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Sevilla 0-0 Manchester United – The Paul Pogba problem remains for Jose Mourinho

Jake Jackman

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Manchester United

Manchester United earned a credible away draw against Sevilla in the first leg of their Champions League tie, but the manner of their performance will be a disappointment. They were reliant on David de Gea, as their goalkeeper made a number of good saves to keep the scoreline at 0-0. It was far from an assured defensive display and there are clearly cracks begin to emerge in the Jose Mourinho era.

Paul Pogba was once again centre of attention as he was left out of the starting eleven for youngster Scott McTominay. The academy graduate had a decent game, but it speaks volumes about Pogba’s current relationship with Mourinho.

Although the club will suggest the decision was made due to the Frenchman’s recent illness, the midfielder came on in the first half and was clearly fit to play. Here are three talking points from the dull game at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium:

The Paul Pogba problem remains

The past week has been filled with negative press stories regarding Paul Pogba and the midfielder was the centre of attention when the teams were announced. He wasn’t in the starting eleven, but was fit enough to take up a place on the bench and came on shortly into the match after an injury to Ander Herrera.

It wasn’t his best performance, but he added quality and offered more in the final third than the rest of the Manchester United midfield. If they can get him motivated and settled into a system, they will be a lot stronger for it.

On Wednesday, he completed five dribbles and 90% of his passes. Every time he got on the ball, he tried to be positive and United need a player like that considering their negative style of play.

At the time of writing, it appears that there is only room for one of Paul Pogba and Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford. They clash and their relationship is damaging the rest of the squad.

The focus should have been on the game against Sevilla, but it is on the friction between midfielder and player. If they don’t find a solution soon, it could ruin their season.

Joaquin Correa caught the eye

Sevilla aren’t the team they once were and the loss of Monchi has had a negative effect on the club. However, there remains a lot of talent in the squad and Joaquin Correa caught the eye on Wednesday.

Every time he got on the ball, Manchester United looked nervous and he was the player most likely to make something happen in the final third.

The winger attempted three shots, completed three dribbles and made one key pass. In a match short of attacking quality, he was a bright spark and got the home fans off their feet.

His movement was superb and there were times when the wrong decision was made in the build-up, which meant the ball didn’t arrive at his feet.

Correa seems to be a player well-liked by Vincenzo Montella and he could kick on over the next few months. His end product needs to improve, as he has yet to contribute a goal or assist in La Liga, but he has had better showings in the cup competitions. Across the Champions League and Copa del Rey, he has got six goals and two assists.

David de Gea showed his worth yet again

The world has run out of superlatives to describe David de Gea. The goalkeeper has emerged as one of the leading players in his position since joining Manchester United, if not the best.

The club’s decline during the last five or six years would have been sharper if it wasn’t for the Spanish international. He regularly bails them out and Wednesday night was no different.

During the contest, he made eight saves, including one superb stop to deny Luis Muriel. The Colombian striker should have done better, but that doesn’t take anything away from the work done by De Gea between the sticks. It was an excellent display of anticipation and athleticism as he made a save from point-blank range. Few other keepers in the world would have kept the ball out.

At the age of 27, De Gea has a long future ahead of him and he will want to challenge at the very top of the game. It remains to be seen how long he stays at Old Trafford as the team isn’t progressing at the same rate.

Only one player in their team played to their maximum on Wednesday and that was the goalkeeper. Until the rest of the team match him, United aren’t going to challenge.

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.

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Tottenham’s Harry Kane deserves to be included in the Player of the Year conversation

The England international outscored any other player in 2017.

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Harry Kane
Photo: Getty Images

Following the announcement of the PFA Player of the Year nominations this week, the conversation has been centred around Kevin de Bruyne versus Mohamed Salah.

Yet Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane deserves a spot in the debate, as his superb 2017/18 is being unfairly overshadowed by his Manchester City and Liverpool counterparts.

The England international has scored a stunning 36 goals in 41 appearances this season, including 25 in the Premier League.

Those 25 goals are even the more impressive when considering the elite company Kane joined when bagging them. Only four players have scored 20-plus goals in four consecutive seasons: Kane, Alan Shearer, Thierry Henry, and Sergio Aguero.

In addition, Kane has achieved this impressive feat despite a serious ankle injury he suffered against Bournemouth in March. His quick return from the sidelines is commendable and demonstrates how important the England international is to Spurs.

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

This importance to his club is also illustrated by his remarkable goal contribution to Tottenham’s total. Kane has scored 25 of Spurs’ 65 goals, or 38 percent. This number is remarkably the exact same as Salah’s contribution to Liverpool’s total.

Furthermore, given Kane’s tender age, his feats are arguably even more laudable than de Bruyne’s or Salah’s. Kane is the youngest member of the trio at 24 years of age, and also qualified for the PFA Young Player of the Year award.

Although de Bruyne and Salah will dominate the headlines, it would be a grave mistake to leave out Harry Kane when discussing the league’s best players. His consistency and goal-scoring threat are qualities that few in England can match.

And one should not forget that Kane scored more goals than anyone else in the world – Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo included – in 2017. Leave out the Spurs frontman from the POTY debate at your own risk.

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Leeds United youngsters on steep learning curve in Spain

The Leeds youngsters have been taking part in the Real Sociedad Torneo Internacional.

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It has been a fairly miserable few months for Leeds United fans. The first-team’s promotion push faded away rapidly and they now look set for a mid-table finish. But whilst the seniors have disappointed there is always hope given to the Leeds faithful from their youth-teams.

Several young players such as Kun Temenuzhkov, Ryan Edmondson and Jack Clarke are currently getting Leeds fans excited for the future and those three are just outstanding examples.

LA CORUNA, SPAIN – NOVEMBER 22: A Real Sociedad de Futbol fan holding a Club’s flag smiles as he waits for his team’s arrival before the La Liga match between RC Deportivo La Coruna and Real Sociedad de Futbol at Riazor Stadium outdoors on November 22, 2014 in La Coruna, Spain. (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)

Leeds have revamped their youth teams under the new chairman Andrea Radrizzani and director of football Victor Orta. Plenty of young recruits have been brought into the club, both from home and abroad. They have also been participating in some interesting tournaments, such as the tri-series in Qatar with the Aspire Academy.

This week they sent the club’s under-13s and under-17’s to Spain for a tournament that will have been a brilliant learning experience.

Leeds under-17s took part in the Torneo Internacional Real Sociedad. They faced the likes of Sporting Lisbon, Celta Vigo, Osasuna, Valencia and host club Real Sociedad. The hosts won the competition, beating Valencia in the final. Leeds came fifth overall.

A supporter of Sporting waves his club’s flag at half-time during the UEFA Champions League football match Sporting CP vs NK Maribor at the Jose Alvalade stadium in Lisbon on November 25, 2014. AFP PHOTO / PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA (Photo credit should read PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP/Getty Images)

The under-13s faced the same teams apart from Valencia, who were replaced by the juniors from Real Madrid. Los Blancos’ youngsters won the competition with Leeds coming last.

But despite the mixed results playing against youngsters from some of the best academies in Spain and the sensational system at Sporting would have been an incredible learning curve for the Leeds youngsters.

A lot of what is going on at Leeds right now is not pleasing fans of the club. But in regards to the youth system, Radrizzani and Orta clearly have a vision which is being implemented with success.

The recent participation in such a prestigious tournament is just another sign of that success.

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Pontus Jansson’s brother suggests Filip Helander move, should Leeds swoop?

The pair teamed up for Sweden in international duty this week.

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This week saw Leeds United centre-back Pontus Jansson receive the honour of captaining his nation. He led Sweden out against Romania in a 1-0 friendly defeat this week. Whilst the result was not what Jansson would have wanted, it was still a proud occasion for the Leeds defender, and his family.

His brother in particular shared his pride on Twitter. Peter Jansson is often in contact with Leeds fans on social media and he shared this message on his account:

Not only was he proud of his brother, but he was also suggesting options for Leeds United to buy. He pointed out that Jansson had developed a good working partnership with Swedish compatriot Filip Helander:

The pair have similar backgrounds. Helander, like Jansson, came through the youth ranks at Malmo before moving to Italy with Hellas Verona. Jansson’s move from Malmo also took him to Italy, joining Torino.

Helander, a natural left-footer, certainly would add some balance to the Leeds back-line alongside Jansson. Undoubtedly he is a more talented player than current incumbent Liam Cooper and Leeds would be lucky to have him in.

So should they move for Helander?

A deal to sign the 24-year-old would be brilliant for Leeds. But here lies the main problem, and the main difference between Helander and Jansson. Whilst the Leeds man struggled in Italian football with Torino, Helander has not.

Jansson joined Leeds as he was not playing regularly with the Italian side. Helander on the other hand has been a regular for Bologna this season, helping them to a mid-table position in Serie A.

For Helander to swap that for Championship football is not beyond the realms of possibility. However, it certainly looks an unlikely proposition.

If only Leeds could convince Helander, because he and Jansson at the back would form quite the pair in the Championship.

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