Getty Images

Paul Scholes appointed Oldham manager

Leave a comment

Paul Scholes is the latest legendary English midfielder to head into management.

Scholes, 44, has been appointed as the new manager of fourth-tier Oldham Athletic, with the Manchester United legend taking charge of his boyhood club until at least the summer of 2020.

With Steven Gerrard in charge at Glasgow Rangers and Frank Lampard leading Derby County, Scholes is also swapping punditry for the managerial hotseat and says he has “a lot of passion” for Oldham.

Why is he now moving into management?

“I just feel ready. There have been times in the past where it has been an option for me,” Scholes told the media on Monday. “I wanted to come into this with my full coaching badges, I have watched the team closely. I think this is a good team with some really good players. With the squad we have I think we should be pushing for promotion.”

This job has been lined up for Scholes for some time, but due to his involvement as a part-owner of fifth-tier Salford City alongside his former United teammates the English Football League had to look into the matter and scope out any potential conflict of interests.

Scholes has stepped down as a director of Salford City, but still keeps his 10 percent stake in the club. With everything now squared away, Scholes’ main aim will be to push Oldham up the League Two table as they currently sit nine points off the playoffs with 16 games to go.

Oldham owner Abdallah Lemsagam told the club website that Scholes will have his “100 percent backing” as the Latics manager.

“Paul has won everything there is to win in football. He is a man who will bring a lot of footballing knowledge and his hunger to succeed in management will be there for everyone to see,” Lemsagam said. “It’s no secret how much he has wanted this job in the past and how much he loves this club, so I’m very happy to bring him into our family at Oldham Athletic. Paul will have my backing 100 percent and hopefully we can work together to bring success back to this club.”

His coaching career saw him help out with the youth and reserve teams at United towards the end of his playing days, and he then helped out Ryan Giggs during his interim spell in charge of United in the final months of the 2013-14 campaign.

Scholes won every single major trophy in the domestic game in England during his glittering career with Man United. He won two Champions League titles, 11 Premier Leagues and played 718 times for the Red Devils, as well as winning 66 caps for England with 14 goals on the international stage.

Most recently he has worked as a pundit for both ITV and BT Sport and is known for his dry sense of humor and savage takes on all things United, and especially Jose Mourinho in recent times.

Scholes’ remit will be simple: turn Oldham into promotion contenders in League Two.

Nobody is expecting Scholes to return Oldham to the Premier League (their last appearance in the top-flight was a two-year stay from 1992-94) but if his old teammate Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gets the United job permanently then you can be sure plenty of United’s best youngsters will be heading to Oldham on loan for the 2018-19 campaign.

David Beckham joins Salford City ownership

Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Money and influence go a long way, and Manchester United’s “Class of ’92” has a lot of it, so don’t be surprised that Salford City is on the rise.

[ MORE: Latest on missing Sala flight ]

David Beckham has now bought into the English fifth-tier club, subject to FA approval, meaning the celebrated United class now has a stake in Salford City with the club fighting for its first promotion into the Football League.

“The Ammies” have been promoted three times since being taken over by Ryan Giggs, Phil Neville, Nicky Butt, Paul Scholes, and Gary Neville. Beckham is the owner of Inter Miami CF, expected to debut in Major League Soccer in 2020.

The Class of ’92 released this statement:

“From the very beginning we wanted David to be involved and be with us on this incredible journey however circumstances and commitments didn’t allow that. Now the time is right and is another exciting time in Salford City’s history. 

“It is important to emphasize that nothing will change in the day to day operations of the club but to have us all together was always the vision. We grew up in Salford, carved our careers here and that’s why we are doing what we are doing at Salford City.”

Salford City is a point back of the National League leaders Leyton Orient. First place gets automatic promotion to League Two, while second through seventh take part in the promotion playoffs.

The club does employ a Rooney, Adam, but the Irish striker is not related to Wayne.

Top priorities for Solskjaer at Man United

Leave a comment

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been appointed Manchester United’s caretaker manager until the end of the season and his remit is clear: restore positivity to the club.

How will the United legend do that?

Below is a look at his top priorities to salvage something from United’s worst-ever start to a Premier League season, as the post Jose Mourinho era begins at Cardiff City on Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).


Reintegrate Pogba
One of the things which has flown under the radar a little is that Solskjaer managed United’s reserve team which included the likes of Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard back in the day. At the start of this season Solskjaer told the media he would “build the team around” Pogba, so that is great news for the World Cup winner. Mourinho’s issues with Pogba no doubt played a big factor in the rest of the dressing room turning on the Portuguese coach, but if Solskjaer is respected by the French star then it could well get the best out of him. Whatever you think about some of Pogba’s antics on and off the pitch, there’s no doubting that he is a wonderful midfield player in the right situation. In Mourinho’s last few weeks he spent most of the time on the bench. That will not be the case anymore. Having a coach later in your career who was influential in your formative years often allows a player to feel more comfortable and regain their best form. Maybe hiring Solskjaer was Pogba’s idea…


Forgot defensive solidity
If Jose Mourinho can’t get this team to defend, no coach in the world can. So Solskjaer should forget about it. Seriously. United have already conceded more goals in 17 games this season than they did in the whole of last season. With defensive injuries piling up and the likes of Eric Bailly, Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo and Victor Lindelof basically told they were not good enough due to Mourinho’s desperation to sign two new center backs in the summer, they all get a fresh start. That could bode well, but Solskjaer needs to focus on scoring goals and getting the best out of United’s strikers.


Get support for Lukaku
Whether it is playing Marcus Rashford or Anthony Martial up front alongside him, playing two playmakers underneath him or just chucking more balls into the box from wide areas, whatever it takes you have to get the best out of Romelu Lukaku. The lack of support the Belgian forward has had in recent seasons has been shocking at times, and you almost feel sorry for him when United go away to some big clubs and he hardly has a sniff of the ball and has two center backs to hold off before he even gets a chance to get a shot off. Lukaku’s form has been up and down due to a lack of confidence and he has missed some big chances, but some one-on-one training from one of the best finishers in the game (who just so happens to be the new gaffer) should do him the world of good.


Tap into the knowledge around him
Mourinho basically did everything on his own at United, and that was fair enough. He had won enough trophies at big clips to warrant doing things his way. But Solskjaer has the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson to lean on, Mike Phelan who is returning to assist him and several of his former teammates in Gary Neville, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Co. who can lend him a hand and be sounding boards. All of the aforementioned people are United fans and want the club to do well. Solskjaer would be silly to ignore their advice, while of course sticking to his own playing style and philosophies as a coach.


Involve the fans
The majority of United’s fans tried to stick with Mourinho until the very end but he is a tough guy to like at the best of times and it never felt like he bought into the identity of the club. He lived in a hotel for over two-and-a-half years at United and went back home to London whenever he could. Solskjaer is a Man United fan and his goals delivered some of the greatest moments United’s fans have ever witnessed. Getting them on his side should not be difficult, but keeping them on board for the rest of the season will be key if he’s going to be successful. If United claw back the 11-point deficit and finish in the top four, plus make a deep run in the Champions League, who is to say Solskjaer isn’t the man for the job long-term?

Mourinho blames lack of spending despite spending $500M

Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images
4 Comments

MANCHESTER, England — The presence of Cristiano Ronaldo at Old Trafford revived memories of much better times at Manchester United, when England’s biggest club had a slew of the world’s best players and no trophy felt beyond them.

[ MORE: Is something amiss with Romelu Lukaku? ]

It was only a decade ago, after all, that United was winning the Champions League and three straight Premier League titles. Ronaldo was the poster boy of the generation that included Wayne Rooney, Carlos Tevez, Rio Ferdinand and Paul Scholes.

So, the manner of United’s 1-0 loss to Juventus in the Champions League — and the nature of Jose Mourinho’s comments after Tuesday’s match — were stark reminders of just how far the team has fallen.

“Since the draw,” Mourinho said, “we knew it would be a fight with the Valencia for the second position.”

They were remarkable remarks from the manager of a club as huge as United, and it felt like Mourinho’s team took that inferiority complex into the game against Juventus.

United’s players looked in awe of their opponents — left back Luke Shaw acknowledged as much, saying his team gave Juventus “too much respect” — and had only 28 percent of the possession in the first half. United had only two shots on target in the whole match.

[ MORE: Allegri: Juventus tried to “attack around Nemanja Matic” ]

Yet Mourinho wasn’t finished there. In lavishing high praise on Juventus and the Italian club’s re-emergence as one of Europe’s top clubs, he also appeared to be sending a thinly veiled message to United’s board.

“A bit far,” Mourinho said, when asked how far United was behind Juventus. “Juventus is (Italian) champion for seven years in a row, two Champions League finals in the last four or five years and not happy with what they have. They want more, they want more.

“They had (Gonzalo) Higuain, (Mario) Mandzukic, (Paulo) Dybala, they want more. They want Ronaldo. They had (Andrea) Barzagli, (Giorgio) Chiellini, (Daniele) Rugani, they are not happy, they want more, they want (Leonardo) Bonucci. And they go for the best players in the world. A big, big club with a big past, but with also a big desire to have a big future.”

Just like the United of yesteryear.

Mourinho said his team, essentially, was no longer in the same league as Europe’s powerhouses.

[ MORE: Man United arrive late (again) for Juventus game ]

“To go to Juventus level? Barcelona level? Real Madrid level? How can we reach that level?” Mourinho asked reporters, adding: “Man City level? How can we reach that level?”

A reply came. “Investment?”

“Yes,” Mourinho said.

Yet he had just put out a team containing a center forward costing $97 million (Romelu Lukaku), a center midfielder costing a then world-record fee of $116 million and signed from Juventus (Paul Pogba), while an offseason signing for about $70 million (Fred) was on the bench, failing to make it on as a substitute.

Mourinho has spent more than $500 million on players since joining United in 2016. Either the money hasn’t been spent well or Mourinho isn’t getting enough out of them.

Lukaku, for example, has gone eight games without a goal and looks short of confidence playing for United.

“No criticism at all, and a complete understanding that the player is a fantastic professional that wants to give everything for the team,” Mourinho said. “But I have to agree his moment is not sweet, not just with the goals he is not scoring but in his confidence, movement, touch. He is not linking the game well with the team.

“But he’s our striker and a good striker and a striker we believe in.”

[ MORE: Man City atop group after blowout in Ukraine ]

Mourinho finished the game by responding to the goading of Juventus’ fans by holding up three fingers toward them, denoting the Champions League-Serie A-Italian Cup treble he won with Inter Milan — Juve’s rival — in the 2009-10 season.

Just three days earlier, he was sticking three fingers up at Chelsea fans who were hurling abuse at him at Stamford Bridge, a reminder of the three Premier League titles he won at the London club over two spells.

Mourinho continues to hark back to his trophy-laden past.

It’s the future he and United have to worry about.

Pogba’s agent hits back at critics, dares Man United to sell Pogba

Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images
2 Comments

Mino Railoa, the agent of Paul Pogba, has emptied a can of gas onto the already-raging inferno that is Manchester United, daring the club to sell his superstar client if anyone around the club is unhappy with his performances.

[ MORE: Woodward to appoint director of football at Manchester United ]

Raiola’s comments came Tuesday morning, in the wake of harsh — but fair — criticism over Pogba’s performance in Man United’s 3-2 defeat to Brighton & Hove Albion on Sunday. United legend Paul Scholes merely echoed much of what the 25-year-old Red Devils captain said of himself and his teammates during post-game interviews.

“There’s a lack of leaders in the team. We thought Paul Pogba might be the ideal candidate to be that leader, but he wasn’t there today. He had another really poor game. He’s so inconsistent.

“Pogba’s playing the ball out of play, he’s overhitting passes, he’s hitting passes short, he’s getting caught in possession.

Still, it didn’t sit well with Raiola, thus he launched a Twitter attack early Tuesday morning, facetiously advising Scholes to “become United’s sports director and advise [chief executive Ed] Woodward to sell Pogba.”

The reality is, of course, that every time Pogba completes a transfer, Raiola pockets a massive windfall of cash. It was reported that he received a $29-million agent’s fee following the Frenchman’s move from Juventus to United in the summer of 2016.

[ MORE: Klopp: Let’s not worry about sending statements to Man City ]

Gary Neville and Mike Phelan, Scholes’ former teammate and assistant manager, respectively, wasted little time in hitting back at Raiola. Jose Mourinho, who spent the latter part of the summer criticizing Pogba — and plenty of his teammates — has not yet weighed in on Raiola’s comments, but his response will undoubtedly arrive in short order.

The five-alarm fire burns brighter and hotter than ever before.