Manchester United have seen an opening bid of £70 million for Harry Maguire rejected by Leicester City, but the Foxes’ reluctance to sell came as no surprise to the Red Devils.
According to the Manchester Evening News, United anticipated their opening offer being rejected, as the bid fell short of Leicester’s £75 million asking price from a year ago, when the England international came hot off the back of a starring role in the 2018 World Cup.
The 26-year-old was then rewarded with a new, five-year contract in September, and has not shown a vast decline in his performances at the King Power Stadium, whilst the United backline crumbled to a sixth-place finish in the Premier League. But it was the emerging interest from Manchester City that is thought to have expedited Ed Woodward’s plans to sign the centre-back.
Executives at Old Trafford feared being outbid by their title-clinching neighbours in the race for Maguire, however, as the Sky Blues are likewise looking to snap up a resolute defender following Vincent Kompany’s move into a player-manager position with Anderlecht.
But City walked away from deals for would-be Manchester United signings Alexis Sanchez and Fred last term, after refusing to meet the fees being offered at Old Trafford. United chiefs now hope that by offering £70million for Maguire, they can ward off the threat of a swoop by City, and can openly negotiate a fee with Leicester without the peril of being outbid.
Unfortunately, The Sun understand Maguire has made it clear to the Foxes that he would prefer to ply his trade at the Etihad Stadium next season, and take on the European stage as soon as possible.
This has not reflected poorly in United’s odds, however, as Oddschecker note that the 20-cap Three Lions star is evens to join Pep Guardiola’s treble winners, whereas Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s United are favourites at 10/11. The best UK bookies online are backing Maguire to move to Old Trafford, with the Red Devils representing 48% of all bets placed. Atletico Madrid, meanwhile, are 25/1 to be Maguire’s home by the time the new campaign commences, ahead of 33/1 Liverpool and 40/1 Arsenal.
United have been in the market for a new centre-half since last summer when Jose Mourinho heavily pursued Tottenham Hotspur’s Toby Alderweireld, yet are now looking to acquire a younger, long-term option following the departure of the Champions League winning Portuguese head coach.
Manchester United have 14 players out on loan at present, with a range of first-team hopefuls dotted around Europe all trying to prove to the Red Devils what they have to offer Ole Gunnar Solskjaer upon their returns.
Out of those 14, however, just two are cutting their teeth in the Championship, although one – Timothy Fosu-Mensah at Fulham – is chomping at the bit for his rare chance in the Premier League.
The most regular of Manchester United’s out-on-loan star’s to feature in England’s second-tier is Dean Henderson, who is currently aiming to play a part in Sheffield United’s push for promotion back into the top-flight.
If the Blades do succeed in their efforts, which they could well do according to the latest football predictions, it will be in no small part thanks to United’s young goalkeeper, who has never missed a minute of action between the sticks in Chris Wilder’s league side.
While Wilder may have rested the 7-cap England U21 international in the cup competitions, the 22-year-old has starred in the Championship with 17 clean sheets in his 38 outings, making 87 saves.
Manchester United also have Axel Tuanzebe plying his trade in the Championship with Aston Villa, although the promising 21-year-old has been out of action since December 15 as he suffered a metatarsal fracture.
The Young Lions ace is expected to return to action when Dean Smith’s side come out of the international break to face Blackburn on March 30 in the upcoming English Championship Fixtures, though, which could be the centre-back’s 20th league game of the season.
During his previous 19, the Bunia-born star proved pivotal to the good work at Villa Park, and filled in at right-back when injuries took their toll on the Birmingham-based outfit.
Tuanzebe also averaged 1.3 successful tackles, 0.9 interceptions, 4.4 clearances and six aerial duels per ninety minutes during his regular outings in Claret and Blue.
Beyond those in the Championship, the Red Devils also have a range of prospects out on loan in the lower divisions, with Zak Dearnley at League Two Oldham Athletic, Matty Willock with Crawley Town, Callum Whelan at Port Vale, Regan Poole with Newport County, and Kieran O’Hara’s at Macclesfield.
Ethan Hamilton is also with Rochdale in League One, while Cameron Borthwick-Jackson’s at Scunthorpe.
As for those dotted around Europe, Joel Pereira is at Jupiler Pro League outfit KV Kortrijk, James Wilson is in Scotland with Aberdeen, and Tom Sang is with non-league outfit AFC Fylde.
Demetri Mitchell, meanwhile, had been set to see out the season with Heart of Midlothian, but saw his campaign brought to an end in February after undergoing an operation to repair his torn meniscus having made 23 appearances in all competitions.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has inspired Man Utd to a remarkable upturn in results and performance levels since replacing Jose Mourinho in the dugout. The popular caretaker manager has presided over 10 wins in 12 games and watched his beloved club surge up the Premier League table. The air of doom and gloom has lifted around Old Trafford and his stars are playing with smiles on their faces once more. Here are the five most notable improvements the Norwegian has made to this team:
A commitment to attacking football
Man Utd were defined by a commitment to attacking, expansive, ambitious football under Sir Alex Ferguson and it proved to be a highly successful formula. United racked up all manner of trophies and delighted fans with some scintillating football along the way. That was totally lost under the conservative Mourinho. It was to be expected from a manager that invented parking the bus, and some fans could just about stomach dreary football while results were going their way and trophies were being added to the cabinet, but this season they were in abysmal form too and the Portuguese understandably bit the bullet. The first thing Solskjaer did was encourage his players to push forward and take risks on the ball, and he has reaped the rewards of that decision. Ferguson demanded pace, power, penetration and unpredictability from his forwards, Solskjaer included, and the caretaker manager has reinstalled that philosophy to devastating effect.
Unleashing Paul Pogba
Pogba was undoubtedly the biggest casualty of Mourinho’s conservative approach as he was forced to play with the shackles on. Solskjaer gave him free rein to express himself on the pitch and the results have been remarkable. Finally, he looks like a player who can justify his £85 million price tag, having banged in nine goals in 12 games since Mourinho left the club. He has benefited from Solskjaer’s decision to play a settled midfield three, with Nemanja Matic and Ander Herrera doing most of the dirty work and allowing Pogba to charge up the pitch and wreak havoc.
Giving Marcus Rashford a chance
Romelu Lukaku’s alarming dip in form was one of the reasons behind Man Utd’s run of poor results in the first half of the season. Fans were crying out for Rashford to become the first-choice striker at the club, but Mourinho continued to use the wunderkind sparingly. That all changed when Solskjaer took over. He benched Lukaku and built his attack around Rashford, who provides pace, power, penetration and unpredictability in abundance. It appears that the first-choice frontline under Solskjaer is Rashford, Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard, and that looks extremely potent – full of youth, pace, energy and vitality, with Pogba adding further flair and athleticism to proceedings when he gets forward and supports them. It is notable that the only defeat in Solskjaer’s 12-game reign came after Martial and Lingard were forced off with injuries against PSG in the Champions League. But they bounced back with a superb win over Chelsea in the FA Cup, and Rashford’s pace and desire to play on the shoulder of the last man caused plenty of problems for the Blues and Man United are now second favourites, behind neighbours Man City to win the FA Cup at Sporting Index, where you will find thousands of sports spread betting markets.
Giving the full-backs a licence to push forward
Mourinho inexplicably singled out Luke Shaw for horrendous treatment during his time at the helm and it was painful to watch. Solskjaer recognises Shaw’s raw talent and he has allowed the young Englishman to nail down the left-back role, with Ashley Young now playing at right-back. Those two have been given plenty of scope to get forward and join in the attacks, providing Man Utd with a lot more width and making them a lot more dangerous going forwards. Shaw in particular is rejuvenated, delivering more crosses, making more runs, linking up better with forwards and edging higher up the pitch. He is still just 23 years of age and he could have a very bright future ahead of him if he continues to develop under Solskjaer.
Winning over the fans
Solskjaer has been a breath of fresh air at the club and the atmosphere inside Old Trafford is electric once more. During his time as a Man Utd player, this was an intimidating stadium to visit, but that aura disappeared amid the humdrum football that defined not only Mourinho’s reign but also those of Louis van Gaal and David Moyes. Now the place is rocking once more as the fans actually have something to cheer: exciting, risk-taking football played on the front foot. This newfound enthusiasm has rubbed off on the players and the likes of Pogba, Rashford and Shaw have never played so well in a Man Utd shirt. Solskjaer was an extremely popular player and he seems like a really nice guy, so he was always going to be warmly received on the terraces. But nobody expected the upturn in form to be quite so dramatic and the supporters feel like they have their Man Utd back. We should not forget the role that Mike Phelan has played in all this, but Solskjaer is the new figurehead of the club and the clamour for him to be given the job on a permanent basis is growing each week.
Jose Mourinho’s departure from Manchester United in December seemed inevitable given the inconsistency shown by the side during his leadership but any suggestion that it was all down to the players has quickly been wiped away.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has led the Red Devils to six consecutive victories across all competitions, proving his worth last weekend with a win over Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley that could be extremely valuable at the end of the season.
More often than not, a new manager leads to a fresh set of ideas and better performances but things have gone beyond that at Old Trafford. United are slick, organised, offensive and looking dangerous – with the upturn in form suggesting that a push for a top-four finish in the Premier League could be back on.
United will be expected to extend their winning streak at home against Brighton this weekend, which is worth keeping in mind for using your bet365 bonus code for 2019 and will be the favourites against Arsenal in the FA Cup the following Friday despite the fact the Gunners will be at home.
In fact, there is every possibility that Solskjaer could enter the Champions League Round of 16 clash with Paris Saint-Germain in February with a 100% record as Manchester United boss – something that did not appear to be possible.
While the form guide does not lie, the best evidence of the improvements made under the guidance of the former Norway international has been the performances displayed by the likes of Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba, both of whom struggled to make an impact under Mourinho.
Rashford, back in a central striking position, has rekindled the sort of form that saw him catch the eye on his debut a few seasons ago and Pogba is finally looking like the player that Manchester United fans lift the World Cup in the summer.
The test for Solskjaer’s rejuvenated side is maintaining this level of form over the months ahead. While cynics will argue that the only real test the Red Devils have faced so far came last week against Mauricio Pochettino’s side, the fact of the matter is that you can only defeat who lies ahead of you.
On top of that, it is easy to see where the improvements lie. The Red Devils enter this weekend’s clash with Brighton with three consecutive clean sheets across all competitions, while the three games prior to that saw United score 12 goals over the course of three matches – which is 27% of their total tally this season.
With the feel-good factor restored, the defence showing improvements and the big names shining, it seems stopping Solskjaer’s side could be a near impossible task – and it suggests he may be here for the long-term.
While Manchester United’s male players will be getting a rest next summer, some of their women’s team, such as Alex Greenwood, will be getting geared up for the Women’s World Cup scheduled for 2019! The excitement around it is palpable and whether you follow the latest match by viewing it through live football streaming or read about the football matches online, the thrill and joy of every goal is highly anticipated as 24 countries battle it out to gain the highest football feat. As per the latest releases, the World Cup will be kicked off on 7th June 2019 and will conclude on 7th July 2019.
France will be hosting the prestigious Tournament for the first time, and it is for the third time that Europe plays the host. The Women’s National Team of US are the defending champions and are strong proponents for lifting the trophy for the fourth time. This revelation is worth celebration considering that the Men’s National Team of US was unable to qualify for the Russian edition of the World Cup.
Before the football mania creeps over, here is everything that you need to know about the Women’s World Cup 2019:
Host Cities and Stadiums for World Cup 2019
Nine different cities and ten venues across France have won the rights to host the highly anticipated competition, these are:
Game – Stadium, City
Group Stage + Round of 16 – Parc de Princes, Paris
Group Stage + Round of 16 – Stade Auguste-Delaune, Reims
Group Stage + Round of 16 – Stade des Alpes, Grenoble
Group Stage + Round of 16 – Roazhon Park, Rennes
Group Stage + Round of 16 – Roazhon Park, Rennes
Group Stage + Round of 16 – Stade du Hainaut, Valenciennes
Group Stage + Round of 16 – Stade de la Mosson, Montpellier
Group Stage + Round of 16 + Third Place – Allianz Riviera, Nice
Group Stage + Round of 16 + Quarter Final – Stade Oceane, Le Havre
Semi-finals + Finals – Parc Olympique Lyonnais, Lyon
Parc Olympique Lyonnais is the largest-capacity stadium in all of France with the ability to house 59,186 frenzied fans.
Women’s World Cup 2019 Participants
The Women’s World Cup 2019 will see new entrants such as Jamaica, South Africa, Chile, and Scotland. While Italy and Argentina will be participating for the first time since 1999 and 2007 respectively.
A comprehensive list of qualifying teams is given below:
Team – FIFA Ranking
France – 4
China PR – 15
Thailand – 28
Australia – 6
Japan – 7
South Korea – 14
Brazil – 8
Chile – 39
Spain – 12
Italy – 17
England – 3
Scotland – 19
Norway – 13
Sweden – 9
Canada – 5
United States – 1
Jamaica – 64
Netherlands – 10
Argentina – 37
Nigeria – 38
South Africa – 50
Cameroon – 49
New Zealand – 20
Tickets for World Cup 2019
FIFA is yet to release official statements on how fans can buy tickets. However, you may stay tuned to FIFA.com for all the latest updates.
Season Favourites for World Cup 2019
The defending champions, US have won the title for the last 3 times and are strong contenders for World Cup 2019 as well. Star players like Megan Rapinoe, Tobin Heath, and Alex Morgan are at the peak of their performance and are speculated to steer their team to victory.
On the other hand, Les Bleues will have the home advantage and the momentum spike left behind their male counterparts. They would definitely be eyeing the chance to win the highest accolade on their home turf.
Manchester United are entering a crucial period in the campaign which could make or break their season and there is plenty to be worried about after a four-match winless streak.
Fighting back from two goals down against Southampton last weekend and securing a point against Arsenal in midweek with a valiant performance, there has certainly been some positives to take from recent displays.
However, the standings make for grim reading. Jose Mourinho’s side sit eighth, behind Everton and Bournemouth, are five points behind the Champions League spots and a staggering 18 points behind arch-rivals Manchester City.
The danger for the Red Devils is that the gap could extend. Arsenal are flying and enjoying a 20-match unbeaten streak in all competitions, Chelsea have lost just once under Maurizio Sarri and Tottenham continue to catch the eye.
With a clash against Liverpool on the horizon, Manchester United cannot afford to drop any points in their more favourable matches according to sports betting with EnergyBet that are around the corner – starting with the hosting of Fulham on Saturday.
Rock-bottom of the Premier League and conceding 36 goals already this season, a clash against Fulham at Old Trafford is the perfect time for the Red Devils to find their feet and restore confidence.
However, there is also big risks. Anything other than a comfortable win will be seen as another failure and, with a trip to Anfield next week, a slip against Fulham could be extremely problematic.
This is the sort of match where Mourinho will expect his more senior players to grab the game by the scruff of its neck and haul United to victory. The likes of Romelu Lukaku and Paul Pogba have seen criticism heaped upon them this season but could provide the difference at the weekend.
It could also provide the chance for Anthony Martial to maintain what has been a decent season for him individually, where he has scored seven Premier League goals in 12 appearances – three of which have come off the bench.
At the back, David De Gea is unlikely to be tested too much by a Fulham arrack which has scored 15 goals in 15 games but he also needs to make a statement after his error against Arsenal for their opening goal, while he has secured just two clean sheets this season.
Ultimately, it is a favourable tie for Manchester United on paper but one that could be difficult as the wolves are at the door ready to rip into the team if they fall short of expectations.