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Updated: 2 hours 29 min ago

Chris Smalling says Manchester United are once again a team to be feared

Fri, 02/15/2019 - 17:59
• Defender says team playing their best since Alex Ferguson era
• United away to Chelsea in FA Cup on Monday

Chris Smalling can draw on his own challenging childhood when talking to the pupils of Salford City Academy. He is there as the new patron of Football Beyond Borders, a charity that hopes to provide stability and hope for disadvantaged youngsters. Smalling’s glittering career shows how difficult beginnings can be overcome. The 29-year-old lost his father as a child and was raised on a council estate, the family requiring social security.

“I grew up with my mother and brother and was in education to 18, so I feel hopefully I can relate to them all,” he says, speaking at the comprehensive school the day after Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s team lost 2-0 to Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League. “Football was always a dream, but a distant dream until when I was about to go to university. I’d had a couple of trials, but it wasn’t a realistic dream, it was a kid’s dream.”

Related: Kylian Mbappé’s teleportation device leaves Manchester United floundering | Barney Ronay

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Manchester United’s Martial and Lingard ruled out for three weeks

Fri, 02/15/2019 - 15:21
• United pair suffer groin and hamstring problems respectively
• Gomes, Chong, Sánchez and Lukaku in line to deputise

Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard are out for up to three weeks because of injury, with Ole Gunnar Solskjær saying that means a chance for Alexis Sánchez and Romelu Lukaku to step up for Manchester United.

Martial and Lingard were forced off during Tuesday’s 2-0 defeat by Paris Saint-Germain at Old Trafford because of groin and hamstring problems respectively.

Related: Sportswashing and the tangled web of Europe's biggest clubs

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Eric Harrison, the man to whom the Class of ‘92 owe it all

Thu, 02/14/2019 - 15:39
The Manchester United youth coach turned talented youngsters into household names and ‘good human beings’

Originally they were called Fergie’s Fledglings, then the Class of ’92, though it was fitting that Eric Harrison’s death at the age of 81 led everyone at Manchester United to acknowledge where the credit for a remarkable generation was due.

“Eric we owe you everything,” Gary Neville said. “We’ve lost our mentor, our coach and the man who made us. He taught us how to play, to never give up and how important it was to win your individual battles.”

Related: Eric Harrison, Manchester United’s Class of 92 coach, dies aged 81

He instilled values that stood us in good stead for the rest of our lives. I'll be for ever indebted to him

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Manchester United reveal £19.6m payoff for José Mourinho and his staff

Thu, 02/14/2019 - 12:46
• Manager compensated following his sacking in December
• Portuguese’s next move will be to host show on Russian TV

Manchester United have revealed that José Mourinho and his staff received a £19.6m payoff following the Portuguese’s sacking at Old Trafford.

The staggering sum was disclosed in figures released on Thursday in the club’s half-yearly accounts. It was called an “exceptional item relating to compensation to the former manager and certain members of the coaching staff for loss of office”. The other coaching staff thought to be compensated are senior goalkeeping coach Silvino Louro, opposition scout Ricardo Formosinho, fitness coaches Stefano Rapetti and Carlos Lalin and analyst Giovanni Cerra, although Mourinho is expected to have received the bulk of the money.

Related: Eric Harrison, Manchester United’s Class of 92 coach, dies aged 81

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Football transfer rumours: João Felix to Manchester United for £100m?

Thu, 02/14/2019 - 09:06

Today’s fluff has got apple pie in the sky hopes

João Félix, the 19-year-old Benfica forward, is in the kind of form that was bound to attract somebody’s notice. In each of his last three league appearances he has scored and assisted a goal, helping his team to 5-1, 4-2 – over Sporting, no less – and 10-0 wins. And according to the Sun he has been watched “on a number of occasions” by scouts representing Manchester United, who have bought some decent Portuguese teenagers in the past and feel ready to dip their toe into that market once again. United “are looking to launch a bid in the next transfer window” and Benfica “would be willing to sell the youngster”, with the only thing standing in the way of an easy deal being the fact that As Águias value him at an eye-popping £100m. “The club went to see Félix in action and it was all positive,” an Old Trafford source tells the Sun. “He is definitely someone who is increasingly of interest.”

Related: Maurizio Sarri still seeking solutions for Chelsea’s mental fragility

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Eric Harrison, Manchester United’s Class of 92 coach, dies aged 81

Thu, 02/14/2019 - 08:04

• United pay tribute to ‘mentor of young players’
• Harrison helped produce Fergie’s Fledglings

Eric Harrison, the coach credited with producing Manchester United’s famous Class of 92 youth side, has died at the age of 81.

News of his death was confirmed on Thursday by United, where Harrison spent 17 years as a youth team coach after moving from Everton in 1981.

Related: Manchester United's most influential Eric speaks

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Manchester United charged by Uefa after bottles thrown at Ángel Di María

Wed, 02/13/2019 - 15:05
• United can expect fine when case dealt with on 28 February
• PSG face series of charges over the conduct of their fans

Uefa has opened disciplinary proceedings against Manchester United after two bottles were thrown from the stands towards Ángel Di María during Paris Saint-Germain’s win at Old Trafford on Tuesday.

Related: Did Neymar’s absence help PSG to prosper at Manchester United? | Jonathan Wilson

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Did Neymar’s absence help PSG to prosper at Manchester United?

Wed, 02/13/2019 - 11:00
Brazilian’s refusal to track causes problems and PSG’s discipline suggested it may be unwise to play him, Mbappé and Cavani against top sides

Whisper it – and try at least for a while to ignore the enormous Brazilian ego that has temporarily vacated the room – but might Paris Saint-Germain finally have worked it out? The difference between their performances at Anfield in September and at Old Trafford on Tuesday could hardly have been more pronounced. Perhaps this PSG are contenders after all.

Certain issues, it’s true, remain. Gianluigi Buffon is 41. However agile and dominant he remains, he has the feet of a goalkeeper who grew up in the 90s; a sweeper-keeper he is not and, in a world in which almost everybody presses, that restricts how high the defensive line can play while in turn making PSG susceptible to opponents who press them.

Related: Kylian Mbappé’s teleportation device leaves Manchester United floundering | Barney Ronay

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Related: Manchester United 0-2 PSG: Champions League player ratings

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'We need to step up': Solskjær demands response from players after PSG loss – video

Wed, 02/13/2019 - 02:12

Ole Gunnar Solskjær urged his players to raise their game after suffering his first defeat as Manchester United manager against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League.

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Ole Gunnar Solskjær tells Manchester United to pick up spirits quickly

Wed, 02/13/2019 - 00:01

• ‘This is a reality check for us,’ says Solskjær after PSG defeat
• United may face Uefa action over bottle thrown on pitch

Ole Gunnar Solskjær said Manchester United cannot afford to feel sorry for themselves after Paris Saint-Germain inflicted a first defeat of his caretaker tenure.

Asked what his message to the players was after a 2-0 defeat that was United’s heaviest at home in European competition, Solskjær looked forward to their next game, in the FA Cup on Monday, saying: “Not to be sorry for themselves. Anyone who feels sorry for themselves probably won’t play against Chelsea.

Related: PSG prove too good for Manchester United and Paul Pogba is sent off

Related: Kylian Mbappé’s teleportation device leaves Manchester United floundering | Barney Ronay

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Kylian Mbappé’s teleportation device leaves Manchester United floundering | Barney Ronay

Tue, 02/12/2019 - 23:39
PSG forward shows his repertoire of speed and skill, including scoring the second goal that may have already ended the tie

For all the complexities of elite sport, some things don’t change. In his novel End Zone, Don DeLillo obsesses about the speed of NFL running backs. “Speed is the last excitement left,” he writes. “The one thing we haven’t used up, still naked in its potential.”

In which case DeLillo could do a lot worse than have a peek at Kylian Mbappé, who glided around the edges at Old Trafford for half an hour; who scored a decisive second-half goal; and who by the end had provided some moments of exhilaration so natural and easy in among the collisions you could almost feel the stadium goggling each time he began to glide away.

Related: PSG prove too good for Manchester United and Paul Pogba is sent off

Related: Ole Gunnar Solskjær tells Manchester United to pick up spirits quickly

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Manchester United 0-2 PSG: Champions League player ratings

Tue, 02/12/2019 - 23:13
Paul Pogba, like the Manchester United defence, had a match to forget, while Kylian Mbappé outshone his fellow Parisian

David de Gea Untroubled in early stages and then came into his own, saving United from being totally out of tie. 8

Related: PSG prove too good for Manchester United and Paul Pogba is sent off

Related: Nicolò Zaniolo's second-half double delivers first-leg advantage for Roma

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PSG prove too good for Manchester United and Paul Pogba is sent off

Tue, 02/12/2019 - 22:02

For Manchester United, perhaps it was a reality check, a reminder of their imperfections and how tough it can be at the highest level of European football. This was the night Ole Gunnar Solskjær could not find any of the magic that has seen him pass every other test with distinction. Outscored, outpassed and outsung – they were well beaten and it will need something remarkable if they can save themselves at Parc des Princes in three weeks’ time.

Unfortunately for Solskjaer, who could really see them pulling off that kind of escapology act on the evidence of this tie? Paris Saint-Germain took a while to realise they were the superior side but once the penny dropped, the imbalance throughout the second half was considerable, culminating in Paul Pogba’s late red card for his second bookable challenge.

Related: Manchester United v PSG: Champions League last 16, first leg – live!

Related: Roma 2-1 Porto: Champions League last 16, first leg – as it happened

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Manchester United v PSG: Champions League last 16, first leg – live!

Tue, 02/12/2019 - 19:49

7.49pm GMT

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer - relaxed, smiling, impressive and thoroughly likeable as always - speaks to BT Sport. “I don’t think we could have been in a better frame of mind going into this game, or in better form. So we are looking forward to it. Let’s hope we can have a good start, that’s going to be important. We have prepared without Neymar, Cavani and Meunier, but I think the crowd would have loved to see those players and as players you’d rather play against the best ones, we’d have enjoyed their best team being out there. Bailly and Lindelof have done well together, and against Mbappe they will have to be at the top of their game. We need to be clinical. It’s important for us to get to Paris with the chance to go through.”

7.38pm GMT

VAR will be used for the first time in the Champions League tonight. The whole kit and caboodle is set up in the back of a Transit van in the Old Trafford car park, which will send a cold shiver down the spine of anyone who sat through ITV early-evening light-entertainment show The Premiership back in the day. Uefa refereeing bigwig Hugh Dallas is interviewed in the truck by BT Sport, brandishing a leaflet which explains using words and pretty pictures that the VAR team will “constantly check for clear and obvious errors related to the following four match-changing situations: goals, incidents in the penalty area, red cards, and mistaken identity.” So there you have it. Incidentally, the feed cut out and the screen went to black exactly 16.3 seconds into the interview. Hopefully that’s not a harbinger of things to come.

7.26pm GMT

Pennant watch. So what will Ashley Young and Thiago Silva be swapping when they shake hands before kick off? Manchester United’s commemorative flag is painstakingly embroidered, right down to a ® next to the crest, surely an unnecessary legal safeguard on what is essentially a bespoke gift to another football club. A quality item, though don’t be pulling at that loose thread at the bottom of the Champions League logo, or the whole thing might unravel. (Unless that’s another ®, in which case pick away.)

7.09pm GMT

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer makes five changes to the Manchester United team named at Fulham on Saturday. In come Ashley Young, Eric Bailly, Victor Lindelof, Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford; they replace Diogo Dalot, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Juan Mata and Romelu Lukaku.

Thomas Tuchel makes six changes to the PSG XI selected for the scrap against Bordeaux in Ligue 1 at the weekend. Edinson Cavani and Thomas Meunier picked up injuries; they’re replaced by Thilo Kehrer and Kylian Mbappe. Meanwhile Stanley N’Soki, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, Christopher Nkunku and Moussa Diaby make way for Marquinhos, Angel Di Maria, Juan Bernat and Julian Draxler.

7.01pm GMT

Manchester United: de Gea, Young, Bailly, Lindelof, Shaw, Herrera, Matic, Pogba, Lingard, Martial, Rashford.
Subs: Romero, Jones, Sanchez, Mata, Lukaku, Fred, Dalot.

Paris Saint-Germain: Buffon, Kehrer, Thiago Silva, Kimpembe, Bernat, Verratti, Marquinhos, Dani Alves, Draxler, Di Maria, Mbappe.
Subs: Areola, Paredes, Choupo-Moting, Kurzawa, Nkunku, Diaby, Dagba.

4.14pm GMT

The world was a different place back on December 17. Jose Mourinho was still manager of Manchester United, for another 24 hours anyway, and when the draw for the Champions League Round of 16 was made, it looked all over for the three-time winners. They’d been paired with Paris St Germain, going great guns while United were misfiring badly. A humbling looked a very real possibility.

But a couple of months on, everything has changed. Ole Gunnar Solsjkær has restored United’s self-belief in spectacular style, winning 11 of his first 12 games as interim boss. Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial are purring. PSG meanwhile are in the midst of an injury crisis. Edinson Cavani isn’t expected to shake off a hip problem, Thomas Meunier is concussed, and Neymar is out with a broken metatarsal. And their form suddenly isn’t all that: they’ve recently lost their first league game of the season, to Lyon, and required extra time to get past third-tier Villefranche-Beaujolais in the cup.

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PSG's long and sometimes successful relationship with Brazilian footballers

Tue, 02/12/2019 - 12:48

Thiago Silva, Marquinhos, Dani Alves and Neymar are just the latest Brazilian players to have found a home in Paris

By Craig McCracken for Beyond The Last Man

The build-up to PSG’s tie against Manchester United in the Champions League has centred around a player who is unlikely to even set foot on the pitch in either leg. Such is life with Neymar, a continual source of histrionics wrapped up in a soap opera inside a melodrama. His latest metatarsal drama has inflicted a sense of angst on the PSG camp and perpetuated the creeping sense that, for all the club’s bountiful array of playing talent, they depend to an unhealthy degree on the availability of their precocious Brazilian star.

There is some precedent here as PSG have long had a symbiotic relationship with Brazilian footballers. Indeed, were Neymar more inclined towards reflecting on the long and fruitful association his compatriots have enjoyed with PSG than personal brand building, he would have chosen 33 as his squad number rather than the predictable 10. When he and Dani Alves arrived in the French capital in 2017, the pair became the 32nd and 33rd boys from Brazil to have worn a PSG shirt since the club’s formation in 1971.

Related: PSG’s Gianluigi Buffon takes turn to try to fill the only gap on his CV

Related: The Italian goalkeepers who played for months without conceding a goal

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We will still attack without Neymar and Cavani, says PSG’s Thomas Tuchel

Mon, 02/11/2019 - 20:10
• Top forwards miss Manchester United match
• Kylian Mbappé will shoulder responsibility for goals

Thomas Tuchel has warned Manchester United that attacking play is in Paris Saint-Germain’s “DNA”, the manager insisting the absence of Neymar and Edinson Cavani will not alter their style.

The French champions meet United in Tuesday night’s Champions League last-16 first legat Old Trafford without two of their vaunted front three due to injury. Neymar, the world’s most expensive player, has a foot problem, Cavani a hip injury. This means extra onus on Kylian Mbappé, the third member of the attack.

Related: I have ‘goosebumps’ over Manchester United’s PSG tie, says Solskjær | Paul Wilson

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Ole Gunnar Solskjær wants another big Old Trafford night against PSG | Jamie Jackson

Mon, 02/11/2019 - 19:33
Manchester United manager confident his side can make a good impression in Champions League tie

Ole Gunnar Solskjær was again note-perfect when stating it has been too long since a great European night for Manchester United at Old Trafford.

After 10 wins in 11 games under their interim manager, United supporters are enjoying the ride and the attacking style of play he has brought back to the club. In relishing the prospect of United’s first ever meeting with Paris Saint-Germain in Tuesday’s Champions League last-16 first leg, Solskjær was once more in tune with those in the stands. Yet his populist act is backed up by a real sense that PSG can be eliminated from the competition.

Related: Paul Scholes appointed manager of League Two's Oldham Athletic

Related: Manchester United squad is capable of beating any opponent, says Solskjær

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Manchester United squad is capable of beating any opponent, says Solskjær

Mon, 02/11/2019 - 16:40
• Solskjær confident ahead of PSG Champions League tie
• ‘I don’t think we could be in a better frame of mind’

Ole Gunnar Solskjær believes Manchester United can make a surprise tilt for Champions League glory as his team prepare to face Paris Saint-Germain in Tuesday’s last-16 first leg at Old Trafford.

United’s best recent performance in Europe’s blue riband club competition came five years ago when, under David Moyes, they reached the quarter-finals, having last played in the final when losing to Barcelona in 2011.

Related: Sarri-vederci? Plus penalty drama and Pukki delight – Football Weekly

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

Mon, 02/11/2019 - 08:46

Sarri is heading into Chelsea danger zone, Martial is showing up Mourinho’s poor judgment and is Mee ready for England?

Maurizio Sarri is heading into the shark-infested waters that did for Luiz Felipe Scolari and André Villas-Boas, who were sacked midway through their first seasons in charge of Chelsea. They were removed by Roman Abramovich once his team’s place in the following season’s Champions League was endangered and this weekend ended with Manchester United in fourth spot. Villas-Boas lost his job on 4 March 2012 while Scolari departed on 9 February 2009. At least Sarri has now lasted longer than the Brazilian, but ‘Sarriball’ has lately looked as poor a fit for Chelsea as his laissez-faire attitude and Villas-Boas’s overly methodical stratagems. Sarri’s displacement of N’Golo Kanté to play everything through Jorginho and the cold shoulders given to youngsters such as Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek may end up being his deepest Chelsea legacies. John Brewin

The three-way gallop to the line

Related: The Dozen: the weekend’s best Premier League photos

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The Dozen: the weekend’s best Premier League photos

Sun, 02/10/2019 - 21:18

Your weekend roundup of the best photography from England’s top flight

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