Tag Archives: Manchester United

What will it take for Donny Van de Beek to get a chance at Manchester United?

Another lacklustre performance from Manchester United under Ralf Rangnick, with the much-spoken about control completely missing from the game.

United crawled to a 1-0 win over Aston Villa on Monday night to progress to the FA Cup fourth round thanks to an early Scott McTominay header.

Villa were the dominant side on the night though, having two goals disallowed by VAR and missing a host of other chances throughout the 90 minutes as United failed to contain them.



Manager Rangnick once again opted for the ‘McFred’ duo in midfield and it started well with Brazilian whipping in a brilliant cross for the Scot to head home the opening goal.

But as the game went on it was clear that the ‘control’ Rangnick so often speaks about was once again missing, as Steven Gerrard’s side repeatedly walked through the middle of the pitch to create chances.

Somehow McTominay was given the man of the match award by BBC commentator Dion Dublin, but his performance was pretty poor even by his own standards.

Donny Van de Beek was brought on to the pitch with around 20 minutes to go as Rangnick changed the system to try and gain some control, and they stemmed the flow of the game in order to see out their victory.

It raised yet another question about the Dutchman’s chances in the side, with just one start to his name since the German’s arrival at the club.

When the team sheet was announced, fans immediately reacted negatively to the fact that he wasn’t in the side.

It seemed as though despite his obvious qualities on the ball in a position that the team are at their weakest, something is happening behind the scenes that means he isn’t being picked.

He wasn’t being called upon if the team were winning, losing or drawing, if performances were good or bad or even if the team was being rotated. So what is the point of him being here.

Add to that the fact that the midfield area is consistently underperforming in their duties on the pitch, and surely he is due a chance?

Donny van de Beek of Manchester United warms up ahead of the Premier League match between Manchester United and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Old...

Rangnick praised the control that Van de Beek brought to the midfield at the end of the game so surely now it’s worth giving him a run in the team?

He can’t be any worse than the current options and if he performs badly, then at least there is a reason for him to not be playing.

The same can be said for Jesse Lingard in the attacking positions, with all of the attackers underperforming and yet someone who has all the attributes that Rangnick waxes lyrical about is sitting on the bench struggling for minutes.

McTominay is suspended for the weekend which would provide another golden opportunity for Van de Beek to get in the team and show if he can provide what nobody else seems to be able to.

If he can’t, then there is literally no point in him being part of the squad and Rangnick should just allow him to leave during the January window.

Jesse Lingard’s decisions leaving him in a rut at Manchester United

Jesse Lingard’s future at Manchester United has been up in the air for the best part of two years, and yet nothing seems to be changing any time soon.

The 29-year-old has been at the club since an infant, coming through the academy at Carrington and making his debut under Louis van Gaal way back in 2014.

His future looked bright, but it just never really took off and for the best part of three seasons the door has been open for the player to leave.



It seemed like he finally got the message last winter, when he joined West Ham United on a six-month loan deal after a severe lack of minutes under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

He was brilliant, scoring nine times in 16 appearances as West Ham made it to the Europa League and everything looked set for him to return on a permanent contract.

But despite just 12 months remaining on his contract, the decision was made for him to stay at the club. The same United side that he couldn’t even get on the bench for six months prior, who had added Jadon Sancho and Cristiano Ronaldo to their attacking ranks, were keeping Lingard again.

Lingard had a bit of a run of form off the bench, scoring the winner against West Ham on his return to the London Stadium and also notching against Newcastle. But since then he saw his minutes deplete again and he rejected a new contract with the club, meaning the expectation was that he’d leave in January.

Jesse Lingard of Manchester United looks on during the UEFA Champions League group F match between Manchester United and BSC Young Boys at Old...

However with Solskjaer getting sacked and Ralf Rangnick coming in, The Athletic are reporting that Lingard will now be staying at Old Trafford for the rest of the season and will only make a decision on his future in the summer – when his contract expires.

Obviously there isn’t much of a sample size under Rangnick, but the chances of him getting greatly improved game time in the second half the season are likely to still be poor.

In a World Cup year, his decision not to push for a move away to get an extra six months of regular football under his belt is just baffling.

There would be plenty of clubs interested in January that would give him regular game time at a high level, but instead he is choosing to stay and fight for his place from the bench with limited opportunities.

Jesse Lingard of Manchester United in action during a first team training session at Carrington Training Ground on December 07, 2021 in Manchester,...

At this point, any loss of form or lack of playing time has lost sympathy among neutrals and United fans. He’s been given ample opportunity to show he is good enough and move away to play elsewhere and he’s done neither.

His career has stalled during his prime years at the club and he’s done nothing to change that. He’s in a rut and he’s stuck there because of his own strange decisions.

Kieran Trippier to Newcastle makes far more sense than Manchester United

It seems as though the January transfer window is moving early as Newcastle are reportedly close to signing Kieran Trippier from Atletico Madrid.

The England international is set to enter the final six months of his deal in the Spanish capital, having helped them to the La Liga title last season.

Newcastle are keen to strengthen their team as they look to avoid relegation following significant investment from their new owners PIF of Saudi Arabia, and Trippier has been identified as a priority target.



The 31-year-old spent the entire summer transfer window being linked with a move to Manchester United, only for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and the club to opt to keep Diogo Dalot instead when Atletico’s asking price was deemed too high.

This season Trippier has struggled for form and Diego Simeone hasn’t picked him regularly. He has started nine La Liga games of a possible 16, while he only started three Champions League group games as they scraped through to the last 16.

Man United’s right-back position is arguably even more up for grabs now than it was in the summer, with a new managerial setup and Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s form poor too. Dalot has stepped in well, but there are still question marks around his long-term future.

If United were still interested, January would surely be the perfect time to move for him. But with their interest now cooled, Newcastle are in prime position and that’s a transfer that makes far more sense.

At Old Trafford, Trippier would’ve been competing for the first-team spot but he isn’t a significant upgrade on either of the current options and it would seem like a bit of a sideways signing for the club.

At St James’ Park though, he walks in as a guaranteed starter when fit and he undoubtedly strengthens them in all areas of their play. He is capable of digging in and playing defensive football if needed, having proved that with Atleti, but he has also got some good offensive attributes.

Kieran Trippier of Club Atletico de Madrid runs to take a corner kick during the UEFA Champions League Group A stage match between Atletico Madrid...

His crossing will be helpful to Callum Wilson and his passing will certainly help to free up Allan Saint-Maximin on counter attacks. The profile is right for what Newcastle want now too; a big improvement but not a long term investment.

It may seem weird for him to throw away Champions League football for a relegation scrap, but with the Magpies reportedly doubling his wages and offering him a route back home to England then it’s a no-brainer.

It’s a transfer that actually makes sense, much more than the protracted summer move to Manchester did anyway.

The time is right for Anthony Martial to leave Manchester United

Manchester United are not short of quality attacking options in their squad currently, but that number could drop by one or two in January.

With Cristiano Ronaldo, Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho, Mason Greenwood, Edinson Cavani and Bruno Fernandes all vying for starting places, Anthony Martial has found first-team opportunities hard to come by recently.

This has led to his agent publicly announcing that the France international will look to leave the club in January.



This is a player who two seasons ago was the club’s top goalscorer and leading number nine for the whole season as they finished third in the Premier League.

It finally looked to be clicking for him after a thunderous start was somewhat curtailed by Jose Mourinho’s use of him as a substitute, while he was adamant about being a striker and now a left winger.

He was given that chance under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who then brought in Cavani for added competition. Martial didn’t react to that particularly well, scoring just seven goals in a poor season and then United brought in Ronaldo.

Since then, Martial has been a shadow of himself. He has suffered with injury problems in his defence, but that raw ability that struck fear into opposition defences during his first season with the club has completely gone.

He has lost a couple of yards of his pace, he is reluctant to take players on when dribbling, he basically refuses to make runs in-behind the opposition defence and his finishing is nowhere near as reliable as it once was.

He has rightly fallen down the pecking order at the club with the emergence of Greenwood too, which means he just can’t secure a prolonged run in the first-team to get back into tip-top shape anymore.

Martial is now 26-years-old and is entering the prime years of his career. He needs to play regularly and is obviously talented enough to be first-choice at a successful club.

But right here, right now, Manchester United isn’t that club. They have better options than him for their systems, many of whom are younger than him.

Anthony Martial of Manchester United celebrates scoring his sides first goal during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Tottenham...

They have great academy talent coming through too who they will feel can replace him and with time still to run on his contract, they can probably get a pretty good sum of money for a want-away player.

It’s a deal that suits all parties at this point and ultimately is the right decision. If he goes on to be successful elsewhere, United shouldn’t be criticised for his sale, because he’s clearly talented.

For all the qualities he has, he isn’t the best option at Old Trafford now and losing him isn’t really going to put a dent in the squad.

Thanks for the memories Toto, but it’s time to go.

Full redrawn Champions League Last 16 draw – Fixtures and dates

The UEFA Champions League last 16 draw has been re-drawn after a botched attempt on Monday morning, and has thrown up some cracking ties.

At the second attempt of trying, Manchester United were drawn with Spanish champions Atletico Madrid while Real Madrid will take on Paris Saint-Germain in the tie of the round.

Manchester City will face Sporting CP, while Liverpool take on Inter Milan. Chelsea were the winners of the redraw, keeping their original opponents in Ligue 1’s Lille.



The original draw saw Manchester United once again set to face off against Paris Saint-Germain, with Cristiano Ronaldo to go head-to-head with Lionel Messi once again in the tie of the round.

Atletico Madrid were scheduled to take on Bayern Munich in the other mega tie, while the other English sides would have been happy with their draws as Liverpool faced Salzburg, Man City faced Villarreal.

However UEFA accidentally put Manchester United into the pot to be drawn against Villarreal and then they were selected, despite being ineligible to do so having come from the same group.

United then weren’t put into the pot for the potential opponents of Atletico amid the confusion, meaning they could never have been drawn against each other.

The draw will now be re-done at 14:00 UK time after several complaints that the botched draw affected the integrity of the competition going forward.

The fixtures will take place in February, with the first legs taking place on February 15/16 or 22/23 with the second legs taking place on March 8/9 or 15/16. Group winners will play their home game in the second leg.

Full draw and fixture dates:

FC Salzburg vs Bayern Munich – February 16th 2022
Bayern Munich vs FC Salzburg – March 8th 2022

Sporting CP vs Manchester City – February 15th 2022
Manchester City vs Sporting CP – March 9th 2022

SL Benfica vs Ajax – February 23rd 2022
Ajax vs SL Benfica – March 15th 2022

Chelsea vs Lille – February 22nd 2022
Lille vs Chelsea – March 16th 2022

Atletico Madrid vs Manchester United – February 23rd 2022
Manchester United vs Atletico Madrid – March 15th 2022

Villarreal vs Juventus – February 22nd 2022
Juventus vs Villarreal – March 16th 2022

Inter Milan vs Liverpool – February 16th 2022
Liverpool vs Inter Milan – March 8th 2022

Paris Saint-Germain vs Real Madrid – February 15th 2022
Real Madrid vs Paris Saint-Germain – March 9th 2022

Diogo Dalot will never get a better chance to be first-choice for Manchester United

Sometimes in the world of elite sports, it takes an act of pure luck to stumble upon something that turns into a great decision.

Manchester United know this better than most. They were desperate to sign Alan Shearer once upon a time, but when he turned them down they instead signed Teddy Sheringham and won the treble.

They also would never have signed the catalyst for their success in the 1990’s, Eric Cantona, if they hadn’t received a phone call from Leeds enquiring about the availability of Denis Irwin.



So with a new manager in Ralf Rangnick taking charge recently at Old Trafford and everyone starting with a clean slate, full-back Diogo Dalot has another chance to make it at Manchester United.

The Portuguese defender has had a tough time at the club since joining under Jose Mourinho back in 2018 from FC Porto. He made 23 appearances in his debut campaign for the club, but in the two-and-a-half seasons that have followed he’s played just 21 times for them

He was loaned out to AC Milan last year and had it not been for an unsuccessful move for Kieran Trippier in the summer, he probably would have left on a permanent deal.

Manchester United's Portuguese striker Cristiano Ronaldo and Manchester United's Portuguese defender Diogo Dalot chat from their seats on the...

This season, Dalot barely featured under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer before the Norwegian was sacked. He started in the League Cup and in the Champions League when Aaron Wan-Bissaka was suspended, and made some substitute appearances.

An injury to Wan-Bissaka’s hand meant he was handed a start by interim boss Michael Carrick against Arsenal where he played well, and Rangnick opted for an unchanged team against Crystal Palace a few days later.

He was then rested for the Champions League clash against Young Boys in midweek, where Wan-Bissaka’s performance caught the eye for all the wrong reasons. A bad night for him got even worse when on the final whistle he went crashing into the advertising hoardings and had to be stretchered off with a knee and wrist problem after the final whistle.

That paves the way for Dalot to get back in the team for the weekend’s clash against Norwich City and potentially secure a prolonged run in the team.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka of Manchester United lies injured during the UEFA Champions League group F match between Manchester United and BSC Young Boys at...

He won’t get a better chance to make that spot his own than now, because he is the better suited option for the way the German wants to play football.

Dalot is so much more comfortable on the ball and is capable of playing dynamic passes with both feet. He is also a willing runner with the ability to beat a man with dribbling, while his crossing is far superior.

Defensively he has more to learn and offer, but with coaching there is a solid young full-back there. That’s what Rangnick is looking for and that’s why he’s there, to help develop the raw talent at the club.

But his attacking skillset is so much better suited to the modern full-back of today’s game, where the likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold, Reece James, Joao Cancelo, Andrew Robertson and Alphonso Davies are key parts to their club’s successes.

Ralf Rangnick the interim / caretaker manager / head coach of Manchester United and Diogo Dalot of Manchester United at full time during the Premier...

A run in the team with a string of good performances under the new management will give the boss no reason to leave him out of the side when Wan-Bissaka is eventually fit again.

There is no time like the present and with Manchester United firmly in transition to a more attacking unit, the time is now for Dalot to step up and make a claim for the right-back spot.

What Manchester United fans learnt from Ralf Rangnick’s first win as manager

Manchester United earned back-to-back victories in the Premier League for the first time since September as Fred’s goal gave Ralf Rangnick a winning start as manager.

The German boss took over as interim manager until the end of the season following the win over Arsenal in midweek and named an unchanged team for the visit of Palace, who were set up to counter and attack United’s weaknesses.

The Reds turned in an excellent first half performance but they didn’t find the breakthrough until late on, when Fred whipped one into the top corner with his right foot from the edge of the box.



United learnt from the performance that there are some things to come and there are plenty of positives to take from it, but here are the ones I picked out.

Fred will love Rangnick

If it wasn’t obvious from the fact he got the winner, the Brazilian was excellent throughout. Many people expected an upturn in his fortunes with the arrival of a coach and a more structured system and it showed immediately.

The 28-year-old was quick in the press, more forward thinking with his passing and his tackling was as good as usual. This system is designed to get the best out of players like him and he is thriving in the heart of midfield.

Victor Lindelof enjoyed the responsibility

The Swede continued in the absence of Raphael Varane but he turned in one of the most assured performances of his Old Trafford career.

Lindelof was excellent on the ball, brave to pinch the ball early on the halfway line and constantly organising his midfielders ahead of him too. He did well to completely nullify the threat of Christian Benteke and Odsonne Edouard up front while also helping Diogo Dalot get forward and track Wilfried Zaha. A top performance.

Attacking full-backs

Under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Aaron Wan-Bissaka was a staple of the defence but it seems as though his position may not be so secure anymore.

Rangnick opted to stick with Dalot and the Portuguese defender turned in an excellent display, with great confidence on the ball and a real threat up and down the wing. With the full-backs keeping a high starting position, the attacking abilities are important and Dalot could be a big winner in this change.

Manchester United Head Coach / Manager Ralf Rangnick congratulates Diogo Dalot of Manchester United at the end of the Premier League match between...

Free flowing attack

United pressed high and were impressive off the ball in the game, but the performances of both Cristiano Ronaldo and Jadon Sancho were also positives in an attacking sense.

Both men pressed well and they linked well together in and around the box as United touched the ball more times in the opponents penalty area than in any game since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement.

While neither were directly involved in the goal, it showed that they can be key figures in the side and that can only be a positive for Manchester United.

Ralf Rangnick can find out exactly where Manchester United stand against Arsenal

Manchester United play host to long-time rivals Arsenal at Old Trafford in the Premier League tonight, and it’s the start of a new era.

The Reds have seen two games go relatively well results wise since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was sacked following a poor run, with a 2-0 win over Villarreal followed up with a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge vs Chelsea.

Michael Carrick has been the man in charge of those fixtures, and has vehemently denied that new interim manager Ralf Rangnick had any input on team selection and tactics.



But after being officially announced as the interim manager until the end of the season, Rangnick will surely have input on this game despite not being in the dugout for it.

The German is still working through the visa process and won’t be able to officially take charge of the team against Arsenal, but reports say he has already been looking at training tapes and analysing previous games to be able to hit the ground running when he does eventually take charge.

But with that time edging ever closer, it won’t be beyond the realms of possibility that he has a big say in team selection and training methods leading into this game.

Even if he isn’t though, this is a game where he will finally be able to see what the team is truly made of and the size of the task he has taken on. While Villarreal are a good team in their own right, United are supposed to be beating them.

Head coach of Manchester United Michael Carrick and Forward of Manchester United Cristiano Ronaldo during Champions League match between Villarreal...

Chelsea are a team right now that would cause any team to adapt their tactics slightly too, so it’s no surprise United went extra defensive in that sense.

But against Arsenal, at Old Trafford and with a win desperately needed in the Premier League, they have to go for it. The fans will be right behind them, the players should be up for it to impress the new boss and they are playing against a team who have their own issues.

This isn’t an Arsenal team that have been particularly impressive recently, despite their results. Mikel Arteta is still learning on the job and while his side have started to somewhat resemble what he has been speaking about since being in charge almost two years ago, they still have glaring weaknesses.

On paper, the United squad is considerably stronger than Arsenal’s and they have the ability to put this team to the sword if they are firing. But that’s a big ‘if’ considering recent form, and Arsenal will be raring to go against a wounded animal.

Jadon Sancho of Manchester United celebrates scoring their first goal during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Manchester United at...

If United can show their true level they should win this game. If they perform below it, then it’s very possible they get beaten and fall even further down the table in the race for a top four place.

But one thing that will be sure, is that Rangnick will have a much better idea of his task after 90 minutes at Old Trafford. Whether he can turn it around or build on it, is a different question entirely.

Lionel Messi wins record seventh Ballon d’Or

Lionel Messi has won the Ballon d’Or for the seventh time in his career, extending his record as the player to win it the most times.

The Argentine captain capped off a wonderful year for himself by pipping Robert Lewandowski and Jorginho to the award, making him the first Ligue 1 player to win the honour since Jean-Pierre Papin in 1991.

Messi had previously won each of his six awards with FC Barcelona, the club he played his entire career for before a summer move to Paris Saint-Germain.



The award was met with a mixed response from fans, with many believing Bayern Munich and Poland striker Lewandowski deserved the honour.

But in the end, Messi’s victory in the Copa America and Copa Del Rey as well as finishing as the top goalscorer in both tournaments and La Liga was enough to secure him the record breaking achievement.

Lewandowski finished second while Chelsea’s Jorginho rounded off the podium in third, having helped his club win the Champions League and led Italy to winning Euro 2020 in the summer.

Karim Benzema finished fourth, while N’Golo Kante finished fifth. The Premier League continued to dominate the top ten as Cristiano Ronaldo finished sixth, Mohamed Salah finished seventh and Kevin De Bruyne finished eighth, while PSG stars Kylian Mbappe and Gianluigi Donnarumma completed the top ten.

FIFA ensured that Lewandowski didn’t go home empty handed however, as the inaugral “Striker of the Year” award was given to the man who scored 64 goals in 54 games last season en route to yet another Bundesliga title.

Chelsea were crowned the inaugral “Club of the Year” winners, while Pedri was confirmed as the Kopa Trophy winner -given to the best Under-21 player in the world.

Messi’s victory moves him two clear of Ronaldo in the record hunt, as the Portuguese legend finished outside of the top three for the first time since 2010.

Cristiano Ronaldo is Manchester United’s poison and medicine

Manchester United secured a huge point away to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, but bigger than the result was Michael Carrick’s decision to drop Cristiano Ronaldo.

United started the game in a 4-3-3 shape with Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho flanking Bruno Fernandes as the striker, with all of Fred, Scott McTominay and Nemanja Matic playing in midfield.

The Reds took the lead in the second half as Sancho pounced on a Jorginho error to slot past Edouard Mendy, before the Italian converted a penalty to ensure a nervy finish.



Ronaldo wasn’t on the pitch when United went ahead but had been called upon by Carrick before the penalty decision, while he was largely anonymous on the field for the rest of the game.

Carrick implemented a high press to try and force Chelsea into errors higher up the pitch, but the home side managed to cope fairly well for the most part.

While some speculated that the incoming Ralf Rangnick may have had something to do with the team selection and decision to drop Ronaldo, Carrick completely ruled that out and it was pretty clear from the style that the German had no involvement.

But what it did offer up were some questions about how Ronaldo will fit in going forward.

Manchester United's Portuguese striker Cristiano Ronaldo replaces Manchester United's English striker Jadon Sancho in the second half during the...

The Portuguese forward is the club’s top goalscorer this season with ten goals, but the Premier League has proved tough for him with just four goals in nine appearances so far. His lack of defensive nous means United are often a man down when it comes to the transitions and keeping clean sheets.

Despite that though, he has proven to be United’s saviour on several occasions already. He scored twice on his debut in a 4-1 win over Newcastle, scoring the opening and go-ahead goals in the game.

He scored the equaliser against West Ham, the opener against Young Boys, the winner against Villarreal at home, the winner in the home game against Atalanta, the opener against Tottenham, both goals in a 2-2 draw with Atalanta away and the opener in the return game against Villarreal too.

All of his goals to date have been meaningful and contributed towards United winning points. So how is it that someone so important can also potentially be a hinderance to the current United squad going forward?

Ultimately, that is the case. His defensive frailties don’t help the side whatsoever on the pitch, but going forward you can’t just ignore how good he is when it comes to being clinical and winning you games.

Forward of Manchester United Cristiano Ronaldo celebrate after scoring the 0-1 goal with his teammate during Champions League match between...

With Ronaldo now 36-years-old, you get what you’re given with him at this point. United knew what he offered when they signed him and they did it anyway. To his credit, he has performed too.

For United and Rangnick now, the task remains the same. They need a cohesive defensive unit on the pitch, which also contains Cristiano Ronaldo in attack to have the perfect balance to win games, especially at the highest level.

The Portuguese legend is currently both a poison and a medicine to the Manchester United squad, but United must now find a way to perfectly balance the doses of each.