20 min Villa have been the better team in the first quarter.
19 min “Years ago, before instant info on games, I had a friend (an Arsenal fan) text me score updates from United v Villa,” says Liam Maloney. “He had Villa 2-0 up within minutes of kick-off, leaving me (a United fan) fuming. That’s not how the game turned out, of course. I haven’t asked him for score updates since!”
18 min: Grealish misses a good chance. Konsa’s excellent deep cross found him in space on the left edge of the six-yard box. He tried desperately to control the volley with his left foot but it sliced off his ankle and wide of goal.
18 min Konsa’s deep cross is headed by Douglas Luiz onto the back of Wan-Bissaka and behind for a corner. This is a decent spell for Villa. Grealish’s corner is punched away by de Gea.
16 min It hasn’t been much of a game so far. Villa look solid defensively.
13 min After a patient build-up on the right, Pogba whips in a cross that is miscontrolled by Mings at the near post and cleared by Hause behind him.
10 min Douglas Luiz hits it into the wall.
9 min Fernandes fouls El Ghazi 25 yards from goal. Douglas Luiz and McGinn are over the ball.
5 min The game has started as expected, with lots of United possession and the occasional Villa counter-attack.
4 min At the other end, El Ghazi shoots well wide from distance.
3 min Bruno Fernandes’ cute flick finds Greenwood just inside the area, but he misses his kick completely. Douglas Luiz did put hands on Greenwood’s back but it wasn’t enough for a penalty.
3 min A good move from United down the right. Wan-Bissaka and Martial combine to find Greenwood, whose low cross is kicked away by Taylor.
2 min “United’s away strip,” says Michael George. “It’s beige, isn’t it?”
Pretty much, but you try making a press release out of that.
1 min Peep peep! United kick off from right to left.
Here come the players. Villa are in claret and blue. United are wearing their away strip. Breaking away from the traditional colours of a United away jersey, the shirt features a fresh savannah-toned aesthetic and intricate patterned design, that takes its inspiration from the many mosaics that adorn the streets of Manchester’s creative district, the Northern Quarter.
Standing out with a new colour palette, the striking new away shirt continues to blur the lines between sport and style, blending both cultures in to a single piece of design, which will of course be seen during our away trips in 2019/20. Influenced by the unique artwork of the Northern Quarter, the city is embedded deep within the design as the base colour is overlaid with a subtle pattern.
Villa have dropped to 19th before kick-off by virtue of Bournemouth’s 0-0 draw with Tottenham. The other early game finished Everton 1-1 Southampton.
The last time Villa beat Man Utd at home in the Premier League was 25 years ago. Aye, that game.
Ally Samatta replaces Keinan Davis up front for Villa. United are unchanged for the fourth league game in a row.
Aston Villa (4-2-3-1) Reina; Konsa, Hause, Mings, Taylor; Douglas Luiz, McGinn; El Ghazi, Grealish, Trezeguet; Samatta.
Substitutes: Nyland, Guilbert, El Mohamady, Lansbury, Nakamba, Hourihane, Jota, Vassilev, Davis.
Evening. At a different stage of the season, Aston Villa might have seen a visit from an in-form Manchester United as a free hit, with any points an unexpected bonus. But there are no free hits when you’re in the relegation places with five games to go. Villa need at least two wins if they are to have a realistic chance of avoiding relegation, and tonight would be an unimprovable time to get the first one.
Villa have played quite well since lockdown, and were excellent for an hour at Anfield on Saturday. Yet they have only picked up two points from five games in that time, which leaves them four behind Watford and West Ham with tonight’s game in hand. They need a lot more than two points from the next five games. It’s not quite now or never, but it isn’t far off.Continue reading...
- Manchester United and Wolves can also play ties at home
- Uefa rules on Champions and Europa League last-16 ties
Manchester City have been given the go-ahead from Uefa to play the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie against Real Madrid at the Etihad Stadium.
European football’s governing body have also ruled that Manchester United and Wolves can have home advantage in their Europa League fixtures against Lask and Olympiakos. Chelsea will travel to Bayern Munich and Rangers to Bayer Leverkusen as scheduled.Continue reading...
- ‘We can go so many games unbeaten if we concentrate’
- Solskjær denies interest in Bournemouth’s Nathan Aké
Ole Gunnar Solskjær has insisted Manchester United’s 16-game unbeaten run is “nowhere near” what the team’s ambition should be.
The sequence is the best under the manager and the longest since an 18-match sequence in 2013. Yet Solskjær, whose side visit Aston Villa on Thursday, is not satisfied.Continue reading...
- In-form Serbian midfielder given three-year contract extension
- Solskjær: ‘He understands the values of playing for United’
Nemanja Matic has signed a new contract that will keep him at Manchester United until 2023.
The deal follows a noticeable return to form from the 31-year-old Matic, his midfield performances impressing during the current 16-match unbeaten run. “I am very happy that I will continue to be part of this great club,” he said. “As a player I still have a lot more to give and achieve, and to do that with Manchester United will be a huge honour.Continue reading...
- Scot acted as ad-hoc agent in transfer from Old Trafford
- Gillespie was 19 and earning £230 a week before move
Keith Gillespie has revealed how Sir Alex Ferguson secured him a four-fold pay-rise when the Scot acted as his ad-hoc agent in the £7m deal that took the Northern Irishman from Manchester United to Newcastle United and Andy Cole the other way.
Gillespie made his United debut under Ferguson in 1993. Yet when Ferguson moved to sign Cole two years later from Newcastle, Gillespie was the makeweight in the transfer, being valued at £1m. Gillespie was 19 and earning £230 a week and when it came to finalising his personal terms at Newcastle Ferguson became a temporary representative.Continue reading...
- England striker suffered a double stress fracturer in January
- Rashford and Greenwood scored in 5-2 win over Bournemouth
Marcus Rashford has said he feels “blessed” to be fit again, as the back injury he suffered in mid-January was more serious than previous similar ones. The Manchester United striker sustained a double stress fracture in an FA Cup win over Wolves that would have ended his season but for the sport’s suspension in March. Rashford was able to resume playing when football restarted last month and he scored a 20th goal of the campaign in Saturday’s 5-2 win over Bournemouth at Old Trafford.Continue reading...
Thirty years on from starring in Italia 90, the full-back talks David Rocastle, Manchester United and his experiences with racism
Paul Parker is getting goosebumps. He has spoken in the preceding hour and a half about the racism he faced in the 1970s and 80s, of having a starring role in England’s journey to the 1990 World Cup semi-final, and the pros and cons of playing football at Old Trafford. But it is the memories of his mate David Rocastle that catch him off guard.
“For the 1990 qualifiers, Dave and I shared a room together,” says Parker. “Normally we’d go away with England on the Saturday night and not play until Wednesday. Rocky would sneak in some drinks before training on Monday. I would bring four cans of lager, Rocky would arrive with Brandy and Babycham. But that was him. He was the happiest man, always smiling and would often call his wife, Janet, late at night, just to hear the sound of his baby daughter’s voice. You would hear him just singing to Melissa down the phone.”Continue reading...
Bournemouth took a shock early lead at Old Trafford but Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial each scored to reach 20 goals and become the first Manchester United players to do so in the same season since Dimitar Berbatov and Javier Hernández in 2011.
The star, though, was the 18-year-old Mason Greenwood, who struck in each half to take him to 15 for the campaign in what was a topsy-turvy contest that featured two offside goals in addition to the seven legal ones as United ended nine years without a quintuple in the league at Old Trafford.Continue reading...
- Live updates from the 3pm BST kick-off
- Live scoreboard: the latest from all Saturday’s matches
- How they stand: the latest Premier League table
4 min Nothing to report as yet. United have made a dominant start.
1 min Peep peep! Bournemouth, in their sky blue change strip, kick off from right to left.
“Fergie said that perch thing off-handedly in the early noughties,” says Digvijay Yadav. “That a lot of Liverpool people have brought it up straight away tells you how much it irked them and how long they have been holding it inside them. Like an English cricket fan waiting to snipe at the Aussies during the 90s.”
The interesting thing is that Fergie didn’t really knock them off their perch at all; George Graham and Arsenal did, with a bit of help from Steve Coppell and perhaps Graeme Souness. But he did clamber atop the vacant perch and do a silly little jig for the next two decades.
In other news deparment
“Hey Rob,” says J.R. in Illinois. “So are you excited for Superspeader Saturday or what? Will you be done working in time to go out for a couple yards later? Or maybe you were able to get to the pub when it opened at 6am to suck down a few pints before work? Well, over here in the U.S. of ‘Murica every day is Superspreader Day and yesterday our genius president got the holiday weekend off to a flying start with a lovely get together in the hopes of further dividing the country with the added bonus of likely increasing the spread of a deadly pandemic.”
This year has been a particularly absurd series of the Truman Show.
“From back atop our perch I feel generous enough to give Man Utd fans a tip,” says Ian Copestake. “With Bruno Fernandes in your team you have a great opportunity to do a chant to the tune of “Danny Nedelko” by Idles.”
How many times: LIVERPOOL ARE NOT BACK ON THEIR PERCH!!!!! (Yet.)
Bournemouth have never won at Old Trafford, not even back in the days when they were Bournemouth and Boscombe Athletic. That isn’t a completely bad thing, though. An unlikely and historic win today would be a fine way to start a great escape.
The story about Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes being doubtful after a collision in training was a hoax; both start in an unchanged United side. Bournemouth bring in Diego Rico, Lewis Cook and Junior Stanislas for Steve Cook, Philip Billing and Arnaut Danjuma.
Manchester United (4-2-3-1) de Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw; Pogba, Matic; Greenwood, Fernandes, Rashford; Martial.
Substitutes: Romero, Bailly, Williams, Mata, Pereira, Fred, James, McTominay, Ighalo.
On 22 January, Manchester United lost 2-0 at home to Burnley. It was their fourth defeat in seven leagues games, and there was a P45 with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s name on it. Since then, their record is all competitions is outstanding: P15 W11 D4 L0 F38 A4. It’s their longest unbeaten run in three and a half years, and the mood around the club is as positive as it has been since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson.
There’s one big reason for that. Bruno Fernandes has had the most profound impact of any United signing since Eric Cantona in 1992. It’s not just his goals and assists, either: with his infectious standards, he has dragged all the other players closer to his level. He may also drag them into the Champions League. A win over Bournemouth today would move United above Chelsea, who play Watford tonight, and keep them within range of third-placed Leicester.Continue reading...
United’s manager has been brave in cutting the squad and after going 15 games unbeaten the sense is of a more stable outfit
As a snapshot of Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s evolving Manchester United, rewind to Bruno Fernandes’s second goal in the 3-0 win at Brighton on Tuesday. On 50 minutes, a commanding Harry Maguire header initiated a wow moment. Wow because of what it suggested of Nemanja Matic, whose best days are supposedly gone. And wow because it confirmed how the Serb’s rejuvenation is part of the larger team renaissance that Solskjær is overseeing.
Matic took the ball on his chest, pivoted and found Mason Greenwood with a second sight-like vision that had the 18-year-old surging along the left, before a cross found the relentless Fernandes who volleyed home at the far post.Continue reading...
- Defence is key to the the team’s success, says midfielder
- ‘Everyone can see the team is improving,’ says Solskjær
Bruno Fernandes insisted Manchester United can achieve Champions League football this season after his two goals at Brighton helped his side to stretch their unbeaten run to 15 games.
United moved up to fifth place ahead of Wolves on goal difference, but Fernandes said their much-improved defensive performance was key to their current mood of confidence.Continue reading...
This is how Ole Gunnar Solskjær intends to restore Manchester United to former glories. The road back to the top of the Premier League is long and it is impossible to say that United will be challenging for the title next season, given the ridiculous levels of Liverpool’s current superiority. But a Bruno Fernandes-inspired performance on the south coast brought that most precious of commodities – hope.
It is what routinely kills supporters and goodness knows there have been false dawns for United in the years since Sir Alex Ferguson was manager. But with Fernandes roaming with menace behind a pacy and dangerous front three – in which the 18-year-old Mason Greenwood was the star turn – and Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic providing the control in the centre of the pitch, it was an evening when United made a statement.Continue reading...
- Premier League updates from the 8.15pm BST kick-off
- Live scoreboard: the latest from Tuesday’s matches
- How they stand: the latest Premier League table
- And you can email Simon here or tweet him here
45+3 mins: Manchester United go into the interval with the double advantage of two goals and complete superiority.
45+2 mins: United ping the ball about on the left for an age, and eventually Montoya’s had enough and throws himself at Rashford. Free kick.
45+1 mins: There will be about two minutes of first-half stoppages.
44 mins: Brighton actually threaten! Propper’s cross from the right is pretty handy, and there are six home players in the penalty area, but the ball just evades them all, with Burn coming closest.
44 mins: United get numbers forward, Brighton get numbers back, and a very promising attack ends with Dunk intercepting Pogba’s underhit pass infield.
42 mins: A telling stat here from Tim de Lisle:
41 mins: There have only been two shots on target in this game.
39 mins: Dunk has the ball inside his own penalty area and Martial and Fernandes combine to gang up on him, eventually forcing him to hit out of play for a throw-in. Nothing comes of it but still, good work. In other news, the ball went out for what should have been a throw-in in the build-up to the first goal.
37 mins: United play the ball across their backline almost comically slowly, waiting on each occasion to be closed down before laying it off. Eventually it reaches Bruno Fernandes on the left, who smashes it high into the air. Given what came before, it seems almost an act of protest. Dunk wins the header.
33 mins: Brighton have an attack, and win a free-kick out on the right touchline. United eventually win it back, and play the ball out of defence in a manner which is can only be described as extremely competent.
32 mins: Brighton have a shot! Mac Allister is the man responsible, blasting the ball into Maguire’s ankles from inside United’s penalty area.
Another one! Rashford plays Shaw in on the left, who gets to the byline but can’t pick out Martial with his pull-back. It runs to Pogba outside the penalty area, who touches inside to Fernandes, whose first-time shot hits Mac Allister and spins past Ryan and inside the post!
28 mins: Lindelof goes on an endearingly optimistic run down the right, which ends after about 40 yards as he tries to trick his way into the penalty area without actually doing any tricks, and is consequently dispossessed.
26 mins: Play resumes, and United take control of the ball once more. Eventually Wan-Bissaka miscontrols and it rolls out for a throw-in.
23 mins: United win a corner, take it long to Maguire beyond the far post, and he beats Dunk to the header but sends it across goal and wide. The drinks break follows.
22 mins: Fernandes shoots, and gets the ball to dip savagely, but it never threatens to dip enough to get under the bar.
21 mins: Now they have a free-kick in a very handy position, as Pogba is fouled just outside the area.
20 mins: This is all looking excellent for the visitors. They are attacking at pace, in numbers, with width on both flanks, and Brighton can’t plug every gap.
The chance comes, the shot follows, and United lead! Greenwood pretty much makes it for himself, running infield from the right, leaving Stephens in his wake, bursting into the box, squaring up Dunk, jinking this way and that, and then shooting low and hard inside the near post!
15 mins: United are running at about 74% possession, and looking menacing with it, but so far no clear chances, or shots of any note from inside the area.
12 mins: Bruno Fernandes hits the post! Maguire’s long ball from left to right starts the move, Pogba’s pass infield finds the Portuguese, and his early, low shot from just outside the area thumps the near post.
11 mins: A few seconds later Mac Allister tries it again, and this time Connolly is on the move, but he uses an arm to control and that’s the end of that.
11 mins: Mac Allister picks the ball up in midfield and plays it through for Connolly, who hadn’t got the memo and was entirely flat-footed.
8 mins: United are hogging the ball, but not doing so much attacking. Bruno Fernandes nearly unlocked the home defence a couple of minutes back, but his Ryan ran out to booter his through-ball into touch as Rashford raced towards it.
5 mins: A breather for Brighton, as Maguire chests a long pass towards Lindelof, and Connolly nips in and goes down, winning a bonus cheap free kick.
3 mins: United have already put together two decent attacks down the left, but on both occasions the attack was snuffled out after they got into the box.
2 mins: Kick-off is preceded by a noisy countdown, on the stadium’s big screens and loud speakers. 10 ... 9 ... 8 ... 7 ... it goes. 6 ... 5 ... 4 ... 3 ... it continues. 2 ... 1, it concludes. And then, 10 further seconds of awkward silence while the referee completes his last-minute whatevers, noisy countdown completely ignored. The players take the knee for a few seconds after kick-off.
1 min: Peeeeeep! United get the game started.
The players are out, and the coin has just been tossed. Action imminent.
The players are making their way into the tunnel, with kick-off just a few minutes away.
“While I’m cheered that the fans are practising some social distancing by sitting one seat apart, I’m appalled they’re not wearing masks,” complains Eric Schwab of Brighton’s Thank You NHS Stand (photo below). “This seems like a very narrow, two-dimensional approach.”
Graham Potter submits himself to the Sky-flavoured inquisition:
I think we’ve had a positive couple of games, but we have to start again. We play against a really good side, a side in good form, so all that we’ve done is gone and we have to start again tonight and do our best. It’s a chance to win three points, that’s how we look at it. They’re a good team, and they’re fighting for the Champions League, but ti’s a chance to win three points and that’s what we have to focus on. I’ve reminded them that they’re good players, they need to work hard to get a result. History’s fine but it doesn’t count for anything tonight. We need a bit of luck against this quality of opposition, but we need to make sure we do our best.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a chat with Sky:
This is the same team as played less than a week ago against Sheffield United and played really well, so hopefully we can see that again. Everything has to be right. We’ve been here the last two years, we haven’t got any points. We know it’s going to be hard, we know we have to focus on one game at a time.
Brighton make three changes to the team that drew 0-0 at Leicester last Tuesday, bringing in Shane Duffy, Davy Propper and Martin Montoya. Manchester United make either no changes or eight of them, depending on whether you count the FA Cup game against Norwich or the last league game, against Sheffield United last Wednesday.
The team sheets are in, and these are the names upon them:
Brighton: Ryan, Duffy, Dunk, Burn, Lamptey, Propper, Stephens, Bissouma, Montoya, Mac Allister, Connolly. Subs: Maupay, Trossard, Gross, Murray, Mooy, March, Schelotto, Button, Bernardo.
Man Utd: De Gea, Wan Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw, Pogba, Matic, Greenwood, Bruno Fernandes, Rashford, Martial. Subs: Bailly, Mata, Andreas Pereira, Fred, James, Romero, Ighalo, McTominay, Williams.
Referee: Andre Marriner.
Before the restart I thought Brighton, winless in 2020 and with a pretty nasty fixture list, might end up in a hideous battle against relegation. Two games, two decent performances and four points later and given the miserable form of Bournemouth, West Ham, Aston Villa and Watford below them I make them a win away from safety. They are more likely to get that victory at Norwich on Saturday than against Manchester United tonight, with the visitors another side that has had a decent restart and motivated by the vicious scrap for European qualification in which they find themselves, but I wouldn’t put it past them. They are, after all, unbeaten at home against Manchester United since April 1982 (with four wins and a draw since then).Continue reading...
- Manager hopes run can extend to 15 at Brighton
- United still in FA Cup and Europa League
Ole Gunnar Solskjær believes Manchester United can go unbeaten until the end of the season to set comfortably their longest sequence without losing for a decade but warned complacency could cause them to be kicked where “you don’t want to be”.
United are at Brighton on Tuesday where they will aim to stretch their unbeaten run to 15. As they are in the FA Cup semi-finals and the Europa League last-16 Solskjær’s side have potentially 12 more fixtures after Brighton and could move to within two matches of equalling a 29-game undefeated run set from April to November 2010. Since then the club’s longest sequence without losing was 18 matches in 2012-13.Continue reading...
The midfielder failed to seize his chance against Norwich and his time at Manchester United may be running out
There was a moment early on in Manchester United’s drawn-out win at Norwich when Jesse Lingard picked up the ball on the edge of the box, feinted right, jinked left and, with a rapid shuffle of his feet, glided past Timm Klose. It was a welcome reminder of the player he used to be. What followed in a generally drab United performance was a less welcome reminder of the player he has been over the past year.
It was only last June that Lingard was having a goal for England against the Netherlands in the Nations League semi-final ruled out for the tightest of offsides. A year before that he scored a brilliant goal against Panama at the World Cup. And he scored the extra-time winner when Manchester United last won the FA Cup, an elegant finish against Crystal Palace in 2016.Continue reading...
With 117 minutes gone and the score 1-1, Harry Maguire leapt for a header in the Norwich City box and was bumped to the ground. Manchester United’s centre back had barely got to his feet before he was down again, writhing and stretching to poke a loose ball across the goalline after Paul Pogba had crossed back into a crush of exhausted human flesh.
Norwich, down to 10 men, had no time to restart their engines. As the final whistle blew both sets of players sank to the Carrow Road turf. A round of weary hugs commemorated the fact United had won this FA Cup quarter-final 2-1, and deservedly so on the balance of a slow-burn muddle of a game.Continue reading...