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Updated: 2 hours 54 min ago

Premier League reserves: where kids on £300 a week mix with millionaires

Thu, 10/10/2019 - 10:52

Héctor Bellerín played well for Arsenal Under-23s while returning from injury, but not every big star is a great example

By Gavin Willacy for Playing in the Shadows

Most of the Arsenal Under-23 team will have been unfazed by the thought of playing Liverpool at Meadow Park in Borehamwood in front of a crowd of 358. But a few of them may have been starstruck when they looked around and saw Héctor Bellerín in their defence. Bellerín’s appearance was unusual for two reasons. Star players returning from injury usually play for less than an hour and only do so in reserve games at the club’s own stadium. Bellerín played the full 90 minutes at a local non-league ground, setting up Arsenal’s second equaliser in a 2-2 draw.

Lining up alongside an established international should help the young Arsenal players develop. However, star names often prove as much aggro as they are worth for Under-23s managers. One told me: “We get different first-team players every game and it’s always for the benefit of the first team – not us. I never know who I’m getting until the day before a game, or even later. Put it this way: I never write out my team until I get to the ground! If we’re playing away, unless it’s close or we’re playing at a decent stadium, I assume I won’t get any first-team players. But if we’re at home and there’s no first-team game for a while, I might get half a dozen.”

Related: The Dutch model of developing young footballers: let them sink or swim

Related: 'The public only see the highs': the reality of Premier League youth teams

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Manchester United take safety action after death of fan at Old Trafford

Wed, 10/09/2019 - 12:20

• 80-year-old died from head injuries sustained in 2017
• United say they have acted upon coroner’s recommendations

Manchester United say they have taken steps to improve fan safety following the death of a supporter after a fall at Old Trafford two years ago.

Richard John Whale, 80, died from head injuries sustained after falling down a flight of steps while leaving the Sir Alex Ferguson stand towards the end of a game against Manchester City in December 2017.

Related: Steve Bruce gets Alex Ferguson’s advice before Manchester United’s visit

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Premier League: 10 standout statistics from the season so far

Wed, 10/09/2019 - 11:48

Leicester love a tackle, Villa like a scrap, Wolves enjoy a late goal, Watford can’t finish and Arsenal still don’t know how to defend

By Martin Laurence for WhoScored

Despite their poor run of form, Ole Gunnar Solskjær has commended the spirit of his Manchester United players. However, the numbers tell a different story. When a team is short of ideas and quality in attack, it is always a good idea to go back to the basics of defending to rebuild. But United simply do not work hard enough to regain possession. They have won fewer tackles and interceptions combined (125 tackles and 66 interception) than any other team in the division. They are not be far behind Manchester City and Liverpool in those statistics but, crucially, United are not keeping the ball as well or pressing as effectively. They have won the ball in the attacking third just 27 times compared to City’s 49 and Liverpool’s 57.

Related: When Manchester United had an even worse start to the season ... in 1989

Related: Mauricio Pochettino and his broken Spurs hit their lowest ebb | David Hytner

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Bastian Schweinsteiger announces retirement from football at age of 35

Tue, 10/08/2019 - 17:16
  • Midfielder made final appearance in 5-2 win for Chicago Fire
  • German won World Cup and Champions league during career

The former Bayern Munich, Germany and Manchester United midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger has announced his retirement from football at the age of 35.

“Dear fans, the time has now come, and I will be finishing my active career at the end of this season,” he wrote in a post on social media on Tuesday. “I would like to thank both you, my teams FC Bayern, Manchester United, Chicago Fire and the German national team. You made this unbelievable time possible for me!

The Time has now come: I would like to thank both, you and my teams @FCBayern, @ManUtd, @ChicagoFire and @DFB_Team and of course @AnaIvanovic and my family for their support!

Thank you! pic.twitter.com/jNSrXGNpxF

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Buy a classic sport photograph: Alex Ferguson's hairdryer treatment

Tue, 10/08/2019 - 07:00

The fourth of a new Guardian Print Shop series featuring classic sports images from the likes of Gerry Cranham, Mark Leech and Tom Jenkins – yours to own for only £55 including delivery

What better way to depict Sir Alex Ferguson in a photograph? If there’s one football manager synonymous with ranting on the sidelines at players and officials, it’s the fiery Scotsman. This picture of Fergie was shot during a first division match against Luton in October 1987, less than a year after he joined Manchester United. At that point in time, he had every reason to chastise his players: old, unfit and too keen on booze, many of them were soon shipped out of the club and, over time, replaced with young academy prospects, precipitating the greatest period of domestic dominance in the Premier League era. Ferguson claimed 38 trophies at United – including 13 Premier League titles, five FA Cups and two Champions Leagues. By the time of his retirement in 2013, everyone from David Beckham to Cristiano Ronaldo could attest to the fury of Fergie’s so-called ‘hairdryer treatment’.

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Manchester United’s crisis is not of Solskjær’s making but can he fix it? | Paul Wilson

Tue, 10/08/2019 - 00:01
Manager’s limitations are being exposed on a weekly basis but the problems at United run deeper than the dugout

Should Ole Gunnar Solskjær need cheering up at any point in the next few days he can at least reflect that Manchester United are still the club everyone is talking about. In terms of the title race Manchester City’s defeat by Wolves was the shock of the weekend, the result absolutely no one was expecting, yet it was United’s altogether more predictable failure at Newcastle that has dominated the news agendas.

Related: Newcastle’s Matty Longstaff stuns Manchester United with goal on debut

Related: When Manchester United had an even worse start to the season ... in 1989

Related: Manchester misery, Figo in Guildford and lads, it's Tottenham – Football Weekly

Twitter: follow us at @guardian_sport

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Marcus Rashford the biggest victim of Manchester United fall from grace | Jonathan Wilson

Mon, 10/07/2019 - 10:00

United’s lack of an overarching plan is now clear for all to see, with Ole Gunnar Solskjær not entirely free from blame

Where does this rank in the litany of dreadful Manchester United performances? Not quite as bad, perhaps, as the equivalent game of the 1989-90 season, the last to start as badly as this, when in their eighth match they went down 5-1 at Manchester City. And not as bad, probably, as the 5-0 humbling at Crystal Palace in December 1972 that brought an end to Frank O’Farrell’s term as manager. But this was bad – bad enough that it is challenging for the post-war podium.

Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s mood after the game was reasonable and sad, but also vaguely numb as though he were in shock. There was no obvious anger, no great emotion, just a struggling man clinging desperately to the pat phrases of his profession: belief in the tactics, the need to work harder, perhaps a tweak before the game against Liverpool after the international break. But this needs more than a tweak; this needs a revolution, not only of tactics but of morale and self-belief – and probably personnel.

Related: Newcastle’s Matty Longstaff stuns Manchester United with goal on debut

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Football rumours: Mauricio Pochettino to Manchester United?

Mon, 10/07/2019 - 09:11

Today’s tell-all is on an international break

While opinions vary on who exactly is responsible for the current mess in which Manchester United find themselves, the Rumour Mill is prepared to take the holistic view that there is plenty of blame to go around. But while the owners, their executive vice-chairman and assorted players are all culpable to varying degrees, it is the first-team manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær who will ultimately be scapegoated once the denizens of Old Trafford turn on the club hierarchy and demand something approaching a bang for their buck.

Following yet another defeat for his team, arguably the worst Manchester United side in Premier League history, the vultures of the bookmaking community are circling overhead after slashing his odds of being the next Premier League manager out of a job. Having previously been of a mind to hire Mauricio Pochettino, before making the knee-jerk decision to over-promote Solskjær in a misguided attempt to ingratiate himself upon the fans, Ed Woodward will be monitoring the current situation at White Hart Lane with morbid fascination.

Related: Mauricio Pochettino and his broken Spurs hit their lowest ebb | David Hytner

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

Mon, 10/07/2019 - 08:24

City need De Bruyne fit, Connolly is a rising star at Brighton and Everton’s Silva should beware the international break

Unai Emery, in his programme notes for the game against Bournemouth, spoke about the importance of balance and how he wants his side to be “competitive both defensively and offensively”. That is excellent in theory but it needs to be put into practice and yet again on Sunday there was little evidence of that. Arsenal won but they did not play well and the most glaring issue is the lack of an obvious plan. Are Arsenal meant to press aggressively, and if so why did that part of their game drop off so alarmingly? Are they meant to dominate possession, and if so why do their midfielders appear to spend more time running than playing passes? It is confusing and while injuries are an issue for Emery, particularly in regards to his first‑choice full-backs, it is fair to expect that after more than a year in charge his vision for the team would be much clearer. Sachin Nakrani

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Solskjær apologises as Bruce praises Matty Longstaff after Newcastle beat Manchester United – video

Mon, 10/07/2019 - 08:14

'I've got to say sorry to the fans,' Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær said after 1-0 loss to lowly Newcastle United. He said the team didn't seem to be able to control the ball: 'It was a hot potato ... bouncing off our feet.' 

Newcastle United manager Steve Bruce said he was delighted to get his first win over Manchester United as a manager

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‘Not acceptable’: David de Gea speaks out after Manchester United defeat

Sun, 10/06/2019 - 21:13
• Goalkeeper apologises to fans after United beaten at Newcastle
• Solskjær admits finishing in the top six will be ‘very tough’

A bewildered looking David de Gea described Manchester United’s form as “unacceptable” as a 1-0 defeat at Newcastle United left Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side only two points above the relegation zone.

The Spain goalkeeper joined his manager in apologising to travelling fans after a Newcastle counterattack following a visiting corner led to 19-year-old Matty Longstaff scoring the winning goal on his Premier League debut for Steve Bruce’s previously struggling side.

Related: Newcastle 1-0 Manchester United: Premier League - as it happened

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Newcastle’s Matty Longstaff stuns Manchester United with goal on his debut

Sun, 10/06/2019 - 18:47

Maybe, just maybe, Steve Bruce and Newcastle United might not be heading for divorce after all. Perhaps the home manager’s bravery in offering 19-year-old Matty Longstaff his Premier League debut, alongside his older brother Sean in central midfield, will one day be regarded as a watershed.

Whatever the future holds the Longstaff family will never forget the day tears tumbled down Matty’s cheeks after he scored a wonderful second-half winning goal to simultaneously relieve the growing tension on Bruce and increase the pressure on Ole Gunnar Solskjær.

Related: Newcastle 1-0 Manchester United: Premier League – live reaction

Related: When Manchester United had an even worse start to the season ... in 1989

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Newcastle v Manchester United: Premier League – live!

Sun, 10/06/2019 - 15:42

3.42pm BST

And Ole laments that we’re not in the 1990s any more, worse luck.

3.41pm BST

Fergie remains a favoured hotline.

Related: Steve Bruce gets Alex Ferguson’s advice before Manchester United’s visit

3.38pm BST

Steve Bruce has made the promised changes and gives Matthew Longstaff his debut alongside big brother Sean. Emil Krafth, Paul Dummett, Issac Hayden, Yoshinori Muto and Christian Atsu have been dropped. Longstaff the younger, Ciaran Clark, Allan Saint-Maximim, Jetro Willems and DeAndre Yedlin are given a go.

It all looks a bit League Cup, to be quite honest. For both teams.

3.35pm BST

Even allowing for Newcastle’s problems this season, that is not a very strong Manchester United team. Far from it, in fact. Two defenders playing out of position, no Paul Pogba, the enigmatic Fred in midfield and an attack that is youthful yet not exactly dynamic.

3.31pm BST

TEAM NEWS

Here's how Newcastle United will line up for this afternoon's @premierleague visit of @ManUtd. #NUFC pic.twitter.com/60c8pjHB96

Newcastle: Dubravka, Clark, Schar, Lascelles, Willems, Yedlin, S Longstaff, M Longstaff, Saint-Maximin, Almiron, Joelinton.

Team news

Here's how #MUFC line up on Tyneside for #NEWMUN...

2.13pm BST

The fans loathe the owner and are not sure of the manager, even though he professes to be one of them, a long-standing lover of their club. The football is turgid, and goals are hard to find. Yes, take your pick of which of Newcastle United and Manchester United that refers to. The cap fits both of them. The days when this was one of the grandest fixtures in the Premier League have receded as far as Alan Shearer’s hairline. Steve Bruce was club captain of Manchester United when this pairing met in March 1996 and Ole Gunnar Solskjær was just a glint in the eye of Alex Ferguson’s scouting department. Today’s managers were never Old Trafford colleagues, with Bruce shipped out in the 1996 summer the ‘little Norwegian’, as he became known, arrived in Manchester. They are, though, both favourite sons of Fergie and both have admitted to seeking advice from the grand old man.

Their teams have much to improve on. Newcastle’s 5-0 pummelling at Leicester was relegation writ large. For Manchester United, Monday’s draw with Arsenal was perhaps the lowest-amped match ever between another pair of fallen giants while that 0-0 draw with AZ Alkmaar was the football equivalent of being locked in a room with only a long read on protein shakes for company.

And so a classic cannot be expected but then again, this is the best league in the world.

Kick-off: 4.30pm BST

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Steve Bruce gets Alex Ferguson’s advice before Manchester United’s visit

Sat, 10/05/2019 - 22:30
• Newcastle manager set to switch formation to 3-4-3
• ‘I always ring Sir Alex for a bit of advice now and again’

A week of soul-searching has led Steve Bruce to seek counsel from his former Manchester United manager and mentor, Sir Alex Ferguson. Bruce hopes his struggling Newcastle side can recover from last Sunday’s 5-0 humiliation at Leicester by beating the club for whom he once shone at centre-half.

Sunday’s meeting of the two Uniteds at St James’ Park may well be a pale shadow of the tight match won 1-0 by Ferguson’s team courtesy of an Eric Cantona goal during the 1995-96 title race but the Newcastle manager’s job security could hinge on an improved performance.

Related: Steve Bruce accepts Newcastle limitations and focuses on defence

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Newcastle v Manchester United: match preview

Sat, 10/05/2019 - 09:00

The days when Newcastle challenged Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United at the top of the Premier League under Kevin Keegan and Sir Bobby Robson are long gone. If Manchester United’s decline has been less dramatic, it is currently causing considerable consternation west of the Pennines. Steve Bruce’s Newcastle are in an infinitely worse mess though and must try to atone for last Sunday’s 5-0 reverse at Leicester. Can one of Ferguson’s stalwart centre-halves turn the tide on his native Tyneside? Louise Taylor

Sunday 4.30pm Sky Sports Premier League

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'It's a different era': Solskjær admits Manchester United have lost their fear factor – video

Fri, 10/04/2019 - 15:09

The Manchester United manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjær, said his side 'haven't been good enough' as they aim to put their dismal recent form behind them with a Premier League game against second-from-bottom Newcastle on Sunday.

Solskjær was speaking after United's lacklustre 0-0 draw at AZ Alkmaar in the Europa League on Thursday – he also has to address his team's indifferent league form, which has left them languishing 10th in the table, with only two wins this season.

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When Manchester United had an even worse start to the season ... in 1989

Fri, 10/04/2019 - 15:07

Newcastle boss Steve Bruce is facing his old club at a perfect time. They haven’t been this bad since he was in their defence

By Steven Pye for That 1980s Sports Blog

When Ole Gunnar Solskjær was appointed Manchester United manager, he wanted to emulate some of Alex Ferguson’s achievements in the job. But mirroring the start of the 1989-90 campaign was probably low down on his list. United’s disappointing 1-1 draw with Arsenal at Old Trafford on Monday night left the club with just nine points from as many matches in the league this season, making this their worst start to a campaign for 30 years. The last time they began a season so badly – in 1989-90, when they only picked up seven points in their first nine games – Fergie time seemed to be running out.

Since joining the club from Aberdeen in November 1986, Alex Ferguson had done little to suggest that he would be the man to knock Liverpool off their perch. If anything, he needed to worry about losing his own position. He was backed heavily in the transfer market over the summer months in 1989, with Neil Webb, Mike Phelan, Gary Pallister, Paul Ince and Danny Wallace all joining the club, and the pressure was mounting.

Related: When Manchester United sacked Ron Atkinson 10 weeks into the season

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‘It’s not the 1990s now’: Solskjær accepts Manchester United have lost fear factor

Fri, 10/04/2019 - 10:59
• ‘We know there are going to be ups and downs,’ manager says
• Paul Pogba likely to sit out Sunday’s game at Newcastle

The good news for Manchester United supporters is that Ole Gunnar Solskjær has admitted that things have moved on since his glory days as a player. The United manager has frequently been accused of living in the past, but when it was suggested after the tame showing against AZ Alkmaar that his side have completely lost the fear factor of old, Solskjær was powerless to disagree.

“We are not in the 1990s now – it’s a different era, a different group that we are building,” Soskjaer said. “We know there are going to be ups and downs but I’m ready to see these boys blossom. There’s not many clubs of our stature that play the young players that we do. We give them a chance to come through and I’m sure some of them will go on to be part of a successful team.”

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

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Premier League: 10 things to look out for this weekend

Fri, 10/04/2019 - 00:00

Brendan Rodgers returns to Anfield, Spurs offer opponents too much space and Bournemouth have Arsenal in their sights

Brendan Rodgers returns to Anfield on Saturday, sensing an opportunity to end his former club’s perfect Premier League start. Last season, a much less adventurous Leicester side got a point at Liverpool, triggering a costly spell of self-doubt for Jürgen Klopp’s title chasers. There has been virtually no sign of weakness from the Reds in the league this term, but Salzburg’s dramatic Champions League fightback may have shown Rodgers the way forward. Andrew Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold made surging infield runs against Salzburg, a tactic that helped Liverpool race into a three-goal lead as Robertson scored. As the game changed, the hosts were left exposed in wide areas as their opponents poured forward. Leicester will be a threat on the counter and have plenty of pace and craft on the flanks, not least through their own full-back pairing of Ben Chilwell and Ricardo Pereira. Rodgers’ side are dangerous opponents, and Klopp will hope the reliable Joël Matip is available to slot back into central defence. NM

Related: Tottenham's tonking and the future of the game – Football Weekly Extra

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Related: Aubameyang labels Dortmund CEO Watzke a 'clown' in row over departure

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Manchester United draw blank with AZ Alkmaar as Jesse Lingard limps off

Thu, 10/03/2019 - 21:14

Ole Gunnar Solskjær is still looking for his first away win as Manchester United’s permanent manager. Newcastle on Sunday would seem an inviting opportunity but Solskjær is going to have to alter his team and his tactics from this limp showing to have any hope of beating even such demoralised opponents as Steve Bruce’s side.

This was just as presentable a chance to turn a corner, yet a United side sorely lacking in ambition and creativity were unable to take it, merely adapting to Alkmaar’s level and in the end being quite fortunate to escape with a draw.

Related: Willy Boly puts Wolves back on track in Europa League with injury-time winner

Related: Arsenal v Standard Liege, Celtic v CFR Cluj: Europa League – live!

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