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Manchester United

Manchester United round-up: Mourinho top six dig; Rooney hits back at critics; Pepe linked with summer move

Jake Jackman



Jose Mourinho took a dig at the rest of the clubs in the top six, as he stated that he will always put trophies ahead of finishing in the top four. Tottenham, Manchester City, Liverpool will all finish the season without a trophy, while Arsenal could join them if they lose the FA Cup final. United made eight changes at the weekend for their trip to White Hart Lane and it is evident that their manager has one eye on the Europa League final. The following comments were reported by the Mirror:

“I don’t know other clubs, I don’t know the way they think, I don’t know what is important for them. We, Manchester United, for us it’s more important to win titles than to finish top four.”

This could be considered a comment directed especially at Arsenal, as Arsene Wenger has often talked about the top four being as good as a trophy. The problem with this quote is that Mourinho is setting himself up for a fall, as he has sacrificed the opportunity of finishing in the top four, therefore he must win the Europa League final to reach the Champions League. There will be a lot of pressure on him and the players in Stockholm. Defeat would mean that the club have failed this season and Mourinho would come under a lot of scrutiny as a result.

The change of approach in the league has given an opportunity to Wayne Rooney as he attempts to prove he still has what it takes to play at the highest level. The 31-year-old has been on the sidelines this season, but he played the entire 90 minutes against Tottenham and faced a lot of criticism throughout the match, especially from Sky Sports pundit Graeme Souness, as reported by the Mirror. The England international hit back at the doubters with a late goal to get his side back into the game.

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It will be interesting to see what the future holds for Wayne Rooney as he will be unlikely to play a prominent role at Old Trafford again. He has lost a yard of pace and is unable to influence matches as he once did. However, there were signs on Sunday that he could still have something to offer in the Premier League. His experience and winning mentality would be a good addition to most clubs, especially those with ambitions of challenging in the top eight, such as Everton, West Ham United and Newcastle United. If he can accept that he is no longer the player he was and accepts a move down to a lower club, there could be more to come from the 31-year-old in the Premier League.

Don Balon report that Pepe could be a possible target for Manchester United as Jose Mourinho needs to strengthen his defence and already has a good relationship with his compatriot from his time in charge at the Bernabeu. The centre-back wants to leave Real Madrid to join another Champions League club, but the only offers currently on the table are from Inter Milan and China. If United were to make their move, they would be favourites to sign the defender.

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This would be a good signing for United as he has experience playing at the highest level and has won the Champions League more than once. It would be a short-term buy, but he would improve their back four and help out some of the younger defenders in the squad. Also, it would be a relatively low-risk transfer as everyone is aware of the Portuguese international’s qualities.

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Jake is a student based in the South East. He is a Newcastle fan and has a keen interest in Dutch football. Jake can be found on Twitter here - @jakejackmann.

Manchester United

Is a Luke Shaw for Danny Rose swap deal a no-brainer transfer?

Shaw and Rose have both struggled at Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur, respectively, this season.



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It looks as though Manchester United left-back Luke Shaw will be leaving Old Trafford this summer. The BBC report the England international will seek an exit after his latest stinging criticism from Jose Mourinho.

Shaw has struggled to win over the Portuguese since Mourinho became United manager. Now it seems the end of the tether has been located and Shaw will make an exit. The 22-year-old, who cost a fee reported by the BBC to be in the region of £27 million in 2014, will not be short of suitors.

Despite his struggles at Manchester United since suffering a horror leg break, Shaw is considered one of the best young left-backs in the game.

The obvious solution should be clear and for Shaw certainly desired. A move to Tottenham Hotspur must be his wish.

Shaw came through the ranks at Southampton and became an England international under the coaching of Mauricio Pochettino. The pair had a special bond and Shaw has confirmed a desire to work with the Argentine again. He wrote in Guillem Balague’s book Brave New World: Inside Pochettino’s Spurs, as reported by Sky Sports:

“I do hope that I can play for him again one day. And I think he really wants me to play under him again.

“He used to call me his son, that’s how good our relationship was. I’ve had lots of ups and downs, but when I was with Pochettino it was only ever up, up, up.”

It is a similar relationship to the one many have suggested Pochettino had with his current Tottenham left-back Danny Rose. That relationship, however, has been in decline. After appearing to suggest he wanted a Spurs exit last summer, and after a battle with injury, Rose has become second-fiddle at Spurs to Welshman Ben Davies.  

Rose, originally from Leeds, is known to eventually want a return north and Shaw will no doubt love a move south. There is an obvious solution on the cards here.

Manchester United would love to bring in Rose and finally fill their problem position of left-back. Shaw needs to leave Old Trafford for a fresh start to his career. Working under the man he once considered a father figure could be just what he needs.

Shaw to Tottenham and Rose to Manchester United seems a no-brainer. Time will tell if either move comes off for these two players searching for fresh impetus in their careers.

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Manchester United

Jose Mourinho should build Manchester United around Marcus Rashford

Marcus Rashford returned with a bang against local rivals Liverpool on Saturday.

Rob Meech



Photo: Getty Images

In his first Premier League start since Boxing Day, Marcus Rashford inspired Manchester United to victory over fierce rivals Liverpool. The 20-year-old’s first-half brace was the perfect way to mark his return to the starting XI, which had been confirmed following an injury to Paul Pogba.

Rashford has been a peripheral figure since Alexis Sanchez joined the club in the January transfer window. But, in arguably the biggest fixture on the Premier League calendar, the England international grabbed with both hands a rare opportunity to impress as United moved five points clear of Liverpool.

There was no evidence that Rashford’s prolonged spell out of favour had affected his self-confidence. His first goal was bursting with skill and composure. After latching on to a long ball from Lukaku, Rashford bamboozled Trent Alexander-Arnold before firing past Loris Karius.

Although his second found the net with the aid of a deflection, once again it was a testament to his sharpness. Despite his limited game time, that’s now 12 goals in all competitions this season for the World Cup hopeful.

(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Rashford’s stunning contribution will certainly give Jose Mourinho food for thought. The Portuguese has regularly picked Pogba, Sanchez, Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard ahead of Rashford of late, in the attacking trio behind Romelu Lukaku.

While Martial and Lingard have justified their selections, the same cannot be said of Pogba, who at times has looked uninterested. Sanchez too has yet to exhibit his best form in a United shirt since joining from Arsenal.

History has taught us that Mourinho rarely excludes his high-profile players, regardless of form. Had Pogba not been sidelined through injury, it is entirely likely Rashford would once again have been forced to watch on from the bench. Consequently, what transpired against Liverpool might have been a mere fantasy.

United have a proud tradition of producing homegrown players and not relying on foreign imports. Look at the treble-winning side of 1999, whose success was founded upon a British core.

Admittedly, the landscape has changed dramatically in the past two decades. The riches of the Premier League mean a club of United’s stature is able to cherry-pick the world’s best players. But just because they can, doesn’t mean they should. The club’s identity is sacred and, in recent times, United have been in danger of losing theirs.

(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

The fact that Rashford was not signed for £75 million should not preclude him from being United’s centrepiece. As he reminded everyone in his performance against Liverpool, he has all the talent required to be a fixture at the club for years to come.

However, he needs to be playing regular football. A few minutes here and there will not accelerate his development. On the contrary, it could risk one of this country’s most promising starlets becoming an unfulfilled talent.

Rashford offers United something different from his team-mates. He gets supporters off their seats and electrifies the atmosphere thanks to his blistering pace and trickery, which in many ways is a throwback to the Sir Alex Ferguson era at Old Trafford.

These are qualities not usually associated with Mourinho, who throughout his time in management has always demanded his players to be tactically aware. Rashford is a wildcard, the ace in the pack that can conjure something out of nothing.

Forget Pogba and Sanchez, If Mourinho gives Rashford an extended run in the team, he and United will flourish.

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Manchester United

Are Manchester United finding form at the perfect time?

Jose Mourinho out-smarted Jurgen Klopp on Saturday to strengthen Manchester United’s grasp on 2nd.

Jake Jackman



Photo: Getty Images

Manchester United have been criticised for their style of play this season, while some have suggested they are a team of individuals. However, they delivered a very good performance to beat rivals Liverpool to build up a five-point lead in second place.

Jose Mourinho will be delighted with the effort and cutting edge of his team, as he got the better of Jurgen Klopp in a huge game to strengthen his team’s position in the top four.

Paul Pogba missed out through injury, which would have been a disappointment before a ball was kicked. However, Scott McTominay and Nemanja Matic dominated the midfield areas with 13 ball recoveries in the ninety minutes. Ahead of them, Juan Mata added creativity and an attacking threat, especially in the first-half.

The Spaniard came close to scoring before the break with an overhead kick effort and his distribution was nearly faultless, as he finished the match with a 90% pass success rate.

The 29-year-old has had problems with Mourinho in the past, but he has emerged as a great squad option, especially in big matches. In addition to his nice touches on the ball, he made three ball recoveries. This underlines how he has bought into the style of his manager.

(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Marcus Rashford was another player to come into the team and he showed why he was selected as he scored twice to put Manchester United into a commanding first-half lead. His two goals were similar as they both came from Romelu Lukaku knock-ons. Mourinho knew Liverpool could be targeted with a direct approach and it worked.

The first showed great movement from Rashford as he gambled on his team-mate winning the ball and that gave him the march on the Liverpool defenders. He then coolly dropped a shoulder and cut inside before firing past Loris Karius. It showed impressive composure and skill in the final third. The England international has sometimes struggled with his final ball, but he was back to his best on Saturday.

He then added a second that once again showed his excellent finishing ability. Another long ball caused chaos, but it didn’t go directly to Rashford this time. When it did drop at his feet on the edge of the area, he delivered a perfectly measured shot to make it 2-0. It is now up to the 20-year-old to push on over the coming weeks to become a regular starter for club and country.

Jose Mourinho flourishes when he is defending a lead. He prefers to control matches without possession and that was the case on Saturday as his team had only 31.9% of possession. Liverpool had 14 attempts to Manchester United’s five, but the result was never in doubt.

That is highlighted by the expected goals. Michael Caley’s model valued the home side’s chances created at exactly 1.0, while it valued Liverpool’s opportunities at 0.8.

To put this into context, Manchester United had less possession and had fewer attempts, but they created the better chances and kept an in-form Liverpool attack relatively quiet.

(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

The finish was made nervy by an unfortunate own goal from Eric Bailly. The defender couldn’t repeat what he managed even if he tried and it is difficult to prepare for such a bad piece of luck. Luckily for Mourinho, his side had a two-goal lead and the own goal didn’t push them.

The majority of Manchester United players can be pleased with their performances, but Ashley Young was perhaps the standout player. The 32-year-old made 10 ball recoveries and made five clearances to help the defensive effort.

Mohamed Salah was rarely in the game and the England international deserves huge credit for his role in that. He was disciplined and rarely ventured forwards. If he can continue to perform to that level, he would emerge as a great World Cup option for Gareth Southgate.

The past week for Manchester United has been a positive one and it should provide them with momentum to finish the season strongly. They showed great spirit to fight back from 2-0 down at Selhurst Park to get three points and they displayed excellent game-management to dispatch of one of their rivals.

They are now in a good position to finish second and that would be an achievement of sorts given the consistency of Manchester City. In addition to that, they can target Champions League success.

They aren’t one of the frontrunners for the competition, but they are good at managing games and have beaten now Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham at Old Trafford. If they can improve away from home, they could reach their peak at the perfect time.

Jose Mourinho has a record of doing that and this result should encourage supporters that this season could follow a similar pattern.

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