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Solskjaer hits out at reports on his Man United future

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer isn’t happy with fresh reports that he could be fired as Manchester United’s manager.

A report from The Sun suggested that Solskjaer has told his players that if they lose against Tottenham at home on Wednesday and at crosstown rivals Man City on Saturday, he will be fired as Man United’s manager.

Speaking to the media ahead of the clash against Jose Mourinho’s Spurs on Wednesday (Watch live, 2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) Solskjaer wasn’t as calm as he usually is.

“I am good. Absolutely no problem. Sometimes you laugh when you read stories about what I’ve said and stuff. At least I know the sources everyone is talking about aren’t sources, they are just made up, blatant lies,” Solskjaer said. 

It would be weird if Solskjaer wasn’t feeling the pressure right now. Right? With Mauricio Pochettino linked with a move to United on a daily basis, Solskjaer needs a big week from his young players who have only impressed in flashes this season. Even their big money defensive additions have failed to shore things up at the back.

With United nine points off the top four after successive draws against Sheffield United and Aston Villa, qualification for the UEFA Champions League looks a long way off. In fact, United are just six points above the relegation zone going into the midweek slate of games.

Solskjaer is putting a brave face on things but admitted that he is in constant communication with executive vice chairman Ed Woodward and results must improve.

“We have had too many draws for my liking – defeats as well, but draws we should have turned into wins. Football is a results business and we’re not happy and know we should do better,” Solskjaer said. “We speak all the time, it’s not like a knee-jerk ‘suddenly we need to talk’ – we speak a few times every week. It’s continually progressing, the plans, the rebuilding we know we started, we made some decisions that were necessary and of course we are not happy where we are but will continue working.”

He also gave an injury update on star midfielder Paul Pogba, who won’t play against Tottenham but Scott McTominay and Nemanja Matic are battling back to full fitness as Solskjaer aims to solve his imbalance in central midfield.

“No. Paul’s not ready, no,” Solskjaer said. “He’s still a bit away but he’s working hard so let’s see. He’s out on the grass, so let’s see how long it will take.”

Solskjaer knows his United team have fared better against the top teams this season, as they’ve beaten Chelsea and Leicester, drawn against Liverpool, Wolves and Arsenal, while they haven’t lost to a team in the top 10.

Four points from these games against Tottenham and Man City will silence plenty of Solskjaer’s doubters.

Christian Pulisic named USMNT Player of the Year

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Who else could it be? Christian Pulisic has been named the USMNT player of the year for 2019.

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The Chelsea star, 21, excelled for club and country over the past 12 months and after taking a few months to settle into life in England, he’s now taking the Premier League by storm on a weekly basis.

Pulisic has now won this award for a second time after first winning it in 2017 and he becomes the youngest player in U.S. men’s national team history to win the award twice.

His achievements over the last 12 months are numerous, as he dragged a struggling USMNT to the 2019 Gold Cup final and also became the youngest player to reach double figures in goals for the USMNT.

MLS veteran Sacha Kljestan signs with hometown LA Galaxy

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Carson, Calif. (AP) Veteran midfielder Sacha Kljestan has signed with the LA Galaxy as a free agent.

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The 34-year-old U.S. national team contributor officially returned to his native Southern California on Wednesday.

Kljestan has scored 49 goals over 10 MLS seasons in a career that began as the fifth overall pick by defunct Chivas USA, the Galaxy’s former stadium partners. After a successful five-year stint with Belgium’s Anderlecht, he spent the past five seasons with New York Red Bulls and Orlando City.

The Huntington Beach native also has made 51 appearances for the U.S. team, playing in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Kljestan will provide veteran leadership for a Galaxy roster in transition after the departures of its top two goal-scorers: Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Uriel Antuna.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Liverpool in talks to activate Minamino’s release clause

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On the face of it, this move makes perfect sense for everyone concerned. Especially Liverpool, who get a bargain.

Multiple reports state that the Premier League leaders are in advanced talks to sign Japanese winger Takumi Minamino from RB Salzburg.

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Minamino, 24, has a release clause of just $9.5 million and it has been reported that he will move to Liverpool in January with talks going well over a five-year contract.

RB Salzburg sporting director Christoph Freund confirmed talks are ongoing about the transfer, with Bayern Munich and Marseille also said to be interested in signing the tricky winger.

“I can confirm that there are talks with Liverpool at the moment. It is an honor [for us] to see the caliber of clubs who are interested in our players.”

Minamino’s goals, pace and trickery pushed Salzburg to within one game of reaching the UEFA Champions League knockout rounds and he impressed against Liverpool in both games in the UCL group stage as he scored at Anfield and gave their defense plenty of problems in the return game. His skillset would perfectly suit the way Liverpool play with his direct running, pace and nose for goal seemingly perfect for Jurgen Klopp‘s side.

With Klopp and his RB Salzburg counterpart Jesse Marsch hugging on the sidelines after Liverpool’s win in Austria on Tuesday, plus Klopp’s kind words on the job the American coach is doing at Salzburg, it’s safe to say there’s a strong connection between the two teams and their styles of play are very similar.

That’s an even better reason for Minamino to head to Liverpool as the Japanese star would slot in seamlessly and he would become the third former RB Salzburg player at the Reds alongside Naby Keita and Sadio Mane.

From the style of play of both player and the club, to the small transfer fee, this works out very well for everyone involved. Even Salzburg will be happy to become known as a feeder club to Liverpool and Europe’s other big boys as that will help them with their future recruitment.

Raul Jimenez’s future at Wolves uncertain

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Raul Jimenez has been talking about playing for one of Spain’s big boys.

That sound you can hear is Wolves fans everywhere sobbing.

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The Mexican striker was quoted by Spanish outlet Marca saying that he would one day like to return to Spain and play for one of the La Liga giants.

“I would never rule out returning to Spain. I have good memories, and I would like to go back at some point,” Jimenez said. “I want to try out LaLiga once more, as I didn’t get to play much the previous time. Returning is not off the agenda. I have played at the Nou Camp and the Bernabeu.”

Jimenez, 28, previously played for Atletico Madrid before moving to Benfica who loaned him to Wolves in the summer of 2018, and he has since made the switch to the West Midlands permanent for $40 million.

However, his manager Nuno Espirito Santo has moved to calm down fears the El Tri star will move at the end of this season.

“What he is doing is amazing – every day of his life is dedicated to Wolves so we are delighted with it,” Santo said. “Being ambitious and dreaming is something all of us have. But our present is very good with Raul here.”

The powerful Mexican striker has been superb over the past two seasons and has proved to be a phenomenal target man in the Premier League. He’s scored 32 goals in 71 appearances in all competitions for Wolves, leading them to an FA Cup semifinal appearance and seventh-place PL finish last season and his goals this campaign (15 in 27 appearances in total) have catapulted them into the top six and the last 32 of the UEFA Europa League. Aside from his goals Jimenez’s hold-up play has been vital to Wolves’ success.

It is worth pointing out that Jimenez revealed he is very happy at Wolves but the fact he is so ambitious and fancies moving on to either Real Madrid and Barcelona is a good thing for the club. This means Jimenez is striving to improve and do all he can to take his game to the next level.

Yes, Wolves will be desperate to keep hold of the Mexican star who is a fans favorite at Molineux. But if he continues to score goals and one of Spain’s big boys, or a title-chasing team in the PL, were to come calling, can they stand in his way?