What the papers say

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

Mon, 02/28/2022 - 08:00

Pep Guardiola makes a tactical tweak, Christian Eriksen returns and Matty Cash sends a message

There are few clubs in the Premier League with mood swings as dramatic as Tottenham’s right now. A week ago they joyously outplayed leaders Manchester City, then a 1-0 loss to 18th-placed Burnley prompted a seething Antonio Conte to openly question his own future. Now, after battering a broken Leeds 4-0 at Elland Road, the good vibes are back. Son Heung-min and Harry Kane are now firmly in the record books as the most prolific pairing of all time, creating 37 goals together and counting. Kane has returned to seriously good form. Dejan Kulusevski has settled in at warp speed. Conte’s frustrations may well surface again soon, but a turbulent week at least ended on a positive note. Tumaini Carayol

Match report: Leeds 0-4 Tottenham

Bielsa transformed Leeds with decency, humility and hard work

Match report: Manchester United 0-0 Watford

Match report: Brentford 0-2 Newcastle

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Crowd vent frustration after wasteful Manchester United are held by Watford

Sat, 02/26/2022 - 17:20

Manchester United’s inability to finish any of their countless chances was near-comedic and ultimately costly. Against a Watford side with one league win since November, Cristiano Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes were the chief culprits, both missing when it appeared easier to score.

For Watford a point is welcome succour in their fight against relegation. In contrast the draw is a deep frustration for Ralf Rangnick considering how dominant United were. Their unbeaten run stretches to 11 but this should have been a precious three points in the race for Champions League qualification.

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Manchester United v Watford, Brentford v Newcastle and more – live!

Sat, 02/26/2022 - 13:53

Everton are expected to silence the air-raid siren that sounds before matches at Goodison Park when Manchester City visit on Saturday out of consideration for the Ukraine internationals Vitalii Mykolenko and Oleksandr Zinchenko. The move comes amid support from several Premier League clubs for players affected by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Some breaking news – Poland will refuse to play Russia in their scheduled World Cup playoff next month following the invasion of Ukraine:

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Ralf Rangnick urges Marcus Rashford to draw inspiration from Jadon Sancho

Fri, 02/25/2022 - 22:30
  • United manager says Sancho also had run of poor form
  • ‘It’s the player himself who has to perform,’ Rangnick says

Ralf Rangnick believes Marcus Rashford can draw inspiration from Jadon Sancho as the forward tries to lift himself out of a run of poor form.

Rashford started Wednesday’s Champions League last-16 first leg draw at Atlético Madrid but an anonymous display caused him to be replaced on 75 minutes by Anthony Elanga, who scored United’s equaliser. The 24-year-old has only five goals in 22 appearances but Rangnick cited Sancho, who has scored twice and made two assists in his past six games, as an example of another player who struggled previously before enjoying an upturn.

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Manchester United v Watford: match preview

Fri, 02/25/2022 - 16:40

Manchester United are unbeaten in 10 games in all competitions, Watford have only one victory in all competitions since November. Yet the reverse fixture was Watford’s 4-1 win that resulted in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s sacking and the hiring of Ralf Rangnick as interim-manager. Watford now also have a new coach – Roy Hodgson – and in the fight against relegation, he would dearly love to complete the home and away double over United. Jamie Jackson

Saturday 3pm

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Ronaldo falls short against his favourite opponent in city where he won it all | Sid Lowe

Wed, 02/23/2022 - 23:32

Cristiano Ronaldo cut an isolated figure for Manchester United against a team he has hurt countless times in the past

There was a moment just before half-time at the Wanda Metropolitano when Cristiano Ronaldo stood on the penalty spot, delivered a shrug of the shoulders, pulled a face and raised a finger: one, just one. None of his Manchester United teammates were really looking his way and even if they had been, there was little they could do about it, and so he walked slowly back out of the area, shaking his head, alone. It was a journey he would embark upon often.

All the way to the end, in fact, when he was the first player off, throwing back his arm in frustration, born perhaps not just of this night but other nights too, an uncomfortably familiar feeling of impotence, a hint of recrimination there too. Pausing to applaud the fans in the north stand, Ronaldo crossed the pitch and turned up the tunnel on his own. United had found a way through, Anthony Elanga slipping past Jan Oblak with 10 minutes to go, but the goal he wanted never came on his return to the city where he won it all.

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Manchester United’s plan was in dustbin after seven minutes, admits Rangnick

Wed, 02/23/2022 - 23:13
  • Anthony Elanga equalises in 1-1 draw against Atlético Madrid
  • Rangnick says United ‘played without conviction’

Ralf Rangnick admitted Manchester United’s plan was in the “dustbin” after Atlético Madrid scored on seven minutes before Anthony Elanga’s second half equaliser snatched a draw for the interim manager’s team in the Champions League last-16 first leg.

It means the tie is poised going into the return at Old Trafford next month. Yet Rangnick’s decision to pick a central defender, Victor Lindelöf, at right-back instead of Diogo Dalot or Aaron Wan-Bissaka, regulars in the position, backfired when João Félix’s flying header put Atlético ahead at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium.

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Atlético Madrid 1-1 Manchester United: Champions League last 16, first leg – as it happened

Wed, 02/23/2022 - 22:31

The hosts were the better team, but Anthony Elanga’s late goal puts United in the driving seat with their home leg to follow

United get the first leg of this Round-of-16 tie underway. The visitors take the knee first, to a cacophony of whistles from the home support. There’s no room for racism.

The teams are out! Atletico Madrid, Los Colchoneros, are in mattress-homage red and white stripes. That forces United into third-choice 90s-throwback blue and black. We’ll be off in a couple of minutes, once Uefa have bastardised Zadok the Priest, and captains Jan Oblak and Bruno Fernandes Harry Maguire have exchanged pennants. We’ll be off before you know it!

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Anthony Elanga punishes Atlético with late equaliser for Manchester United

Wed, 02/23/2022 - 22:09

Where did that come from? Manchester United had laboured sorely, the errors and the looseness coming from a variety of players. Atlético Madrid appeared happy and comfortable with a 1-0 scoreline and it was easy to think that this was set to be another Champions League misstep from United, who have won only two knockout ties since their run to the final in 2011.

Ralf Rangnick’s players had created next to nothing, although they were better in the second half after a torrid opening period when João Félix’s lovely header had been scant reward for Atlético. And then it happened.

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'Finally you score with that big head!': Fernandes on Maguire and Manchester United cohesion – video

Wed, 02/23/2022 - 11:47

Bruno Fernandes has dismissed rumours suggesting there are divisions within the Manchester United squad. United have now won back-to-back fixtures but a poor run of form before that had led to reports of a split in the dressing room, something Fernandes denied before his side's Champions League last 16 tie against Atlético Madrid. 

'I saw the [Leeds] game and the goal of Harry's and I'm seeing Paul running behind him and sliding on his knees, happy for him. I was looking at his head and saying 'finally he has scored with that big head!' I think honestly it is people trying to complain and making stories about this club,' he said.

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Fred says Rangnick’s interim status ‘a little bit bad’ for Manchester United

Tue, 02/22/2022 - 22:30
  • Brazilian midfielder wants to see ‘long-term plan’ at Old Trafford
  • Rangnick has lost only one league game since taking over

Fred believes Manchester United being led by an interim manager in Ralf Rangnick is causing uncertainty that is “a little bit bad” for the team.

Although Rangnick has lost only one league game since his arrival, Fred claimed United are unstable as a result of the temporary nature of his role. “It’s a bit strange,” the midfielder told TNT Sports Brazil.

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Can Diego Simeone recapture the ‘classic’ Atlético Madrid?

Tue, 02/22/2022 - 19:52

Famous for their miserly defence, the La Liga champions have been uncharacteristically porous this season and hope to revert to type against Manchester United in the Champions League

The opening goal came from a corner after four minutes, the game exactly where they wanted it already. There was a lead to defend and so they did, an hour passing before the second arrived. Breaking from their own area after a corner, wide spaces suddenly appeared before them and an open goal did too, the shot curling in from forty yards with the goalkeeper off his line. Two touches were all it took, the ultimate in efficiency. Then, in the last minute, another break and it was over. Five shots, three goals, a clean sheet: how very Atlético.

Er, no. Not really, not any more.

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Champions League last 16: previews and predictions for this week’s ties

Tue, 02/22/2022 - 10:12

Chelsea, Lille, Villarreal, Juventus, Atlético Madrid, Manchester United, Benfica and Ajax are all in action

By Ben McAleer for WhoScored

Chelsea left it late against Crystal Palace on Saturday before Hakim Ziyech’s 89th-minute goal earned them a 1-0 win at Selhurst Park. Thomas Tuchel’s side have won their last five matches, a run they will hope to continue against Lille at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday night. The clubs have only met twice before in Europe – in the group stage of the Champions League in 2019 – and Chelsea won both of those games 2-1.

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Sneer and loathing: a day with Leeds and Manchester United fans

Mon, 02/21/2022 - 11:41

The rain and an enormous police operation helped in the battle to keep order at Sunday’s much-anticipated clash

There was a deluge in Leeds on Sunday. From the stands of Elland Road any number of objects rained down: coins, bottles, lighters, fireworks, in one instance even a golf ball. They came down at moments of maximum excitement and disappointment, of tension and frustration. Frequently, they were aimed at the players of Manchester United.

The 19-year-old forward Anthony Elanga was hit by what appeared to be a coin after celebrating Manchester United’s third goal in the 70th minute. He dropped to his haunches, before being cajoled back into play by his teammates. He went on to score the decisive goal in the match and ran straight over to the corner of the ground where he had been assaulted to celebrate.

Above: Manchester United’s Anthony Elanga is pictured on his knees after being struck by a missile. Right: A steward retrieves a golf ball from the pitch earlier in the match. Below: Elanga scoring the winner and celebrating at the end of the game. Photographs by Tom Jenkins.

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Manchester United’s wild win at Leeds offers something to build on | Barney Ronay

Sun, 02/20/2022 - 18:50

Amid the missiles and the fury, Jadon Sancho and Paul Pogba gave Ralf Rangnick’s side some form of momentum

This was an afternoon of blood and roses in Yorkshire, a fun, bruising, furious mess of a game. Midway through the second half there was an interlude where six players joined in a kind of rolling, whirling maul close to the centre circle, bodies entwined like a multicoloured octopus writhing on the quayside, the ball punted, thrashed, semi-forgotten.

At times Manchester United almost seemed to get a hold on the day, to take the air out of this fury, only for a misplaced pass or a splash of the sodden pitch to leave them chasing back once again. But by the end it was an afternoon that seemed to offer something else too, a significant note in this ongoing, oddly fraught United mini-era.

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Rangnick praises Manchester United attitude after 4-2 Leeds win – video

Sun, 02/20/2022 - 18:13

Manchester United's interim manager Ralf Rangnick said his players had shown a 'perfect' attitude to fight back and beat Leeds United 4-2 on Sunday after squandering a two-goal lead in a physical and feisty encounter at Elland Road.

Leeds trailed 2-0 at half-time, but Rodrigo and substitute Rafinha scored goals less than one minute apart to level matters.

However, Rangnick sent Fred and Anthony Elanga into action from the bench and both substitutes added their names to the scoresheet to seal the three points

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Rangnick speaks out after Manchester United’s Elanga struck by coin at Leeds

Sun, 02/20/2022 - 17:49
  • Teenager hit while celebrating his side’s third goal at Leeds
  • Manchester United win fiercely contested match 4-2

The Manchester United manager, Ralf Rangnick, condemned the unsavoury scenes which led to Anthony Elanga being struck by a coin from the Leeds United stand during a fiery contest at Elland Road on Sunday, with the hosts investigating the incident.

Elanga was hit by an object from the crowd in the aftermath of Fred’s goal which made it 3-2 in the visitors’ favour. The 19-year-old was unhurt and recovered to score United’s fourth in stoppage time and secure a vital three points on an afternoon when Rangnick’s side had earlier squandered a 2-0 half-time lead thanks to two second-half goals in two minutes from Rodrigo and Raphinha.

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Fred and Anthony Elanga steer Manchester United to win over Leeds

Sun, 02/20/2022 - 16:44

The good, the bad, the ugly and the, frankly, chaotic combined as Manchester United took a significant step towards Europe and Leeds moved too close to the Championship for comfort. The latest renewal of one of English football’s greatest rivalries was undeniably exhilarating but depressingly unpleasant undertones were evident as missiles were hurled from the stands at visiting players, with one hitting the Manchester United substitute Anthony Elanga.

A defiant Leeds drew level, albeit briefly, after falling two goals behind, while Jadon Sancho had arguably his best game for Ralf Rangnick’s side as questions concerning Marcelo Bielsa’s future at Leeds resurfaced. Manchester United’s first visit to a full Elland Road since 2003 coincided with a day of torrential rain and capriciously gusty winds, with the hazardous underfoot conditions more than matched by the hostile atmosphere.

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Leeds 2-4 Manchester United: Premier League – live reaction!

Sun, 02/20/2022 - 16:22

Manchester United secured an impressive victory after Leeds fought back to draw level

Wan-Bissaka in for Dalot is an interesting one, as I think the former has been awful this season, while Dalot has impressed. A big call.

Quite possibly ...

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Rangnick insists he is more solution than problem at Manchester United

Sat, 02/19/2022 - 22:30

Interim manager claims the team have improved on his watch and are on course for Champions League qualification

They can seem more Manchester Disunited than Manchester United: an underachieving club with a mismatched group of players, capable of squandering a colossal budget and letting points slip through their grasp. An interim manager halfway through a temporary reign that has taken on an underwhelming feel denying he will remove the captaincy from Harry Maguire and reject reports of dressing room divides.

But Ralf Rangnick delivered a staunch defence of his tenure, arguing performances are on an upward graph and that if United continue at their current rate of progress they are likely to qualify for the Champions League, and pointing to the difficulties with his inheritance. Rangnick argued he is more solution than problem; that, incrementally, his methods are working. They have drawn three of their past four matches, but he has taken encouragement.

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