Feb 23 2017

EFL Cup Final: Manchester United vs Southampton Preview & Predicted Lineups

Tag: Manchester United @ 8:05 am

Manchester United vs Southampton Preview and Predicted lineups ahead of Sunday’s EFL Cup final.

Manchester United vs Southampton
EFL Cup 2016/17
Date: Sunday, 26th February
Time: 16:30 BST
Venue: Wembley Stadium, London

Jose Mourinho has always given an extra importance to the League Cup as he sees the competition as a stepping stone for bigger success. He has won this competition (overall three times) in both his spells at Chelsea which shows that the Portuguese indeed takes the tournament seriously.

It doesn’t come as a surprise that he is looking to emulate the same feat in his first season at Manchester United as well. A lot of surgery is still required to take the club to its old glory, but winning a trophy certainly isn’t a bad way to start the rebuilding process.

Although anything can happen in the course of 90 minutes, United are still favourites for this tie. If you are in the mood to back the Red Devils for this one, don’t forget to check sign up bonuses for exciting offers.

After a stuttering start to the season, Mourinho’s team has turned the tide around, playing not only an attractive brand of football but also picking up important results. They are on a six-game unbeaten run (at the time of writing) and could extend it to seven games if they manage to win or draw against Saint-Etienne.

United’s EFL Cup journey has been equally impressive, as they defeated the likes of Manchester City and West Ham on their road to the final. The only blemish in an otherwise perfect campaign has been their second leg 2-1 defeat to Hull City.

Manchester United Team News: Wayne Rooney is yet to recover from the muscle injury he picked up during United’s 3-0 win over Leicester City at the start of this month. He is doubtful for this tie.

Mourinho said that Henrikh Mkhitaryan (hamstring) and Michael Carrick (calf) have “no chance” of being fit for the EFL final clash after the duo limped out at Saint-Etienne. Likewise, Phil Jones could miss out through injury as well.

Manchester United Predicted XI: De Gea, Bailly, Smalling, Blind, Valencia, Pogba, Mata, Herrera, Rashford, Ibrahimovic, Martial.

Southampton, 11th in the Premier League, will be looking to stand toe-to-toe against United and give them a fight to remember. It is a huge occasion for them, and from past experience we know that mid-table clubs can often raise their game to a different level when they face a top level side.

The Saints have done all the hard work to reach this stage, and Claude Puel will be looking to create history with his team. They have beaten the likes of Crystal Palace, Sunderland, Arsenal, and Liverpool on their way to the final, and Peul can take great pride in his achievement so far.

The only chink in the armour is that they have been very inconsistent this season. They have lost three matches in a row, following their heroic victory against Liverpool. However, it is a brand new game, and they are heading into this tie with extra motivation and full confidence after beating Sunderland 4-0 in their last game.

Southampton Team News: Moroccan international, Sofiane Boufal, is still out with an ankle injury, and he is doubtful for this tie. Virgil van Djik and Charlie Austin are long term absentees.

Southampton Predicted XI: Forster, Soares, Yoshida, Bertrand, Stephens, Davis, Tadic, Romeu, Ward-Prowse, Redmond, Gabbiadini.

Prediction: Manchester United 3-2 Southampton 

Feb 23 2017

Wayne Rooney set to leave Manchester United in summer

Manchester United skipper, Wayne Rooney, is unlikely to leave the club this month, but he is all set to depart in the summer.

Rooney is determined to see the season out. The situation could only change if he receives a lucrative last minute offer from China or if United actively tell him he can depart.

According to reports from the Guardian, Rooney’s agent, Paul Stretford, has flown to China to see if he can negotiate a deal for his client. However, any move will most likely take place after the end of the season.

Jose Mourinho claimed earlier this week that Rooney could leave for China before their transfer window closes next Tuesday.

The comments about Rooney’s future has stunned the skipper, as neither the player nor his representatives had expected the United manager to make such bold claims.

Rooney has started in just eight Premier League matches this season, and unless his situation improves, he has no intention to see out the remaining year of his contract.

He is clearly behind Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Anthony Martial, Juan Mata, Marcus Rashford and Henrikh Mkhitaryan in the Old Trafford pecking order. Although Rooney does not want to make a rash decision, he is frustrated by the lack of game time under Mourinho.

Rooney had been approached by Chinese club, Tianjin Quanjian. However, they later dropped the idea as they felt the player would not suit their style of play.

Also, the other two Chinese clubs linked with Rooney, SIPG and Shenhua, do not have any interest in him which means his options are limited.

Rooney missed United’s 1-0 victory at St Etienne on Wednesday night through injury, and he is doubtful for the EFL cup final on Sunday as well.

Feb 22 2017

Wayne Rooney unlikely to leave Manchester United this month

Tag: Manchester United @ 6:06 pm

Manchester United manager, Jose Mourinho, dropped a huge bombshell regarding Wayne Rooney’s future yesterday, when he said that he cannot guarantee that the striker would stay at the club till the end of the season.

Rooney surpassed Sir Bobby Charlton to become the club’s all time leading goal scorer with 250 goals last month, and has won every honour in the English game. His place in the club’s history is assured, but many feel that he should call time on his glittering Old Trafford career.

The England international is struggling to be fit for Sunday’s EFL Cup final against Southampton, and there is a growing feeling that Rooney may have played his last game for United.

Rooney, affectionately called Wazza, has fallen down the pecking order at Manchester United. Ed Woodward, the club’s executive vice-chairman, has given Rooney’s agent, Paul Stretford, the green signal to secure a lucrative deal for his client.

The transfer deadline in China runs till Tuesday, and there’s a lucrative offer on the table for Rooney. The former Everton player would earn a salary in the region of £750,000-a-week which is more than double his current salary at United.

Chinese club, Tianjin Quanjian, had approached Rooney, but they seem to have dropped their plans. Fabio Cannavaro, the boss of Quanjian, has revealed that Rooney doesn’t suit his side, and that they prefer other alternatives.

According to Sky Sports, Rooney is unlikely to leave the club this month. The United legend has been approached by several Chinese Super League (CSL) clubs, including Guangzhou Evergrande and Beijing Guoan. However, any move (if happen at all), will not take place until the summer.

Feb 17 2017

Paul Scholes: Toni Kroos would be perfect for Manchester United

Manchester United legend, Paul Scholes, feels that the Red Devils should try to sign Real Madrid midfielder, Toni Kroos, next summer. Scholes reckons that Kroos would be the perfect partner alongside Paul Pogba and Ander Herrera in United’s three-man midfield.

Jose Mourinho, the United manager, signed Pogba for £89m in the summer, but he has often struggled to find a perfect balance in the midfield.

Michael Carrick has done a decent job, but the England midfielder is approaching the fag end of his career. He is not a long-term solution. United need a world class central midfielder, someone who is an excellent passer of the ball and is very good at retaining possession. Kroos not only fits the bill, but is an expert in dictating the tempo of the game with his energy, movement, and creativity.

Scholes, arguably, is one of the greatest midfielders of the Premier League era, and he is adored by players and fans all over the world. The former United midfielder, now turned football pundit, has hailed Kroos as the best midfielder in the world in that role, and says that he tried to play like the German towards the end of his career.

Scholes told German magazine Kicker

I really like Toni Kroos. When I came to the end of my career, I watched him closely and tried to play like Kroos.

was a rather forward-looking midfielder, but Toni is the best in the world, and Kroos would be perfect next to Pogba and Ander Herrera at United.

Kroos was strongly linked with a move to Manchester United before he moved to Real Madrid from Bayern Munich in 2014.

Manchester City had also shown an interest in him last summer, with reports from Spain claiming that Pep Guardiola was keen to bring him to the Etihad.

The German would be a great addition to the United squad. However, it remains to be seen whether the Red Devils take Scholes’ advice and make a formal approach for him in the summer. Certainly, their chances of signing Kroos will increase if they qualify for the Champions League next season.

Feb 14 2017

Marcus Rashford frustrated under Mourinho, stalls on Manchester United deal

Matt Hughes, who is a reputed journalist, has an exclusive story on Marcus Rashford published in today’s edition of The Times.

Update on Rashford’s contract:

Manchester United striker, Marcus Rashford, is reportedly frustrated at the lack of regular game time he has had this season. He is concerned whether he will ever be given an extended run in the first team. This is the main reason why he is withholding his signature on a new contract.

More grievances against Mourinho

Rashford feels that he has gone backwards this season. He enjoyed a spectacular start to his career last year, earning a late call-up to Roy Hodgson’s squad for the European Championships.

This season, he has scored three Premier League goals, but none of them has come since September. Furthermore, he has been used primarily in wide positions by Mourinho.

Present situation

Rashford signed a new contract only five months back that will keep him at the club till 2020. He is in no rush to sign a new deal. His first priority is to get regular games under his belt, and wants to shape a good career at Old Trafford.

United are not willing to sell him under any condition. The club demonstrated their desire to keep him after they rejected approaches from West Ham United and Seville to sign him on loan last month.

Before going into further argument, let us check what Mourinho said recently about Rashford:

I’m always happy with Marcus’s contribution. He’s one of these players that, when he is on the pitch, he tries. When he’s on the pitch, he gives you always something.

He’s not any more the surprise kid, he’s a player that everybody respects, that everybody knows, that everybody knows the qualities and it’s normal that he’s in this period of transition where he’s still a kid but he’s not any more the new kid in town.

He says that he is learning so much, even in tactical meetings, even in training sessions. He’s learning so much, so I think his future will be brilliant.

Judging by our manager’s comment, it seems Mourinho rates him highly. The 19-year-old has made 17 starts in all competitions, which shows that he is an integral part of Mourinho’s plans. Hardly a lack of opportunity!

On the flip side, it is not easy for any natural goalscorer to play out wide every week. Rashford is a wonderful young talent, but he is hardly going to develop, unless he plays in his natural position.

Feb 13 2017

Manchester United News Roundup: Zlatan’s pep talk, Martial’s next goal worth £8.5m and more

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has played a key role in steering Manchester United back into the race for Champions League qualification with 15 goals so far this season. The 35-year-old has lifted the mood at Old Trafford, but his impact at the Manchester club goes beyond just scoring goals.

He is proving an equally important asset for United off the pitch as he is on it. Being a charismatic figure and an experienced player, he leaves a strong influence on United’s younger players. He has become something of a mentor and gives valuable advice to the players.

For example, take Anthony Martial. The Frenchman has struggled to get regular games under Jose Mourinho and has often received harsh criticism publicly from his manager. Earlier this season he looked unsettled and was even linked with a move away from Old Trafford in the January transfer window.

Marcus Rashford had impressed on the left wing in United’s 3-0 win over Leicester City, and he was expected to start against Watford. Mourinho had other plans. He introduced Martial and challenged him to deliver. The youngster did deliver.

According to reports from the Times, Ibra offered Martial advice and helped him settle down his nerves during their breakfast at the Lowry Hotel on match-day mornings and at Carrington.

Ibrahimovic said, as quoted by the Times:

When we eat breakfast, he [Martial] sits beside me and we talk. It’s a good atmosphere, the guys are very professional. Positive vibes.

Martial scored his third goal in six matches as United strolled past Watford 2-0, playing some wonderful free flowing football.

Monaco to receive £8.5m for Martial’s next goal 

Staying with Martial, the Frenchman’s next United goal is set to cost the club £8.5m. The 21-year-old joined United for £42.5m during the summer of 2015. Monaco had inserted several clauses into his contract and one of them is close to being activated.

The French giants are due to receive £8.5m once Martial nets his 25th goal for the Red Devils. The Frenchman scored his 24th goal at the club last week in United’s 2-0 win over Watford. The win meant United are the first club to reach 2000 points since the start of the Premier League in 1992.

Antonio Valencia: Mourinho wanted to sign me at Real Madrid 

Valencia has revealed recently that Mourinho tried to sign him for Real Madrid. The Ecuadorian is enjoying a fine season at United, and has nailed down the right-back position for himself. Mourinho recently has insisted that Valencia is the best right-back in the world.

Feb 11 2017

Jose Mourinho comments on De Gea’s future, summer transfer plans and more

Manchester United manager, José Mourinho, is confident that Real Madrid will not sign David de Gea by keeping him in the dark. The reason is that he and Florentino Pérez, the Spanish club’s president, are ‘big friends’.

Earlier this week, Spanish newspaper, Marca, reported that Real Madrid would be looking to sign De Gea next summer. De Gea was close to joining Los Blancos in the 2015 summer transfer window, and had it been not for Madrid’s idiotic transfer approach on the deadline day, the Spaniard would have had claimed his maiden Champions League trophy by now.

Madrid are unwilling to make that same mistake again, and this time they are prepared to pay whatever-it-takes (read as €65m) to lure the Spaniard to the Bernabeu. Since then, De Gea has gone on record to say that he is happy at United. Juan Mata has gone on record to beat the same drum. Pérez said “someone is messing around there with De Gea”. And now it’s the turn of our manager to comment on the matter.

Isn’t it getting silly? When ‘ignore’ should have been the best one-word answer, somehow, everyone is making a mountain out of a mole-hill.

Mourinho said, as quoted by the Guardian:

On relationship with Perez: 

With Mr Pérez and his right arm José Ángel Sánchez [director general], they are some of the people in football that I can say I did not work for them and then it is over. I can say that we are friends forever, big friends. I like them a lot. Friends speak, friends are open, friends are honest.

So if at the end of the season I want one of their players or they want one of our players we will not do it through the press. We are going to exchange messages. We will be very direct. So they are one of the clubs that I am not worried about at all.

Whether De Gea will stay beyond the summer:

I have nothing to say because I am not going to speak about hypothetical things. The only thing that is real is that he is my player, I am happy with him, I know that he is happy with me and there is nothing else, absolutely nothing else.

Mourinho also assured everyone that Swede striker, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, will sign a new contract extension at United. He will be out of contract at the end of the season, but United still hold an option to extend this for another 12 months.

I’m totally convinced he is going to stay. He came with the intention to stay two years but in the minds of everyone the first year is going better than every expectation. He knows we are going to try again to improve next season and try to share with him in a fantastic way probably the last year of his career at the highest level.

So I’m convinced that he’s staying, he’s adapted to the club, to the situation, I don’t see any problem with his family. I give him the possibility of an extra day off to go to Sweden, he doesn’t want this ever, so I’m totally convinced he is going to stay.

Mourinho on Marcus Rashford:

He is still a kid but not the new kid in town any more. Next season will be very, very good for Marcus because this season he is getting experience at this level of responsibility of being a professional player at a club like Manchester United.

He said something the other day that made me really happy – that he is learning so much in the technical meetings and training sessions so I think his future will be brilliant. His present is good and we need him.

Finally, on his summer transfer plans:

The former Chelsea manager has admitted that United have a small market to operate on in the transfer window, and that he would target a maximum of four players.

Independent of the numbers, can you spend 1, 10 or 100 million, it’s also the philosophy – we prefer to bring two three or four players, players that feel an idea, a football we try to play, that can improve our squad. We are not interested in signing six or seven or sell six or seven. We are not going to play this game.

We are stable, so we think our market in the summer will be soft, will be natural – some players to leave, some players to come but in a very natural way so I think the word Ed used was a good one. You work with the players and you know the players better – even in relation to this everything is balanced, I’m not negatively surprised with anyone, I didn’t have an incredible impact with some player. So everything is balanced and I think our summer will be quite small.

Mourinho’s press conference round up: Ibra will sign a new contract. No need to worry about Rashford. The lad is doing just fine. Next summer, we’re going to catch the big fishes again in the transfer market. And finally, United are not selling De Gea. Period. He doesn’t want to leave. However, never trust Madrid – there is many a slip between the cup and the lip!

Feb 10 2017

Manchester United’s debt rises by 27% after Brexit impact on the pound

Manchester United have announced a record profit for any quarter in their history, on Thursday. The Red Devils returned to the top of the Deloitte Football Money League for the first time since 2005 last month, and are on course to achieve record revenues this fiscal year despite their absence from the Champions League.

The total revenue earned for the fiscal second quarter, ending 31 December 2016, was £157.9m. It is an improvement of 18% on the same period in 2015. It only goes to show how good United have been operating on the commercial front.

The only glitch amidst this financial success is that their net debt rising by 27.1% due to the post-Brexit collapse of the pound. The club’s net debt has spiralled to £409.3m.

The improvement in form under José Mourinho has seen matchday earnings rising by 27% to £38.6m. The broadcasting revenue was up by 40.8% for the quarter to £52.5m. If United can maintain this figure, which is likely to happen, they will achieve the target of making record revenues of between £530m and £540m in the period from July 2016 to the end of June 2017.

Ed Woodward, the club’s Executive vice-chairman, has vowed to back Mourinho in the summer transfer market, as United are aiming to return among the European elites. He has confirmed that significant addition will be made to the United’s squad in the summer without making wholesale changes.

Woodward said, as quoted by the Times:

Are we happy with the roster at this point? Yes. I think there’s a happiness from the manager at this point, as you can tell in all his recent interviews.

In terms of where we are as a squad, I think there is always going to be continual improvement. I think we’re in that kind of environment now compared to where we were two or three years ago, where perhaps a little bit more churn was required from a playing squad perspective.

Interestingly, United have listed Bastian Schweinsteiger as a club asset worth £4.8m. Only four months back, United declared in their first-quarter financial figures that they had written his value off after Mourinho exiled him from the first-team squad. However, United are intent on selling the German midfielder in the summer.

On the transfer front, United will not entertain any attempt from Real Madrid to sign David De Gea. Madrid are thought to be considering making an offer in the region of €65m to lure the Spaniard to Bernabeu, but United are unwilling to sell.

Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann, who has a release clause of £85.5m, is at the top of Mourinho’s shopping list. Victor Lindelöf, the Benfica defender, and the Monaco midfielder, Tiemoué Bakayoko, are other major targets for United.

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