Manchester United’s Luke Shaw agrees he’s not fit enough after Louis van Gaal criticism

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Luke Shaw has taken criticism about his fitness levels on the chin, as the most expensive teenager in the world adapts to life at Manchester United.

Shaw, 19, was sent to train on his own this week by new United boss Louis van Gaal after the Dutchman deemed Shaw’s fitness levels to be inadequate.

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The England international, who was the youngest player to perform at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, has been deployed in a left wing back role in three friendlies for United on their U.S. tour so far, instead of his usual left back position. Under van Gaal United are likely to play a 3-5-2 formation so it’s a position Shaw should get used to playing. On Tuesday evening the former Southampton defender came on for the second half against Inter Milan after Reece James was unable to play. Shaw had already been put through a heavy training session on Tuesday in Washington D.C. after van Gaal stated he is “not fit enough to do what I want” but he played the second half.

Speaking after United’s penalty shootout win over Inter at FedExField, Shaw agreed with van Gaal’s assessment.

“It’s something I totally agree with. Playing in this formation you really have to be fit. I am fit but not at his high demands,” Shaw said. “I know I have got to get fitter to get up and down. That’s something I am going to work on, and tonight in 45 minutes I felt really good, so I am looking forward to keep on progressing until the start of the season. I didn’t come into United thinking it’s going to be much harder and that’s something I made a mistake on. I thought it was just going to be the same but United is the biggest club in the world and there are world-class players in training so it’s something that is going to push me on.”

Give the last two sentences above, Shaw obviously underestimated the physical demand facing him during preseason. Over the past two seasons in the PL he often came off in the second half of games with small injuries but his  pace and power shone through from left back in every single outing.

It seems as though van Gaal is using Shaw as an example to the rest of the United squad. He will not tolerate anything less than peak fitness and he is not scared to bench you. Shaw is 19, willing to listen and learn and has just left Southampton (where he was since the age of 7) for one of the biggest clubs in the world.

This whole episode will be a learning curve for Shaw but as long as he has van Gaal as his mentor and listens to him, he will go far.

Report: Man City, Guardiola to discuss new contract this summer

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Manchester City does not want to let Pep Guardiola start the third year with the club without signing on for longer term.

Guardiola enters the third and final year of his deal in August, and the BBC reports that Man City plans to negotiate a new deal with the Catalan wizard this summer.

[ MORE: Making sense of the PL table ]

This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise given City’s outstanding sophomore season under Guardiola.

Unbeaten City has an 11-point lead on the Premier League table after 18 weeks, with one draw and a PL record 16-straight wins. They have 56 goals scored, conceding just 12.

They’ve won five of six UEFA Champions League matches, only losing a match their opposition needed and they did not, 2-1 to Shakhtar Donetsk in Ukraine. City faces Basel next, and visits Leicester City in the League Cup quarterfinals Wednesday.

Lanzini charged by FA for fooling ref with dive

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Manuel Lanzini dove to earn a penalty in West Ham’s 3-0 win over Stoke City on Saturday at the bet365 Stadium, and he may pay for it.

Lanzini, who also posted an assist in an influential performance, drew the penalty converted by Mark Noble when he hit the deck under minimal contact from Erik Pieters.

[ MORE: Making sense of the PL table ]

He could miss two matches for “successful deception of a match official,” the same penalty given to Everton’s Oumar Niasse for a similar offense.

West Ham pulled out of the drop zone with the win, but has three bottom-half battles coming up over the festive fixtures: Saturday versus Newcastle, Dec. 26 at Bournemouth, and Jan. 2 versus West Brom.

Griezmann backtracks over ‘insensitive’ blackface tweet

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MADRID (AP) Soccer star Antoine Griezmann has apologized for any offense caused after posting an image of himself on social media in blackface as part of an NBA party costume on Sunday.

Griezmann, who is white, was also wearing a wig and holding a basketball in the photo which had “NBA 69 ALLSTARS” on the jersey.

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The photo on his official Twitter account was accompanied by the message “80’s Party” followed by basketball and laughing emojis.

One response called the photo a “bad idea” with others urging the France forward to delete the tweet.

Griezmann at first reacted to the criticism by tweeting: “Calm down friends, I’m a fan of the Harlem Globetrotters and of this great era… It’s a tribute.”

He later tweeted an apology to those he had offended.

“I recognize that’s it’s insensitive on my part. If I offended some people I’m sorry,” he wrote.

The 26-year-old Griezmann plays for Spanish team Atletico Madrid but has been linked to a move to Barcelona.

Alex Morgan named CONCACAF Female POY, Navas wins Male POY

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CONCACAF awarded some of its finest players and coaches on Sunday night, and two familiar faces took home the evening’s most notable awards.

[ MORE: Making sense of table in Man City’s world ]

U.S. Women’s National Team forward Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride) and Keylor Navas of Costa Rica and Real Madrid each earned Female and Male Player of the Year honors, after boasting tremendous 2017 seasons.

Morgan who primarily plays for Orlando in the NWSL, was also a member of Lyon, who went on to win the Women’s Champions League this past season.

Navas, on the other hand, played a key role in Real Madrid’s UEFA Champions League run, as well as Los Blancos’ La Liga title.

For Morgan, the award is her third since CONCACAF began handing out its annual awards in 2013. Meanwhile, Navas has now won Male Player of the Year on two occasions.