Jesse Lingard

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Just how different will Manchester United look next year?

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It’s Sunday morning, Paul Pogba wants to leave Manchester United, and the USWNT doesn’t play its World Cup match until Noon: Let’s deal in theoreticals by starting with a fact.

This season is going to be a major challenge for one Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The Manchester United boss will seemingly be pulling together a significant amount of new parts into a team which is coming off a sixth place finish in the Premier League, with four of the five teams ahead of him having maintained their managers and most if not all key pieces.

Oh, and he’ll have to fashion this team based out of parts willing to buy into the club’s mystique and ignore the lack of UEFA Champions League play (which is seemingly why Paul Pogba is ready to skip town).

Big paychecks will help, but there’s no way to quickly meld these pieces into one unit. That’s especially true if the biggest piece of their 2018-19 puzzle, Pogba, isn’t in the middle of the park (or pushed a bit forward).

Juan Mata, Ander Herrera, and Antonio Valencia are out of contract, and Romelu Lukaku has been as mentioned as any striker on the market (He has three goals in four days for Belgium, albeit against Kazakhstan and Scotland).

Pogba’s potential departure puts a lot of weight on Ed Woodward to spend money well (One could make an argument for United needing 60-80 percent of those names).

Subtracting them and adding no one, United’s best XI is something like David De Gea, Diogo Dalot, Eric Bailly, Victor Lindelof, Luke Shaw, Scott McTominay, Nemanja Matic, Anthony Martial, Andreas Pereira, Jesse Lingard, and Marcus Rashford.

As an aside, the expectations and pressure heaped on Rashford by the “he’s better than Lukaku, play him now centrally” media crowd is going to be a burden if the 21-year-old has to bear the center forward burden alone. My goodness are there Old Trafford subplots in excess or what?

Now, of course, there are seven weeks to go in the transfer window and there’s no guarantee Pogba and Lukaku will leave town. In fact, you may want to place your confidence on Pogba opening the season unhappy but at Old Trafford. Either way, the center of the park is going to get a remarkable makeover, and both center back and goalkeeper will get upgrades, too.

To the fixes:

— United is expected to spend big on Crystal Palace right back Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who was sensational last season with the Eagles. They reportedly have sent a $51 million offer to Roy Hodgson‘s squad.

— They’ve been linked with desire for Issa Diop, though West Ham has hopes of $75 million for the center back who made JPW’s Top Ten of the season.

Wilfred Ndidi is “flattered” by links to United, but is focused on Nigeria’s Africa Cup of Nations line. Should the Red Devils want to buy the 22-year-old, he’s likely in the same price range as the above names.

— Don’t forget Monaco’s Youri Tielemans, who feels like a PL player from his outstanding time at Leicester City last season. He’d merit another $50 million or so.

It’s worth noting that all would get more European football than at their current home with a bump in wages plus an new iconic shirt. Don’t sleep on that.

You’re probably talking a $240-250 million outlay there, should United land them.

Without going further, nor mentioning Swansea’s young Daniel James and Sheffield United loanee Dean Henderson, you can see a thread here: United could be showing us how a Premier League Best XI without any Top Six players would fare in the top flight.

Of course, United has also been linked with big buys from outside of the Premier League and many of these are older than Ndidi, Diop, Tielemans, and AWB.

But taking those four young players and assuming a focal point/back bone strengthening holding mid would likely join part-time players and full-time leaders Nemanja Matic and Chris Smalling (and maybe Juan Mata).

Now of course there are rumors of experienced leaders Ivan Rakitic of Barcelona and there could be a return from Real, PSG, or Juve. And this whole post looks even worse when United swaps Pogba for Neymar straight-up.

Here’s another question in the myriad facing Solskjaer and Woodward: Is the Europa League a better route to the Champions League than the idea of beating out two of Spurs, Arsenal, Chelsea, Man City, and Liverpool (And noting that Spurs, City, and Liverpool will be heavily expected to finish 1-2-3 in some permutation and Chelsea has a leg up on the field assuming Eden Hazard is their lone significant departure).

Manchester United w/ above transfers (Age when season starts)

De Gea (28)

Wan-Bissaka (21) — Lindelof (25) — Diop (22) — Shaw (24)

Ndidi (22) — Matic (30)

Tielemans (22)

Lingard (26) — Rashford (21) — Martial (23)

What a time to be alive. Rashford better deliver!

Nations League: Netherlands comes back, beats England in extra time

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In a wild match decided by numerous defensive errors, it was the Netherlands that made the most of its opportunities.

Despite trailing early, the Netherlands came back from a goal down to defeat England, 3-1 after extra time on Thursday in Guimaraes, Portugal. With the win, the Netherlands advances to the UEFA Nation’s League Final, where it will face host nation Portugal. England, meanwhile, will face Switzerland in the third-place game back in Guimaraes.

With the match coming at the end of a long season for many of the players on the pitch, whether they played for Tottenham, Liverpool or Ajax, it seemed that there were moments of lost focus, which enabled both team’s attacking talent to flourish.

England and the Netherlands traded blows early, with Jadon Sancho taking on Netherland’s right back Denzel Dumfries and former Manchester United winger Memphis Depay taking strikes on Jordan Pickford in goal.

It was Matthijs de Ligt who made the game’s first crucial mistake, turning the ball over right on the edge of the box. Rashford pounced on the error and drove towards goal before de Ligt took Rashford down from behind with a slide tackle, leading to a penalty kick.

After a long wait, Rashford stepped to the spot and calmly sent Jasper Cillessen the wrong way to put England in front in the 32nd minute.

Although the Netherlands was creating chances, England seemed comfortably on its way to the Nation’s League final until a mistake on corner kick marking. In the 73rd minute, de Ligt made up for his earlier mistake by rising highest on a corner kick and scoring to tie the match.

The back and forth match came to life after de Ligt’s goal as England had a goal ruled out by VAR and the Netherlands thought they may have earned a penalty kick but it was waived off after a VAR check.

A beautiful move, started by Ben Chillwell down the left wing with a silky smooth Raheem Sterling backheel and a Jordan Henderson through ball saw Jesse Lingard look to have put England up 2-1. However, Lingard’s goal was called back for offside after a lengthy check.

Minutes later at the other end, Ben Chillwell had the ball ricochet off his hip and arm in the box, leading the Dutch players to call for a handball. However under the new IFAB rules, it was ruled unintentional and the appeals were waived off.

In extra time, it was yet another defensive error that effectively decided the match. John Stones got caught with his eye off the ball and Depay stole it before taking a shot on goal. Pickford made an incredible save but after Quincy Promes dashing run into the box, Promes shot deflected off Kyle Walker and in for an own goal to give the Netherlands a one goal lead in the 97th minute.

Promes made it 3-1 to the Orange in the 114th minute, firing into an empty net after another England miscue gave the Netherlands a great opportunity.

Kane, Sterling, Sancho headline England squad for UEFA Nations League finals

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Harry Kane is fit to play for Tottenham and thus, Gareth Southgate expects him ready to feature for England.

Kane, Raheem Sterling and Jadon Sancho headlined a 23-man England National Team squad for the UEFA Nations League Finals. England will face the Netherlands on June 6, with a second game in either the final or third-place game against Switzerland or Portugal. All the matches will take place in Portugal.

“We have got exciting players and picking a squad is really difficult because we have lots of depth of talent, not only the squad we have picked but the U21s as well,” Southgate said in a statement on the FA’s website. “There’s been some difficult decisions to make and we are obviously a little bit complicated with so many players involved in the Champions League as well but we are really excited by the squad and the players that are around it.”

While Kane, Danny Rose, and Eric Dier all made the squad, Southgate cut Harry Winks and Kieran Trippier from the original 27-man squad he named earlier in May. Southampton midfielders James Ward-Prowse and Nathan Redmond were also cut from the squad, but Southgate will keep them training with the group until the players involved in the Europa League and Champions League finals arrive.

With this squad, Southgate has on-paper a pretty decent team to contest the title.

Goalkeepers: Jordan Pickford, Jack Butland, Tom Heaton

Defenders: Danny Rose, Danny Rose, Eric Dier, John Stones, Harry Maguire, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joe Gomez, Ben Chilwell, Michael Keane

Midfielders: Jesse Lingard, Jordan Henderson, Declan Rice, Fabian Delph, Ross Barkley, Dele Alli,

Forwards: Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford, Callum Wilson

Transfer rumor roundup: Sanchez to Juventus; Brandt to Spurs

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The Premier League transfer window is officially open again and that means one thing: transfer reports are going to start kicking up a few notches.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Here’s a look at some of the latest gossip from around the PL…


We know that Alexis Sanchez is very unlikely to be at Manchester United next season, but where is he off to?

The Independent say that Juventus have held meetings with United and intermediaries about signing Sanchez, 30, this summer.

It comes after Inter Milan were linked with a loan move for Sanchez, but the Chilean forward is currently on $627,000 per week at United and he would either have to take a huge wage cut to head to Serie A or United would have to subsidize his wages in a loan move to either Juve or Inter. It has been suggested that United would have to pay a huge chunk of Sanchez’s wages (around $15 million) just to send him out on loan next season.

Although his wages are still a huge stumbling block, the reports states some progress has been made in the recent meetings. It is certainly Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s wish to offload Sanchez as his 18-month nightmare at United saw him score just one Premier League in his first full season at Old Trafford. With multiple injuries piling up, Sanchez never got into his groove and United have preferred Jesse Lingard, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial in the attacking roles.

A move to either Inter or Juve would be a good fit for Sanchez, as he would return to Italy where he previously played for Udinese before joining Barcelona then Arsenal. On his day he is one of the most explosive, unpredictable wingers out there, but he hasn’t settled since joining United in January 2018 and is a shadow of the player who led Arsenal’s attack.


Tottenham want to sign Bayer Leverkusen’s Julian Brandt, according to the Daily Mail.

The German international, 23, has a release clause in his contract of $27.5 million and Spurs are keen to add some more attacking options over the summer with the situation regarding Christian Eriksen‘s future unclear.

Eriksen, 27, has one year left on his current deal and both Real Madrid and Barcelona are said to be interested in signing the Danish playmaker.

Brandt can play anywhere in the attacking midfield roles and given the fact it worked out pretty well for Spurs the last time they signed an attacking player from Leverkusen (Heung-Min Son in 2015), they may well go back to the Bundesliga club to unearth another gem.

The German attacker has scored 41 goals in 214 games for Leverkusen since he made his debut in 2014, and has played a prominent role for the German national team in recent years.

With Lucas Moura, Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Son and Erik Lamela around, a move for Brandt would suggest that Eriksen and others attackers may move on this summer.

When will Ed Woodward be held accountable for Man United failures?

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Six seasons, five managers, three Champions League qualifications, zero Premier League titles.

That is the Manchester United story since they last trimphed over the English top flight in Sir Alex Ferguson‘s final season as Red Devils boss.

The leadership has been chopped and changed many times over, but there is one constant: Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, who ascended to his current role in 2012 and was made top operational executive a year later after the departure of David Gill. Since Woodward took full control of the club, Manchester United has spiraled completely out of control, with the luster of 13 Premier League titles almost fully rusted away.

While Manchester United has collected three trophies under his watch, the two most coveted – the Premier League and Champions League titles – have eluded the storied club, instead settling for an FA Cup, League Cup and Europa League title (plus two Community Shields, as Jose Mourinho would tell you).

Still, Woodward has somehow escaped heavy criticism for his rocky tenure, with the first-team managers – far more publicly accountable figures than club executives – taking the brunt of the flak for losing streaks, negative tactics, mediocre youth development, and shambolic defending. Yet Woodward remains unscathed, free of full-scale scrutiny while everything he touches turns to ash.

Woodward’s history in the transfer market has been downright abysmal. Paul Pogba, Romelu Lukaku, Angel Di Maria, Fred, Eric Bailly, and Luke Shaw have all been purchased for enormous sums of money during Woodward’s time in charge, yet none of them have lived up to their financial burdens. It is impossible to truly know what Woodward’s exact role is in the transfer dealings, but as the top operational executive at the club, he is responsible for the consistent failures whether he has taken a hands-on approach or has delegated most of the duties to others. It’s time the buck stops at the top.

Since the start of the 2013 summer transfer window, Manchester United has shelled out a gargantuan $712 million in transfer net spend and the Red Devils are no closer to challenging for the Premier League title than when they began their quest to replace Sir Alex Ferguson. After losing to relegated Cardiff City to close out the 2018/19 Premier League season with little more than a whimper, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said it would take “a long time” for Manchester United to be in a position to compete for the league title. The Notwegian boss even dared to warn supporters to temper their expectations; the Europa League would be a reasonable ambition for the time being. Those words from a Manchester United mouthpiece like Solskjaer are a brutal indictment of Woodward and his leadership of the club over the past few years.

When Sir Alex departed, the team admittedly needed an overhaul. The legendary boss somehow squeezed one last triumph out of an old and dilapidated squad, as if fans needed yet another reason to revere the greatest manager the game has ever seen. Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand, Patrice Evra, Michael Carrick, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, and Dimitar Berbatov were all over 30 and on their way out of the club while David De Gea, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Rafael, Fabio, Jesse Lingard, Danny Welbeck, and Adnan Januzaj were all 22 years old or younger and looking for guidance and direction as they continued to develop.

Instead, they were met with chaos and instability, as David Moyes, Giggs, Louis Van Gaal, and Jose Mourinho all tried and failed to restore order to the club. None of the managers were given enough time to establish any sense of consistency, and it’s unclear whether any of them were good enough hires that things would have improved if given that luxury. Instead of embracing the period of transition, the club fell into a form of purgatory, hoping to maintain a steady ship while also understanding that things would not be the same. Woodward, a career accountant, may know what it takes to secure a lucrative sponsorship, but eventually they need the on-field results to match the claim of the world’s most popular club, or the financial leverage will wane.

While many players and managers have come and gone over the past few years, Woodward has remained the only constant figure, and the longer the club continues to rot, the more obvious his role in allowing the club to fester. Now, he wishes to bring on a technical director (see: Director of Football) to help with on-field decisions and player acquisitions, a smart choice in delegating the football responsibilities but also another hire to get right. And yet…he’s reportedly looking to hire Darren Fletcher, who literally retired as a player one week ago and has zero executive or managerial experience, in what feels like more of a PR move than anything of actual significance.

With this year’s sixth place finish – the club’s fourth finish outside the Premier League’s top four over the last six years – it is time fans direct their frustration and unhappiness further up the food chain. Ed Woodward must be held accountable for the failures of the club, or the glory days of (actually not that) long ago will become an even more distant memory with every passing year.