Mar 08 2017

Europa League: Jose Mourinho says Rostov pitch is hard to believe

Ahead of Manchester United’s Europa League last 16 tie on Thursday, Jose Mourinho has slammed the state of the pitch at Rostov’s Olimp-2 stadium.

The Portuguese said that he would like the game to be shifted elsewhere or to be postponed, after seeing the condition of the pitch.

Mourinho has compared the playing surface to that of the shambolic pitch at Bird’s Nest in Beijing last summer that forced the pre-season tour game against Manchester City to be cancelled.

The Portuguese said, as quoted by The Guardian:

It is still hard for me to believe we going to play tomorrow on that field, if you can call it a field and I don’t know which team to play [select], really.

It’s a very similar pitch to the one in summer in China – we and Man City decided not to play but it looks like we have to play [on Thursday].”

I don’t know. I spoke to one Uefa official and he said: ‘It doesn’t matter if one of the players gets injured as they are insured’.

Daley Blind also looked unimpressed with the state of the pitch, but the Dutchman has urged his team to focus on the game instead. He has echoed Mourinho’s concerns but said United can hardly afford to use the pitch as an excuse.

The Dutch defender said, as quoted by The Telegraph

The pitch is not the best, not good, maybe quality of game will be a bit different, but it doesn’t have to be an excuse for us, we have to try to win, that’s what we’re here for.

 The pitch is not good, maybe not for safety as well, but it is no an excuse, we want to win here, try to play a good game, that’s the most important thing.

Ivan Daniliants, the Rostov coach, had already issued a warning that United could face a huge shock with the pitch. He admitted that the pitch could be an issue following the mid-season break in the Russian Premier League.

The Russian Premier League has just returned after the winter break, but Rostov are yet to host a home match at their stadium in an attempt to protect the pitch. Rostov players haven’t trained before the game, but United players were allowed to practise on the surface.

Mourinho has confirmed that Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be in his squad for tomorrow’s game. Ibra, who has been handed a three-match ban by the FA, is free to play in European games.

Henrikk Mkhitaryan is available again after a hamstring injury, but Mourinho said he is unsure whether to take a risk with the Armenian forward, given the condition of the pitch.


Mar 08 2017

Blow for Manchester United: Zlatan Ibrahimovic to serve three-match ban

Swede striker, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, will miss Manchester United’s next three domestic games after he accepted his Football Association charge for violent conduct.

Ibrahimovic has been one of the top performers for United this season and has scored 26 goals in all competitions.

The FA had charged both Ibrahimovic and Tyrone Mings for separate incidents that took place during Manchester United’s Premier League clash last Saturday.

The Bournemouth defender was seen stamping on Ibrahimovic’s head shortly before the half-time. Soon after, Ibra’s right elbow caught Mings on the side of the face when the duo jumped to meet a cross.

TV replays showed that both were bookable offences, but the players escaped punishment at the time as the referee, Kevin Friend, failed to spot them.

However, a retrospective decision was made by a panel of three former elite officials. They felt that both the players deserved to be sent off for their acts and charges were brought on Monday.

Ibrahimovic said that he respects the decision of the FA, but at the same time has denied that he had any malicious intent of harming the player.

“I respect every decision,” he said, as quoted by the Guardian. “I am not here to attack anybody. My purpose was not to do that. The game is hard.”

As a result of the ban, the Swede striker will be suspended for Monday’s FA Cup quarter-final at Chelsea and the Premier League fixtures with Middlesbrough and West Bromwich Albion.

The ban, however, applies only to domestic games, which means the 35-year-old is free to play in European competitions. He will be available for both legs of United’s Europa League clash with Rostov.

Meanwhile, Mings could be hit with an even longer suspension, after the FA suggested that the standard three-match ban would be clearly insufficient for him.


Mar 07 2017

Zlatan Ibrahimovic charged with violent conduct

Manchester United striker, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and Bournemouth defender, Tyrone Mings, have been charged with alleged violent conduct by the Football Association.

Both of them have been charged for separate incidents during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Bournemouth on Saturday.

The Bournemouth defender was seen to stamp on Ibrahimovic’s head shortly before the half-time. Soon after, Ibrahimovic caught his opponent with his elbow.

TV replays showed that both were bookable offences, but neither player was dismissed by  referee Kevin Friend during the game.

“The players were involved in two separate incidents in or around the 44th minute which were not seen by the match officials at the time but caught on video,” the FA said in a statement.

It continued: “Furthermore, The FA has submitted a claim that the standard punishment that would otherwise apply for the misconduct committed by the Bournemouth defender is ‘clearly insufficient.'”

Both the players have until 6 pm on Tuesday to respond to their charges.

Ibrahimovic will face an automatic three-match ban, should he accept the charge. In that case, he will miss the FA Cup quarterfinal clash against Chelsea and subsequently the Premier League games against Middlesbrough and West Brom.

On the other hand, if he refuses to accept the charge, the case will be heard by a panel before the end of this week. And if he is not found guilty, the Swede will be allowed to play against Chelsea.

The disciplinary actions have no bearing on European games. Therefore, Ibra, United’s top goal-scorer this season with 26 goals in 35 appearances in all competitions, will be available for the Europa League round-of-16 games against FC Rostov.


Mar 01 2017

Everton planning Wayne Rooney return to Goodison Park

With every passing day it is becoming increasingly clear that Wayne Rooney’s days are numbered at Manchester United. He has achieved a legendary status at the club, but the general perception about him is that it is time for him to move elsewhere.

There are lucrative offers on the table from the far east where Rooney could earn twice the money on a weekly basis, should any deal materialise.

Rooney could opt to stay in the Premier League, but big clubs are highly unlikely to make an offer for him. Everton are reportedly interested in bringing back their former player, with Ronald Koeman, the Toffees manager, saying that the 31-year-old would make the club “stronger”.

According to reports from The Times, Everton will intensify their efforts in signing Rooney in the summer. The Merseyside club approached United with a loan offer for Rooney in January, but it was rebuffed.

Everton keep on continuing their charm offensive, with Koeman saying:

I believe that Wayne Rooney is still playing at a high level,” the Dutchman said. “I think he made a good choice to stay at Manchester United and in the Premier League because he has still two or three years in front of him to play on a high level.

What will happen at the end of the season? I don’t know, but in my opinion he is one of the players who can make Everton stronger. It’s all about what the player likes, what Manchester United needs to do, and we are not involved in that project. But every player that we at Everton think can make the team stronger is welcome to Everton.

Steve Walsh, Everton’s director of football, has speculated further by saying that it would be wrong for the club not to be interested in Rooney.

Wayne Rooney is one of the greatest players that has ever played the game in England and for us not to be interested would be wrong.

Rooney announced last week that he would be staying at Old Trafford, despite interest from the Chinese Super League. He was an unused substitute in United’s 3-2 EFL Cup win over Southampton at Wembley on Sunday, and his future beyond the summer remains unclear.

The England striker earns about £300,000 a week at United, and meeting his wage demands could be a major stumbling block for Everton.

The decision rests on Rooney. If he is still hungry enough to play at the highest level, he may consider taking a pay-cut and return to his boyhood club. Otherwise, a move to China still makes a lot of sense.


Feb 23 2017

Manchester United could pay Wayne Rooney if he leaves the club

Wayne Rooney is all set to leave Manchester United next summer. His agent, Paul Stretford, was in China on Wednesday to hold talks with interested parties in the Far East.

Rooney understands that any rash decision could bring about a premature end to his England career. However, at the same time, he is frustrated by the lack of game time under Jose Mourinho.

He has started in just eight Premier League matches this season, and unless he gets regular first-team football, it would be wise of him to move elsewhere.

Mourinho claimed earlier this week that Rooney could leave for China this month, but it seems the England striker will remain at Old Trafford till June.

According to reports from The Times, United are expected to hand Rooney a pay-off should he leave the club in the summer.

Rooney will have 12 months left on his current deal when the next Chinese transfer window opens, and United could pay him the reminder of his wages, which is around £15.6m.

Also, Rooney is certain to be honoured with a loyalty bonus and the amount will be huge. Wazza, as he is affectionately known, has been at the club since 2004, when he joined from Everton in a £27m deal.

Previously, Robin van Persie was paid a bonus by United, believed to be around £8.4m, after just three years at the club.

Rooney missed United’s 1-0 win away to Saint-Etienne because of a hamstring injury suffered 18 days ago. He is also doubtful for Sunday’s EFL Cup final against Southampton at Wembley. However, Mourinho could hand him a place, if he is fit, in place of the injured Henrikh Mkhitaryan.


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 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.



Page 1 of 17712345678910...203040...Last »