What the papers say
- ‘It’s a criminal act against football fans,’ says Neville
- ‘Deduct them all points ... take their money off them,” he adds
Former Manchester United and England defender Gary Neville has reacted furiously to reports that several Premier League clubs have agreed to take part in a new breakaway European super league.
With an announcement on plans for the new competition thought to be imminent, Neville said it was time to “wrestle back power” from the clubs involved, saying they were being motivated by “pure greed”. Speaking as a pundit on Sky Sports, Neville took aim at the clubs involved – reported to be Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Tottenham, Chelsea and Liverpool, alongside European giants such as Real Madrid and Juventus.Continue reading...
Two late goals, one from Mason Greenwood and one from Edinson Cavani, gave United the win, cementing their hold on second place
Right then, that’s us – thanks all for your company and comments, sorry I couldn’t get to them all. Enjoy the rest of your weekend, which will, of course, benefit hugely from even more football, so here it is. Join Rob Smyth, now.
Here’s Jamie Jackson’s match report:
United have won seven of their last eight games now, but they’d like to be playing a bit better than they are. On the other hand, I doubt any team in world football has been as busy as they have this past year, and their ability to find what they need despite that is very impressive.
“The ‘elastico’ is the name given to a game between Sheffield Utd and Norwich,” sniggers Ian Copestake.
The scoreline makes this look comfortable, but the reality is that it was anything but. United move to within eight points of the league leaders, while Burnley stay seven points off relegation but have lost three straight.
United defend desperately as Vydra ploughs forward, Shaw making a brilliant challenge that, in the end, secures the points. United finally get the ball away and then pick a succession of correct passes, Cavani spreading right to Greenwood who might go for his hat-trick but instead moves it back inside to Fernandes. He plays a lush no-look pass, beautifully weighted, wide to Van de Beek, who squares for Cavani to tap in.
90+1 min United attack again and Fernandes finds himself one-on-one with the keeper but he’s forced to go outside him, and with men in the middle screeching for the ball, Fernandes shoots from a narrow angle and Peacock-Farrell saves again.
90 min There’ll be four additional minutes.
90 min Greenwood is so sharp at the moment and he sees McTominay coming, rolling him in on the outside, right of the box, but Peacock-Farrrell parries behind.
89 min Cork is late on Van de Beek, applying birthday beats by way of studs onto foot. He’s booked.
88 min Burnley send on Rodriguez for Gudmundsson.
87 min Burnley send on Vydra for Brownhill while, in commentary, they note that pressure was building. United didn’t look especially like scoring but the thing is, the have so may ridiculous attackers that it’s never much of a stretch, and that goal looked to me like a self-fulfilling prophesy – it happened because Burnley were feart it was going to happen.
Poor old Burnley. They din’t get the corner away and United sustain their attack, Pogba spreading play to Greenwood whose ability to make space and shoot true is what provokes this goal, even if, when he drives low and hard, he needs a deflection off Cork’s heel to take the ball inside the near post, with Peacock-Farrell moving towards the far.
84 min Before the corner, United bring on Van de Beek for a little birthday runaround; an extremely displeased Rashford makes way.
83 min Fernandes plays a lovely ball out to Wan-Bissaka, who lays back for McTominay; his lowish cross is deflected behind.
81 min Burnley have played really well today. If they can avoid conceding again, given Fulham’s soul-crushing draw, this would be a very good day for them.
79 min Wood anticipates McTominay’s heavy touch and nips in front of him, riding the inevitable foul. The free-kick yields a corner, and Burnley will fancy that; Neville reckons they were too deep for the goal, which meant that if Tarkowski got to the ball, he had a great chance to score, and they do likewise this time ... but Henderson claims.
78 min Burnley win a free-kick down the left and here come the big men again, but this time Tarkowski is penalised at the back post.
78 min “Re: 64 minutes,” says David Wall, “is it called an elastico? I seem to remember that name coming up when Pogba started doing it when he was at Juventus, and people were saying it’s originally a Brazilian trick.
As for the breakaway league, the answer’s simple isn’t it, just don’t buy the TV subscription for it (there’s no way it’ll be on free-to-air). Even if people in other countries do, if no one in the UK was watching it then the English clubs would soon drop out. But then, if only it was actually that easy to do what we know is the right thing to do (even when it’s obvious and simple) then the world would be a better place and we’d all be much healthier.”
76 min Rashford picks a fine pass between two defenders, onto which Shaw barrels, attacking Tarkowski. You can almost smell the penalty through the screen as he skips past him, but Tarkowski somehow misses with his scythe and Shaw either isn’t savvy enough or cynical enough to find it.
75 min Tarkowski is down holding his face, but he’ll be ok.
73 min “How long are we going to pretend that Maguire is good enough?” asks Adam Roberts.
Again, I think this is a bit more nuanced. He’s not as good as the best United have had, but he’s made and is making a huge difference – he’s been especially influential lately. United have a fair few players who are top-four level, who are good enough to play in a title-winning team, but only if they’ve one or two more championship-winning mates alongside them. Lindelof has also been on it lately, but if he were to be replaced with someone better and faster, you’d see a better version of Maguire and a defence that might just be up to doing something.
72 min “Yeah, what you looking at?”
71 min Pogba tries a stepover, in the process imparting studs to knee. Wood goes down, but the ref realises what’s gone on and lets things be.
70 min Rashford sticks one in behind for Shaw, who’s been relatively quiet today, and he dashes to the line then clips back for Fernandes, arriving onto the ball to butt a header hard towards the near post, where Peacock-Farrell gets down. United are upping it.
68 min Nice from United, probing down the right with Fernandes and Greenwood, whose driven cross is blocked away. United maintain pressure though, Maguire skipping forward like a fairy elephant and punching an excellent pass into Rashford, whose first touch, aimed at dragging it into space and stride, isn’t good enough and the ball runs away.
67 min The truth is that we’re lucky none of this has happened until now.
66 min “Fair enough,” returns Nick Wiltsher, “I can see that point. I suppose in my utopian left-behind league there would a re-evaluation of how much money is actually needed to do what football is meant to do, i.e. provide joy and despair and the rest to people who like the game and the clubs. I mean, dependency is meant to be something to wean yourself off, right? But I do accept that the cold turkey phase would be no fun.”
I’ll say it again: football’s problem is that it’s too damn amazing.
64 min Rashford drives at Tarkowski, absolutely diddling him with the Ronaldinho flick-flack or whatever it’s called, driving a cross towards Cavani that earns a corner. In comes that, picking out Maguire, but the ball’s a little behind him and he can only head wide.
63 min Wood does really well to hold the ball up, standing up Wan-Bisska, then lays back for McNeill, who leathers a shot ... directly into Brownhill’s phizog. That might’ve been going in, but in fairness Brownhill was offside. That’ll teach him.
61 min RaShford attacks the box and jiggles past one challenge but – as is happening to him a lot at the moment - he’s lost in the supermarket, unhappy with the shooting lane presented him to jinking further to try and find a better one, ending up with nothing. He then gets another go, megging Cork just outside the box, but he can’t force his shot towards goal.
60 min “Ultimately, football’s problem is that it’s too damn greedy....” emails Tom James, but I think it’s bit more nuanced than that. “Football” is a sport not a person, and the greed here is coming from owners of a few big clubs, who have specific motives, money among them.
57 min “I’ve probably missed something, and I respect the other opinion” says Nick Wiltshwer, “but: why not let ‘em go? If the top five of a league that’s grossly stratified by wealth do one, maybe the rest of us left behind can have some fun for once, instead of fighting for the scraps. And come on, it would be schadenfreude city seeing which of the ‘elite’ clubs end up as mid-table mediocrities when they have to pick on teams their own size, and how long they stay ‘super’ when stupefaction sets in.”
I think that the “rest” depend on the money generated by the rich clubs, and if they suddenly vanished there’d be big problems.
55 min Henderson is having a dodgy day, and he sprints out to claim another cross that’s none of his business, clattering Lindelof ... who gets just enough on it to make sure that his keeper isn’t embarrassed by a follow-up shot when folded like a deckchair on the ground.
53 min Mary Waltz is vexed. “My boss at the time I got into football, a Indian British ex-pat, introduced me to the Premier league. NBC had started their coverage stateside. He was a United fan but he told me you have to pick a team. Everyone in my circle were United, Liverpool, big six fans. That seemed too bandwagony for my tastes. I read a Guardian story about Everton setting up a walk-in centre for their locals with mental health issues. That actual connection to their fans in the community, not just writing checks but actually being involved with their people, sealed the deal for me, that’s the team I want to follow. This super league is the exact opposite of that ethos, it’s naked greed and it’s disgusting.”
Ultimately, football’s problem is that it’s too damn amazing so has become the best way to communicate to a global audience.
52 min That’s great stuff from Burnley, because United had started the half well – a portent that has not augured well for their opponents.
McNeill’s delivery is decent and with Maguire caught under the ball, Tarkowski leans on him slightly, depositing man and ball over the line with much elan. United have been better on set-pieces recently, but that was poor from them.
49 min Burnley win a corner down the left...
As with so many United moves, it begins in earnest with Shaw driving down the left. He finds Rashford and when Lowton dives in, the ball motors through his legs like a double-decker bus. Rashford then clips over a low cross, which Fernandes allows through his legs with exhibition casu-wal-ness, finding Greenwood, and you know what’s coming next: an expert’s finish punched back towards the far corner.
46 min Off we go again. Henderson has a baseball hat perched atop his head like he’s sitting on the bus with his daysaver.
And we’ll not be seeing Fred for the second half - he’s replaced by Cavani, which makes plenty of sense. Pogba will move into midfield, with Greenwood going right and Rashford left.
“Quick half-time check of the Fantasy League reveals McTomimay and Fred as the best players in this game so far,” emails Dean Kinsella. “A comparatively unlauded duo, I feel they have been crucial to Utd’s improvement throughout this season. They are stoppers without a doubt, but both are beginning to show fine skill sets, awareness of what is going on around them and creating to good effect. I feel they are going to be central to Utd’s team for the foreseeable future.”
I’d say yes on McTominay, no on Fred. The former is developing into a really good player, as worst a brilliant first reserve should a number 6 arrive this summer, but Fred isn’t good enough for where United would like to be.
Every word of this – rich though it is to see the Premier League casting itself as the poor victim, rather than an institution which helped bring about this frankly revolting state of affairs.
Someone’s just sent me a still of Wood’s challenge on Henderson right at the death there - he’s getting him two-footed on knee and tight. Hopefully I’ll get a proper picture of it shortly, but while I don’t want this kind of thing to be a red card, I’m also not sure how the laws allow it not to be.
Back to our earlier discussions, football governance was a topic that came up in a chat I had the week before last with Andy Burnham, mayor of Manchester. If that, racism in football, burgling Duncan Ferguson, or what on earth makes a person want to be Prime Minister are of interest to you, you can find the link for it here.
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5) City(a) 12, cup
6) Liverpool 77, cup final
7) Barca 94 (feat @MiguelDelaney)
8) Arsenal 79 (feat Debbie Horsfield)
9) Everton 95 (feat @AndyBurnhamGM)https://t.co/wWaLL7f0b8
Burnley played pretty well there, looking solid at the back and lively in attack. United had their moments too, but didn’t create much of note.
45+1 min McTominay goes up for another header and this time is penalised, giving McNeill a chance to stick one into the Kenwood. Tarkowski wins it too, but his header to the far post catches Wood offside, not that he knows, so instead he slides into Henderson, who wears what looks like a right sair yin. But he’ll be fine.
45 min There’ll be one additional minute.
45 min Wood goes up with McTominay and in the process of winning the ball introduces forearm to lughole. It wasn’t deliberate, though, so a free-kick is the only consequence.
44 min Quite.
“We demand that you drop your reckless plans.”
✍️ Fans’ groups from clubs on the @ECAEurope Board have written an open letter to chairman Andrea Agnelli opposing #UCL reforms. FSE has signed the letter & fully supports their stance. #StopUCLReforms pic.twitter.com/lY7BQwu65L
43 min “I can’t concentrate on the game, me,” Neville returns, saying the teams involved should be docked points for making their move during the season/
42 min Wood’s having a really good game, and when Lowton cracks a free-kick into the box from wide right, halfway, Tarkowski wins the header and Wood lashes wide of the near post.
40 min Gary Neville calls the super league plans, during a pandemic, “a scandal” and says that the clubs involved should be “ashamed of themselves”. Sadly, though, ruining European club football would be one of the more benevolent things some of these have done in their lives.
40 min Looking at that chance again, Rashford was probably offside – by a fraction.
38 min Pogba slides a fine ball down the outside-right channel, sending Rashford screeching away, but he overhits his cross. United, though, retrieve possession and Fernandes spreads to Rashford and this time his cross is a fine one, between keeper and backline. but Greenwood, sliding in when perhaps he didn’t need to, lunges so wildly that it passes through his legs.
35 min Lindelof sends another long ball over the top - this is a nice line he’s developing – and Rashford stays onside then incites Peacock-Farrell to charge off his line, dashing past him ... then falling over! He’s sure he was fouled but looking again, the ball megs the keeper who does brilliantly to just stand his ground, leaving Rashford with nowhere to go.
34 min Lowton puts another decent ball into the box and Wood goes down, a hand from Wan-Bissaka on his back, but it didn’t look like any force was applied so neither ref nor VAR appraise a penalty.
33 min Lindelof picks a find clips over the top for Greenwood – as he did for Rashford in Granada – but Greenwood goes too early, for no reason whatsoever.
31 min This is excellent from Lowton, looking up and picking a tremendous cross for Wood who darts between Lindelof and Maguire like a man dashing onto a train right as the doors are closing. He gets a head on it too, but can only send the ball wide of the near post.
30 min Shaw’s corner is a decent one, swinging in towards Pogba at the near post, but he gets slightly underneath it and can’t quite contort his body into the glancing header required, catching it too thick and sending it over the bar.
29 min After a slightly quieter period, United get the ball out to Rashford who moves into the box down its left and Lowton doesn’t fancy making a challenge. So Rashford clatters a shot towards the near post, which Peacock-Farrell tips over.
27 min “I remember 2017-18 where even though United finished second, you could see that Liverpool would be main challengers to City going forward. You sense that with Chelsea right now. Unless United have a transformative summer. That would mean Varane, Haaland and one in midfield. In which case wrap up number 21.”
I see your point but not sure I agree with that. Well, I agree that the 17-18 second place didn’t mean a lot and that Chelsea will be better, but so will United, and if you remember that they lost three of their first games having had no pre-season, they weren’t far off a serious challenge this time round.
25 min Wan-Bissaka slips into a tackle with Brownhill, who slides down the Old Trafford ski-slope and is still receiving treatment as the yellow card is brandished.
24 min Lindelof tries to shepherd the ball out of play with Taylor up his arse ... and it runs out of gas, forcing him to step in. This is a big chance for Burley to get men into the box, but United clear the corner easily enough.
23 min “Lifelong LFC fan here,” emails Julian Smith. “If the leak regarding our club’s plans is true, as Shanks might have put it: ‘Ahm oot’. I’d hope that tens of thousands of Liverpool’s and the other clubs’ supporters would agree and act.
Disgusting self interest, and as mentioned earlier in the MBM, relevant bodies should have acted years ago to protect our clubs and supporters and give our them special community asset status. Shocking, but somehow not surprising.”
22 min Looking again at that disallowed goal, Shaw’s heel is slightly shorter than Wood’s toes. It was offside, but only just and more by accident than design.
21 min Shaw slings on in behind for Rashford and for a moment it looks like something might happen, but then the flag goes up.
20 min Pogba has been United’s best player so far – he’s been pretty consistent this season, the only real problem him picking up the injuries that he struggles to avoid. I’m guessing, but my hunch is that he stays at United now.
19 min United counter and Pogba spreads wide to Shaw, but Mee is there to head his cross away and when United maintain pressure, Pogba flips out to Greenwood who lamps a low cross straight at Peacock-Farrell.
18 min United have struggled for tempo at home to teams sitting deep, but this game actually has a bit of something.
16 min Both sides look lively going forward, and after more probing from United, Rashford suddenly injects pace with a ball in behind that Bruno chases, but he can’t quite catch up with it.
14 min A flick from Bruno finds Rashford, whose return ball is slightly behind him. Overload lost, he instead seeks a shooting lane, curling a low one just wide of the far post.
13 min United move it nicely and Greenwood dips inside, then leathers a shot which Taylor blocks and Cork brings it forward before finding Wood who, with Henderson expecting a through-pass, drags a low shot that he dives to save.
11 min Rashford turns up on the right with Greenwood moving central, which suggests that United’s front three have a fair amount of creative freedom. It’s not exactly the modern way - Klopp and Guardiola are quite prescriptive about who should be where and when – but it makes plenty of sense, especially if you have intelligent, improvisational attackers.
10 min Excellent from Wan-Bissaka,who’s attacking has improved a lot this season. He takes a touch to get the ball out of his feet then swings it into the box where Pogba, up early, wins the header well before Tarkowski and sends a looper towards the goal that Peacock-Farrell claws away. The corner comes to nowt.
9 min We’ve settled into a bit of a pattern, United dominating possession and looking to move Burnley around, while Burnley are settled into shape.
8 min Earlier this afternoon, United Women beat Burnley Women 6-0 in the cup; they now play Leicester in round 5.
7 min It takes them a few goes, but eventually Burnley see the corner clear.
6 min Shaw crosses towards the back post where Wan-Bissaka’s up, but he can only head into bodies and behind.
5 min I should note that United’s lower tiers – where the terraces used to be, basically – now have black anti-racism banners. I know it sounded like a miserable excuse, but the players losing red shirts on red seats sounds plausible to me.
4 min Better from United, Rashford – who’s playing through the middle with Greenwood off the right – finding Wan-Bissaka, who cuts back for McTominay. He punches a shot goalwards, but a defender gets in the road; really, he needed to put a foot through that.
4 min This is a terrific start from Burnley.
3 min United have yet to rouse themselves, another ball into the box allowed to bounce with Wood looking to impart the flick; he doesn’t quite make it and Henderson collects.
1 min With 215 seconds gone, Henderson charges out to win a ball drives in to Chris Wood, who’s maybe 16 yards out; Wood gets a flick over the keeper, but was fractionally offside, having gone just before Luke Shaw. That’s a colossal let-off for United and Henderson in particular, who looks suitably sheepish.
1 min Away we go!
The players take a knee. Fight racism, people; all black lives matter.
There’ll be a silence for Prince Philip.
The players are with us.
“Eight years ago I abandoned watching the NFL after decades of loyal following because of the CTE scandal,” returns Mary Waltz. “Their gross indifference towards the welfare of their employees was too much and that is why I started watching the Premier League. The history of the big clubs and the tiny clubs together was refreshing. I am not naive, I know it’s a business but this super league talk is monstrous. The PL makes so much money already, telling all the mid-level teams ‘Go ahead, die, we don’t care’ so we can make even more money is beyond evil. It must be stopped. Boycott!!!!!”
Ultimately, this is what happens when clubs are owned by people looking to take out as much money as they can, or spread nationalist propaganda as far as they can. English football has been let down by the FA Premier League and government, who could have stopped this by giving clubs a special status as community assets, but of course they did not.
“I’m pretty sure Jones only got a new contract in the last year or so,” says Kevin Wilson, “even when he was in and out of the team. Utd’s best hope of selling him is for Sunderland to gain two promotions. They’re usually a happy buyer of Utd’s rejects.”
Yes, there was a fascination with protecting value – they did the same with Marcos Rojo, to no obvious benefit – rather than pruning a bloated and inadequate squad as quickly as possible.
Pre-match reading: someone wrote this, about why Solskjær was the right man to take United on, before the season started. He’s made loads of mistakes and will continue to do so, but that he knows something is now unarguable.
“The only thing that will stop this gross example of corporate greed will be a massive public boycott campaign,” says Mary Waltz. “These heartless expletives need to know that we will not allow them to ruin the history and glory of every European football league. This makes me want to vomit.”
Yes, that’s about right – problem being one look at the world’s various governments tells you that most people don’t care all that much about that which doesn’t directly affect them.
To win at Old Trafford, Dyche says, “you need to play with a body-language of intent,” and he wants his players to “take the game on”. His team are undefeated in their last five visits to the ground, so will fancy themselves to get something out of this one
Rashford, meanwhile, says he does what he can to get out onto the pitch – that’s where he’s happiest because he’s helping the team. But to put some flesh on the bone of Solskjaer’s earlier quotation, Rashford told him he was good today for the first time in a while, rather than hasn’t told him he’s good for a while.
I remember watching one of these games – a win over Leeds, where Kieron Dyer burned up Rio Ferdinand, who was left in a heap on the ground. In his post-match interview, Dyer laughed at “Rio left eating the grass,” at which point I realised that they were using the Premier League to take the mickey out of their mates while I, ages with them, was not. It was a chastening moment.
“Who’d take Phil Jones?” wonders Christopher Flaherty. “Lazio loaned Andreas Pereira (three league starts).”
I think if he made big compromises on his wages, he’d find someone in the bottom half of the league. People have forgotten because they prefer to focus on the injuries and the gurning, but he’s a good player.
This would be absolutely dreadful. Football makes money because it exists, it doesn’t exist to make money.
Eeesh. Eddie Nketiah has equalised for Arsenal in the sixth minute of injury-time. The game finishes 0-0, and Fulham look well and truly did.
For the first time this season, I think, United don’t have a midweek fixture, which probably influenced the decision to force Rashford through another 90 minutes. And it makes some sort of sense too – he looked well off it against Granada the week before last, until he scored a gorgeous goal.
Apparently, Solskjaer noted that Cavani hasn’t played three games in a week for a long time, so they decided he’d sit this one out, and on Rashford, who didn’t play on Thursday night, he said “it’s a long time since I’ve asked him how you are and he’s said good. A very long time.”
Burnley, meanwhile, make two changes from last weekend’s defeat to Newcastle, Taylor replacing Pieters at left-back and Cork coming into midfield instead of Vydra and to facilitate the change from 4-4-2 to 4-5-1. Nick Pope isn’t quite fit enough to return in net, but Dwight McNeill, also a doubt, is good to go.
Meanwhile, Rangers lead Celtic after 15 minutes of their Scottish Cup quarter – Luke McLaughlin will coax you through that one.
Fulham are a minute and injury-time away from their first-ever win at the The Arsenal. Check out the closing stages with Rob Smyth.
United’s starting XI when Burnley beat them last season: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Jones, Maguire, Williams; Fred, Matic; Mata, Pereira, James; Martial. Goodness me.
Ole Gunnar Solskjær makes one change to the side which won so impressively at Spurs last weekend, Mason Greenwood, who was decisive off the bench, coming in for Edinson Cavani, who gets a rest. One thing to note is that both Fred and McTominay start – not, I’d imagine, because they’re thought essential for this game but because in Europe they’re both likely to be in so the team need to get accustomed to playing with Pogba coming off the left. There are good elements to this – he’s so hard to shake off the ball in wide areas, and so effective with no defensive responsibility – but it forces Marcus Rashford to the right, where he’s nowhere near as effective, and when Cavani returns, means no Greendwood. It’s also worth noting that Juan Mata is on the bench and Amad Diallo is not – chances are, he’s not as far along in his development as people might wish him to be.
Manchester United (an unnecessarily implacable 4-2-3-1): Henderson; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw; Fred, McTominay; Pogba, Fernandes, Rashford; Greenwood. Subs: De Gea, Cavani, Mata, James, Telles, Matic, Williams, Van de Beek, Tuanzebe.
Burnley (a they shall not pass 4-5-1): Peacock-Farrell; Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor; Cork, Westwood, Brownhill, Gudmundsson, McNeil; Wood. Subs: Norris, Stephens, Rodriguez, Pieters, Bardsley, Vydra, Nartey, Dunne, Richardson.
Both in sport and in life, it’s rare that change can be marked by a particular event – occasionally, people hate us on sight but usually it builds over time. But on 22nd January 2020, Burnley won at Old Trafford, after which Manchester United signed Bruno Fernandes and following which they did not lose another league game that season; they’ve still to beaten away from home. The Norwegian PE teacher was under a lot of pressure back then – he still is now, his job being his job – except discussion is no longer about when he’s getting sacked, rather how good his players must be at shinning up rope, climbing the cage and bench ball.
On the face of things, today’s game is relatively unimportant, given how comfortably United are ensconced in second, likewise Manchester City are in first ... and yet. United’s run-in sees them visit Leeds, Villa and Wolves, while hosting Liverpool, Leicester and Fulham, games they could easily botch while those below them take advantage. And on the other hand, if they win today then again next weekend, they’ll be five points off the top with City facing a succession of crucial and difficult altercations. It’s not remotely on, but it’s not quite off yet either.Continue reading...
Manchester United are ensuring Manchester City, seeking a third title in four years, feel some breath on their necks. This victory closes the gap to eight points and eyes now turn to Wednesday when Pep Guardiola’s side are at Aston Villa.
With six games left the chance remains remote that City will perform a Devon Loch but at this juncture United are the same margin behind after 32 matches as in April 2012 when the roles were reversed and Roberto Mancini’s side took the title on the final day, courtesy of Sergio Agüero’s 94th-minute winner against QPR.Continue reading...
- Amazon Prime making film on Manchester United midfielder
- Solskjær not giving up on unlikely late title charge
Ole Gunnar Solskjær is unconcerned by Paul Pogba being the subject of an Amazon Prime documentary, as Manchester United’s manager believes the midfielder will remain focused on winning games for the club.
In the absence of the suspended Harry Maguire, the Frenchman was made captain for Thursday’s 2-0 win over Granada that confirmed passage to a second consecutive Europa League semi-final, which will be Solskjær’s fifth time in a cup competition’s last four as the club’s manager. Pogba impressed in a display that included creating Edinson Cavani’s opener and Solskjær is calm about a documentary that will be aired next year.Continue reading...
Manchester United can cut the gap to Manchester City to eight points by beating Burnley but even then only six games will remain so Ole Gunnar Solskjær is right to rate as unrealistic the chance of a late surge for the title. But finishing second is an improvement on last year so there is an incentive against a Burnley team who will aim to be problematic for the home side. Jamie Jackson
Sunday 4pm Sky Sports Premier LeagueContinue reading...
- Manchester United midfielder criticises his former manager
- Pogba points to Solskjær’s different way of working
Paul Pogba has attacked José Mourinho’s man-management style, accusing him of “going against players” and making them feel like “they don’t exist any more”.
Mourinho made Pogba the world’s most expensive player after his 2016 appointment as Manchester United manager. Pogba was instrumental as United claimed a League Cup and Europa League double in 2017, but the pair had an uneasy relationship before Mourinho was sacked in December 2018 and succeeded by Ole Gunnar Solskjær.Continue reading...
Tuchel v Guardiola at Wembley, Leicester need Covid trio and Jürgen Klopp’s front-three selection problems
The blueprint for beating Manchester City is not complex, because it is identical to the blueprint for beating any other team: attack well and defend properly. Of course there are subtleties within that and City’s ability to retain possession while creating chances can make both aspects extremely taxing, but Chelsea are better placed than most to find a way. At some point, Thomas Tuchel will probably instruct his team to play more expansively than they do now, but at Wembley he will station two defensive midfielders in front of three centre-backs – a difficult barrier for any team to pick through, never mind one facing players as good as Chelsea’s. Going forward, though, things are trickier, because although City’s defensive record is better than their defending, Tuchel has yet to find the right creative blend. He will, though, be heartened by the recent improvement of Christian Pulisic and Kai Havertz. DH
Man City v Chelsea, FA Cup semi-final (Saturday, 5.30pm. All times BST)
Man City v Chelsea, FA Cup semi-final (Saturday, 5.30pm. All times BST)
Leeds v Liverpool, Premier League (Monday 8pm)
Manchester United v Burnley, (Sunday, 4pm)
Arsenal v Fulham, Premier League (Sunday, 1.30pm)Continue reading...
Manchester United booked their place in the semi-finals, where an appointment over two legs against Roma awaits
Jamie Jackson was at Old Trafford to see Manchester United ease through to the semi-finals of the Europa League. Here’s how he saw the action unfold.
Bruno Fernandes speaks: ““It was a good game,” he says. “The Europa League is always difficult to play. It doesn’t matter who you play against. We know Granada have quality - they can create something. We did well. We controlled the game and had a lot of the ball. We kept the ball moving. The result shows that.”
On the prospect of facing Roma: “Every team will give you problems,” he tells BT Sport. “They have a good organisation defensively, they can create problems offensively. Some of their players have played in England. We know what we have to do. If we do the right things, we will have our chances to win the game.”
Hats off to United. But first, mega-hats off to Granada, who have defied the odds in getting this far. A team assembled for less than €8m has done themselves proud in their first European adventure. They played well tonight but couldn’t find that cutting edge up front.
United are through to the semi-final: It was pretty routine for United, even if Granada did squander several decent chances against a team that never really had to come out of second gear. They will play Roma in the last four, while Arsenal will face Villarreal.
United score. A Juan Mata cross from the left evades all comers except Granada defender Jesus Vallejo, who unwittingly sticks it past his own goalkeeper with his face. THat about sums Granada’s night up and their heroic European odyssey is over.
90 min: A brilliant save from point-blank range from De Gea, who somehow keeps out a header from point-blank range from Herrera.
89 min: Granada corner. The ball’s swung into the United penalty area and cleared at the near post.
87 min: Close but no cigar again for Granada, as Victor Diaz is teed up but shoots straight at De Gea form distance.
81 min: Manchester U|nited double-substitution: Amad Diallo (on for his senior debut) and Brandon Williams on for Mason Greenwood and Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
78 min: As you can probably imagine with Manchester United three goals to the good on aggregate, the tie is petering out. United are going to help it peter out even more by making another double-substitution whenever the opportunity arises.
74 min: There was a long break in play there as Fred received treatment for an injury and the referee brandished a couple of yellow cards in the general direction of a group of players. I think Yangel Herrera got one of them but I can’t be sure.
72 min: Manchester United substitution: Bruno Fernandes off, Juan Mata on. Dan James on for Edinson Cavani. Granada substitution: Carlos Neva off, Victor Diaz on.
69 min: Twenty minutes remain and Granada need three goals to take the tie to extra time. They’ve had a few decent chances but need to start putting them away. Yangel Herrera tries a shot from the edge of the United penalty area but his effort is blocked.
66 min: Another Granada chance goes to waste as German scuffs a shot wide of the far post after a curled free-kick drops from wide on the right breaks his way.
63 min: The game is something of a non-event at this stage, with Granada plugging away gamely despite knowing the task of scoring four goals against superior opposition is beyond them. Manchester United are comfortably keeping them at arm’s length.
60 min: German gets booked, either for a late tackle on Fernandes, or for handling the ball as he slid through the Portuguese with his arms outstretched.
55 min: Edinson Cavani shoulders the ball wide of the far post after giving his man the slip but failing to make proper contact with his head from around the penalty sport. A let-off for Granada.
52 min: Half-time substitution that escaped me: Roberto Soldado off, Luis Suarez (not that one) on.
49 min: Chances at either end, as Jorge Molina heads into the hands of David De Gea, via a deflectino off the face of Aaron wan Bissaka. Moments later, Greenwood fires straight at Rui Silva, having been teed up by Donny van de Beek.
48 min: Off topic but more important than anything that’s going on at Old Trafford. Excellent work from Arsenal, who are battering Slavia Prague in their second leg ...
46 min: Play begins, with one change in personnel on either side. For Granada, Kenedy makes way for Antonio Puertes. For United, Donny van de Beek is on for Paul Pogba.
Peep! It’s half-time at Old Trafford lead with the only shot on target either team could muster. Edinson scored the goal, rifling home a left-footed volley after six minutes.
45 min: Lovely play from United. Paul Pogba sort of donkey-kicks the ball down the touchline, whereupon Cavani heads the ball inside to Pogba who had run to receive the return pass. He lays it off to Fernandes for the shot and the Portuguese elects to try to pick out of Cavani on the edge of the six-yard box instead and the ball bounces wide. A waste, but very impressive from Pogba.
43 min: Mason Greenwood blasts a shot well wide from the edge of the Granada penalty area. He went for power rather than finesse.
40 min: Pogba tries to send Greenwood on his way up the right flank with a ball from deep, but the youngster is unable to shake off his marker.
39 min: Fernandes pulls a shot well wide of the far post after being teed up on the edge of the Granada penalty area by Cavani.
38 min: Pogba is limping following a collision with Kenedy.
36 min: It’s nice and relaxed for United, who are three goals to the good across the tie. They’re keeping Granada at arms length but the Spanish team have had a couple of decent chances. Paul Pogba runs at their defence, plays the ball to Cavani but is unable to collect the return pass.
34 min: Good tackle from Jesus Vallejo, who slides in to prevent Mason Greenwood getting away down the right wing.
32 min: Bruno Fernades volleys over from a tight angle after connecting with a ball over the top from Nemanja Matic. It wasn’t a terrible effort.
28 min: Manchester United throw-in, deep in their own half after Darwin Machis fails to keep the ball in play. Granada substitution: Maxime Gonalons off with a shoulder injury, 38-year-old Jorge Molina on. It’s a striker on for a central midfielder.
25 min: A brilliant block tackle from Maxime Gonalons, who wins possession for Granada on the edge of the final third then plays the ball wide to Kenedy. The Brazilian is promptly dispossessed.
23 min: On the touchline, Donny Van De Beek is warming up for Manchester United. Is Ole Gunner Solskjær going to hook Paul Pogba before he gets sent off?
20 min: From the free-kick, Yangel Herrera blows a wonderful chance to pull a goal back for Granada. He got in behind Herrera to steer a free header from seven yards just wide of the right post. He should have scored!!!
19 min: Roberto Soldado gets booked for dissent. He appeared to be asking for a second yellow for Pogba, who had just tackled Yangel Herrera from behind. Pogba needs to watch his step here.
18 min: Granada throw-in, deep in Manchester United territory. Carlos Neva and Roberto Soldado combine down by the touchline but the hosts clear.
17 min: Paul Pogba gets booked for catching Granada skipper German with his elbow as he tried to hold him off. That looked a little harsh.
15 min: Fred plays the ball high behind Granada’s high line for Mason Greenwood to chase, but overcooks his pass. Rui Silva dashes out of his penalty area and beats the United striker to the ball.
13 min: Kenedy, the Brazilian winger on loan at Granada from Chelsea, picks up the ball on the right wing but is unable to get a cross into Roberto Soldado. Granada are doing OK, despite their horror-start.
10 min: Granada right-back Dimitri Foulquier sends a cross into the Manchester United penalty area. It’s put out for a corner, which Bruno Fernandes hacks clear at the near post. United win a free-kick in their own penalty area.
8 min: Granada corner. Yangel Herrera rises to steer a header just wide of the bottom right-hand corner. De Gea was beaten.
Edinson Cavani extends Manchester United’s lead. A cross from the left and Paul Pogba sends a looping backward header into the path of Cavani. He scores with a left-footed volley from just inside the Granada penalty area. The ball sails into the bottom-right hand corner.
5 min: Granada attack on the counter, their effort comes to naught and then Manchester United surge forward. With Mason Greenwood haring through the centre in acres of space, Edinson Cavani’s pass from the inside left is too near Granada goalkeeper Rui Silva.
3 min: Foulquier belts the ball out of play for a Manchester United throw-in, deep in Granada territory.
1 min: Play begins with Manchester United wearing their usual home kit, while the players of Granada are wearing black shirts, black shorts and white socks. Moments after kick-off, Axel Tuanzebe is penalised for a foul on Roberto Soldado.
Not long now: The teams are out on the pitch, United led by Paul Pogba and Granada led by German. The Spanish visitors have been patronised to within an inch of their lives by several memebrs of the BT Sport matchday team, who don’t give them a prayer.
That’s fair enough because they probably don’t have a prayer. However, one suspects that in the Mastermind chair, neither Jake Humphrey nor Paul Scholes would be able to point to the beautiful city on a map of Spain, let alone tell you anything about how far its football team has come in recent years.
David De Gea starts in goal, as he did in the first leg, while Axel Tuanzebe and Victor Lindelof are in the heart of United’s defence. Despite speculation that 18-year-old winger Amad Diallo, who arrived at Manchester United from Atalanta in January for a fee that could rise to £37m, might start tonight the Ivorian is on the bench.
Manchester United (4-3-3): De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Telles, Tuanzebe, Lindelof, Fred, Matic, Fernandes, Pogba, Greenwood, Cavani.
Subs: Grant, Henderson, Fish, Williams, Diallo, James, Mata, Van de Beek, Elanga, Rashford, Shoretire.
Contrary to expectations, Bruno Fernandes and Edinson Cavani both start for Manchester United despite speculation both would be rested. Donny van de Beek still can’t get a look-in and is on the bench again. We’ll have the full line-ups for you very shortly.
Diego Martinez speaks: “There’s things we can take advantage of, because the way we played in certain facets of the game last week was good,” said Granada’s coach. “We need to be more efficient and play with personality during the 90 minutes plus that there’ll be. We need to play with intelligence, understanding that we need to play a perfect game and that’s what we want to do.”
Ole Gunnar Solskjær speaks: “We have got a great foundation, but we have to win,” said Manchester United’s manager. “They will give everything they have got. Momentum is big in football. It is a quarter-final in Europe and Granada need to score goals. We have seen them against Barcelona, Real Madrid, how dangerous they can be. We have to play a good game and not give them those opportunities.”
Asked if his squad’s mentality has changed under his watch, Ollie had this to say. “It is not up to me to say if their mentality has changed. Our job has been to get the best out of the players, that is different in every coaching style. I can feel change in the confidence. When I started rebuilding this squad we had a few months, seasons, to learn. They have learned on the job. Now we want to win a trophy, go as far as we can.”
Manchester United have a trio of players sitting out this second leg on the Naughty Step, with Scott McTominay, Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw all suspended. Eric Bailly is back in Manchester after a month in his native Ivory Coast with Covid but will not fill in for Maguire tonight as Ole Gunnar Solskjær says he is not ready. The lesser-spotted Axel Tuanzebe will make a rare appearance. Marcus Rashford and Dan James are both doubtful for tonight’s game, while Ole has hinted several fringe players will get a run-out.
Old Trafford is the venue for tonight’s quarter-final second leg between Manchester United and Granada, with the hosts in the box-seat for a place in the last four thanks to their two unanswered goals in Spain last week.
European minnows operating on a tiny fraction of United’s budget, Granada have already over-achieved by making it this far in their maiden season in Europe but are nothing if not dogged and tenacious. If they are to exit the tournament tonight, expect them to go down swinging. Kick-off at Old Trafford is at 8pm (BST) but stay tuned in the meantime for team news and build-up.Continue reading...
After a serene win in which Granada were cuffed aside 4-0 on aggregate, Manchester United will hope to end a run of four consecutive semi-final disappointments under Ole Gunnar Solskjær.
Roma block their way to next month’s showpiece in Gdansk but with Paulo Fonseca’s side seventh in Serie A and 20 points behind the leaders, Internazionale, England’s second-ranked team will be confident of progressing.Continue reading...
- Red shirts with red banners and red seats a problem
- Black banners introduced to help split-second decisions
Ole Gunnar Solskjær has stated Manchester United’s red shirts had merged with Old Trafford’s red surrounds and prevented players from seeing a teammate in the “split second” required during games, leading the club to introduce black banners in the stands.
United host Granada in the Europa League quarter-final second leg on Thursday with a 2-0 lead. Solskjær was asked why in previous rounds Real Sociedad and Milan were defeated 4-0 and 1-0 away but his team could only draw at home – 0-0 and 1-1 respectively.Continue reading...
- Manchester United manager’s son Noah jokes after Spurs win
- Solskjær Sr was upset with Son Heung-min feigning injury
The son of the Manchester United manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjær, has weighed in on his father’s spat with Tottenham’s José Mourinho after the Norwegian coach said he would not feed his son if he simulated an injury.
The row erupted following the 3-1 win in the Premier League for United on Sunday when Solskjaer Sr criticised the Spurs forward Son Heung-min for exaggerating a blow to the face.Continue reading...
The game cannot let a true community A-League club be shafted, rebranded and parachuted into a region lacking soul
So, Central Coast Mariners owner Mike Charlesworth is reportedly considering selling the soul of the club to the Red Devils, otherwise known as English Premier League and world football giants Manchester United.
Worse still, and much to the alarm of the Mariners faithful, the Sydney Morning Herald suggests if the deal comes off, United will rebrand the club and relocate it to the sporting death trap of the northern suburbs of Sydney.
Manchester United would disenfranchise thousands of fansContinue reading...
Food fights are extremely uncommon in the serious world of professional association football. Yes, there was the time in the early 2000s when Cesc Fàbregas attempted to spice up a rather bland margherita by flinging it at the startled pepperoni-hued face of Sir Alex Ferguson. The moment on the Channel 4 documentary Club for a Fiver when Orient boss John Sitton offered most of his squad outside for a fight at half-time, telling them that they should bring their dinner because they’re going to need it. And of course there was the most notorious incident of all, when 1930s England hard man Wilf Copping came at Stanley Matthews in the FA canteen with a slice of Spam, neatly cut across the diagonal, and rammed it sideways into the young winger’s mouth with such force that it nearly left him with a permanent, albeit very tasty, Chelsea Grin [subs, please check]. But all in all, nutritious substances rarely feature in the game’s discourse.Continue reading...
Rodgers prizes discipline over principle, Martinelli cheers up Arsenal while Guardiola’s reserves let him down
Manchester United are highly familiar with a José Mourinho team riding their luck against them. A key moment in his rise to prominence was Porto’s 2004 triumph at Old Trafford, where Paul Scholes had a goal chalked off for offside. The simmering rage on Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s face when Edinson Cavani’s “opener” was wiped away by VAR echoed Sir Alex Ferguson 17 years ago, and nine years after that when the disputed dismissal of Nani handed Mourinho’s Real Madrid a passage into the Champions League quarter-finals. A United team containing many of Mourinho’s former players will have been familiar with Tottenham’s botched blueprint to stay in touch with the top four. Keeping shape in defence and midfield was the bedrock for the brilliance with which Lucas Moura set up Son Heung-min to score. But unlike those Porto and Madrid teams, this Spurs team does not have the same resilience or quality to exploit good fortune. John BrewinContinue reading...
- Manchester United manager criticised player for staying down
- Tottenham reveal Son received racist abuse on social media
José Mourinho diverted attention from Tottenham’s diminishing hopes of Champions League qualification after their 3-1 home defeat by Manchester United on Sunday by attacking Ole Gunnar Solskjær over claims that Son Heung-min had conned the referee into disallowing a goal.
Tottenham’s manager, whose side sit seventh in the Premier League, six points off fourth place, launched a bizarre rant against Solskjær after his United counterpart said he would not feed his own son if he behaved like Son had.Continue reading...
Manchester United manager has taken his side 14 points clear of Spurs, six months after losing 6-1 to them
José or Ole? Who would you choose as a nextdoor neighbour? Granted, appearances can deceive, but surely there’s an obvious winner.
Who wants moody, mercurial, narcissistic and, frankly, a bit needy when you could have reassuringly dependable, unfailingly nice and warmly collegiate? Yet if Ole Gunnar Solskjær seems an infinitely better bet to present a consistently friendly face over the garden fence, the Manchester United’s manager’s technical area input also compared pretty well to that of his Old Trafford predecessor, José Mourinho, on Sunday.Continue reading...
Fred, Edinson Cavani and Mason Greenwood scored as Manchester United overwhelmed Spurs with an outstanding second-half performance
That’s it for today’s blog. Jonathan Wilson was lucky enough to be at the game, and I’ll leave you with his match report. Thanks for your company, goodnight!
Here’s Jose Mourinho
“We played against a good team - lots of quality, lots of power - and they reacted [to going behind]. We had great opportunities to score the second goal. Dean [Henderson] made two very, very good saves, especially the one from Harry Kane. We were dominant at 2-1, but then they scored the third goal. My opinion is that it was a very good game and we did not deserve this result at all. But we lost against a very good team.
Mourinho’s first Chelsea team dropped only six points from winning positions in his first two seasons.
18 - Spurs have dropped 18 points from winning positions in the Premier League this season, second only to Brighton (20). It’s the most points a José Mourinho side has dropped from winning positions in a single Premier League campaign. Susceptible. pic.twitter.com/SwAuY2BnnX
Here’s Scott McTominay
“It’s a brilliant win. We were frustrated at half-time but the message was clear from the manager: keep calm. That’s what he kept saying to the players, that there’s no need to panic. We’ve been here before, we know we have good characters in the team and good players who want to take the ball against a really difficult team.
One more game and then you can watch Line of Duty
That second-half performance is as well as United have played under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. They were sulking towards the end of the first half when a big VAR call went against them and then Son gave Spurs the lead, but they channelled it during half-time and played with ferocious purpose thereafter. Fred equalised - Fred equalised! - and then Mason Greenwood had a decisive impact. He set up a classic diving header for Edinson Cavani and sealed a deserved victory in injury-time. After a difficult second season, he is quietly hitting form at a very good time.
For the ninth time this season, and the eighth away from home, Manchester United come from behind to win a Premier League game.
Cavani played a short pass back to Pogba, 30 yards from goal. He beat Dier and Hojbjerg with some smart footwork and then slid the ball across to Greenwood on the edge of the area. Greenwood lost Reguilon with a typical stepover and smashed a right-footed shot that beat Lloris for pace aat the near post.
Mason Greenwood seals a glorious second-half performance!
90+5 min “Very satisfying,” says Ciarán Brennan, “seeing Solskjaer shut the game down with the most Mourinho signing ever in Matic.”
90+4 min Aurier is booked for flattening Shaw, a petulant foul that allows United to kill a bit more time.
90+3 min Reguilon makes an excellent lunging tackle on Greenwood, who played a one-two on Cavani and was almost through on goal.
90+3 min Pogba and Fred waste a bit omre time by keeping the ball in the Spurs half.
90+2 min Spurs are struggling to get any attacking momentum, and now Sissoko has been booked for a foul on Fred.
90+2 min “Mourinho has got to go,” write Mike and Jill Mahoney. “This is beyond a joke. It’s exactly the same every game. Get this toxic man out of my club now.”
I’m sensing rancour.
90+1 min There will be six minutes of added time.
90 min Another change for United: Nemanja Matic replaces Bruno Fernandes, who didn’t get a goal or assist but played an important part in both goals.
88 min “Pogba has, as you said, a fine game,” says Colum Farrelly. “His skills seem best deployed in front of the holding midfielders as opposed to with them. A bit like Gerrard under Benitez, I think.”
I’m not sure there’s a natural position for him in a 4-2-3-1, but I agree that you want him much further forward when possible, especially in games where you dominate possession.
86 min After a dreadful first half hour, this has been richly entertaining fare.
84 min: Cavani hits his own post! The corner was flicked on at the near post by Pogba, and Cavani, stretching desperately, headed it onto the post. He had to go for it, with Sissoko waiting behind him to score, and really had to strain his neck muscles to get enough on the ball to take it away from goal. Just.
83 min Now Spurs have to push for an equaliser. Aurier slides a very dangerous low cross that is belted behind by Lindelof, facing his own goal.
82 min Gareth Bale comes on for Lucas Moura, who was lively as always and made the opening goal for Son.
81 min United have been sensational in the second half. It’s even more impressive because they had totally lost the noggin at the end of the first half. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer deserves so much credit for turning that petulance into a furious purpose.
The move started with some crisp short passing on the right wing. Then Bruno Fernandes nutmegged Reguilon to find Greenwood on the right corner of the area. He curled a stunning first-time cross to the far post, where Cavani flew through the air like Keith Houchen and slammed a header back across Lloris. What a brilliant goal.
A classic goal!
78 min A change for Spurs: Erik Lamela, the pantomime villain of the return fixture, comes on for Tanguy Ndombele.
77 min United win a free-kick 30 yards out. It’s the perfect distance for Rashford, but he’s off the field, so Fernandes plays it out to McTominay. His cross is blocked by Hojbjerg. Well done everyone.
75 min “I have no real view on the McTominay flick/slap/assault (delete as applicable),” says Tom Atkins, “but I do recall Manchester United’s current manager getting Sol Campbell sent off in 2003 for a similar fending off. It cost him a three match ban, a place in the FA Cup final and arguably the league (his backup was Pascal Cygan). If you hold a grudge long enough sometimes you get to enjoy moments like this.”
Well, that was an elbow to the forehead, which is slightly different. But it’s a good point and it was a huge story at the time. The only other thing I’d say is that Campbell was still available to play at Bolton, which was the decisive game in Arsenal’s collapse.
73 min The corner ricochets around the area until Aurier, five yards out, puts an overhead kick into orbit. He was in an offside position, though had he scored there would have been an argument over whether he was active the last time a Spurs player touched the ball. There’s always an argument.
73 min: Good save from Henderson! Son finds Kane near the byline on the left. He cuts inside and then hammers a disguised shot towards the near post. Henderson reacts smartly to kick it behind for a corner.
71 min Mason Greenwood comes on to replace a very weary Marcus Rashford.
71 min United have battered Spurs in the second half, but the score is 1-1 so they are still ripe for a Mourinho mugging. I don’t think Spurs have done the double over United since 1989-90, so it would be a worthy achievement.
70 min Maguire loses the ball to Kane, pulls him back and is booked.
68 min Shaw is booked for a foul on Lucas Moura.
67 min: What a chance for Pogba! A corner is half cleared, only as far as Shaw on the left. His deep cross picks out Fernandes, who cushions the ball across the six-yard line to Pogba. He tries a backheel towards goal that is blocked by Dier, and then falls over. He should probably have just tried a shot on the turn. It was a brilliant cross from Shaw in the first place, flicked nonchalantly with the outside of the foot. He is playing with stratospheric confidence the noo.
66 min United have dominated the game since half-time, playing with an impressively controlled aggression. I thought they might lose the plot after the way the first half ended.
63 min: Lovely save from Lloris! Bruno Fernandes picks up a loose ball 35 yards out and heads for goal. He gets to within 20 yards and cracks a left-footed shot across goal that is pushed away at full stretch by Lloris. That’s a brilliant stop.
62 min Henderson forces a pass behind Maguire towards Kane, and Henderson charges out of his area to clear. That was good goalkeeping; for a split-second it looked like Kane was through on goal.
61 min A change for Spurs, with Moussa Sissoko replacing Giovani Lo Celso.
60 min: Good save from Henderson! This is a cracking game now. Aurier’s shot was blocked by Lindelof and looped to Son on the other side of the area. He dragged a low shot through the legs of Wan-Bissaka that was kicked away by Henderson. “A de Gea save”, as Gary Neville observes on Sky Sports.
59 min Pogba, who has been superb in the second half, finds Fernandes on the right side of the area with a good pass, but Fernandes’s low cross is behind everyone and Spurs clear.
United sliced the Spurs defence apart with some beautiful short passing just outside the penalty area. Rashford, Fernandes and Fred were all involved. Eventually Fred put Cavani through on goal, and though his shot was saved superbly by Lloris, Fred followed up to score from close range.
Fred has scored a goal!
55 min A crisp sidefoot from McTominay, 25 yards out, is pushed away by Lloris as he falls to his left. It was a pretty comfortable save, but United are looking more dangerous than they did before the break.
54 min It’s easy to forget, with all the shouting about VAR, that this is an extremely important 35 minutes for Spurs. A win today would put them above Liverpool on goal difference and only four points behind Leicester in third.
53 min Pogba’s dangerous cross from the right is poked just wide of his own goal by Rodon. He had to go for it with Cavani behind him; Cavani was offside but Rodon couldn’t have known that. Shaw’s corner is cleared.
50 min What VAR has exposed is that nobody really knows how to apply the laws of the game, even the referees. Football is drowning in ambiguity.
49 min Shaw’s long cross finds Wan-Bissaka, whose volleyed cross from a tight angle turns into a shot. Lloris, well positioned, pushes it away at the near post.
48 min A slick move from United ends with Pogba playing the ball through to Rashford. He tries to work an angle for a shot but the Spurs defender, Dier I think, does really well to hold him up. At the other end, Kane chips over the bar from 20 yards, and Fred is booked for fouling Aurier in the build up.
46 min Peep peep! Spurs begin the second half. Fred dumps Ndombele on his derriere after nine seconds, so maybe United haven’t cooled off.
I’ve had a quick scan of the emails (thanks one and all). Roughly 60 per cent of you reckon it was a foul, 40 per cent say the game’s gone.
The issue isn’t whether it was a foul, it’s whether it was a ‘clear and obvious error’. The fact there is nothing resembling consensus suggests it probably wasn’t. But the bigger issue is the ruinous fasttracking of VAR. Had they trialled it properly, over a few years, it could have been a great thing. At the moment it’s about as rewarding as a smart speaker that senses when you’re on the cusp of orgasm, and at that precise moment starts playing your mother’s voice.
“It’s a flick in the face,” says Phil Beattie. “I honestly have no idea what you are watching. Son is a good yard behind McTominay - he isn’t ‘holding him off’. He throws his arm backwards and hits Son in the face. It’s a foul, and he’s really lucky not to get a second booking. Gary Neville might be confused but he’s not exactly neutral is he?”
I’m watching the same game as you, Phil. For what it’s worth, Manchester City alumnus Micah Richards and former Spurs midfielder Jamie Redknapp also thought it wasn’t a foul.
And to think United need somebody to score a goal.
“You wrote, ‘Some of the behaviour in the last few months has been a bit pathetic,’” says Ingo Herzke. “While I fully agree with your sentiment in general and in particular, I don’t think that’s what you intended to write.”
I realised that a couple of minutes later and amended it to ‘minutes’, though on reflection I think I prefer ‘months’.
I’ve just checked and Kane was onside in the build-up to Son’s goal, so there’s no controversy there.
Another half dominated by VAR. Edinson Cavani had a goal controversially disallowed for a foul on Son, who then gave Spurs the lead a few minutes later.
45+2 min Fernandes’s cross just evades Cavani at the far post.
45+1 min Three minutes of added time.
45 min Martin Convery writes to say that Kane was offside in the build up to Son’s goal. I haven’t seen a replay but that would make an even greater mockery of this first half. Now Fernandes is saying Hojbjerg has elbowed him. Some of the behaviour in the last few minutes has been a bit pathetic, but it all stems from that disallowed goal.
44 min Rashford thinks he has won a corner but then finds out he has been penalised for a challenge on Son. United need half-time to cool off.
41 min: It’s kicking off! Cavani has been booked. He pushed Rodon over, then went back for more, at which point the players on both sides converged. United are in high dudgeon; even Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a murderous look on his face.
Ndombele fired a pass into Kane on the edge of the D. He half-volleyed a first-time pass around the corner to release Lucas Moura, with Lindelof getting in a tangle as he tried to intercept. Moura could have shot but instead slid the ball across the penalty area to Son, who beat Henderson from close range.
And now Son has given Spurs the lead!
39 min Kane wriggles away from Wan-Bissaka on the left of the area and drags a low cross that beats everyone in the middle.
38 min VAR, so much to answer for.
United are fuming, and you can understand why - I think that was a 50/50 call rather than a clear and obvious error. The only upside for United is that McTominay didn’t receive a second yellow card.
McTominay flicked his hand out, just to hold Son off, but he caught him in the face.
Chris Kavanagh is going to the monitor. Manchester United could lose a goal and a man here.
It’s still being checked by VAR. This could go either way.
McTominay definitely caught Son, though it was a hand-off more than anything. The goal was excellent: an imaginative short pass from Pogba to Cavani, who made a great run behind Dier and swept the ball past Lloris.
Cavani scores, but there’s a big but: Son is down holding his face after a challenge from McTominay, who has already been booked, in the build up.
33 min “I’m pretty sure we’ve entered a parallel universe,” says Stephen Carr, “where its Mourinho’s Utd v Mourinho’s Spurs.”
32 min Lo Celso sweeps Rashford’s feet from under him, right on the edge of the area, but the referee doesn’t deem it a foul. That doesn’t impress Rashford much.
31 min At this stage of the return game, Spurs were 2-1 up and Anthony Martial had been sent off.
29 min United’s passing and movement has been really sluggish. They look like a team who need the cattle prod of going behind.
28 min Pogba and Rashford have swapped again, so Pogba is back on the left.
27 min I’ll wake you up when something happens.
24 min Pogba and Rashford have switched wings.
23 min Bruno Fernandes tries to release Rashford with a long angled pass. Aurier does well to get across and intercept. It hasn’t been the greatest game so far, I won’t lie to you.
20 min Son wins another corner for Spurs, who have quietly been the better team in the first 20 minutes. Nothing comes of it.
18 min McTominay is booked for a hack at Ndombele. Poor tackle, that.
17 min Good defending from Dier! Fernandes’s long, angled ball from the right was headed down by Pogba to Cavani on the edge of the D. He cushioned a disguised half-volleyed pass to Rashford, who stormed into the area and smacked a shot that deflected behind off the sliding Dier.
15 min Lo Celso steals the ball off Pogba with a lovely, Giggs-like sliding tackle. Nothing comes of it but the tackle was too good not to mention.
15 min United haven’t really got going as an attacking unit. Spurs have been a bit better, with Lucas Moura especially lively.
12 min Shaw curls a good ball down the left to Fred, who tries to cut inside Aurier and slips over. And it was going so well.
10 min Lucas Moura’s cross is headed behind by Lindelof at the near post. It’s been a perky start from Spurs, but Lo Celso’s corner isn’t the best and Shaw clears.
9 min “If United were to sign Kane, I feel that his laser-focused desire for silverware would result in the goals needed to drive them to the title,” says Duncan Edwards. “The precedent being Robin van Persie.”
I know what you mean, although the gap to the champions wasn’t as big then.
8 min Aurier is down holding his face after wearing Pogba’s forearm. Nothing was given, and Aurier looks pretty aggrieved.
7 min Nothing much to report so far. It’s been quite an open start to the game though.
5 min Reguilon is shoved over by Rashford, but the referee Chris Kavanagh sees no evil. That was definitely a foul.
3 min Lo Celso’s corner is headed away to the edge of the area by McTominay. Son is first to the loose ball, albeit under pressure from Fred, and he slashes over on the half-volley.
2 min Spurs have started with Lo Celso as the No10 and Lucas Moura on the right. Moura has an early run and rifles a shot that goes behind off Luke Shaw.
1 min Peep peep! Manchester United kick off from left to right.
It looks like Paul Pogba is starting on the left, with Marcus Rashford as the right-sided attacker.
There will be a two-minute silence in memory of the Duke of Edinburgh.
The players are in the tunnel. Lucas Moura and Fred embrace, as do Edinson Cavani and Giovani Lo Celso. If only Graeme Souness’s internal monologue was on the red button.
“On the assumption that football with crowds will return for next season, United have a big opportunity to do what they have always done, which is to break the British transfer record,” says Rick Harris. “Forget Kane, he is unlikely to go to another PL outfit if he leaves Spurs. Haaland is the player United need to get if at all possible. Yes, he will cost big bucks, and yes he will demand the highest salary at the club, but he is the single player out there that can take United to the next level and score the goals they will need to lift the title.”
I’m not sure United can afford him this summer. Even if they can, I suspect Alfie will be as receptive to the idea as Jack Walker was to Alan Shearer joining United in 1996.
Never mind United: who should Spurs sign in the summer? Let’s assume Kane stays.
“On who United need,” is the subject of Francis Mead’s email. “My take is that, if we are to get better, we need a better organising/defensive midfielder - who can provide threat upfront with passes and more. So I think we need to replace Fred, solid as he is - with one of the following: Kalvin Phillips or Ruben Neves - I like Neves, since he’s good in possession and provides a goal threat with his shooting. Yes, Phillips has been rather conservative for England, but his passing is usually excellent. Rice is very good defensively - but does he give enough going forward? Kane I’m agnostic on.”
Jose Mourinho has selected 16 different defensive combinations in the Premier League this season. The latest of Aurier, Rodon, Dier and Reguilon enjoyed its only previous in a 0-0 draw at Chelsea in November. #THFC
“It can’t be too often that fans of all clubs from 3rd to 11th, including those of Liverpool and Leeds, will be hoping (quietly or not) that Manchester United win,” says Julian Menz. “Nine clubs chasing three European places (depending on cup results of course) is going to be a tight squeeze.”
“How seriously should United entertain the notion of going after Kane, given his price and what we need elsewhere?” wonders Christopher Faherty. “Personally think Rice should be our primary target with a bullet but it’s clear that Solskjaer doesn’t trust in either Martial or Rashford to do the business up front regularly enough and while Kane has a limitation with his pace if he was to be played as a nine, if Solskjaer sees us a team that needs to maximise chance-taking over chance-creation, Kane’s a good fit for that. It’s a no for me, but the idea has merits.”
I’d imagine the only chance is a player-plus-cash deal. There are a few United players that Mourinho likes, Lingard in particular. I don’t think Rice is a priority, fine player though he is. Personally I’d buy a centre-forward - ideally Kane - and a right-winger (or attacking right-back) first. But so much depends on who is available and how much money they have.
Tottenham Hotspur (4-2-3-1) Lloris; Aurier, Dier, Rodon, Reguilon; Hojbjerg, Ndombele; Lucas Moura, Lo Celso, Son; Kane.
Substitutes: Hart, Alderweireld, Tanganga, Winks, Lamela, Sissoko, Alli, Bale, Vinicius.
Manchester United (possible 4-2-3-1) Henderson; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw; McTominay, Fred; Rashford, Fernandes, Pogba; Cavani.
Substitutes: de Gea, Telles, Williams, Tuanzebe, Mata, Matic, van de Beek, Greenwood, Amad.
Hello and welcome to live coverage of Spurs v Manchester United at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. This game is loaded with context and intrigue: Spurs’ 6-1 win in the return fixture, the passive-aggressive needle between Jose Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and the rumours that Harry Kane will ask to leave – possibly to United – if Spurs fail to qualify for the Champions League.
The tactical similarities are also interesting, with both teams are their best on the counter-attack. The cliché is that football matches are decided by who wants it more; this game might be won by the team that wants it less, it being the ball.Continue reading...
Same manager, similar players, same result. The familiar pattern played out again. Tottenham had a lead and Tottenham lost the lead and the result is that the gap to the top four is now six points.
It was the reverse round of fixtures in October – Leeds unnerving Manchester City, West Ham outplaying Leicester, Aston Villa thrashing Liverpool – that created the sense that this was not going to be a normal season, Tottenham’s 6-1 win at Old Trafford even conjuring the frankly implausible thought that Spurs might be able to mount a title challenge. How long ago that seems now. All that remains to be decided, it appears, are the circumstances of José Mourinho’s departure, when it happens and how big his payoff is.Continue reading...
Second place is not good enough for the manager but keeping leaders Manchester City in sight would be progress
Barring a Devon Loch-like collapse starting on Grand National weekend, Manchester City will canter to a third title in four years, but Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s second full season at rivals United has to show a continuation of the upward curve that began with last year’s third-place finish in the league. The United manager is in no mood to dress up a prospective second-place finish, conceding it may take “blood, sweat and tears” to close the gap on Manchester City next season.
Solskjær, whose United side travel to Tottenham on Sunday, says: “You can’t say that is an achievement. Our ambition is a lot more than second place. I said that when I wasn’t at the club – you can never be happy with that. Our ambition is to catch the team in front of us.”Continue reading...
Manchester United’s place in the top four looks secure for the time being so a tepid draw – like many of those produced since being thrashed 6-1 by Tottenham – against José Mourinho’s side would suffice. Spurs on the other hand need a win to catch up and Mourinho will be eager to stick it to his former employers. A full complement of defenders will certainly help the endeavour after last week’s misfire against Newcastle. Graham Searles
Sunday 4.30pm Sky Sports Premier LeagueContinue reading...