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Report: Liverpool favorites to sign Jadon Sancho

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Jadon Sancho could be on the move sooner than we think.

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A report from Norwegian journalist, and former Premier League striker, Jan Aage Fjortoft  from Viasat claims that Sancho wants to leave Borussia Dortmund in January and he says that current Premier League leaders and European champions Liverpool are favorites to sign him.

That has led to #Sancho2020 trending on Twitter as Liverpool fans are having a moment, just as they did when reports a few months ago linked Kylian Mbappe with a move to Anfield.

As for Sancho, the England international, 19, has excelled at Borussia Dortmund over the last 18 months but after he was hauled off by BVB coach Lucien Favre in the first half of a humbling defeat at Bayern Munich last month, then criticized by his coach, Sancho’s future has come into discussion once again after previous fallings out with the hierarchy at Dortmund.

On the pitch he continues to deliver as he scored in Dortmund’s win at Hertha Berlin on Saturday, in their UEFA Champions League defeat a Barcelona last week and against Paderborn before that, as those goals added to two assists in his last five games for the German giants.

Sancho has a host of Europe’s top clubs forming a not so orderly queue to sign him, with Man United, Barcelona, Chelsea and PSG all heavily linked with a move for the teenage sensation.

It is expected that Sancho would cost over $130 million, and Dortmund have previously admitted he won’t be with them for much longer, but do Liverpool need to strengthen in the attacking midfield/wing areas?

Nope. But what was it Sir Alex Ferguson always said about adding new players when you’re in a position of strength…

Sancho would no doubt provide serious competition to Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino for a starting spot right away, but if you look at Klopp’s options after those three, things start to get pretty thin.

Divock Origi is the next man up and aside from his legendary status among Liverpool fans, will he strike fear into the hearts of opponents if he replace one of the aforementioned trio? Probably not. After Origi there is Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who can play in a wide role, then teenagers Rhian Brewster and Curtis Jones are up and Xherdan Shaqiri is around but often an injury doubt.

Liverpool are stacked in the defense and midfield but the front three have been so good and have largely remained injury free that they haven’t had to worry about their attack.

Sancho’s arrival could also suggest that one of Mane or Salah may move on in 2020 as both have been linked with moves to Real Madrid in the past. Having Sancho come in to replace them would be ideal, but a move in January seems unlikely.

But maybe Liverpool will want to get in ahead of the competition in January to sign the former Watford and Man City product before he excels at EURO 2020 for England and his transfer value skyrockets. Right now Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford are ahead of Sancho in the England pecking order but the Dortmund winger is pushing them all the way and seems to be a perfect fit for the way Liverpool play. His pace and trickery is a combination of Salah and Mane and at such a young age he has delivered at Dortmund and is starting to for England.

For Liverpool to stay on top, they need to be ruthless and strengthen their squad even when it looks like they don’t need to. Moves like this are when a great team starts to feel like a dynasty is on the way.

How long is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s leash?

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Since the dismal 1988/89 season when Manchester United finished 11th, no manager has ushered in fewer points through the season’s first 14 matches than Ole Gunnar Solskjaer this campaign, with the Red Devils held again on Sunday to a 2-2 draw with newly-promoted Aston Villa.

Not David Moyes, not Louis Van Gaal, not Jose Mourinho.

That does not tell the whole story – far from it. Manchester United is in the midst of a rebuild that has not gone as smoothly as Chelsea’s youth movement, but for all the bumps in the road it has not felt as chaotic as Arsenal’s train wreck, despite the Gunners sitting a spot higher.

Still, you are what the table says you are, and right now the table has spoken: Manchester United is the ninth-best team in the league.

Ole Gunnar Solakjaer’s sheer numbers are just as ugly. He has a 27% win rate as a permanent manager in the Premier League, having emerged victorious in just six out of 21 league matches since signing on permanently on March 28. In contrast, the now-fired Unai Emery retained a 47% mark during his time at Arsenal. Even with his spectacular start during the caretaker manager days, Solskjaer has won under 50% of his matches in charge of Manchester United (24 wins, 14 losses, 12 draws in 50 matches – an 84-point haul over that span).

In a league environment that often sees clubs shoot managers first and ask questions later, patience can be a virtue, but it can also be a club’s undoing, and the fine line between those two parallel universes is often as blurry as . The manager in that 1988/89 season was Sir Alex Ferguson, amidst his third year in charge. Thanks in large part to what he achieved after to Manchester United stayed its hand, there is no way he would have survived that kind of lost campaign in this climate.

There are a host of sharks circling, and the allure of returning Manchester United to glory would be enough to lure any top manager should the board make a move. Carlo Ancelotti is running out of time at Napoli and could be available. Massimiliano Allegri is available, as is Mauricio Pochettino, who the Manchester United board has reportedly coveted for years.  A number of up-and-coming Premier League managers like Nuno Espirito Santo and Dean Smith could be options, and Manchester United may not want to wait for Arsenal to get its pick first.

All is not lost for Manchester United this season, and xG metrics seem to suggest an eventual turnaround. Their -3.92 xG differential to actual goals scored is third-worst in the Premier League, indicating the offense should come around. To go along with that, their defense has been fantastic, owning the 2nd-best xGA in the league, and their +3.04 xGA differential to actual goals conceded is sixth-worst in the league. Daniel James, despite a poor performance against Villa, has been a positive addition this season, and Fred has improved in midfield under Solskjaer. Harry Maguire looks worth every penny spent this offseason, while Aaron Wan-Bissaka has quietly been one of the better Premier League values of the summer.

Solskjaer has to this point avoided the off-field blights that eventually spelled disaster for Emery at Arsenal, but the results are no longer an anomaly – they have become the norm. Along with that, Solskjaer’s notable calm demeanor may be having an adverse effect on the club; he himself claimed that Jack Grealish‘s goal in the Villa draw “knocked us a little emotionally,” a mental frailty never present during Ferguson’s best days.

The Norwegian said after the Villa draw that he’s not looking at league position. “I wouldn’t have sat here and talked about us being fifth if we had got that one goal extra, so the league table at this point is not the biggest concern because it is so tight. I just need to make sure that we get performances and get three or four performances after each other – and results.”

He should start worrying about league position soon, because while it doesn’t feel like the wheels have fallen off the OleMobile just yet, the optics are looking less and less savory. Manchester United stuck with Sir Alex back when the going got tough, but these are entirely different times. As the season slips away, where is the point of no return? When is enough, enough?

Report: Phil Jones turned down Manchester United testimonial

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According to a report by Daniel Taylor of The Athletic, Phil Jones has turned down the option for a Manchester United testimonial despite the likelihood he will reach the required 10 years at the club.

Taylor’s article waxed lyrical about Jones’ ability on the field defensively versus his fame as an internet sensation, but one tidbit near the top stood out. According to the report, Jones turned down the option to have a testimonial included in his recent contract extension, believing that his popularity has waned to the point where he may not deserve one.

Jones’ career has been a fascinating one, owning 220 Manchester United appearances across all competitions since joining from Blackburn Rovers in 2011. He has won a Premier League title, an FA Cup, a League Cup, and a Europa League title.

Still, with the majority of his Red Devils career coming after the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson, he has become more of a symbol to represent the mediocrity the club has been mired in since. He has made more than 22 league appearances in just two of his eight full seasons to date and made his first appearance of the current campaign against Sheffield United over the weekend, yanked at halftime after being culpable of the first Blades goal, scenes that left Jones “devastated” according to the Taylor report.

Taylor says that when asked about a testimonial, Jones would reply, “Apart from my mum and dad, who else would turn up?”

For a player who has spent nearly his entire career with one of the largest clubs in Europe, this remains a tough story to swallow. It’s hard not to feel for a player who gives his heart and soul to a club and gets nothing but laughs in return.

5 thoughts on wild PL weekend

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What. A. Weekend.

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The Premier League was back with a bang after the international break as Jose Mourinho was in at Tottenham, Leicester City stay in second and Man City won the big game of the weekend as the edged past Chelsea.

Add VAR drama, late goals galore and a glut of no wins for the home teams and that adds up to one thing: Madness.

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Below are five key takeaways from Saturday and Sunday on Matchweek 13.


Rejuvenated Mourinho keeps it simple at Spurs
It was like he’d never left. 11 months after being fired by Man United, Mourinho replaced his good friend Mauricio Pochettino at Tottenham last week. In his first game in charge Spurs were 3-0 up and should have won by a larger margin than 3-2 (two late goals gave the scoreline an unnecessary gloss for poor West Ham), as Dele Alli played a starring role alongside Lucas Moura, Heung-Min Son and Harry Kane up top.

[ MORE: Mourinho delivers on debut ]

That quartet kept things simple and Mourinho had Harry Winks and Eric Dier as two holding midfielders as Spurs looked solid. Yes, they were playing a West Ham side which is slumping, but they took care of business and Spurs haven’t won away from home in the PL since January. There are signs that Tottenham will have a more ruthless edge going forward and Mourinho’s pragmatism will deliver a better chance of ending their 11-year wait for a trophy.


Pochettino lurking as Solskjaer’s United lucky to draw
As for the man Mourinho replaced at Spurs, Mauricio Pochettino is being linked with the biggest jobs in the world. They don’t come much bigger than Man United and Sir Alex Ferguson and others at the Red Devils are big fans of Poch. United fought back from 2-0 down to go 3-2 up at Sheffield United on Sunday as they failed to turn up for the first 70 minutes then sprung to life. United’s three goalscorers were all academy products as Brandon Williams (19 years old), Mason Greenwood (18) and Marcus Rashford (22) came to the rescue. United should have won the game but Solskjaer brought on a defender for a winger late on to try and shut up shop and that handed the initiative to the blades as Ollie McBurnie grabbed a late equalizer, which is the least Sheffield United deserve. Nobody knew how Man United were leading in stoppage time as they looked disjointed, lacked creativity and Solskjaer had a somber expression throughout. With a talented crop of youngsters coming through it seems like only one man should be trusted with developing their talent and giving United a clear playing identity. It’s not Solskjaer.


VAR drama involves Liverpool once again
So, are the LiVARpool jokes still going around? Ah yes, they are. After tight VAR decisions going their way in their wins against Man City, Leicester City and Chelsea, opposing fans are adamant Jurgen Klopp‘s side are getting all of the luck and the power that be are desperate for them to win the Premier League title. In truth, if they play like that did at Crystal Palace on Saturday, they won’t win anything this season. Liverpool were sloppy in possession, error strewn in defense and had it not been for Dejan Lovren‘s theatrical dive seeing a Palace goal chalked off and Wilf Zaha blazing over late on, Liverpool would have left Selhurst Park with a point, at best. But this game summed up their season so far.

Even the most ardent of Liverpool fans won’t deny they have been far from their best but they’ve found a way to win. Sadio Mane’s shot was tipped onto the post, squirmed across the line and hit the other post as Patrick Van Aanholt failed to clear, then Liverpool’s winner arrived as the ball pin-balled around and fell perfectly for Roberto Firmino to slot home. You make your own luck in this game, and Liverpool are doing just that through gritty, determined displays. Opposing fans can point to VAR, but Liverpool are eight points clear for a reason.


Man City lose Aguero, beat Chelsea as Pulisic struggles
This wasn’t a decent outing for Christian Pulisic as Chelsea’s youngster were held at arms length by a banged-up Man City squad. The USMNT winger showed a few glimpses of attacking intent in the first half but Man City just had that extra bit of class and composure in the final third which won them the game. Chelsea’s run of six-straight PL wins came to an end but Frank Lampard was impressed and believes his team are cutting the gap to the title contenders, even thought they’ve now lost to Liverpool, Man United and Man City. As for the reigning champs, they’ve lost Sergio Aguero for a few weeks at a key stage in the season and the pressure to score goals is now all on Gabriel Jesus. Pep Guardiola‘s men are hanging in there but untimely injuries are seeing them look longingly up to Liverpool who are at the summit and nine points ahead of them. Aguero often comes up big with goals late on in games and City have been involved in plenty of those tight situations in recent months. How much will they miss their all-time leading goalscorer?


Pressure mounts on Silva, Emery
Not many people would have predicted Arsenal to grab a last-gasp point at home against lowly Southampton on Saturday. Fewer would have predicted Everton losing to Norwich. But both happened and that is bad news for Unai Emery and Marco Silva. Both teams, and managers specifically, were booed at the final whistle and Emery admitted he knows he “needs to do better” as the pressure was cranked up a few notches. Had Southampton finished one of their numerous chances, they would have easily beaten Arsenal. The Gunners defense was all over the place and they didn’t deserve the point Alexandre Lacazette‘s late equalizer secured. As for Everton, there is no clear playing style, no grit and no leadership and Silva looks to be on his last legs, as he has done for a while now. Their win away at Saints before the international break papered over the cracks and this defeat against Norwich exposed them.

Solskjaer not concerned by Pochettino’s availability

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Manchester United have chased Mauricio Pochettino for a long time and now that he’s available, maybe the current Red Devils boss will be getting a little nervous.

Not a chance.

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was asked about Pochettino potentially being courted by United after his shock firing by Tottenham Hotspur this week and he seemed pretty relaxed about the whole situation.

“It doesn’t bother me at all. I’ve got the best job in the world,” Solskjaer said ahead of Man United’s trip to Sheffield United this Sunday (Watch live, 11:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com). “If you’re in a job, or if you’re out of a job and you’re a manager, you want this job. It doesn’t really matter whatever happens around. I’ve got to focus on my job at Manchester United and do it as well as I can. I speak with Ed Woodward and the owners all the time about how we’re going to move the club forward. That doesn’t change if some other clubs change their managers.”

Solskjaer isn’t worried about his job. Honest. 100 percent. Definitely not.

Pochettino is a manager Sir Alex Ferguson has revered for many years and his wined and dined with the Argentine coach in London in recent years.

Man United supposedly made Pochettino their top target when they fired Jose Mourinho last December (oh what a difference 12 months make…) but Spurs were never going to let him leave midseason. When United went to Spurs and won 1-0 in January, it was billed as ‘the job interview’ between Solskjaer and Pochettino.

That never materialized as Solskjaer was appointed on a permanent basis soon after following a stunning start to life in charge of United on a caretaker basis.

But with Solskjaer now in the United job for almost an entire year, the pressure is slowly being cranked up on the Norwegian coach. His legendary status as a former United hero on the pitch and his fast start last season has led to plenty of good will from United’s hierarchy and fans so far. But they need results fast as the gap to the top four is nine points, and even though Ed Woodward and Co. have made their decision to back Solskjaer, things can change very quickly in this game.

Ask Pochettino.

Solskjaer knows the pressure which comes with being United’s manager and he knows that he will be judged at the end of this season as to whether his first full campaign in charge was a success. He has been given money to spend and is building a playing identity with young, hungry players, but Pochettino seems like the perfect fit for Man United.

That will worry Solskjaer, even if he doesn’t admit it, and if Pochettino decides to hang around and wait until the end of the season, he will probably have his pick of the Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, PSG and maybe even the Man United job.