It’s a different time at Old Trafford, that’s for sure, as players and staff haven’t exactly been oozing confidence during a relatively difficult year (by Manchester United’s absurdly-high standards).
So we’ll let you judge whether Phil Jones’ comments on the Red Devils hopes to trip up powerful Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals fit the bill of a club ready to pounce on the chance to dethrone a juggernaut.
Speaking to the Manchester United web site, the defender was asked about the club’s chances:
“Listen, we are realistic and know how difficult the game is going to be. We know how well they are playing, they are in form and have won the league with seven games to go. But who knows? It is the Champions League, it is a home tie at Old Trafford and if we get the crowd behind us then you just never know.
“I think if we were top of the league, Bayern would still have been favourites because they have got a superb team full of individual class. We have got to work on how to beat them.”
Something tells me when the team blogger posed the question he was expecting more of a “We’re United and we’re going to get ’em!” response rather than “Who knows? Nuttier things have happened! Did you know they sent people to the moon? The moon! It almost sounds like Munich! Moonich!”
It’s a bit different than Ryan Giggs’ “We don’t see ourselves as underdogs,” isn’t it? Anyway, get ready for Tuesday’s tilt between United and Bayern with Richard Farley’s thorough Champions League preview.
Italy took a 1-0 lead over Azerbaijan through the in-form Eder in the 11th minute, but the true leg-work (see what I did there) came from bite-sized midfielder Marco Verratti.
The PSG playmaker pinged a beautiful long ball over the top of the Azerbaijan defense that fell right at the feet of Eder, who let the ball settle itself and touched home confidently past Kamran Arhayev for a 1-0 lead.
The goal is the second of Eder’s national career in just five caps, having scored on debut against Bulgaria back in March. He has six goals in seven matches for Sampdoria so far this Serie A season.
Italy needs three points in this match to ensure qualification to Euro 2016. A win would guarantee them a place in the field, while anything less would mean there is work to do in the final match on Tuesday against Norway.
Later in the match, Stephan El Shaarawy gave Italy a 2-1 lead just before halftime, his second career international goal and his first since September of 2012 which came in his third career start.
As soon as Brendan Rodgers was dismissed by Liverpool on Sunday, Jurgen Klopp’s name was tossed around as the likely successor to the then-vacant Liverpool managerial position.
However, according to Klopp’s representatve Marc Kosicke, Liverpool did not make contact with the German until after Rodgers had been officially let go.
“The first call from Liverpool came after the dismissal as coach of Rodgers,” Kosicke told Bild. “Before Liverpool there were naturally quite a few inquiries. But Jurgen always asked me not to take it any further.”
Club management was less committal than Klopp’s rep, but did say they had their eye on the German for some time. “We have learned to keep certain matters confidential. We had a meeting recently with Jurgen that he has talked about and I don’t want to talk too much about these conversations. But we have thought about him for a long time and everyone who knows football knows he is an outstanding manager.”
It’s relatively hard to believe Liverpool would have canned Rodgers without knowing for sure that a top-level target such as Klopp or Carlo Ancelotti were on board to replace him. It also would mean discussions of the contract terms and logistics would have moved at lightning speed, with just four days between the Rodgers dismissal and Klopp’s official unveiling.