Player ratings: Manchester United vs. Liverpool

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Bitter rivals Manchester United and Liverpool shared the spoils at Old Trafford on Sunday in a 1-1 draw.

[ MORE: 3 things we learned ]

Who stood out? Which star names had an off day?

 [ MORE: Klopp blasts “long ball” United ]  

Below we dish out marks out of 10 for the players from both teams.


Manchester United

David De Gea: 6 – Didn’t have much to do throughout but his distribution was sublime.

Antonio Valencia: 7 – Put in yet another solid shift at right back and clipped in a great ball for Zlatan’s goal.

Phil Jones: 5 – Looked uneasy on the ball when under pressure in the first half. Shaky.

Marcos Rojo: 6 – Very similar to Jones. He’s been solid in recent weeks and improve in second half.

Matteo Darmian: 6 – A few good surges forward and nullified the threat of Origi and Firmino out wide.

Michael Carrick: 5 – Never got a chance to dictate the tempo and had Adam Lallana to worry about. Hooked off at half time.

Ander Herrera: 6 – Spaniard locked down central midfield in the second half when Carrick went off.

Anthony Martial: 5 – Looked shaky in possession and never got at Alexander-Arnold. Subbed off.

Paul Pogba: 4 – Had a nightmare. Gave a PK away, missed a glorious chance and the day his Emoji was launched (the advertising boards during the game showed it) it was a day he will want to forget quickly.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan: 6 – Missed a glorious chance when through one-on-one in the first half but kept plugging away and made dangerous runs in-behind.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic: 7 – Tremendous finish for his goal and drilled a low free kick which Mignolet saved. 10 goals in his last 10 games for Zlatan.

Subs
Wayne Rooney on for Carrick in 45th minute: 6 – Clipped in a lovely cross in the move for the equalizer and made things happen.
Juan Mata on for Martial in 65th minute: 5 – Didn’t really impact the game.
Marouane Fellaini on for Darmian in 76th minute: 6 – His presence caused problems and his header hit the post in the lead up to Zlatan’s goal.


Liverpool

Simon Mignolet: 8 – Impressive display from the Belgian who denied Zlatan and Mkhitaryan in the first half. Couldn’t do much more with the goal.

Trent Alexander-Arnold: 6 – What a debut for the 18-year-old standing in for Clyne. Did little wrong but couldn’t get forward.

Dejan Lovren: 7 – Croatian center back caused problems in the box at the other end and was almost punished for a short back pass. Handled Zlatan fairly well.

Ragnar Klavan: 6 – A few shaky clearances but a solid enough display.

James Milner: 6 – Slotted home the penalty kick but had problems with the runs of Mkhitaryan and Valencia.

Emre Can: 6 – Was good in the first half but went missing in the second as United gathered steam.

Jordan Henderson: 6 – Same as above. English midfielder looked to tire as the game went on.

Georginio Wijnaldum: 6 – Popped up with a couple of decent efforts in the box but couldn’t get control of the game with Henderson and Can.

Adam Lallana: 7 – Tireless display from the playmaker. He stopped Carrick playing and kept probing late on.

Divock Origi: 5 – Kept giving the ball away and although his pace caused problems he rarely got involved.

Roberto Firmino: 6 – The Brazilian worked his socks off and put Rojo and Jones under pressure.

Subs
Coutinho on for Origi in 60th minute: 7 – Made a big difference when he came on, calmed Liverpool down considerably.

Solskjaer: ‘We just need consistency’

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In a vague, general word, Manchester United manager knows exactly what his club have been missing. Consistency.

More specifically, consistent success.

In a sit-down interview with the BBC, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer mentioned striving for consistency in performances on no less than four occasions, including when speaking about Alexis Sanchez. Man United won eight straight matches in all competitions and 10 of its first 11 under the Norwegian manager.

[READ: De Ligt lands in Turin ahead of Juventus move]

And yet, the consistency wasn’t there late in the season, when Man United faltered down the stretch and won just two of its last ten matches to close the season on a sour note. Man United finished in sixth place, and while Solskjaer said he believed it would be a challenge to break into the top four, he said with some consistent performances, Man United could achieve its goals.

“We have to aim for further up than fourth,” Solskjaer told the BBC. “I would rather be an optimist and be wrong than a pessimist and be right. I am not used to us being fifth or sixth but that is where we are at. That is the size of the challenge. I love that challenge.

“We have to work with the players, sign the right types and gradually make our way to the challenging line. Our players do have quality. They do have a chance. We just need consistency. We have to keep working every single day and not take our eyes off the target. Everyone gets off line at some point but you can’t let it drift too far because then you won’t get to the overall goal.”

Some Man United fans have been mumbling and rumbling due to the slow start in this summer’s transfer window. Ander Herrera and Antonio Valencia have both departed on free transfers, while only Daniel James and Aaron Wan-Bissaka have come in. While it’s not the improvements some fans were hoping for, it’s helped give some of the young players, like James Garner, Tahith Chong, Angel Gomes and Mason Greenword, some hope that they can get minutes.

Perhaps the push from the young players for first team minutes will make Man United a bit more competitive in training again, which can only help in terms of having success on the field.

The big question remains, which Man United team will we see this season. The one from Solskjaer’s first two months on the job, or the one from his last six weeks.

MLS Notes: Shea out for season with torn ACL, and more

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It appeared Brek Shea had finally gotten his career back on track, only for a serious injury to end his season prematurely.

Atlanta United announced on Tuesday that Shea had suffered a “right knee injury” that will involve season-ending surgery. An earlier report from the Athletic stated it was a torn ACL, which could leave Shea sidelined into the start of next season.

[READ: de Ligt arrives in Turin]

Shea has made 10 starts out of 19 appearances so far this season for Atlanta, where he’s often played as a left wing back or left midfielder, offering speed down the flank and a deeper starting position to connect with Atlanta’s talented attackers. A good season from Shea could have propelled him back into the USMNT conversation, especially if he took part in next season’s January camp. Now, that option is off the table.

Here’s some more MLS news and notes:

(more…)

De Ligt lands in Turin ahead of proposed Juventus move

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Cristiano Ronaldo’s recruiting tactics with Matthijs de Ligt during the UEFA Nations League final appears to have worked.

[READ: Transfer Rumor Roundup]

Juventus posted a video on the club’s social media accounts that shows de Ligt arriving in Turin, Italy on a private jet, likely to sign his contract and get started with the club. It’s a huge precursor to an announcement for one of the top targets of this summer’s transfer market, and it represents a huge coup for Juventus.

Just a month ago or so, Juventus were on the outside looking in, with Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona, and even Manchester United and Manchester City all mentioned in the race to sign the Netherlands and Ajax star centerback. And yet, PSG, which appeared in the lead at one point, lost ground to Juventus, and de Ligt now gets to compete alongside Ronaldo after facing him twice over the past season.

It’s the latest move in the incredible rise of de Ligt over the past three years. De Ligt was promoted to Ajax’s first team as a 17-year-old, and pretty quickly established himself as a huge talent for the Netherlands. Then Netherlands National Team coach Danny Blind called up de Ligt to start in a crunch World Cup qualifier against Bulgaria, with the Netherlands desperate for some defensive answers.

It’s didn’t exactly go well.

And yet, de Ligt has overcome those experiences and raised his game to new levels each of the last two years. Alongside Davinson Sanchez, Ajax made it to the Europa League final, and last year, de Ligt scored as Ajax defeated Juventus on the way to the UEFA Champions League semifinals. Ajax was just a few minutes away from the finals before Tottenham’s late winner.

At the same time, along with Virgil Van Dijk, they form one of the strongest centerback partnerships in Europe, and look set to lead the Netherlands to UEFA Euro 2020.

As mentioned before, it’s a massive get for de Ligt, assuming that the soon-to-be 20-year-old can settle in Turin. Juventus’ defensive corps continues to grow older, with Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini both well into their 30s. De Ligt’s arrival can help give some stability at the back and allow Juventus to transition to the next generation of centerbacks.

Cameroon fire Seedorf, Kluivert

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Upset with how the national team was bounced from the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, the Cameroon Football Federation has taken a drastic and surprising measure.

[READ: Reports: Trippier set to join Atletico Madrid]

The Cameroon FF (FECAFOOT) announced on Tuesday that it had dismissed head coach Clarence Seedorf and his coaching staff, which includes Seedorf’s former Netherlands and Ajax teammate Patrick Kluivert. Seedorf and Cameroon were defeated 3-2 by Nigeria in the Round of 16, knocking The Indomitable Lions out of the tournament.

Cameroon had won the last AFCON tournament and were set to host again, but the Confederation of African Football (CAF) removed the tournament from Cameroon due to the anglophone political crisis.

Seedorf signed a four-year contract last August, bringing Kluivert along with him in his first attempt to coach international soccer. However, it appears that the bosses in FECAFOOT expected more from Cameroon at the AFCON, and the results have embarrassed the federation enough to sack a promising coach.

The news should be a boost to club teams across Europe, which could pick up two of the top young coaches with a ton of playing experience, both of whom are free agents.