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Report: Man United board continues support of Solskjaer

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The ugly 2-0 loss to Burnley on Wednesday deepened Manchester United’s woes this season and yet again exposed the significant holes in the Red Devils’ squad.

[ RECAP: Man United 2-0 loss to Burnley ]

Despite the negativity surrounding the defeat, however, it appears that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s managerial job is safe for now at Manchester United. According to a report by Sky Sports, the Manchester United board continues to hold support for Solskjaer as they look desperately for consistency at the position. The report states that the club is “not even considering” a managerial change at this point, and that both the players and board “remain fully behind Solskjaer.”

Another report, however, by Miguel Delaney of The Independent, claims that some players have begun to doubt the boss despite his likable personal status in the locker room.

The Red Devils have struggled mightily to recapture the glory days of Sir Alex Ferguson since his retirement, and while the team yearns to back a manager through a rebuild like Liverpool has with Jurgen Klopp, the retooling at Manchester United has been far bumpier. The club hired Solskjaer first in December of 2018 as interim manager in the wake of Jose Mourinho’s departure, but then permanently after smashing initial success.

[ MORE: Solskjaer says Man United “mentally tired” in Burnley loss ]

Since his permanent signing, however, the club has won just 11 of its 32 Premier League matches dating back to late last season. The attacking threat has been promising at times but overall inconsistent, while the defense proves consistently porous at the worst possible times. Shockingly, they have won consecutive league matches just twice during that stretch, both coming recently with wins over Spurs and Manchester City in early December before a pair over Newcastle and Burnley through the festive period.

Many fans have heaped blame not on Solskjaer but instead at the feet of Ed Woodward, club chief executive who has ushered Manchester United into a financial golden age but has also flopped hard as head of recruitment. The club has reportedly attempted to bring aboard a Director of Football to assist in player recruitment and lift the weight off the shoulders of Woodward who does not have a sporting background, but so far has yet to pull the trigger, leaving the business executive aboard as the so far unsuccessful head of personnel.

As results continue to spiral downward, however, more pressure has reached Solskjaer’s doorstep, with the club investing significant financial might this summer to bring on the likes of Harry Maguire, Daniel James and Aaron Wan-Bissaka plus the continued development of youngsters Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard, and Scott McTominay to mixed results. Rashford and McTominay have blossomed this season into some of the best in the league, but Lingard has seen his growth stunted while Andreas Pereira and Anthony Martial also look to have hit a developmental wall.

Injuries have also taken a toll, with midfielder Paul Pogba a significant missing piece for much of the season due to a foot problem and both McTominay and Rashford have been hit by knee and back injuries respectively.

All told, Solskjaer has had little to work with in terms of available talent, and it’s not like he is underperforming given the quality of the squad. However, despite official blame yet to be publicly placed at the feet of Woodward or his bosses, it appears that the board is yet to make Solskjaer a scapegoat for the club’s league struggles. Manchester United sits fifth in the Premier League table, six points back of Chelsea for the final Champions League spot and a massive 30 points behind leaders Liverpool. They have qualified for the Champions League just twice in the last five seasons, and both those times failed to reach past the Round of 16. For a once powerful club, the rot runs deep at the moment, and while Solskjaer is safe for now, he will be wise to remain cognizant of the dangers over his shoulder.

Solskjaer: United have made ‘strides forward’

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Ole Gunnaer Solskjaer believes his Manchester United side have taken “strides forward” following their 2-0 defeat at bitter rivals Liverpool on Sunday.

United were outplayed for the vats majority of the game and were lucky to be only 1-0 down heading into the 90th minute but the grit and determination they showed impressed Solskjaer who lauded his young team.

Without the injured star duo of Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba for the daunting trip to the Premier League leaders, United’s manager was in a positive mood ahead of their clash against Burnley on Wednesday (Watch live, 3:15 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

“We lost to Liverpool. A team that you all say are fantastic and we’ve been in the game until the last kick of the ball. For me, that’s strides forward,” Solskjaer said. “Of course we’re disappointed about losing the game. We don’t want to be behind them in the league. But there are signs there that we’re on the right track, definitely.”

Is Solskjaer’s positivity misplaced?

Some would argue that United were lucky that Liverpool’s finishing was lackluster and that is true but the Red Devils hung in there and should have equalized in the second half but Anthony Martial blazed over.

They were missing at least four or five players in key areas for the trip to United as Rashford, Pogba and Scott McTominay were out injured and they badly need another attacking midfielder (ahem, Bruno Fernandes) to help with their play in the final third.

Solskjaer is right, there were positives for United. Fred played extremely well in midfield and both Luke Shaw and Aaron Wan-Bissaka stood tall defensively out wide. But the main takeaway from their trip to Liverpool was that United were delighted to not lose by three or four goals. The gulf in class between the two teams was clear for all to see and although United are trying to sort out their disjointed and confused squad by signing young, talented players, they are so far off Liverpool it is scary.

How will Liverpool, Man United line up?

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Liverpool host Manchester United this Sunday (Watch live, 11:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) as the Premier League leaders welcome their bitter rivals to Anfield.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

With Jurgen Klopp‘s side 14 points clear at the top of the table, Man United would love to play the role of spoilers and they are the only team to take points from Liverpool so far this season as they are in a battle for a top four finish. And, just leaving this here, Man United have only lost one of their last 11 Premier League games against Liverpool…

The big team news surrounding this game is whether or not Marcus Rashford will be fit after coming on as a sub in the FA Cup replay against Wolves, then injuring his back and having to come off 16 minutes later.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a big decision to make as it is certainly not worth risking Rashford’s long-term fitness, even for a game as important as this one. With Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay injured, United’s midfield will likely be manned by Fred and Matic, with either Jesse Lingard or Andreas Pereira playing ahead of them and Mata starting in place of Rashford on the left. In defense it will be interesting to see if Brandon Williams gets the nod over Luke Shaw as he continues his impressive rise, while the rest of the back four picks itself.

The big worry for United is that if Rashford is out injured, they will lose a lot of their pace on the counter as their plan will likely be to sit back and look to hit Liverpool on the break. The gamble will then be whether or not it makes sense to play Mason Greenwood in attack to replace Rashford, with the teenager showing huge potential but an atmosphere like the one at Anfield may be too risky.

As for Klopp, things are very straightforward for him. Liverpool Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren back in training after their lengthy absences but it is unlikely the two center backs will start given Joe Gomez looks steady once again after a run of games alongside the silky brick wall that is Virgil Van Dijk. Oxlade-Chamberlain will play alongside Henderson and Wijnaldum in midfield with Keita and Milner out injured, while Fabinho is also back in training but is unlikely to be rushed back. The front three and full backs pick themselves.

Below we share our potential starting lineups for both teams for the intense battle at Anfield this Sunday.


LIVERPOOL (4-3-3)

—– Alisson —–

— Alexander-Arnold — Gomez — Van Dijk — Robertson —

—- Henderson —- Wijnaldum —- Chamberlain —-

—- Salah —- Firmino —- Mane —-


MAN UNITED (4-2-3-1)

—– De Gea —–

— Wan-Bissaka — Lindelof — Maguire — Williams —

—- Fred —- Matic —-

—- James —- Pereira —- Mata —-

—– Martial —–

Chelsea, Man United set to battle for Soumare

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Chelsea and Manchester United will battle it out to sign Lille midfielder Boubakary Soumare in the January transfer window.

Our partners at Sky Sports report that Soumare will not be asked to make a decision before Lille’s game against PSG on Jan. 26 about where he will move and add that he will be the only Lille star to be sold this month.

The reported transfer fee for Soumare is in the region of $45 million and he is the latest star to be produced by Lille, as the former PSG academy product has made a name for himself in France’s top-flight. Per the report, Man United and Chelsea have both held talks with Soumare about a move.

Soumare, 20, is a box-to-box midfielder who played his part in their run to the second place in Ligue 1 last season and their qualification to the UEFA Champions League and he’s particularly flourished this season.

Arsenal, Real Madrid and Valencia were all interested in signing Soumare but two Premier League giants have jumped ahead of the pack and both are in need of midfield reinforcements.

Man United’s need for a box-to-box central midfielder is perhaps greater than Chelsea’s as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay out injured, while Fred and Nemanja Matic are his other central midfield options.

As for Chelsea, they have N’Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic and Jorginho in that area of the pitch and unless they plan on selling Kante, Frank Lampard is pretty set for midfield options.

Soumare, a French U21 international, has been praised for his defensive abilities and if United’s plan is to continue to sign young talent, then develop them into stars by giving them opportunities in the first team, signing Soumare would slot in well with their new philosophy. It’s also handy as they a need for a new midfielder alongside McTominay, as well as Fred has stepped up in recent months.

Solskjaer: ‘Warrior’ Maguire could play this weekend despite injury

Manchester United gets Maguire injury boost
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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has lifted the collective spirit of Manchester United supporters without signing a new player.

The Red Devils manager announced that fears of a long-term absence for Harry Maguire are overblown, saying the player has a minor injury.

The 26-year-old may even play at Norwich City on Saturday.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

“He’s got a chance for tomorrow, it was a minor thing, I don’t know where the reports are coming from,” Solskjaer said, via The Manchester Evening News. “(The media) might’ve mistaken it for Harry Kane. He’s got a chance. He will go through training today and see how he reacts for tomorrow.”

Solskjaer says that Maguire fought through pain to play in the FA Cup last weekend.

“It’s not a surprise.. He’s a warrior and he wants to play. And if there’s a minor problem he’ll put himself up to play and that’s what he did against Wolverhampton.”

The manager also updated the status of Scott McTominay, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, and Eric Bailly. McTominay is out until February, while the other two are playing with the reserves Friday.