Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

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Man United: We have funds for squad rebuild

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Manchester United will launch a huge rebuild this summer, according to executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward.

In a call to investors on Thursday, United’s leading man revealed their third quarter financial results and said he will use the success of the business side of the club to rebuild the playing squad and give Ole Gunnar Solskjaer the resources he needs this summer.

Despite finishing sixth in the Premier League this season and failing to qualify for the UEFA Champions League next season, United’s performance off the pitch is on the up. Revenue is up 3.4 percent to $194.6 million and there was a 94 percent rise in operating profits to $18.1 million.

Here’s more from Woodward:

“Everyone at the club – the board, the manager, the squad and all the staff are resolute in our desire to get United back to the top of English football. We continually look to improve staff on and off the pitch to achieve this,” Woodward said. “The strength of our business means we have the financial resources to continue to provide a solid foundation for backing the manager and creating success on the pitch. This, as ever, remains our number one goal.” 

“The season that has just ended clearly didn’t end the way we hoped, finishing in sixth place and with a disrupted managerial change part way through,” Woodward said. ” However, Ole and the squad battled back from mid-December to put us in contention to qualify for the Champions League next season, but ultimately we came up short. While the last few weeks were disappointing, we are delighted to have confirmed the appointment of Ole as our manager on a three-year contract.”

It seems like Solskjaer will have money to spend, but that hasn’t fared too well for his predecessors at United. Both Louis Van Gaal and Jose Mourinho spent plenty of cash but failed to rebuild this United squad in a manner which shows they are on the path to becoming perennial Premier League contenders once again.

Get ready for a summer of big spending from United, as Paul Pogba, Alexis Sanchez, David De Gea and Romelu Lukaku have all been linked with moves away from the Red Devils.

Big change is needed, and it seems like Woodward is finally ready to accept it. This could pretty much be his last roll of the dice after lurching from one expensive mistake to another in recent seasons.

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.

Top Ten moments of the Premier League season

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The Premier League season is over, and it’s not difficult to find the moments that will live a bit longer than the others when we imagine the 2018-19 campaign.

[ MORE: Derby County reaches playoff final ]


10. Neil Warnock stands defiantly at midfield, stares at referees

Cardiff City didn’t do enough to stay up, but it got a lot of help from officials in its fall into the Championship.

Fortunately for us, manager Neil Warnock did not lay off of the officials who made or reversed calls he perceived as major slights to his Bluebirds.

Perhaps his best tune would be best accompanied by a version of The Robot dance.

“I always thought Mike Riley was a manufactured referee from day one,” Warnock said after a loss to Chelsea. “I don’t think he’s changed since then. He’s been coached, manufactured, almost like a robot. He knows everything about the rules, but I feel these people struggle to understand the game and the human element. A lot of referees are like Mike Riley and that’s why I think we have gone backwards. Common sense is not allowed nowadays, but the best refs still use it.”

That loss ended with Warnock standing at midfield, staring at the referee crew before stating that the Premier League is “the best league in the world with the worst officials.”

9. De Gea stuns Spurs to take Ole mania up a notch

Manchester United’s star goalkeeper was not up to his standards this season, but his performance against Tottenham Hotspur early in the Ole Gunnar Solskjaer era was impeccable.

Spurs dominated the Red Devils, but De Gea made 11 saves at Wembley to give OGS his first win over a top side.

8. Arsenal wins thrilling North London Derby

Arsenal finished below Tottenham Hotspur on the table, but the Gunners sent a message that they were up for the fight with a thrilling 4-2 win over Spurs on Dec. 1.

It had everything, including Mike Dean calling penalties for both sides. Arsenal outshot Spurs 22-11, and the teams combined for 13 shots on target. And the Gunners trailed 2-1 at the break!

Most importantly for the Gunners, it was a victory over their hated rivals which ran their unbeaten mark to 19 matches.

7. Wolves howl into contention with first upset

Nuno Espirito Santo‘s Wolverhampton Wanderers became giant killers for the first time when they ended a six-match dry spell by using a second-half burst to beat Chelsea 2-1.

The win was typical of Wolves’ best days, as Raul Jimenez and Diogo Jota were the goal scorers. On the season, the newly-promoted Wolves beat Chelsea, Arsenal, Spurs, and Manchester United, drawing the Blues, Gunners, and Red Devils as well en route to a possible Europa League berth.

6. Mourinho’s “respect” rant

Manchester United had just lost 3-0 to Spurs at Old Trafford, but that’s not the three Jose Mourinho wanted to discuss in his post-match media briefing.

“Three-nil. Do you know what that also means? Three Premiership titles, and I also won more titles than the other 19 managers combined.”

5. Emiliano Sala‘s plane disappears

Cardiff City’s joy at the record purchase of Nantes striker Emiliano Sala soon turned to sickening grief when the Argentine’s plane was lost at sea. His body was recovered from the wreckage a few days later.

4. Pickford error gives Origi, Liverpool the derby

Everton supporters don’t need to be reminded that Liverpool had two moments of good fortune for every bit of bad luck in a run to second on the Premier League table. Jordan Pickford lost track of the ball in stoppage time to deny the Toffees a memorable point against their despised cross-town Reds.

3. Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha mourned

Leicester City lost its owner in November when his helicopter crashed after leaving King Power Stadium, and the world soon learned just how deeply Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha was loved by the Foxes’ faithful. The scenes at the next home game were poignant and unforgettable.

2. Kompany’s thunderbolt

Manchester City’s big Belgian leant an aire of inevitability to his side’s title defense when he busted down the door of Kasper Schmeichel and Leicester City with an absolutely stunning strike.

  1. Eleven millimeters

Let’s set the scene: Unbeaten Liverpool has a chance to put Man City in its rear view mirror at the Etihad Stadium when Sadio Mane beats the keeper and hits the post. City center back John Stones‘ effort to clear the ball hits his keeper Ederson, and the Englishman does this en route to City’s 2-1 defeat of the Reds.

Season Review: Man United, Wolves, Everton, Leicester, West Ham

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We’re into the top half of the Premier League now, as we continue to review all 20 teams’ campaigns after the 2018-19 season came to a close on Sunday.

[ REVIEW: Huddersfield, Fulham, Cardiff, Brighton, Saints ]

The group of clubs that finished between 10th and sixth spans a massive gulf in preseason predictions: from supposed title challengers Manchester United, to newly promoted Wolverhampton Wanderers.

[ REVIEW: Burnley, Bournemouth, Newcastle, Crystal Palace, Watford ]

West Ham United

Finishing position/points total: 10th / 52 points
High point: Handing London rivals Tottenham Hotspur their first defeat at their brand new stadium.
Low point
: Losing four straight to start the season, after spending big in the summer transfer window and hiring Manuel Pellegrini.

Our opinion: Given what West Ham have actually achieved this decade, they finished right where they should. Given what they spent last summer, they underachieved. That is almost certainly a product of the constant turnover taking place in east London.
Star player
: Felipe Anderson
Most memorable goal
: Declan Rice‘s first goal for West Ham was a big one: the winner against Arsenal.

Manager grade: Manuel Pellegrini: C
Hopes for next season
: As ever, West Ham fans will be dreaming of cracking the top-six, as unrealistic and difficult as that is. More realistically, they should be battling Everton and Wolves for the title of “best of the rest.”


Leicester City

Finishing position/points total: 9th / 52 points
High point: Winning five of their first six games after Brendan Rodgers was named new manager in late February.
Low point
: Six games without a win (five losses) to begin 2019. Claude Puel didn’t survive the skid.

Our opinion: Right around mid-table is where Leicester should aim to be season after season. Only to nitpick, to do so without the gigantic swings between highs and lows (15 wins and 16 losses, with just 7 draws) should be the attainable target moving forward.
Star player
: Youri Tielemans
Most memorable goal
: Demarai Gray scored perhaps the most emotional game of the PL season: Leicester’s first, and the winner against Cardiff City, following the tragic death of chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha.

Manager grade: Brendan Rodgers: Incomplete
Hopes for next season
: If Rodgers views Leicester as a long-term project for himself, he should look to continue the youth movement currently taking place at the King Power Stadium and build a squad that could push for top-six on their best day a year or two down the road.


Everton

Finishing position/points total: 8th / 54 points
High point: Beating Chelsea, West Ham and Arsenal in successive games, without conceding a single goal in the process (March 17 to April 7).
Low point
: Losing to Liverpool, on that goal.

Our opinion: Marco Silva is clearly the most talented and ambitious manager Everton have had in a long time, and that’ll show through even more so after a second summer of transfers to build a squad that better fits his style (e.g., younger, more mobile defenders).
Star player
: Gylfi Sigurdsson
Most memorable goal
: Sigurdsson’s long-range was the pick of the litter in the Toffees’ 4-0 rout of Man United.

Manager grade: Marco Silva: B-
Hopes for next season
: Of all the sides in the top-10, Everton are probably best positioned to mount a challenge on the top-six, given not only the talent up and down their squad, but also the experience at very high levels in the game. Most likely, though, they’ll be seventh or eighth again.


Wolverhampton Wanderers

Finishing position/points total: 7th / 57 points
High point: Other than being back in the PL? How about wins over Chelsea, Tottenham, Manchester United and Arsenal, all in your first season back in the PL? No wonder Wolves landed seventh.
Low point
: Huddersfield Town finished bottom of the league — with just 16 points, 10 adrift of 19th place. Six of those 16 points (37.5 percent) came against Wolves, as they did the double over Nuno Espirito Santo‘s side.

Our opinion: Wolves were one of the PL’s most active and aggressive clubs during last summer’s transfer window; they also happened to be some of the best buyers, as Raul Jimenez, Diogo Jota, Joao Moutinho and Jonny were rock-solid figures in the first team. That’s a very strong foundation upon which to build.
Star player
: Raul Jimenez
Most memorable goal
: Jimenez’s outside-the-foot cross to Jota, and Jota’s ball back to Jimenez for the finish, was the clincher against Cardiff and delightful to watch.

Manager grade: Nuno Espirito Santo: A
Hopes for next season
: Should they wind up in the Europa League next season (Manchester City would have to beat Watford in the FA Cup final), Wolves will have multiple rounds of qualify to wade through before even reaching the group stage. They would be best suited not having to deal with such a fixture list.


Manchester United

Finishing position/points total: 6th / 66 points
High point
: The lengthy honeymoon period (12 games unbeaten, including 10 wins) for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s interim appointment after Jose Mourinho was fired.
Low point
: The remainder of the season cratering (just two wins from their final eight games, including four defeats) after Solskjaer was named permanent manager on March 28.

Our opinion: This is a club in desperate need of a massive overhaul, from top to bottom: perhaps beginning with the owners, to the club executives, to the technical decision makers, perhaps the manager as well, and the first-team squad.
Star player
: Marcus Rashford
Most memorable goal
: Another goal conceded by Cardiff. Anthony Martial and Co., kicked off the Solskjaer era in dazzling fashion.

Manager grade: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: C
Hopes for next season
: Let’s say Man United hit on every one of their signings this summer — we’re guessing $200 million’s worth of them — which includes a new backline, a deep-lying midfielder, an attacking midfielder and at least one winger. They could finish in the top-four.

Report: Darren Fletcher ‘leading candidate’ for Man United director

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No, your eyes are not deceiving you. You are not hallucinating. You read the headline correctly.

35-year-old Darren Fletcher, who retired from playing exactly one week ago at the end of the Championship season, is the “leading candidate” for the Manchester United technical director position, according to a report by Sky Sports.

[ MORE: Ed Woodward must be held accountable ]

Fletcher knows Manchester United well, having played for the club for 12 years before departing for West Brom and Stoke City, but he has zero managerial or executive experience. He last made an appearance for Stoke in mid-March, struggling for time in the Potters squad.

Current Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward has been reportedly searching for a technical director to take over more on-field executive responsibilities such as player recruitment and contract negotiations, to allow Woodward – a career accountant – to take on a more financial focus with the club. While Fletcher would pair well with manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as both played for Manchester United in the recent past, his glaring lack of experience at any kind of executive level is frightening for Manchester United fans who feel the club’s squad slipping in quality since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson.

Should Fletcher sign on, it may signal that Woodward sees the duties of a technical director less involved with important club decisions and more as a liaison between manager Solskjaer and the club hierarchy. That could leave Woodward still saddled with player recruitment decisions he has struggled with since taking over as top club executive in 2013. A number of massive transfer investments, such as Paul Pogba, Romelu Lukaku, and Fred have failed to live up to expectations since joining the club, while the massive wages given to Alexis Sanchez have put the club in a position of difficulty when looking to re-sign stars like David De Gea.

Meanwhile, former Manchester United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar continues to be immensely successful in a Director of Football role at Ajax, something many Red Devil fans look to with envy.