Getty Images

Report: Man United in meltdown; players turn on Van Gaal

9 Comments

Manchester United’s dismal season keeps going from bad to worse.

Following their 3-0 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday it is claimed that players hit out at manager Louis Van Gaal for his bizarre tactical decisions during the game.

[ PLAYBACK: Spurs still believe ]  

According to the very well sourced Neil Ashton of the Sun, United’s players have turned against Van Gaal following their second half shellacking by Spurs.

The report includes details regarding the treatment of Marcus Rashford as the 18-year-old striker was subbed out at half time on Sunday and humiliated in front of the entire squad with Van Gaal laying into him about the runs he was making against Tottenham’s defense (the best in the PL) and Toby Alderweireld in particular.

[ MORE: Leicester tickets selling for $22,000

Ashley Young, a winger, came on in his place and looked lost up front, as Anthony Martial had United’s only shot on target during the game, a tame effort in the second half after he cut in from the left and beat three Spurs defenders. 18-year-old right back Timothy Fosu-Mensah was United’s best player but when he came off injured in the 68th minute, they crumbled. Substitute Matteo Darmian, an Italian international who has put in remarkably poor displays since being dropped and criticized by Van Gaal, looked lost and all three of Spurs’ goals in a disastrous five-minute spell came down his flank.

[ MORE: Van Gaal’s future remains unclear

Despite the dismal display — compounded by the fact that their team bus turned up late for the game and kick off was delayed — Van Gaal seemed fine with the result. In fact, he didn’t really see a problem in United losing at Spurs for the first time in 15 years. His future remains in doubt beyond this season, his second in charge, but it appears executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward wants to stick with the Dutchman and let Van Gaal see out the final year of his three-year deal.

The Red Devils are currently four points off fourth-placed Manchester City with six games to go and they face West Ham United in an FA Cup quarterfinal replay on Wednesday.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Jose Mourinho keeps throwing himself out there but United, as of yet, don’t seem to be interested.

Here’s an extract from Ashton’s report which sums up the current mood in United’s dressing room:

Van Gaal’s authority has been eroded over the past two seasons and the aura has pretty much disappeared. He is yesterday’s man.

The playing staff are acutely aware of that and are far more confrontational with him than in his first season.

He was fatally undermined by executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward earlier this year when he asked senior players about Van Gaal’s methods. The responses were not complimentary.

Woodward is a frequent dressing-room visitor after matches and he will know that the atmosphere is not good again.

Newcastle stuns misfiring Chelsea in stoppage time

Newcastle United stuns Chelsea
Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Chelsea couldn’t find a clinical edge and Isaac Hayden scored in stoppage time as Newcastle United beat Chelsea 1-0 at St. James’ Park on Saturday.

The visitors had 70 percent of the ball and a massive edge in shots, but couldn’t capitalize on the few chances they found behind the back line.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Isaac Hayden powered a header home off a stoppage-time set piece to give the Magpies a shocking win and 29 points, seven clear of the Bottom Three.

Chelsea stays on 39 points, five ahead of fifth-place Manchester United. The Red Devils play Liverpool on Sunday.


Three things we learned

1. Fortunate Magpies get big payoff late: Hayden had not scored in a year and turned Saint-Maximin’s desperate cross of a poorly-cleared corner kick past Kepa Arrizabalaga. A solid if unspectacular midfielder, Hayden has dealt with a lot and might’ve left the Northeast due to family reasons. He’s stayed, Steve Bruce has him confident, and the Magpies have a win against all odds.

2. Newcastle’s low block heroics highlight Chelsea need: Frank Lampard‘s attackers were limited to shots from distance, as Steve Bruce’s men might be even better than they were under Rafa Benitez when asked to defend deep. A lot of this is due to spending on attackers who keep defenders honest, but that doesn’t excuse Tammy Abraham and Callum Hudson-Odoi‘s inability to produce much. The former had Dubravka beaten but failed to find finish on the day.

The defense-first style can be boring to, well, everyone including the home fans and managers loathe when it’s employed against them. But Newcastle has now beaten Chelsea, Spurs, and Manchester United this year, also drawing Man City. The expected goals table says Newcastle is having one of the luckiest seasons on record, but don’t bother the Geordies with that right now.

3. Lampard waits for Abraham: Related to point No. 1, Lampard showed faith that his struggling striker would show up late. After all, the 22-year-old has 13 goals and three assists this year. Abraham got behind the Magpies back line twice and also flicked a ball off the bar, but it was the right move to get Michy Batshuayi out there. Alas, it probably should’ve come before the 80th minute.

Man of the Match: Ciaran Clark and Federico Fernandez were the key parts of the aforementioned low block, and we’d give the honors to Clark. But Hayden, man.


Newcastle loan star Jetro Willems are stretchered off the pitch with his head in his hands are an innocent play out wide, a new worry for the injury-ravaged Magpies.

Then Isaac Hayden pulled up lame after being stretched in a 50-50 with Mason Mount.

The best scoring chance of the early stages came in the 22nd minute, as Kepa Arrizabalaga may have got a finger to Joelinton‘s header off the bar.

Chelsea took hold of the match at the half-hour mark, an offside Tammy Abraham flicking off the bar before Martin Dubravka saved N’Golo Kante’s effort in the 34th.

Newcastle held firm against the attack through five minutes of stoppage time.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

The Magpies opened up a little bit in the second half, and Willian missed a chance to open the scoring in the 53rd.

Cesar Azpilicueta was lively in both halves, and hammered a shot to Dubravka in the 55th.

Newcastle’s physical and aggressive back line held firm, big challenges and clearances from Ciaran Clark and Federico Fernandez on show.

Miguel Almiron and Allan Saint-Maximin teamed up to tee up Joelinton, but the Brazilian drove his 88th minute shot wide of the goal.

Soon after, Saint-Maximin sent a half-desperation, half-pinpoint cross to the back post for Hayden to turn past Arrizabalaga. Insane.

Nuno proud of Wolves comeback; Hasenhuttl fumes at VAR

Leave a comment

It is safe to say that the managers of Southampton and Wolverhampton Wanderers had contrasting emotions after the dramatic 3-2 victory for the visitors at St Mary’s on Saturday.

Saints led 2-0 at half time but a stunning second half comeback, led by Mexico’s Raul Jimenez who scored twice, grabbed Wolves all three points.

With his squad banged up and missing Ruben Vinagre, Willy Boly and Diogo Jota among others, Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo was beaming at the final whistle after a lengthy celebration with the Wolves fans in the away end.

“It was amazing, the second half,” Santo smiled. “They [the players] realized the first half was not good. They reacted very well. I am very proud of the players and I was proud even in the first half because I am very aware of how we were doing things. Let’s keep on going.”

As for Southampton’s perspective, Ralph Hasenhuttl was not a happy man.

But not because of how his team played. He was fuming at the officials and VAR due to the decision to award a penalty kick to Wolves for their second goal. Referee Darren England didn’t award a penalty kick as Jonny went down in the box under contact from Cedric and then Jack Stephens but VAR intervened and awarded the spot kick.

“For me it is absolutely not a clear wrong decision. I think the referee was right in that moment,” Hasenhuttl fumed. “Cedric was in front of him and it wasn’t a clear wrong decision, in my opinion. The referee was right. I don’t know why they overruled in that moment. I cannot understand it. I really can’t. Cedric was in front of the ball so he [Jonny] had no chance to get to the ball. You can give it, yes, but it is not a clear wrong. I heard that VAR was overruling when it is clearly wrong. For me, it was not clearly wrong. This is what I cannot understand.”

Cedric’s nudge on Jonny probably wasn’t a foul and although Stephens didn’t make contact, his challenge was reckless. Hasenhuttl is perhaps looking to detract a little of the attention away from his players who crumbled after leading 2-0.

In truth, that lead was flattering in a pretty even game that Wolves had dominated early, and although Southampton’s incredible run of form (six wins in nine PL games before this) is over, they are still six points above the relegation zone.

This was a big moment in the season for both teams. Had Saints won they’d have been level with Wolves but a massive comeback victory now propels Nuno’s boys up to sixth and in with a chance of a top four finish.

That will surely persuade their owners to spend money in the final days of the January transfer window as their tired and stretched squad will also have to cope with the latter stages of the Europa League in the coming months.

U.S. teen Vassilev makes Premier League debut for Villa

Photo by Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Look closely at Jack Grealish‘s equalizer for Aston Villa on Saturday and you’ll find an American making a run to create space.

That’s Indiana Vassilev, who made his Premier League debut in the 1-1 draw with Brighton and Hove Albion at the Amex Stadium.

Vassilev, who turns 19 next month, was credited with seven touches in 23 minutes, connecting on 3-of-4 passes.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

The Georgia-born left winger made his FA Cup debut versus Fulham on Jan. 4 and his League Cup debut versus Leicester City on Jan. 8.

He has six goals and two assists in 13 appearances for Villans’ Premier League 2 side.

Favre reacts to Dortmund debuts for Haaland, U.S. prospect Reyna

Giovanni Reyna debuts for Borussia Dortmund
Photo by Sebastian Widmann/Bongarts/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Borussia Dortmund supporters couldn’t help but gush about the hat trick debut for teenage striker Erling Braut Haaland.

Their manager was sure to talk about both of his teen debutants.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

The second was American 17-year-old Giovanni Reyna, who was promoted to the first team this week and came off the bench to make his Bundesliga debut in Saturday’s 5-3 win over Augsburg.

Here’s one of Favre’s answers when asked about Haaland, via Fussball.news:

“We also played with Gio Reyna. It was very good. The first time he plays here at 17, that’s good. A 17-year-old, a 19-year-old, I think that’s good.”

“(Haaland) immediately showed his strength, the runs down. He moves well between the lines. It gives us another way to play forward.”

Haaland’s 20-minute hat trick has been well detailed by Joe Prince-Wright here.

Reyna entered for Thorgan Hazard in the 72nd minute, getting 13 touches and completing 7-of-9 passes. He completed his lone dribble attempt and won his only duel while failing to put his only shot attempt on target.