Solskjaer faces ‘great challenge’ to resurrect Man United

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer stabilized Manchester United during a terribly turbulent time when he took over as interim manager back in December, but the Norwegian couldn’t will the Red Devils to a top-four finish after being named Jose Mourinho’s permanent replacement in March.

[ MORE: Man United can’t hold early lead, draw Huddersfield (video) ]

Now, with a summer full of uncertainty looming, Solskjaer is fully aware of the “great challenge” ahead of him: rebuilding a first-team squad that hasn’t challenged for the Premier League title since winning it in Sir Alex Ferguson‘s final season. The year was 2013.

To make a tall task even taller, Solskjaer and chief executive will have to maneuver through the transfer market without the benefit of Champions League revenue after Man United were eliminated from top-four contention upon throwing away an early lead and drawing already-relegated Huddersfield Town on Sunday — quotes from the BBC:

“We are where we are for a reason. Over a long season we haven’t been good enough to challenge for the Champions League places. It’s not come as a surprise but we hoped to show a better performance today.”

“We haven’t taken enough points, won enough games, scored enough goals — its always difficult when you lose your manager halfway through the season. It’s caught up with us a little bit.

“It shows us where we are. We’re not living in fantasy land, thinking we can catch the top two. We’re far away, but we shouldn’t be speaking about being far off the top-four at Manchester United.

“We’re many levels [behind] at the moment, that’s the size of the challenge, it’s a great challenge for us but I’m sure we’ll make it.”

Defender Ashley Young, who’s won four major trophies since joining the club in 2011, longs for the days of competing for titles and winning trophies.

“I’m not sure what it is, its a number of things. It’s a disappointment now we can’t make the top-four. We must go away and be ready to go again.

“We haven’t been playing the way we should, that’s why we are where we are in the league table. It’s a massive blow for a club like Manchester United. It’s not what we want to be talking about, fighting for top-four, we want trophies and titles.

“It’s been tough, we haven’t been fighting for titles and it’s a massive disappointment. We must come back next season ready to win.”

Griezmann: Playing for Barcelona is ‘not the easiest’

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Over the summer, Barcelona shelled a whopping $135 million to land Antoine Griezmann from Atletico Madrid.

It was a match made in heaven; the rest was supposed to be history.

Only that hasn’t been the case for the Frenchman in Barcelona.

Despite scoring a brace in his debut at the Camp Nou, Griezmann’s impact and influence on the field has quickly dwindled. In 11 league appearances with the Catalan giants, the 28-year-old has scored four goals and added three assists, signs that the World Cup winner is, in fact, struggling with his new team.

Speaking to Telefoot, Griezmann revealed that playing for Barcelona is not an easy thing to do, but that with hard work, his fortunes will turn around for the best:

“It is hard, I knew it would be, it is not the easiest place. This is a new team, a new club, new tactics, a new position. I have to work, try to understand my team-mates, after they will understand me too and it will work just like that… Critics will always be there. But I am good, I am proud of where I am. Only work pays off. I have to take confidence and it will all come just like that.”

This season, Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde has frequently deployed the Frenchman as a left winger, with the hope that he will link up with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez. The positives form such an ideology have yet to be reaped, however. Griezmann is scoring a goal every 224 minutes, a career worst.

The 28-year-old, too, has played in a central role on a couple of occasions, specifically during the absences of Messi and Suarez, but it hasn’t worked out for a player that has made a career from roaming that part of the field.

The building clamor at the Camp Nou is borderline justifiable – mainly because it’s now evident that Griezmann is wrestling with adapting to the expectations and systems in place in Barcelona.

But the high-flying attacker has proven he’s worth the price time and time again, and now he’s on the record saying that he’ll do everything in his power to do so with his new club.

Real Monarchs beat Louisville City to win first ever USL Cup

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Real Monarchs scored three unanswered goals as they routed Louisville City 3-1 at Lynn Stadium to win their first ever USL Cup title.

Noah Powder’s goal in the 66th minute sealed the deal for the visitor’s, adding to the goals scored by defenders Erik Holt and Konrad Plewa in the first half.

Surprisingly enough, it was Lou City who got off to a superb start on Sunday night, though.

Only six minutes after the initial whistle, Lou City’s leading goalscorer, Magnus Rasmussen, scored the game’s first goal, breaking a record for the fastest goal in a USL Cup final.

The defeat brings an end to Lou City’s historic run of consecutive USL Cup-winning seasons.

On July 1, former Real Salt Lake defender, Jamison Olave, took over as the Monarchs interim coach following Martin Vasquez’s unexpected resignation.

Man arrested after English soccer player reports homophobia

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TRANMERE, England — A footballer in England’s third tier reported being subjected to homophobic abuse from the stands, leading to police making one arrest.

Wycombe goalkeeper Ryan Allsop told the referee of the abuse at halftime of the League One soccer game at Tranmere as his team won 2-0.

Tranmere says it is very disappointed to learn of a homophobic comment made.

In a statement, Merseyside Police condemned abhorrent incidents.

Police Chief Inspector Jason Crellin added that “hate crime has no place in our communities, and not least at a showcase sporting event attended and watched by many people.”

Brazil beat Mexico to win U-17 World Cup (video)

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Brazil became Under-17 world champions for a fourth time in dramatic fashion as Lazaro Vinicius Marques’ scored a 93rd-minute winner to edge Mexico 2-1 at Estadio Bezerrão on Sunday.

Brazil’s comeback started in the 84th minute when Kaio Jorge converted from the penalty spot, following VAR’s decision which ruled contact on the tournament’s Golden Ball winner, Gabriel Veron, inside the 18-yard box.

With Brazilian legends Ronaldo and Cafu in attendance, the host’s had the better of chances throughout the first 45 minutes. Without any luck, however, Brazil were unable to get the ball past Eduardo Garcia, instead hitting the bar on several occasions.

Then in the 66th minute, Mexico – winners of the tournament in 2005 and in 2011 – stunned the home crowd when Bronze Ball winner Eugenio Pizzoto’s cross into the box was headed into the back of the net by Bryan Alonso Gonzalez Olivan, breaking the deadlock between two sides that had met in the same game back in 2005.

What was going to be a stunning, underdog victory for El Tri, turned into a heartbreaking night for Marco “Chima” Ruiz and company.

Brazil, on the other hand, are now only one championship away from tying Nigeria’s record of five championships.