How ‘ruthless’ should Solskjaer be at Man United?

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has said he is going to be “ruthless” when it comes to ins and outs at Manchester United this summer.

But how ruthless does he have to be?

After a narrow, and undeserved, win against West Ham United on Saturday, Solskjaer admitted that the Hammers got away with one and it once again showed just how much work he has to do at Old Trafford to turn the Red Devils into a genuine force once again.

Here’s a reminder of what United’s new permanent head coach had to say last Friday about potential departures and arrivals this summer.

“It’s going to be survival of the fittest or survival of the best,” Solskjaer said. “That’s how ruthless we have to be.  We need players here who are going to be able to take us forward. That means culture in the dressing room, what we do every single day here to make us challenge again… Liverpool and City are too far head at the moment for what we like. We played against a Barcelona team that sets the standard in European football. We’re under no illusion it’s going to be hard work and there will be some tough decisions made by me, Mick [Phelan] and the club.”

Solskjaer’s task has become a lot tougher now his interim tag has been removed, with the Norwegian coach losing four of his last six games in all competitions and United struggling to make the top four and looking like they will crash out of the UEFA Champions League at Barcelona on Tuesday.

But at least he accepts he must be ruthless, as a whole host of players look set to move on this summer.

Antonio Valencia is leaving at the end of his contract, while Ander Herrera also looks set to leave for PSG and Juan Mata appears to be heading out of the door too. Then there is Matteo Darmian and Marcos Rojo who both seem set to leave, while Alexis Sanchez and United will both want to move on from a nightmare 18-month spell.

So that’s six first team players potentially on the way out, but only one or two are genuine starters. A bigger overhaul is needed. Here’s a look at where United need to strengthen over the summer, as they also need to sort out David De Gea‘s contract situation very quickly or run the risk of losing him too.


Man United lineup for the 2019-20 season

—– De Gea —–

—- New RB —- New CB —- Lindelof —- Shaw —-

—- New DM —- New DM —- 

—- New AM —- Pogba —- Martial —-

—– Rashford —–


Now, Diogo Dalot can replace Ashley Young as the long-term right back, while Chris Smalling and Phil Jones have been handed new deals at center back, and Eric Bailly is around too, but their limitations have been made clear over the years. A new RB and CB are a must. In central midfield the likes of Scott McTominay, Fred and Nemanja Matic have all had their ups and downs and that is the main area where United need to strengthen. Going forward, they are pretty set, especially with the likes of Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez in reserve. But the main thing here is clear: have a clear-out of squad players this summer and focus on bringing in 3-4 star players.

Which players should be the top targets for United? Solskjaer should aim for young, hungry players who can be at United together for a decade, while some experienced center backs are key. Bur remember: Solskjaer has been keen to promote youngsters from United’s academy whenever he can, so that may also be the route he goes down to freshen things up and Ed Woodward and United’s hierarchy would probably be fine with that given how much money Louis Van Gaal and Jose Mourinho have spent over the past five years.

Here’s a look at the players who should be their top priorities:

10-man Leicester snatch late win at Burnley (video)

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  • Morgan scores stoppage time winner
  • Maguire sent off in 4th minute
  • Burnley lost fourth-straight game

Leicester City secured a battling victory at Burnley on Saturday, as Brendan Rodgers‘ side scored a stoppage-time winner after being reduced to 10-men in the fourth minute of the game.

Harry Maguire was sent off with less than four minutes on the clock, but James Maddison put Leicester ahead with a free kick.

Dwight McNeil scored a superb goal to equalize for Burnley but Wes Morgan popped up with a goal in second half stoppage time as Sean Dyche‘s were stunned.

The win for Rodgers’ side moves them into 10th place on 41 points, while Burnley remain just one place and two points above the relegation zone.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

It was the worst possible start for Leicester as Maguire, who was last man, clipped the heels of Gudmundsson, who was clean through on goal and was shown a straight-red card. Morgan was brought on as a sub as Demarai Gray was sacrificed to keep Leicester to four at the back.

Leicester’s backs were against the wall, as Gudmundsson’s effort from the resulting free kick deflected off the wall and hit the bar.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Despite having an extra man, Burnley sat back and tried to hit Leicester on the counter. Wilfred Ndidi made a superb last-ditch tackle to keep Burnley out on one such attack.

The Foxes dug deep and caused problems as Harvey Barnes drilled wide and they were a real threat from set-piece situations. And that is how they went ahead. Maddison won a free kick on the edge of the box and he then stepped up and curled home a superb effort into the top corner. 1-0.

Vardy stung the palms of Tom Heaton before half time as Leicester were in the ascendancy, but then Burnley hit them on the break as teenager McNeil swept home from the edge of the box to make it 1-1.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

In the second half Vardy was lively, as always, on the counter, but Burnley went so close to going ahead for the first time. Jack Cork was found in the box but his curler went just wide as the Clarets cranked through the gears.

Chris Wood then somehow sidefooted over from close range after a superb cross from McNeil and Burnley felt they should have had a couple of penalty kicks late on.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Charlie Taylor went down in the box under a challenge from Ndidi but Michael Oliver waved played on and then handball calls against Wes Morgan were waved away as Peter Crouch made a nuisance of himself in the box.

McNeil hooked over the bar late on as Burnley poured forward in search of a crucial winner, but Leicester were the team to snatch victory.

Youri Tieleman’s deflected cross found Morgan, who nodded home in stoppage time to snatch a massive three points for the Foxes.

Declan Rice gets first England call-up after winning Irish award

Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images
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On Tuesday, it was announced that Declan Rice had been selected for Ireland’s Young Player of the Year award, though he will not be present to celebrate his honor at an awards ceremony on Sunday.

[ MORE: Pep Guardiola loving life as “bold” Man City advances in UCL ]

That’s because the 20-year-old will be with the England team after receiving his first call-up after switching international allegiances earlier this year. The call came from Gareth Southgate‘s Three Lions on Wednesday and will have Rice in camp for EURO 2020 qualifiers against the Czech Republic and Montenegro.

“His form warrants it,” Southgate said of West Ham’s rising star. “It’s been a well-publicized situation with Declan. We’ve tracked him for quite a while … His form has been excellent. We like what we see. … There aren’t many players of his age playing as well as he is in the Premier League.”

England’s 25-man squad

Goalkeepers: Jack Butland (Stoke City), Tom Heaton (Burnley), Jordan Pickford (Everton)

Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Ben Chilwell (Leicester City), Michael Keane (Everton), Harry Maguire (Leicester City), Declan Rice (West Ham United), Danny Rose (Tottenham), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), James Tarkowski (Burnley), Kieran Trippier (Tottenham), Kyle Walker (Manchester City)

Midfielders: Dele Alli (Tottenham), Ross Barkley (Chelsea), Fabian Delph (Manchester City), Eric Dier (Tottenham), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea)

Forwards: Harry Kane (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Callum Wilson (Bournemouth)

Watford ruin Rodgers’ Leicester debut (video)

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  • Andre Gray scores 92nd minute winner
  • Deeney had put Watford ahead
  • Vardy equalized in second half
  • Defeat for Rodgers on Leicester debut

Watford beat Leicester City 2-1 at Vicarage Road on Sunday, as Brendan Rodgers‘ first game in charge of the Foxes ended in bitter disappointment.

A stoppage time winner from substitute Andre Gray saw Watford grab all three points, as Javi Gracia‘s men took the lead through Troy Deeney early on and dominated vast swathes of the game. Jamie Vardy equalized 15 minutes from time and it looked like Leicester would grab a point, but Gray delivered in the 92nd minute as Rodgers’ return to the Premier League wasn’t a happy one.

With the win Watford move level with seventh-place Wolves on 43 points, while Leicester remain in 11th on 35 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Deeney should have scored straight away but Kasper Schmiechel saved and then Gerard Deulofeu‘s shot was blocked. But the Hornets took the lead soon after as Deeney flicked home Deulofeu’s free kick with his head to give Rodgers the worst possible start as Leicester’s manager.

A moment of concern then arrived as Vardy and Ben Foster collided with the former suffering a a blow to the head and Foster requiring some treatment on his chin. Both players continued, and Harvey Barnes then went close for the Foxes after Ben Chillwell’s fine cross.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Leicester threatened out wide with some testing crosses into the box and Barnes caused some problems with his powerful central runs.

Adrian Marriapa cleared a dangerous cross from James Maddison as Watford’s defense held firm and went in ahead at the break.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

At the start of the second half it was Watford who looked sharper, once again, as Abdoulaye Doucoure curled a powerful shot on goal which Schmiechel pushed away.

The game turned into a cagey encounter for most of the second half as tackles flew in and Deeney battled away with the likes of Morgan and Harry Maguire.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Leicester then equalized through Vardy, as Youri Tielemans picked out a perfect pass to open up Watford’s defense and Vardy dinked the ball over Foster to make it 1-1. Maguire may have fouled in an aerial challenge leading up to the goal, but Jon Moss waved play on.

The Foxes almost won it late on as Maddison whipped in a delightful cross but Morgan could only send his header wide. And moments later Watford won it, as Deeney flicked the ball around the corner and Gray latched onto the loose ball and finished calmly past Schmeichel to leave Rodgers looking to the ground in disgust.

Rodgers visits players after win, promises ‘special things on horizon’

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Leicester City is looking ahead to better times after the firing of Claude Puel, the hiring of Brendan Rodgers, and a 2-1 defeat of Brighton and Hove Albion on Tuesday.

[ RECAP: Leicester 2-1 Brighton ]

“We want to look up rather than down now,” said Harry Maguire. “The performances haven’t been too bad but the results haven’t been good enough.”

The performance was good enough for three points on Tuesday, though Davy Propper pulled a goal back for the Seagulls after Leicester went ahead 2-0.

Leicester interim manager Mike Stowall said the club is expecting Rodgers to instill consistency and as growth mindset in the team.

“He’s got great experience working with young players and we’ve got plenty,” Stowall said. “He’s got a presentation for them to show them what he expects on and off the pitch so I look forward to seeing that as well.”

“He’s pleased. He just spoke to the lads in the dressing room. He was proud of them and liked the spirit and he promised them there are special things on the horizon.”

Rodgers had a big personality and will quickly move to quell unrest at a club rumored to be plagued by “player power” spearheaded by striker Jamie Vardy.

And Maguire thinks the statement of Rodgers leaving Celtic for the KP is a loud one.

“I’m excited to get started, we all know his profile and what he’s done,” Maguire said. “We’re all looking forward to working with him. … Celtic are a massive club so it shows how big Leicester are getting and our ambitions. It’s exciting times. We know he’s coached a lot of young players and we hope he can bring them on. We’re all excited.”