Ryan Giggs

Manchester United transfer rumors
Photo by Ralf Treese/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Report: Man Utd line up Wales forward as Sancho back-up

Leave a comment

Perhaps we need to add another name to our list of Premier League transfer targets to watch this weekend in the Bundesliga.

It takes only a modicum of effort — it doesn’t even have to be intentional — in the hunting of transfer rumors to find stories of Manchester United chasing Jadon Sancho.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

The former Man City prospect who is shining for Borussia Dortmund has been mentioned as the club’s priority for months upon months, even as every other Premier League club and several outside England have been linked with the 20-year-old.

Well, The Manchester Evening News says that United has a back-up plan in place should Sancho be convinced to stay in Dortmund or choose a new home.

That comes in the form of Rabbi Matondo of Dortmund’s rival Schalke, a Cardiff City youth product who spent time in Man City’s academy before moving to Germany.

The 19-year-old Welshman will cost significantly less than Sancho, as he carries less of a resume (Not all teens catch fire at all, let alone like Sancho).

Matondo has a goal in 609 minutes for Schalke this season after breaking into the first team last season. Thrice-capped by Wales, Matondo is compared to international teammate Daniel James.

From The Manchester Evening News:

Wales coach Ryan Giggs gave United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer glowing scouting reports on James and has named Matondo in all of his squads since the teenager’s first call-up in November 18. United have also expressed interest in Swansea and Wales centre-back Joe Rodon.

Giggs better be getting a finders’ fee from the agents and the club.

Remember as with all Manchester United transfer links: When you’re a spender or speculated spender, rumors are often thrown at a wall with the hopes of sticking.

But this report comes from MEN reporter Richard Fay and has plenty of meat in the details. United has been taking chances on younger players in recent years, like James, and this does seem to fit their M.O. under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

USMNT announces March match vs. Giggs’ Wales

Photo by PressFocus/MB Media/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Gregg Berhalter is set to match wits with Ryan Giggs when the United States men’s national team visits Wales this Spring.

The Yanks will visit Wales at Cardiff City Stadium on March 30, four days after visiting the Netherlands.

Wales and the USMNT are tied at 22nd in the FIFA rankings, though Wales is 25th in Elo Ratings to the Yanks’ 39th.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

“One of the important parts of continuing to develop this group is the opportunity to play against high-level opponents away from home,” Berhalter said in a press release. “The Netherlands is a soccer powerhouse featuring some of the world’s best talent. This game will be a good chance to compete as we build toward important competitions in the summer and fall.”

The two sides have only met once before, with Landon Donovan and Eddie Lewis scoring in a 2003 win.

Wales is preparing for EURO 2020, where it’s in Group A with Turkey, Switzerland, and Italy.

The next competition for the USMNT is this summer’s CONCACAF Nations League semifinal against Honduras. Mexico and Costa Rica are in the other semi.

James says he was not knocked unconscious in Wales draw

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Head injury awareness again rose to the forefront in the 1-1 draw between Wales and Croatia in Cardiff when Daniel James went down after colliding with a pair of opponents.

The Manchester United winger looked to almost sure have been knocked unconscious when Domagoj Vida’s knee appeared to tap the back of his head while challenging for a ball in the air. Vida went toppling over the back of teammate Borna Barisic who ducked out of the way, but it was James who many were concerned for as he lay motionless on his back with his eyes closed.

Yet James was allowed to come back onto the field and completed the full 90 minutes, sparking criticism from injury advocates and fans who were concerned for James’ safety on the field, at potential risk for even more serious consequences should he indeed have suffered a concussion.

After the game however, despite what fans saw as James lie on the turf, the 21-year-old insisted he was not knocked unconscious. “I’m fine,” James claimed after the match, speaking to Sky Sports. “I think he just caught me in the head but I didn’t get knocked out fortunately.”

Wales boss Ryan Giggs backed up the decision as well, calling James’ motionless display “a bit of acting.”

“The medical staff went over, he was compos mentis and we did all the checks at half-time and he was fine,” Giggs said, referring to the latin phrase for “of sound mind.”

If James was indeed faking unconsciousness, it’s natural to wonder if he should face a fine from UEFA for looking to con referees, and in the process possibly confusing the independent neurologists on site assigned to assess head injuries.

ESPN broadcaster Taylor Twellman, who has been outspoken over the past few years advocating for head injury awareness after his career was cut short by concussions, took to Twitter to criticize Wales for allowing James back into the game. Twellman, who was on the ESPN call of the broadcast with Ian Darke, said more needs to be done to prevent players from being able to force their way back onto the field, lest someone be killed by second impact syndrome.

Former Hull City player Ryan Mason, who was forced to retire after a serious skull fracture saw him fighting for his life, was also seriously concerned about the incident.

Interestingly enough, later in the match just seconds after the second half restart, young Wales midfielder Ethan Ampadu was whalloped from behind by Croatia’s Bruno Petkovic in a wild and reckless aerial challenge. Petkovic’s elbow went clattering into the back of Ampadu’s head, and the was left writhing on the ground holding his head. The Chelsea youngster was taken off the field and immediately replaced by Joe Morrell, while Petkovic was lucky to escape with just a yellow card.

Bale hits back at critics

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Gareth Bale saga has taken many twists and turns over the last 12 months. Perhaps the biggest twist/turn has been in the past few weeks, as Bale came into Real Madrid preseason fit and ready to go, and he’s started Real’s first three games of the season, scoring a pair of goals in a 2-2 draw with Villarreal last weekend.

Speaking in front of the media for the first time since his rumored transfer to China fell through, as well as all the back and forth rumors between him wanting to stay and Zidane wanting him out this summer, Bale hit out at the critics.

[READ: Strengths and Weaknesses of USMNT]

“I don’t read anything, I don’t listen to anyone,” Bale said. “People don’t know the situation. I had a good summer holiday, I didn’t think about it too much, I just kept my head down and worked hard in training. The things that happened will stay private.

“It’s not been ideal, but I’ve been there before, and I know how to deal with it. I had a good preseason in terms of training, and I know that things can turn quickly in football. I feel good, I feel stronger than ever. I’m in very good shape. I’m professional. I’m paid to play football, and you will have ups and downs. If you keep working hard, things will turn, and you will get rewarded.”

Of course, by saying that he doesn’t read anything or listen to anyone, he’s admitting that he has seen the reports and heard plenty of rumors. In 2019, it’s impossible to stay away from it, whether it’s his Real Madrid teammates asking him what’s up or family members wanting to know what the truth is.

However, the most important part of his quote was in the second part. If true that Bale is feeling stronger than ever, that can be massive both for Wales and Real Madrid. Real Madrid needed Bale to play a big role with Cristiano Ronaldo gone, but the winger failed to take the next step in his career. It may have been unfair for him to fill Ronaldo’s shoes, but the continued injuries and poor form didn’t help his case.

When Bale admits that he’s training better, and is likely taking better care of his body, as well as not wading into the transfer rumors, that’s a good sign for him as a player. It means his focus is truly on his game and that he’s working his hardest to bring another La Liga title to Real Madrid, and to get Wales into Euro 2020.

Salford City promoted to the Football League

Getty Images
1 Comment

Salford City’s dream has become a reality.

The team backed by Manchester United and Premier League legends David Beckham, Gary Neville, Phil Neville, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and Nicky Butt, plus billionaire Peter Lim, won promotion to League Two on Saturday at Wembley Stadium.

Salford beat AFC Fylde 3-0 in the National League playoff final to clinch their first-ever promotion to the fourth-tier of English soccer. Head coach Graham Alexander took over last summer and was handed a huge budget to guide Salford to promotion.

Mani Dieseruvwe, Carl Piergianni and Ibou Touray scored the goals for Salford, as their incredible rise continues and the United legends celebrated in the stands at Wembley at the final whistle.

Backed by Lim’s money and the expertise and contacts of Neville and Co. behind-the-scenes, Salford have achieved four promotions in the last five seasons to secure their spot as one of the 92 Football League teams for the 2019-20 season.

Salford’s aim is to at least reach the Championship, the second-tier of English soccer, as the Lancashire club aim to become one of the best supported teams in the Manchester area as they offer something completely different to the giants of Man United and Man City nearby.