Charlie Nicholas says Scott McTominay and Fred are struggling to keep the ball when Manchester United are in possession.

The international break was an uncomfortable period for all connected to the Old Trafford giants, with the loss at struggling Newcastle leading focus to increase on players, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and the entire background structure.

Yet United rallied impressively and came out fighting against reigning European champions Liverpool, with Marcus Rashford putting the hosts ahead on an afternoon when they would fall just short.

Substitute Adam Lallana secured a late 1-1 draw for Jurgen Klopp’s men, who had won their previous 17 league matches.

Nicholas told Sky Sports: “This is another difficult game for Man Utd. It was a Jose Mourinho-style performance against Liverpool.

“I can never remember United, even when I have seen them on the back foot and having poor times, seeing them knock 50-60 yards to get five or six seconds breathing space. United nearly won ugly.

“Anthony Martial is fit and I think he will start, while Marcus Rashford started, scored and played well against Liverpool.

“Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will want to go to a back four, but their midfield cannot keep the ball. Scott McTominay and Fred are grafting but they cannot pass the ball.

“It is another awkward night for Manchester United, but 1-1 would be a decent result for them and that is saying something.”

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Jermaine Jenas has said that Manchester United should have kept Romelu Lukaku and sold Anthony Martial earlier this year.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s first transfer window in charge saw him bring in three new recruits and get rid of several players including Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez, the Red Devils boss saying those two departures in particular helped restore the culture at United.

The failure to sign replacements for Lukaku and Sanchez has led to United struggling for goals up top, however, with an injury to Martial not helping improve the situation.

Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live, Jenas took a pop at Martial and said that it was the Frenchman who should have been sold in the summer instead of Lukaku.

“Since Martial has been at Manchester United, I would say he has a month and a half, two months a season then he goes absolutely missing,” the pundit said.

 

 

“You’ve got poor Marcus Rashford, who puts himself out there every single week and gives his all. We all know he’s not a goalscoring machine or that goal-scoring comes naturally to him.

“He’s got other attributes to his game that are phenomenal that we see him produce for England on a regular basis. He gets all this criticism thrown at him yet you’ve got players like Martial who just goes missing.”

Adding to his argument, Jenas insisted that injury problems so far this season for Martial should not be used as an excuse.

He said: “You talk injuries but it happens every single season at United. Why get rid of Lukaku when you’ve got someone like Martial who is doing that every week.

“Just because he’s a younger player, or he’s more valuable? I’m questioning so many decisions that are being made.”

Meanwhile, former United midfielder Paul Scholes has also criticised the club’s recruitment policy and named two recent signings that haven’t stepped up to the mark.

 

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Jose Mourinho was hammered for much of what he said and how he went about managing Manchester United. Maybe he was right more often than we all thought…

 

Finishing second was an incredible achievement
“I keep saying and thinking and feeling that the second last season was one of my biggest achievements in the game.”

How we all laughed when serial winner Mourinho declared that leading United to a runners-up finish was up there with the two Champions League titles and four domestic leagues he has conquered. At the time, it reeked of self-preservation.

But Mourinho knew. And he doubled down on that view after he was sacked. “If I tell you, for example, that I consider one of the best jobs of my career was to finish second with Man United in the Premier League, you will say, ‘this guy is crazy,’” Mourinho said a month after being shown the door. “‘He won 25 titles and he is saying that a second position was one of his best achievements?’”

“I keep saying this because people don’t know what is going on behind the scenes.”

In the context of United’s current fortunes, maybe Mourinho deserves a stand to be named after him at Old Trafford after coming 19 points behind Man City, but comfortably ahead of Tottenham, Liverpool and Chelsea. His squad was very similar to the one currently disgracing themselves, with Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez (the Chilean joined halfway through the season) the only major exits, while Solskjaer has the luxury of the centre-back that Mourinho pleaded for.

 

Mourinho knew Pogba can’t be trusted
Paul Pogba may have been United’s most technically gifted player of the last three seasons, but Mourinho was right. The midfielder is a ‘virus’ in the dressing room.

“You don’t respect players and supporters. And you kill the mentality of the good honest people around you,” Mourinho is reported to have told Pogba after a draw at Southampton last year. “You are like a person with a flu, with a virus in a closed room – you pass that virus to the others.”

By that time, the problems at United had split supporters and pundits into two separate factions: Jose vs Pogba. Shortly after, it was Pogba who claimed victory, and his sudden-but-fleeting upturn in form upon Mourinho’s sacking gave ammunition to those who believed the manager was the problem.

But Pogba hasn’t changed. Yet again he went out of his way to engineer a move out of Old Trafford this summer and his form this season – when fit – has been as hopelessly inconsistent as we came to expect from the Frenchman under Mourinho.

Pogba can’t claim that Mourinho didn’t try. The manager tried a raft of formations and midfield personnel in an effort to get the best out of the record signing, and even after Pogba told United he wanted to leave having returned to work with a World Cup winner’s medal fluffing his ego, Mourinho offered an olive branch in the form of the United vice-captaincy. Pogba (metaphorically we hope) wiped his arse with the armband.

But United don’t learn. The hierarchy at Old Trafford are reportedly ready to offer Pogba a pay-rise in a vain attempt to persuade him that his future lies with the Red Devils. But Pogba wants out and he could not have made it clearer, with his words or his form.

 

Marcus Rashford isn’t a natural centre-forward
When Mourinho signed Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Romelu Lukaku in each of his first two summers in charge at Old Trafford, the worry for many was what their arrival meant for Rashford’s prospects. Their concerns were misplaced.

Rashford ended up making more appearances under Mourinho than any other Manchester United player and played the fourth-highest number of minutes. The problem for some was that Rashford spent most of his time on the pitch shunted out wide.

Around 50 of the academy graduate’s 125 appearances under Mourinho came as a centre-forward, with 32 of those coming from the start. According to Transfermarkt, he averaged a goal every 219 minutes while leading the line. Hardly prolific numbers.

Mourinho recognised that Rashford’s qualities were more suited to a wide forward, a player who can lead breaks rather than one who can receive the ball with his back to goal. But Rashford still saw himself as a No.9. The ex-manager explained his thinking last month.

“I am not going to say he cannot ever be a number nine, he can be a dangerous number nine especially if the opposition is not pragmatic, is not close and is giving spaces to attack. He can be dangerous in transitions,” Mourinho told Sky Sports. “But when Manchester United is a team that normally plays against teams who go to Old Trafford, close the door, bring the bus, bring the double bus, he is not a striker to play with his back to the goal.

“He is not the target man, he doesn’t score as many goals as a striker should do. So I think from the side you will get him to numbers of 10-12 goals per season.”

It seems Mourinho was right. Solskjaer immediately placed his faith in Rashford as his leading centre-forward – to Lukaku’s cost – but after an initial burst, the England attacker’s productivity has waned, as has his involvement in matches. Harry Maguire had more touches in the Newcastle box than Rashford – or any other United team-mate – on Sunday. Rashford looks so far off the pace as a leading striker that many people are assuming he is carrying an injury, despite Solskjaer’s insistence that he is 100 per cent fit.

The penny also appeared to have dropped with Solskjaer, who started the season with Martial as his starting centre-forward, with Rashford wide. But with Martial sidelined, Solskjaer has little option to persist with Rashford through the middle.

 

He knew Andreas Pereira wasn’t good enough
Mourinho had Pereira pegged as a continental Cleverley as soon as he got a decent look at the once-capped Brazil midfielder.

The 23-year-old spent the first two years of Mourinho’s United reign in Spain, initially with Granada before he defied the manager to go to Valencia for a season in 2017 – a decision which ‘disappointed’ Mourinho:  “His decision can be considered a young player who wants to play every weekend but also a young player that is not ready to fight for something difficult.”

Mourinho made his peace with Pereira’s choice and the manager offered the midfielder a chance to impress during United’s pre-season tour in 2018 while their World Cup players were still on holiday. In the United States, Pereira played as a No.6 where he eventually made his first Premier League start on the opening weekend. By the end of the following weekend, he was done in Mourinho’s mind. Pereira was hooked at half-time during a defeat which rang alarm bells at Old Trafford.

His next start came almost four months later when Mourinho rested key players for a Champions League group game at Valencia with qualification already assured. Back at the stadium he spent the previous season, Pereira was wretched. He was dropped again from Mourinho’s squad for the fateful trip to Liverpool, as he had been for the previous eight Premier League matches.

Solskjaer came in and having failed to convince Louis van Gaal or Mourinho, he was given a third opportunity. The current boss certainly appears to fancy the Belgium-born Brazilian more than the previous two managers – God only knows why. Pereira is a player without a position; he looks out of his depth wherever he is played. Fred may be the current poster boy for United’s slide but Pereira is equally as inept, as Mourinho quickly learned once he had the chance to see for himself.

 

He saw something in McTominay
When Mourinho brought Scott McTominay into his side and played him on an increasingly regular basis, even some within the club – his former academy team-mates among them – are understood to have been utterly baffled by what the manager saw in the gangly midfielder.

Not only did Mourinho play McTominay, he held the Scotland youngster up as an example to the rest of his high-profile, underperforming squad. Mourinho invented an award for McTominay at the end of the 2017-18 season, when United somehow finished second, so that he could be brought up on stage and paraded in front of the MUTV cameras as the template for his team-mates.

When Mourinho went, so too it was presumed would McTominay chances of regular involvement. Indeed, in his attempt to paint himself as the anti-Jose, Solskjaer used McTominay for a single minute in his first eight Premier League matches in charge.

But the midfielder has shown the kind of attitude and ‘special character’ that Mourinho saw in him to establish himself as one of the first names on Solskjaer’s team-sheet. Unfortunately for McTominay, any praise he receives is so often prefixed with “he’s no Keane/Robson/Scholes/Edwards” but he cannot be held accountable for the decline in standards at Old Trafford, especially while he is one of the few players trying to uphold them.

 

Ian Watson

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Champions League winning Manchester United striker Andy Cole has labelled Sergio Aguero as the best striker in the Premier League and believes Marcus Rashford must learn from him.

Rashford has established himself as one of United’s first choice strikers this season, alongside Anthony Martial.

With Martial injured, Rashford has had an extended run down the middle but has failed to make the position his own and will now miss a run of games with a groin injury.

Cole had previously stated that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer should build the Man Utd team around Rashford but the ex-United man believes Rashford needs to learn from two of the Premier League’s best strikers to improve his game.

Cole told BBC Radio 5Live: “I want to see from Marcus, I know the two are totally different players but if you’re going to play that position, I want to see Aguero. I want to see Firmino.

“That’s what I want to see. If you look at those two guys playing as a number nine, when I watch them, I get excited watching them.

“Aguero for me, and I keep saying it, is the best centre-forward in the Premier League. I love this movement, I love that he just wants to get in the box, I want to score goals, I don’t care what it is, header, tap-in, I’m going to do it and I know what I’m going to do.

“Firmino for Liverpool, he brings people into the game, he sets people up but I’m still going to get in and get my fair share as well.

“I look at those two and I say to myself I just love watching you two play centre-forward.

“Marcus has got to learn off those kinds of individuals.”

Cole picked out Mason Greenwood for praise, believing he has the ability to be top class but urged patience from the club and the fans.

Solskjaer has consistently described the 17-year-old as United’s “best finisher”.

The Englishman is likely to start up front on Monday night against Arsenal, with Rashford and Martial expected to be out of action.

 

 

Cole added: “He has got a chance. His finishing is a joke, left or right foot, he’s got quality in abundance.

“I just hope they don’t, Manchester United won’t anyway, put too much undue pressure on him. He’s got great ability.

“The disappointing thing is, he’s going to have to get thrown into the deep end a little bit earlier than they would have liked due to injuries, due to being prepared to let Lukaku and Sanchez go.

“They’re looking at it and thinking we’ve got Mason, we’re going to give Marcus the opportunity to play centre-forward.

“Ideally, it would have been nice if they’d bought themselves another centre-forward.”

 

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Manchester City forward Bernardo Silva should face action over a tweet directed at team-mate Benjamin Mendy, anti-discrimination group Kick It Out has said.

The Portugal international posted a message on the social media platform with a picture of a young Mendy alongside a separate image of the mascot of a Spanish confectionery brand.

Silva received immediate criticism for the post and later deleted it, with a follow-up message reading: “Can’t even joke with a friend these days… You guys…”

Kick It Out issued a statement on the subject on Monday morning which read: “We are extremely disappointed to see the tweet posted by Bernardo Silva, which has since been deleted.

“Racist stereotypes are never acceptable as ‘banter’, and we’re shocked that someone who is a role model to millions has failed to understand the discriminatory nature of his post.

“The FA have been notified and we believe that retrospective action should be taken, including mandatory education – which is vital to challenge offensive behaviour such as this.”

The Silva post comes after initial meetings were held between the Football Association, Premier League, the EFL and Twitter following a series of online abuse aimed at black players since the start of the season.

Manchester United’s Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford are among the players who have been targeted, along with Chelsea’s Tammy Abraham and Kurt Zouma.

The FA described the meeting as “productive and positive”.

 

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Posted in EPL, FA Premier League

Send your thoughts to theeditor@football365.com

 

A tale of three managers
After yesterday’s fixtures it made me wonder who will be the first to leave their managerial post, Quique Sanchez Flores at halftime, Mauricio Pochettino after Spurs lose another lead or Marco Silva after yet another poor Everton performance.

Answers on a postcard of course.
Mikey, CFC 

 

And a fourth
Well that was the last straw.  I’ve stood by this City team through thick and thin but that was an utter disgrace.  I’m sorry but I can’t defend these overpaid, bone idle Prima Donnas anymore.  We mere mortals actually have to do REAL work for a living in order to pay through the nose for inflated ticket prices.  If we’re going to cough up these huge sums, then the VERY LEAST the team can do is entertain us.  What did we get yesterday instead?  Five goals in 18 minutes which was sort of all right, but they then go and make us wait a full 30 MINUTES for another goal?!  I mean, what planet are these players, sorry jokers, on?  Hang your head in shame Bernardo you lazy git and a certain someone needs to pull his finger out for more than just one in every 10 or 12 games.  Yeah, looking at you Kevin!

Guardiola needs to fine the whole lot two weeks wages and put ‘em out training with the kids for a month.  See how they like that.  And if Pep hasn’t got the cojones to do it then he can f*ck off as well and take his so-called ‘system’ with him and good riddance.
Mark (I mean, what has Guardiola ever done for us?  Apart from the trophies and the hundred points and losing just one PL game in the last 8 months and ……………….) MCFC.

 

Son’s crying
I advocated for VAR when others dismissed it’s positives before it was implemented.

But…

If Son is offside in the build up to Aurier’s goal, then I don’t want any part in this new reality.
James F, BCFC KRO

 

We were robbed.

The goal was quite possibly going to be the sucker punch to take the wind from Leicester’s sails, but instead, the Foxes got a new lease of life and new energy. Props to them for using it effectively, but for our part, don’t talk to me about professionalism or Spursy; it would be difficult for any human being to get over the unfairness of it.

When did the powers that be decide that VAR offside decisions should achieve better than inch-perfect accuracy? There are several reasons that would be ridiculous:

1) There is no way the picture resolution even allows for such perfectionism.

2) Do they check that the picture used is from the exact millisecond the ball ceased to be in contact with the passers foot?

3) Where does a person’s shoulder end and the arm start, when the arm is in a horizontal position? Or where a person’s buttocks exactly reside in their shorts? The rule itself is hardly accurate enough for this kind of scrutiny.

4) To do it properly with this accuracy, it takes way more time than these checks should take. This pause was already too long, and we can’t be sure they even got it right (see points 1 to 3).

They’re quick enough to find a frame that more or less depicts the offside situation. If that’s indecisive, just call it good. VAR has enough PR problems already without this kind of silliness.
Samuli, THFC, Helsinki (And yes, I do realize City got robbed against us similarly, though subjectively speaking, it may have been marginally less ridiculously perfectionist)

 

The other side
I am sure your still get scads of email about the disallowed Tottenham goal.  But before taking it all out on VAR, take a moment to recall all the horrible offside calls and no-calls that awarded goals or took away goal scoring chances. I’ll gladly take a hyper-legal ruling from VAR to avoid all the unfairness that happened before.

Regards,
David O, California

 

Don’t be Rash
Let me move clear of any rotten tomatoes flung my way by saying that I am not suggesting Rashford is anywhere close to Aguero’s class (Aguero has class while we are still debating if Rashford has quality) .

But seeing Man City’s rout of Watford yesterday I couldn’t help but notice that Aguero too squandered a lot of chances..a chip over the keeper that went the wrong side of the post.. a couple of tap ins at the keeper or into side netting.. but still he finished the match with a goal nevertheless from the penalty meaning his goal/minute ratio remains preserved. And he will finish most matches with atleast a goal purely because of the De Bruyne and Silvas masterclass behind him.

Rashford (or any other United Striker right now) on the other hand feeds on scraps every match.. and why wouldn’t they given the creative ability of the United midfield. Apart from having lesser chances each match to tuck one away its also making the strikers rusty.. its like expecting your first shot in a training session to be your best one..

And its not Rashford/Martial who are the first being accussed of not being clinical in front of goal… we have had some of the better finishers in Lukaku and Falcao also seeming worse than they are in this line up…

Improve this midfield.. and we may find Rashford or Martial or both seeming much more like proper CFs..
Akshay (Tottenham seemed to have joined the Arsenal and United party in doing their utmost to not finish in the top 4)

 

Celebrate good times. Come on!
Dear Sir or Madam,

I’ve had a few and I’m watching Saturday’s highlights.

They’re pretty depressing.

Remember being able to spontaneously celebrate goals?! That was cool huh? And kind of the whole point of being a football supporter…

HA!

Forget about that! Let’s get the rulers and the f*#÷@*  protractors out first. It turns out my GCSE maths teacher was right! Trigonometry IS important!

I was literally looking at a mathematical equation on my screen today when I thought I’d tuned in to watch Spurs play the bin robbers.

I’m at the point where if you remain an advocate of VAR, even a”Ooh it’s the rules that need to change,” defender of VAR, to me (Clive), you’re a tRump supporter! You’re a jolly Brexiteer.  You’re a climate change denier.

You’re trying to ruin something I love.

I wouldn’t want to have a drink with you and I don’t think you really understand what makes football exciting.

You know what? Football isn’t perfect. Refs aren’t perfect. But guess what? Life ain’t perfect. Deal with that. Don’t ruin it. It ain’t broke. Don’t fix it.

Enjoy the things that are joyful. Like f**king celebrating goals.

Peace and love
Al (Goal line tech fine! It’s black and white and it’s instantaneous and it’s fair. NOT a Luddite.) NFFC

 

(It’s because we have limited staff on weekends)
Hi

Is there a reason that F365 and the vast majority of the press isn’t reporting the news that Liverpool paid Manchester City £1m for illegally accessing City’s scouting software?

The Leeds United “spygate” was much much less sinister yet was the lead story on actual news bulletins, not just sport.

I get, as this site points out thankfully, that Liverpool are the Mother Teresa of modern football if you read certain sections of the press, but this blanket of silence is just beyond weird.
Gav, Edinburgh 

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has hailed the mentality of Marcus Rashford to “be confident enough” to take Manchester United’s winning penalty against Leicester.

Rashford faced intense criticism and questioning over the international break after failing to impress with England.

The forward started the season well with United by scoring twice in the 4-0 win over Chelsea but had not scored since, and even missed a penalty in the defeat to Crystal Palace.

Rashford atoned for that mistake with the only goal from the spot in the 1-0 victory against Leicester, with The Sun publishing an exclusive claiming he and Jesse Lingard had received ‘the same warning’ from Solskjaer and assistant Mike Phelan about their non-football distractions.

The Sun say Lingard has been ‘told to concentrate more on being brilliant and less on bling,’ as the 26-year-old ‘peddles aftershave and iPhone cases’ through his ‘Be Yourself’ fashion label, part of the JLINGZ brand.

Weird sentence.

The United management team believe Rashford ‘is also in danger of being side-tracked’ – although quite what by, The Sun do not mention.

After the Leicester game, Solskjaer paid tribute to the forward being “confident enough” to take the spot kick.

“He’s been practising penalties and he can go both ways,” he said.

“He can go through the middle, he was calm and we’re going to get more of them, no doubt about it, because we’ve got players in the box with quick feet and, with VAR now, there’s no chance you’re not going to get them, even though we haven’t got every penalty we should have.

“Going forward, I think we’ll see him slot in a few more.

“Every striker misses a penalty. I’ve seen Maradona and Messi do it. I’ve seen Platini against Brazil and Zico – my favourite player of all time – missed in the same game.

“You’ve just got to be confident enough to step up next time. What’s the worst that can happen?”

 

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has defended Paul Pogba over the missed penalty which cost Manchester United three points at Wolves.

Pogba saw his second half spot-kick saved by Rui Patricio after an apparent debate with Marcus Rashford over who should step up to take it.

After watching his side take a deserved lead through Anthony Martial only to be pegged back by Ruben Neves, Solskjaer dismissed the penalty confusion, insisting both Pogba and Rashford are designated to take spot-kicks for the club.

Solskjaer said: “The two of them are designated the penalty shooters and it’s up to them there and then who feels ‘this is mine’.

“Sometimes players just feel they are confident enough to score – Paul has scored so many penalties for us and today Rui Patricio made a good save.

“The two of them have been very confident. I like players with confidence and the feeling that ‘I can do this’.”

Rashford added: “Paul wanted to take it – it’s that simple.

“Everybody can miss a penalty. He’s scored countless penalties for us so it’s normal to miss one.

“I took one last week so for me it’s no problem for him to take one this week. It’s unfortunate he didn’t score but it’s not on him, it’s as a team and we take it forward to the next game.”

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Marcus Rashford has signed a new four-year contract at Manchester United, the Premier League club have announced.

The 21-year-old England forward is now committed to the Old Trafford outfit until 2023.

The news continues United’s positive summer after the recent signings of Daniel James and Aaron Wan-Bissaka.

Wythenshawe-born Rashford, whose new contract includes an option to extend for another year, is a product of the club’s youth system.

He has made 170 appearances for the club since breaking into the first team in 2016.

Rashford, who has also earned 32 England caps, told the club’s website: “Manchester United has been everything in my life since I arrived here at the age of seven.”

Rashford is seen as a key figure as United rebuild for the future under manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Rashford said: “I want to thank Ole and his staff for everything they have done for me; they are the perfect group of coaches to learn from as I continue my development and look to push on to the next level.

“I will be giving everything I have to help get this club back to where it belongs and deliver the success that our fans deserve.”

Solskjaer hopes to lift the club after a frustrating sixth-place finish in the Premier League last season.

The Norwegian said: “Marcus is one of the most talented English players of his generation. He is an outstanding player; blessed with natural pace and energy.

“Marcus is a shining example of the talent that our academy produces and his upbringing means that he truly understands what it means to play for Manchester United.

“Despite being only 21 years old, Marcus already has great experience. He has a fantastic future ahead of him with the club and I am delighted that he has signed a new contract.”

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