Louis van Gaal laments “very nervous” first half, officiating in draw

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While Manchester United fans are grumbling about their manager’s 3-5-2 formation, the boss himself is critical of officiating in the Red Devils scoreless draw against Burnley at Turf Moor.

While van Gaal wasn’t drawn into dissecting the two non-penalty calls karmically-denied to Ashley Young, the manager wondered aloud how his team could dominate a half but win less free kicks than his newly-promoted opponents.

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“We had more possession of the ball than Burnley but more free-kicks were awarded against us than in favour of us,” van Gaal said. “I think that is remarkable.” 

Moreover, the manager was concerned about his club’s play in the first half when, aside from some brilliant moments from new boy Angel Di Maria, his club looked like fish out of water.

While the Red Devils did find plenty of promise in the second half, no one scored. Robin van Persie looked slow, Wayne Rooney missed a close header, and Juan Mata was nearly invisible.

From ManUtd.com:

“We played much better in the second half and created more chances. But you have to score from those chances, and we didn’t do that. It’s a disappointing result.”

“I don’t think our confidence level was very high in the first half. But I think that’s normal when a club like United loses the first match and draws the second one. The pressure is higher and you have to cope with that. I could see in the first half that the players were very nervous to play the ball. We restored that in the second half, and maybe that will raise our confidence.”

Van Gaal knows he was without the majority of his reinforcements. Marcos Rojo has not had his work permit cleared, and Daley Blind has yet to agree to personal terms. Di Maria was unable to go the full 90 minutes, while Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera were not available.

Things will eventually be fine for United, but this slow start could cost them dearly late in the season as LVG mounts a rush for European qualification.

Soccer world reacts to the Manchester attacks

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NBC News is reporting that at least 19 people have been killed and another 50 are injured following a possible suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester.

Multiple senior U.S. intelligence officials who are monitoring British authorities told NBC News that preliminary reports indicate that a single explosion took place outside the arena on the southwest side opposite the train station. The explosion occurred as the concert ended, catching people as they exited.

Soccer personalities around the world are reacting to the horrible event.

Juventus purchases Cuadrado from Chelsea

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If you didn’t realize Juan Cuadrado still belonged to Chelsea, you’re forgiven.

The Colombian attacker will complete his second season at Juventus after the UEFA Champions League Final against Real Madrid, and won’t be headed back to Chelsea afterwards.

Juve has purchased Cuadrado, and the fee is $22 million, and Juve will pay it over three seasons. Cuadrado, 28, is now signed through 2020 with The Old Lady.

Cuadrado first went on loan to Juve in Aug. 2015, and has eight goals and 18 assists in 83 career appearances with the club.

Chelsea bought Cuadrado from Fiorentina for around $32 million in the January 2015 transfer window, but made just 14 appearances with the club.

Report: Jermain Defoe meeting with Bournemouth

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Sky Sports is reporting that Jermain Defoe may head back to the south of England following Sunderland’s relegation.

Defoe, 34, spent two seasons with Portsmouth between 2008-09, scoring 15 goals in 31 appearances.

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The 56-times capped England striker had a clause in his Sunderland contract allowing him to leave the Stadium of Light were the Black Cats to be relegated, as they were this season. He’d have little interest in dropping into the Championship given his desire to stay a part of the England squad ahead of the 2018 World Cup.

Bournemouth’s strike corps includes Joshua King, who scored the most goals of any player not on a Top Seven side this season. King’s 16 goals were one more than Defoe’s 15, though the latter scored just one goal following a brace against Crystal Palace on Feb. 4.

Chelsea’s Conte wins pair of top managerial honors

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Antonio Conte took league and national honors from the League Managers Association on Monday night.

The Chelsea boss was named Premier League Manager of the Year and Manager of the Year after leading the Blues to the PL title and an FA Cup Final in his first year on the job.

Brighton and Hove Albion boss Chris Hughton nabbed another Championship boss of the year award after leading the Gulls to the Premier League. He also won the honor with Newcastle United in 2010.

The League One winner is Chris Wilder of Sheffield United. Wilder won the honor with Northampton Town last season.

In League Two, Paul Cook of Portsmouth was named the winner.