With the Quarter Finals of the biggest club competition rapidly approaching, we ask if Manchester United can win the Champions League this season? The red devils have been a different animal since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was appointed as caretaker manager at the end of last year following Jose Mourinho’s departure. The quiet, unassuming Norwegian has steadied the ship and brought back the passion and organisation to United’s play.
His biggest success on his return to Old Trafford came in the Round of 16 in Champions League. The reds were hosting European powerhouse Paris Saint Germaine in the first leg at Old Trafford. United played ok, but Mbappe and co showed their class and ran out comfortable 2-0 winners.
Somewhat unsurprisingly, pundits and fans alike had accepted there was no way back in the second leg in Paris for United. The side would need to overcome a two-goal deficit, but more crucially, would likely need to score three away goals. A seemingly insurmountable task. Instead, Ole Gunnar was tasked with making sure the score in Paris ended respectfully and would allow the club to use something to build on for the next season. He and his players had other ideas.
How it Began
The game kicked off on a cold March evening and within two minutes Manchester United showed their intent when Lukaku’s opportunistic strike after just two minutes put United in front. This seemed to wake the Parisian’s into life and in the 12th minute, Bernat equalised after a sublime pass by Mbappe. This put the French side back in control and 3-1 ahead on aggregate.
The home side then proceeded to create a number of good chances, any of which if went in would have sealed the tie and ended any hope of Manchester United getting back into the game. Failing to take advantage of their opportunities was about to cost PSG when legendary keeper Buffon flailed at a ball, after an effort by Marcus Rashford, allowing the big Belgian striker Lukaku to slot in the red’s second goal to put them back in front on the night.
The Second Half
When the game went into the second half, it seemed to become a messy affair and no side really created anything too clear cut. A controversy was about to strike and give Man Utd the opportunity to seal a historic victory. With fans desperately watching the live score as it came in hoping it would change, Manchester United youngster Dalot hit a long-range speculative shot, which appeared to bounce off the PSG defender Kimpembe for a corner.
Dramatically at that point, the assistant referee called over the referee to examine an incident on VAR. After a long delay, to fans amazement, the referee came running back onto the pitch pointing at the penalty spot. It was a penalty to Manchester United and Kimpembe had been judged to have handled the ball.
Up stepped Marcus Rashford and completed a quite astonishing 3-1 victory for Ole Gunnar’s men. More remarkably, this win was the first time in the history of the European Cup that a 2-0 or greater home first leg defeat had been overturned. On the back of that success, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was rightly appointed the permanent manager of Manchester United and it will be his desire to take his side as far as they can in this competition.
So, what is there chances of lifting the trophy in Madrid on June 1st?
In the Quarter Finals, the challenge United face couldn’t really get any more difficult. They play host to the five-time European champions Barcelona. Manchester United and Barcelona are two of the biggest clubs in world football and the tie is mouth-watering. In Barcelona, Ole is set to pit his wits against one of the favourites to lift the trophy, a dream United will hope to end for the Catalan giants for another season. Worryingly for fans of Man Utd is that Suarez, Messi and co are all set to lift another La Liga trophy and are currently in dazzling form. In recent weeks, goals have come easy for the Catalans, scoring eighteen goals in their last five matches.
Manchester United will rightly be fearful of this. Messi, Suarez and Coutinho are three of the best players on the planet and when they hit top form there is little that can be done to stop them. The glimmer of hope for Solskjaer’s men is Barcelona’s defensive frailties. Barcelona have their own problems to deal with in this area. In their game at Villarreal, they were seemingly comfortable at 2-0 up but ended up drawing 4-4, with the Yellow Submarine’s scoring almost at will at points during the game. This should demonstrate that the Catalan side can be got at and United will have to try to exploit this weakness. If they do that there is a very real chance that can cause another upset in this year’s competition.
Navigating a very tricky tie against Barcelona would just be the first step on the way to Champions League triumph. Next up would be either a derby against rivals Liverpool or a much more manageable task in Porto.
Beyond that, it would be on to Madrid and several possibilities in the final. It could potentially be an all Manchester final against city rivals Manchester City. Or a blockbuster final against nearly men Juventus with the iconic Ronaldo facing his former side. Manchester United if they are to win the Champions League this season would be doing it the hard way. They have an almighty task of difficult ties to navigate to get there, but they have already come through one.
We know United like to do it the hard way and make history as they do it. Can they win the Champions League this season? Of course, they can!
Football fans have been arguing for years about all sort of refereeing decisions and United fans are hardly any different, after all we’ve had to contend with Martin Atkinson, Michael Oliver and Howard Webb over the years who somehow managed to earn a reputation for favouring the Reds, despite often doing the opposite.
Now though we don’t have to worry about poor officiating as we have Virtual Assistant Referee or VAR to ensure we don’t have any mistakes, right?
Check out the link below to see just what fans think of VAR and whether it’s proving popular following some high-profile controversies.
Churchill once noted: “Never in the history of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few,” had the wartime leader been around today and stood on the Stretford End, he may well have opined: “never in the history of Manchester United has one player been loved by so many, for so few games.” As is the case with Timothy Fosu-Mensah.
Ask almost any United fan what they think of the 21 year-old Dutchman and the comments will range from adulatory to downright worshipful such is the high esteem the youngster is held by much of the faithful. When Jose Mourinho sent TFM – as he’s known to the Twitterati – out on loan first to Crystal Palace then to Fulham it was as though the then Reds’ manager had ripped up the United Trinity statue and replaced it with a fibreglass effigy of Michael Jackson, Cha’mone, muthaf*cka.
Jose’s lack of belief in Fosu-Mensah was put down to the manager’s lack of belief in youth rather than any lack of talent or consistency from the defender. Despite a difficult season for the Eagles as they set an unwanted record of no points from their first seven games, Fosu-Mensah did play his part in keeping Palace in the top flight, starting 17 games and being praised for his performances.
When Palace managed an unlikely 0-0 at home to all-conquering Manchester City it was TFM who received much of the plaudits, even being labeled the ‘toughest defender’ he has faced by Leroy Sane. In the summer there was hope among many United fans that the defender would be given a chance this season but Mourinho decided to loan him out to Fulham, a move that despite being unpopular seems somewhat justified as Fosu-Mensah has been told he can now leave Craven Cottage by new manager Claudio Raneiri to make room for January target, Chelsea’s Gary Cahill.
The Fulham boss noted:
“I don’t know, if United want him, he can go because with me he does not play often and I understand he is young he needs to play. This moment for me is very, very important to achieve our goal. Our goal now is to save Fulham.”
With new United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, seemingly determined to give youth a chance, the return of Fosu-Mensah could be a good move all round, giving Fulham the chance to sign Cahill, TFM the opportunity to resurrect his United career and Reds another reason to get behind the popular Dutchman.
With the festive period now over, Europe’s elite will be gearing up for the UEFA Champions League knockout stages.
The Premier League quartet of Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur have all progressed to the second round of the competition, with some mouth-watering ties on the horizon.
Here, we take a closer look at the games and dissect United and the rest of the Premier League team’s chances of progression.
Manchester United v Paris Saint-Germain
Easily the biggest tie of the second round, Manchester United entertain Paris Saint-Germain in what is expected to be a titanic clash. The Red Devils have recently installed Ole Gunnar Solsjkaer as their interim manager after Jose Mourinho was sacked before Christmas, and the Norwegian has got United purring again.
PSG are cruising to their eighth Ligue 1 title but its success in Europe that is so badly craved. With perhaps the best attacking trio in world football, PSG are expected to make a strong impression in this year’s competition and it’s hard to look past them slipping up to United. If PSG get a positive result at Old Trafford, expect them to make the quarter-finals.
Liverpool v Bayern Munich
Last season finalists Liverpool will be looking to go one better this season and lift their sixth European Cup, but they’ll have to navigate past Bayern Munich first. The Bundesliga giants are in a transitional period to some extent, and their league form leaves much to be desired.
Bayern are six points adrift of Borussia Dortmund in second place, and Liverpool will know they are there for the taking if they can play to their full capacity. The first leg is at Anfield, so expect Jurgen Klopp’s men to take the game to Bayern and try and force and advantage. Overall, it’s a tight one to call but the Reds should have just enough about them over the 180 minutes.
Manchester City v Schalke
English champions Manchester City will entertain Schalke in their second round tie, and it’s hard to see Pep Guardiola’s side not making the quarter-finals. City are the favourites to win the competition outright, and you can bet on Champions League winner on Betfair right now. However, City do have a history of making a premature exit, and will be keen to avoid such events this year.
In spite of their suspect league form, City should have too much quality about them to be troubled by the Germans, although they’ll need to be at their best to avoid a surprise exit. The Bundesliga side are having a troublesome season to date, currently perched in 13th in the Bundesliga but they can rely on the likes of Mark Uth and Breel Embolo.
Tottenham Hotspur v Borussia Dortmund
The third England v Germany tie in this season’s Champions League pits Tottenham and Borussia Dortmund against each other. The current Bundesliga leaders are playing some brilliant football currently, and have young starlet Jadon Sancho to call upon.
Spurs will need to play at their maximum over the course of the two legs, with the likes of Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen all imperative to Tottenham’s chances. This is arguably the hardest tie to call, but whoever can take the advantage in the first-leg, will likely go on to progress to the quarter-finals.
After a hugely impressive World Cup for Croatia, Ivan Perisic has re-emerged as a January target for Manchester United and could be available at a knock-down price, according to The Evening Standard.
The Inter Milan forward was hotly pursued in previous transfer windows by United boss Jose Mourinho, and the Portuguese manager will be keen to reignite his interest with Inter potentially allowing him to leave the San Siro.
Perisic, who scored against England in the World Cup semi-finals, is set to leave Inter for a cut-price deal of £31m which will fall well in line with United’s projected January spending. Previously, the Red Devils had been quoted £48m which was considered too much by Mourinho and Chief Executive Ed Woodward.
How would Perisic fit in?
Perisic is typically a left-winger but is equally as strong playing centrally or on the right-hand side of an attacking three. This will give Mourinho plenty of options but what United really need to iron out is the problem that seems to exist on the right-side of attack.
Naturally, Jesse Lingard is perhaps the strongest option to play the position but after an indifferent start to the season which has been hampered by injuries, Perisic could be tried and tested in that role.
Alexis Sanchez and Anthony Martial are often preferred on the left of the attack which does leave scope for Perisic’s potential signing to improve United’s goal threat. For far too long now, Mourinho’s side have tried and tested a number of players without any making the position their own.
Skills and attributes
There was no magic potion or secret recipe to Croatia’s march towards the World Cup final in July. The performances of Perisic, Mario Mandzukic, Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic all ensured the Eastern European side gained a large number of admirers for their performances, despite losing out to France in the Final.
Perisic, though, was quite simply unplayable at times and not only does he have a keen eye for goal, his general build-up play and commitment to the cause is something that’ll excite Mourinho. The former Borussia Dortmund winger covered the most ground at the World Cup, 72.5km in total, which further demonstrates the high work rate he’ll bring to an often lethargic-looking United side.
From Mourinho’s perspective, he’ll ideally be looking for Perisic to stretch defences and to bring others into play which will suit United’s style of play. Despite being 29, Perisic prefers to run at players and cut inside to provide dangerous crosses which will prove highly favourable with the likes of Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku making late runs into the box.
United’s faint title hopes
Okay, so it looks borderline impossible for the Red Devils to lift the title this season, according to Premier League winner odds. Manchester City and Liverpool remain unbeaten and are 16 and 14 points clear of United respectively, but league titles have been won from said position.
Perisic’s potential inclusion could be the perfect tonic to re-boot United’s flagging season, however. Even though he has no Premier League experience, the former Hadjuk Split graduate has plenty of game time across the Bundesliga and Serie A which will make him suited for the rigours of the English game.
It appears that’ll it will be a busy January at Old Trafford with a number of targets being identified but a deal for Perisic should be crafted post haste. Despite his age, Perisic would make a fine addition to the red half of Manchester and perhaps this time, Mourinho will land his man.
“Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba has reportedly met with Barcelona’s technical director Eric Abidal in the United States to discuss a potential move. The France midfielder has reportedly decided he wants to leave the Premier League club and La Liga champions Barcelona are keen to sign him.”
It’s reported talks were held at a private villa in Beverly Hills, as Abidal did not want to be seen meeting with a player under contract.
Barcelona have already signed Clement Lenglet and Arthur this summer, which is set to strengthen their midfield for the new season. Would there really be any calling for a third in Pogba?Whilst Manchester United have signed Fred, Diogo Dalot and Lee Grant, Jose Mourinho has made it clear that he is disappointed with the boards transfer dealings, having given them a list of 5 players he was interested in, and failing to acquire 2 of these signings.
Team mates, Ander Herrera, Juan Mata, Marouane Fellaini, Scott Mctominay, Ashley Young, Andreas Pereira and now Fred, have already given Jose a lot to think about when it comes to his team selection, will Pogba be fighting for a spot in United’s starting XI next season?
Pogba has had two mixed first seasons with Manchester United, and it certainly hasn’t been plain sailing for the £89.3 million signing, since his return to the club in 2016.But after his success in the 2018 World Cup, has Pogba given Mourinho something to think about? Or will the fractured relationship between the two be enough to see Pogba on his way?
Having been instrumental in France’s World Cup success, scoreing in the final with a strike from the edge of the penalty box, extending France’s lead against Croatia, Pogba is in demand now more than ever. Is it likely that United will agree a deal with La Liga Champions, before the transfer deadline? Could this be Pog’ba-bye’?
The Premier league transfer window is open until 9th August, but United could sell outside of this as Spanish transfer window is open until August 31st.
Pogba leaving would be something of a disaster for United and Mourinho, especially with practically no time to bring in a replacement.
Manchester United are set to have players from seven different countries involved in the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia this summer.
Which nations have Red Devils representations in their ranks? We take a look.
An obvious place to start is England with national boss Gareth Southgate selecting four men from United. Defender Phil Jones is joined on the Three Lions roster by converted wingback Ashley Young, attacking midfielder Jesse Lingard and forward Marcus Rashford.
Aged just 20, Rashford is the youngest Red Devil set to feature at the World Cup finals with England trading around 16/1 with most bookmakers to win the tournament. Young, meanwhile, is the oldest United player called up by any country at 32.
World Cup Group G is going to pit Old Trafford clubmates against one another as Belgium – who share United’s nickname – call on a couple of Jose Mourinho’s men. Combative midfielder Marouane Fellaini, who is out of contract this summer, is joined in Belgian ranks by Romelu Lukaku.
As members of their country’s so-called Golden Generation, big performances are expected of these other Red Devils under ex-Swansea City, Wigan Athletic and Everton manager Roberto Martinez. Lukaku is already the national team’s record scorer and he’s still only 25! The World Cup betting offers Lukaku at 18/1 with many bookies to be top scorer at the tournament finals after scoring a career best 27 club goals this season.
United has briefly been home to legendary Swedish strikers Henrik Larsson and Zlatan Ibrahimovic in recent years, yet their sole representative from this Scandinavian country for Russia is defender Victor Lindelof. The centre half, who can also play at right back, played a key rearguard role in helping Sweden qualify when they shocked Italy over two legs in the play-offs.
There’s the unenviable task of playing Brazil in World Cup Group E for Serbia, so a big game is needed from United anchorman Nemanja Matic. Signed by Mourinho from former club Chelsea last summer, he has brought an assured and physical presence to the Old Trafford engine room.
Left-footed centre back Marcos Rojo has been on the comeback trail from a serious knee injury this season, but Argentina have had no qualms about selecting him. That flexibility to play in two defensive positions means he’s in Jorge Sampaoli’s squad despite a lack of first-team football at club level. The South Americans are 10/1 (Betfair) chances to lift the World Cup after being thwarted by Germany in extra time of the 2014 final.
Didier Deschamps’ Les Bleus midfield is built entirely around Paul Pogba. It’s high time he lived up to the hype and promise he showed four years ago at the last World Cup in Brazil. United’s record signing will hope to help 13/2 shots France to go one better than being Euro 2016 runners-up here and win the tournament.
David de Gea is Spain’s undisputed number one since replacing the long-serving Iker Casillas in goal. Adored by Red Devils fans, his shot stopping is also hugely respected by his fellow Premier League footballers who have voted him into the last four consecutive PFA Teams of the Year. La Roja are generally found at 6/1 in the World Cup outright betting.
Manchester United have opened up the possibility of Cristiano Ronaldo returning to the club with an enquiry about his future according to the latest newspaper reports:
The Independent notes:
We can reveal that Manchester United enquired about the prospect of re-signing Ronaldo, only to be informed that talks with Juventus are at a genuine and advanced stage.
Initial thoughts that Ronaldo was attempting to earn a new contract have been replaced by the genuine prospect of the Portuguese moving to Serie A in a move that could shake up Europe.
Ever since he left United in 2009, Ronaldo has been linked with a move back to the club where he won three Premier League titles, the FA Cup, World Club Cup and Champions League, not to mention his first Ballon D’or, fans have been desperate to see him return.
At the age of 33, this is likely to be Ronaldo’s last big transfer and final chance of returning to United should he decide to leave the Bernabeu. Juventus remain favourites to sign the Portuguese star. A move to Italy, with a new league to challenge to conquer may appeal to Ronaldo’s ego, as could the prospect of lifting the Champions League with a third club.
Anyone who signs Ronaldo, be that a new contract at Madrid or elsewhere, is guaranteed goals and a genuine threat not to mention a rocket in shirt sales and tickets, the one thing Ronaldo can’t offer is longevity and although he’s undoubtedly taken care of himself, he arguably only has one or two seasons left at the very top.
Whether those two seasons are spent at United remain to be seen – a the minute it’s looking increasingly unlikely but you never know, Ed Woodward would love a major transfer coup like bringing Ronaldo ‘home.’ Jose Mourinho has worked with Ronaldo before at Real Madrid and while they weren’t thought to be close, there’s been conflicting reports as to whether there was ever any animosity between the two. One thing’s for sure, if Ronaldo is open to a move to United, Mourinho, who’s desperate to prevent City from winning the title, would undoubtedly be willing to agree to the deal.