Wayne Rooney

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Rooney unlikely to play in (maybe) his final game at Old Trafford

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With his future in serious doubt after appearing in just 24 of 37 games (14 starts) thus far in the Premier League season, it’s not at all a stretch to say Wayne Rooney‘s Manchester United future is in serious doubt.

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As the summer transfer window looms just over the horizon, Rooney might very well be down to his final two games at the club he’s called home for 13 years. Thus, Sunday’s home finale might very well be Rooney’s last time to wear the famous red shirt at Old Trafford. Any player with his resume should be afforded the chance to bid farewell in a highly dignified way. At the very least, a start and 80th-minute departure should do the trick.

It’s “probably not” going to happen for Rooney, though, according to Jose Mourinho, and it’s not due to injury or anything out of their control — quotes from the Guardian:

“I will bring three or four of the first-team players, to play one half each one against Palace. I can give a little bit of experience to the team but, at the same time, save them all for Wednesday. I don’t know about Wayne or not — he played 90 minutes in the last match, so probably not.”

[ MORE: Koeman not confident Barkley will stay at Everton ]

Surely these won’t be the terms on which United’s all-time leading goalscorer leaves the club, without a proper send-off at the “Theater of Dreams.” Surely someone one at the club would recognize what’s happening and step in to say, “Jose, you can’t do this to him,” should he really to intend to follow through. Surely this means Rooney will spend another season at United, because he can’t leave like this.

Mourinho: They’re not ready, but batch of youngsters play; Pogba, too

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Manchester United takes pride in bringing kids into the top team, but rarely like this.

And imagine if Sunday’s tilt against Crystal Palace still mattered for the relegation race!

Jose Mourinho is going to toss a whole bunch of young players into his XI on Sunday against Crystal Palace, giving the Old Trafford crowd a look at several intriguing names including 20-year-old goalkeeper Joel Pereira.

[ WENGER: Decision soon after FA Cup Final ]

Paul Pogba will play a bit and Wayne Rooney probably will not as United prepares for Wednesday’s UEFA Europa League final against Ajax in Sweden.

Mourinho admits the kids aren’t ready for this particular experience. From Sky Sports:

Joel and O’Hara. Mitchell. Harrop. Gomes. McTominay. Fosu-Mensah. Axel. Lots of them together, no. I will bring three or four first team players to play one half where I can give some experience to the team.”

Are they ready?

“No. One in the middle of a good structure, a dynamic and experienced structure, yes. Lots of them together, no.”

Axel Tuanzebe has played the last couple games for United, and Timothy Fosu-Mensah has made 20 combined appearances over the last two seasons.

As for Pogba, whose father passed away before last weekend’s match at Arsenal.

“Paul is fine. Strong guy, strong mentality. He is learning how to live after his father passed away but he is strong and he knows he needs to play next Sunday because he doesn’t play, train for a long time and he needs these minutes on the pitch. He plays against Palace.”

Southampton 0-0 Manchester United: Romero robs Saints

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  • Romero saves PK
  • Saints lively
  • Fellaini limps off

Southampton couldn’t get by Sergio Romero, as Manchester United held the hosts to a scoreless draw at St. Mary’s on Wednesday.

Romero stopped a Manolo Gabbiadini penalty and made a handful of outstanding saves as sixth-place United picked up its 66th point of the season.

Southampton sits eighth with 46 points, and finishes the season at home Sunday to Stoke City.

United lost Marouane Fellaini to a leg injury in the second half, another obstacle to overcome ahead of next week’s UEFA Europa League final against Ajax in Sweden.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

United started Axel Tuanzebe, Phil Jones, Eric Bailly, and Matteo Darmian at the back, and that’s far from their ideal group of backs.

So it wasn’t a big surprise when Southampton had their moments in the United half, although the Red Devils stopped most threats from getting too near to goalkeeper Sergio Romero.

The exception was a fifth minute penalty, as Bailly handled a ball inside the 18 to give Gabbiadini a chance to put Saints ahead. His stuttering run-up led to a weak low crack that Romero palmed away. Scoreless.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

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Phil Jones hip checked Cedric Soares after an Anthony Martial giveaway to give Southampton a 20-yard free kick from the right.

Dusan Tadic cracked an arrow to the left of the wall, but Romero flew to punch it away.

Romero dove to his other side to make an outstanding save on James Ward-Prowse in the 59th minute, as Saints continued to knock.

Wayne Rooney and Chris Smalling combined to produce a chance for Juan Mata, whose contested shot curled wide of the frame.

Dribbling toward the 18, Martial shaped an in-stride shot beyond Fraser Forster but off the post with about 20 minutes to play.

Would James Rodriguez fit in at Man United?

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The James Rodriguez to Manchester United reports are gathering pace but before we get carried away, would he actually be a good signing for Jose Mourinho?

[ MORE: Manchester Derby in USA ]

James, 25, has been on the outside looking in all season at Real Madrid but when you have Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and others ahead of you, that doesn’t mean you are a bad player.

The captain of Colombia is obviously one of the finest forwards around but after moving to Real in 2014 from AS Monaco for $88.5 million, he has failed to really make his mark at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Will his style of play not only fit at Manchester United but also the Premier League?

There’s no doubt James’ combination of pace and trickery would slot in well in the PL but there should be huge question marks around whether or not United need another deep-lying attacking midfielder. James is capable of playing out on the wing or just off a striker and that means he could partner Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial in a tricky attacking front three.

Rashford could lead the line in that trio, but then what does Mourinho do with Juan Mata, Wayne Rooney and Henrikh Mkhitaryan?

It’s likely Rooney will move on but if the Red Devils do qualify for the UEFA Champions League (reports state he will only join if United are in the UCL) then having James around plus Mata and Mkhitaryan could be troublesome. Keeping all three players happy would be almost impossible as I don’t see how you can play more than one of those players and Paul Pogba behind a front three without disrupting the balance of the team as Ander Herrera has to be the lone holding midfielder.

A deal for James does seem to be interesting United, and rightly so. His star shone bright at the 2014 World Cup and he sealed his big move to Real Madrid. Since then he’s scored 36 goals in 109 games for Real but has played a bit-part role under Zinedine Zidane.

Someone with James’ quality deserves to be the leading man at a huge club but it’s tough to see how United will do that unless they sell on Mata or Mkhitaryan, or both.

There’s no doubt the Real Madrid man would add goals but with Zlatan Ibrahimovic‘s 28 goals from this season likely to be lost next season, James will have to be handed the keys to this offense.

Mourinho may well put a lot of pressure on Rashford to lead the line if, as expected, Zlatan isn’t around, and then James would have to deliver plenty of goals and assists behind the pacey youngster in his first season in the PL. It’s possible he will form a fluid relationship with the likes of Rashford and Martial up top but it’s also unlikely United will pay anywhere near the $88.5 million Real Madrid paid for him almost three years ago, which may be a stumbling block.

James to United makes sense in a lot of ways but when you dig deeper, there will have to be plenty of departures to make his arrival worthwhile both for the player and the club.

I’m not saying it’s a bad deal. I’m just saying Mourinho’s priority should be buying a targetman unless he thinks Rashford is really ready to lead the line all season long.

White Hart Lane handed glorious, emotional finale

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LONDON — This was a glorious way to end 118 years at White Hart Lane.

[ MORE: Pochettino reacts to “perfect” finale ]

Tottenham Hotspur beat Manchester United 2-1 in their 2,533rd, and final, game at the Lane on Sunday and the victory meant Spurs went through a Premier League season unbeaten at home for the first time in their history.

It also secured them second place in the PL, also a first, and the victory was their 14th-straight in the PL to equal a club record run for consecutive home league wins.

[ MORE: A look around Spurs’ new home

We all know that the game on Sunday was just a small part of the celebrations as their famous stadium will start to be dismantled on Monday to continue the rapid progress of their new 61,559-seat home next door while they play at Wembley next season.

Sunday was all about saying “Farewell to the Lane” for Tottenham and their fans. They certainly did that with the ferocious chants in the stands matched on the pitch with a dominant display from start to finish.

In his brief post-game press conference, ProSoccerTalk asked Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino what his overriding memory of White Hart Lane would be.

“Now, it will always be the last day,” Pochettino said, smiling. “For me it was a very exciting day because I think it was perfect. The preparation of the game, the game we played well and we got the three points and on the end all the ceremony was fantastic to share with all of the legends, the people, the staff and the fans, the family. For me the most special day will always be this last day at White Hart Lane.”

There was also something spiritual about 30,000 fans waving flags and singing “glory, glory hallelujah” as things came to a close. A huge pitch invasion at the final whistle then saw fans mobbing the players, taking selfies on the grass and eventually they were pushed back for a huge ceremony to begin which ended with a rainbow overhead.

Perfection was the word of the day.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Before the game fans bathed in the glorious late spring sunshine in north London, as a supporter with a Spurs badge tattooed on his calf looked wistfully up to the sky. There was a lot of that going on.

In the streets around Tottenham High Road, Tottenham’s fans chatted about the change to their routine as they walked to the old venue one last time. “Where will I get my burgers from?!” laughed one supporter.

With throwback jerseys from eras gone by littering the streets there was Klinsmann, Hoddle and the jerseys of many others, with one fan even walking around with a retro kit and a captains armband on. Yeah, it was that kind of day.

Outside the stadium “farewell to the Lane” scarves were selling like hotcakes from stands perched up against the construction walls surrounding the building site for the new stadium.

There was a slightly subdued atmosphere before the game, with fans wistfully looking around as they arrived much earlier than usual. The special edition matchday program included countless memories from Spurs greats and old photos from memorial European nights, league wins and more from over the past 118 years.

One Spurs employee said the emotions hadn’t quite hit him yet but he was sure they would during the game.

“I’ve worked here for 20 years, so I’m sure the emotions will kick in. Even though we are sad to be moving on, our history is also our future.”

As fans posed for as many photos as possible outside and inside the stadium, the scene was set for the finale. Many supporters arrived in the stadium early to soak up the atmosphere while reminiscing about their favorite players, memories and moments at the Lane.

With flags on the seat for each fan, a wonderful scene was set as the players arrived on the pitch.

They didn’t have to wait long to get the party started as Victor Wanyama headed home in the sixth minute to make it 1-0 and Spurs peppered United’s goal with efforts as Harry Kane hit the crossbar and David De Gea brilliantly denied Heung-Min Son, Dele Alli and Kane.

Throughout the game the chants became more reflective rather than reactionary as a somber rendition of “glory, glory hallelujah” set things off.

Chants about previous Spurs players soon arrived as Ledely King, Steve Archibald, Paul Gascoigne, Rafael van der Vaart, Jermain Defoe, Glen Hoddle and Teddy Sheringham were all serenaded. At times, it must have been tough for Tottenham’s players to focus as they glanced around them during breaks in the game to drink in the celebrations as a helicopter hovered above.

The game itself was dominated but Tottenham, perhaps reflecting that any tinges of sadness were replaced with optimism and what lies ahead in the next few years for this talented young team in a stunning new stadium with one of the most promising managers in the game, Mauricio Pochettino, leading the way.

Kane added a wonderful flick in the second half to make it 2-0 and despite Wayne Rooney pulling one back, Spurs sealed the win they needed in style as a perfect finale arrived.

That’s when tears started to kick in around the stands as fans led flat on the grass, kissed the turf and performed the now legendary “Klinsmann slide” in celebration.

Eventually a video and musical tribute arrived in a glitzy closing ceremony which saw Spurs legends join the current first team and management squad on the pitch to thank the fans.

All media were instructed to leave the stadium at 8:30pm local time and as the doors closed for the final time, preparations were being made to pull the famous stadium down.

“We are Tottenham, super Tottenham, we are Tottenham… from the Lane!” was sung for the final time on Sunday at Spurs’ spiritual home.

Tottenham can rest easy knowing that they gave one of the greatest-ever cathedrals in English soccer a fitting, glorious finale.

The fact that just as the final song finished in the post-game ceremony a rainbow appeared directly above White Hart Lane added a final chapter to the fairytale ending this historic stadium deserved.