Author Archives: Ian Foran

2 things we learnt from Man Utd’s dramatic draw against Sheff Utd

Man Utd Rashford

Man Utd was held to a dramatic draw yesterday at Bramhall Lane, with Sheffield United dominating for long periods of time.

For 70 minutes against the Blades, the headlines were written. Man Utd in crisis once again. Pochettino in, Ole out, players that need selling etc. In a stunning eight-minute period, Man Utd rolled back the years.

A stunning strike from the ever impressing Brandon Williams on 72 minutes and another goal for Mason Greenwood five minutes later, seen the Red Devils draw level.

Two minutes after that James and Martial combined for Rashford to score, making it 3-2.

Solskjaer’s men started to pop it about like a team flowing in confidence, not one that had been battered for 70 minutes.

McBurnie equalised late on to cap off a great match. The result leaves United 9th on 17 points. A win would have seen them jump up to 5th, in a tight scrap for the Europa League place.

Three things were evident yesterday…

Man Utd’s inconsistency needs to be addressed

Man United’s average point tally so far is 1.30 per game. It leaves them with a projected 50 points come to the end of the season. This point tally would see them finish around 9th position going off the last 5 years Premier League tables.

Now some may make the argument that this team is in a rebuild and blooding young stars. It may take time to get back to even being a regular top-four team.

However, many fans are not as patient as they use to be. We live in a world of instant actions, fans want instant success. The years of giving a manager time have gone. Solskjaer has one window to improve the squad, a window that will possibly make or break Solskjaer’s Man Utd future.

Solskjaer’s substitutions changed the game

Three at the back was simply not working, Phil Jones was not working out, Fred and Pereira in midfield were not working out.

Solskjaer made the call at half time, Jones off, Lingard on. This changed the game. Lingard made 13 passes in 45 minutes in the final third compared to Pereira’s 9 in 72 minutes. He created 4 chances, the most by any Man United player in the match.

By playing in the hole, Lingard changed the flow of the game. Alongside Greenwood coming on and scoring within minutes. The substitute game was strong.

However, bringing off Martial for Tuanzebe when United was looking likely to claim a fourth and kill the game off, was a blunder in hindsight.

Many Man Utd fans seem to point at Solskjaer’s tactical naivety at times.

In conclusion, yesterday we saw the worst and best of Solskjaer men. Something that is a reoccurring theme under his leadership.

Oldham Athletic make it 4 unbeaten as they continue to paper the cracks

Oldham Athletic's Mills

Oldham Athletic pulled themselves five points clear of the singular relegation place, with a 1-0 win over Newport County yesterday.

It takes Latics to two wins and two draws in their past four League 2 fixtures.

Furthermore, there has been an overall improvement under Dino Maamria in his first nine games in charge. Three wins, three losses, three draws, 10 goals for and 12 conceded sees them five points better off and +3 goal difference to the previous man in charge.

Compare this to Laurent Binade’s first nine games in charge this season before he was replaced by Maamria – One win, four losses, 4 draws, nine goals for and 14 conceded. Things are certainly looking up for Oldham.

However, it’s off the pitch that isn’t improving. A big section of fans are disgruntled with life under chairman Lemesgan and a project called Push the Boundary seem to be the driving force for change at Boundary Park.

Their aim is to protest on the 7th December, as a voice from the stands.

Oldham have been in steady decline over a number of years, finding themselves in the bottom tier of the football league last season. Being favourites to go straight back up, Oldham ended up with a midtable finish after a succession of managers.

That trend has continued this season, with them already on their second manager after nine games of the season. Finding themselves at the wrong end of the table so early on, they already face an uphill battle to claim a play-off spot come to the end of the season.

Oldham boss feeling optimistic

However, Oldham boss Maamria is feeling optimistic after yesterday’s game. With him trying to close the gap between the team and fans, by dedicating the three points to the travelling away support.

From an outside point of view, it seems that this season is going to be turbulent on and off the pitch. With a clash eventually coming to fruition of fans and the board – which many will be hoping to be the turning point towards a positive future at Boundary Park.

Results on the pitch can only paper over the cracks for so long in the short-term.

Wigan Athletic fans voice their opinion following another defeat ‘it’s time for a change’

Wigan Athletic fans took to Twitter last night to vent yet more anger towards manager Paul Cook following another defeat away from home.

Wigan again lost away from home, taking their winless streak to 5 games in the Championship. They now hover one point above the bottom three. Stoke gained crucial ground on them, with back to back victories in Michael O’Neill’s first 2 games in charge.

Despite being backed in the transfer market in the summer, while bringing in big names like Jamal Lowe and Keiffer Moore. Cook, along with the Latics fans would surely have wanted to build on their end of season form, that seen them steer clear of relegation.

One loss in their last nine games should have been somewhat of a springboard into this season. Especially with the strengthening of the squad in the summer transfer window.

However, four wins out of their 17 games so far this season see Wigan loitering in 20th position. Crucial games against Reading and Luton coming up in the next two weeks could define not only Wigan’s season but Cook’s future.

Many Wigan fans believe the time is now to change…

Wigan Athletic boss hopes returning stars can lift the team ahead of Stoke City

Wigan Athletic manager Paul Cook

Wigan Athletic travel to Stoke City in the hope of ending a horrendous away record of 1 win in league 29 games in the Championship.

Wigan (20th) sit above Stoke (23rd) in the Championship by 4 points. Both have had miserable starts to the season and will be hoping this game is the kickstart to climbing up the table.

However, Wigan’s away record is abysmal. Although, with returning stars like Keiffer Moore and David Marshall coming back after successful international breaks, Paul Cook will be hoping that it can lift the squad…

“Kieffer had two exceptionally good games; it was fantastic for Wales to qualify,” Cook continued. “David played and Scotland are on the back of a good run of three wins to finish their campaign.

“Everyone has come back well; it makes it difficult that Kieffer only comes back yesterday but that’s just part of football.

“I think it is great for Wales and the home nations that there is the chance to qualify; Scotland have a play-off coming up, Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland have a chance too.

“It is great for us that our players are qualifying and getting to play in these big tournaments, which only enhances football in the UK.”

Quoted from WiganAthletic.com

Wigan Athletic feeling refreshed?

After a two week break from the competitiveness of the Championship. Cook would surely be hoping the rest will have a positive effect on the players, as they look to end a run of 4 league games without a win.

Stoke, on the other hand, fired 4 past Barnsley in O’Neill’s opening game. The Potters fans will surely be hoping for that infamous new manager bounce, to climb out of the bottom three and surge up the table.

Paul Cook ended his Wigan press conference with

“For our lads, though, it is about us going down there and making sure we have done everything we can by 5pm to have won the game.”

Quoted from WiganAthletic.com

With Wigan Athletic not losing to Stoke City since 2009 in the Premier League, 10 games in total. The omens are good for a Wigan win.

The key Man City v Chelsea midfield battle that will win the game

Man City's Rodrigo

Man City entertain Frank Lampard’s Chelsea tomorrow in a top-four clash many wouldn’t have expected with Chelsea above Man City.

Guardiola’s men find themselves in fourth, nine points adrift of Premier League leaders Liverpool and struggling for form in recent times.

3 wins and 2 losses to Liverpool and Wolves in the last 5 league games, see the Citizen’s with a bigger gap than last year’s 7 points to make up to Liverpool. If they want to complete a treble of domestic title’s, they have to refind their groove.

Chelsea comes into the game with only one loss since the middle of September across all competitions. They surely provide a stern test once again for Man City. Albeit, Guardiola is boosted by the news that Brazilian goalkeeper Ederson is available following his injury.

As former midfielders, Guardiola and Lampard know that these type’s of games are won and lost in the midfield area. Both Jorghino and Rodrigo are excelling in the DMC role this season and could be the key to who takes the three points…

Man City’s Rodrigo

The Spanish defensive midfielder is the younger of the two and is in his debut season in the Premier League. He rates higher on whoscored.com’s ratings with 7.47 compared to Jorghino’s 7.14.

Alongside a strong passing game with 91.6% completed passes and 2.9 aerial battles won per game – it seems Rodrigo will the main man come Saturday with his offensive stats stacking up against Jorghino, with more key passes and long ball distribution per game.

To compare, Jorghinos pass completion is 88.4% and the Italian has 0.5 aerial duels won per game.

Chelsea’s Jorghino

However, the role of a defensive midfielder is to stop the attacks. This is where Chelsea’s Jorghino starts to show his age and experience over Rodigo.

He wins the battle of tackles (2.5 – 2.4), interceptions (2.1 – 0.8), less fouls given away (1 – 1.3) and blocks (0.3 – 0.2) per game.

Some of the stats are marginal. Sometimes, marginal is what it takes to win a match in the top four.

Whatever the result between these two sides. it will be a fascinating watch in the centre fo the park.

Man Utd’s 2 key 2019 games to cut the gap on the top 4

Solskjaer at a Man Utd press conference

In today’s press conference, Solskjaer wanted to re-focus his Man Utd team into clawing back the 9 point distance to the top 4.

Solskjaer earlier today in his press conference was keen to mention that Man Utd now need to be consistent.

“Yeah, it’s a clear gap in the league between the top four,”

“There are, I don’t know, many teams, within a range of three or four points. So, for us, it’s about consistency now and getting as many points on the board as we can.

“We turned a corner we felt, performance-wise and results-wise after the last international break, but, then again, it’s so tight and I’m just looking forward to this game. We need to have a good performance and a result.”

Quotes taken from ManUtd.com

Man Utd currently has lost once in the past 7 games across all competitions. However, in the Premier League, it’s 2 wins, 2 losses and 1 draw in their 5 recent fixtures.

Here backs up Solskjaer’s claims of how the team needs to find that consistent groove if they are to motor up the league.

No doubt, with Spurs having Mourinho newly appointed. They will find the new manager bounce upturn in form, that will hopefully see them start to turn their season around, with them currently lying in 14th position.

If Man Utd wants to cut the gap, here are two fixtures that they must win…

Sheffield United v Man Utd

Man United travel to Sheffield United on Sunday in the late kick-off. The Blades are currently flying high in 5th position. However, they are only a point above the Red Devils.

To start to cut the gap, United need to come away from this game with the three points. It’ll be a great start for them in the run-in to Christmas.

United seem to have stumbled at so-called ‘easy wins’ this season. With losses to Crystal Palace, West Ham and Newcastle Utd frustrating the Old Trafford faithful this season.

Manchester City away

The Manchester derby comes 4 days after, what will be, a tasty encounter with Tottenham Hotspur.

Man City currently lay in 4th in the Premier League, nine points adrift from Liverpool.

City seems to have inconsistencies of their own, with only 3 wins out of the last five Premier League fixtures. It could be a good time to play Guardiola’s men if this is a theme for their season, as they look to clinch a third title in a row.

As with all derbies, the form book goes out of the window. Man Utd has taken 8 points away from the ‘top 7’ in thier four games. with Man City managing one point out of a possible 6.

A win against their rivals could really catapult Man Utd going forward under Solskjaer.

3 reasons why Aston Villa’s 25y/o would transform Man Utd’s midfield

In a surprise 50m rumour last window, Aston Villa’s John McGinn continues to be linked with Man Utd.

Following a recommendation from Sir Alex Ferguson, Man Utd was reported to be looking at John McGinn in the summer. Following an impressive season in the Championship, the Scottish international has continued to impress in the Premier League.

A January move looks unlikely, however, Aston Villa will surely be sounded out over a summer move. The figure remains at 50m according to the BirminghamMail.

Man United need to assess their midfield options, and there are many names being linked to Old Trafford. The Aston Villa man would transform their midfield, either in January or the summer with these 3 attributes…

Dribbling

John McGinn’s dribbling game is one of his strong points. Man United look like they are missing a dribbler in the centre of midfield, someone to take the ball and drive the team forward.

Out of his 40 dribbles this season, 28 have been successful, averaging 2.5 successful dribbles per match.

Goals

Sor far in 11 games in the Premier League, McGinn has 3 goals to his name. He also recently scored a hattrick for Scotland.

Again Man United are lacking goals, especially from midfield. Lingard is in a rut and only Scott McTominay pitching in – it’s definitely an area that Solskjaer needs to address sooner rather than later.

Assists

McGinn has 2 assists so far this season. However, his key passes are the main feature of his game.

With 15 key passes so far this season. 14 short, 1 long shows he has an eye for a pass. Coupled with his high work rate and tremendous tackling – it’s all signs that Sir Alex Ferguson still has a good eye for talent.

Rochdale’s 17y/o star being eyed up by Man Utd, Man City & Newcastle Utd for a January move

Rochdale defender Luke Matheson is being linked with a number of Premier League clubs with Manchester City, Manchester United and Newcastle all thought to be monitoring the 17-year-old, who has been tipped to have a big future.

Matheson made his senior debut for Rochdale at the age of just 15 when they faced Bury in the EFL Trophy, at the time becoming their youngest ever debutant. He was awarded the Man of Match award that night in what was an impressive display for his age.

Since his opening appearance, the youngster has gone to make 15 league appearances for Dale as he is now a regular in Brian Barry-Murphy’s team. The right-back enjoys driving forward, therefore, he is often involved in attacking plays his side produce.

The highlight of Matheson’s career so far came earlier this season in the Carabao Cup when he scored at Old Trafford against Manchester United to level the game at 1-1. Unfortunately for his side, they eventually lost on penalties to miss out on the giant-killing that night, however, all the headlines were about the ‘Rochdale wonderkid’ the next day.

Matheson recently signed his first professional contract with Rochdale in a three-year-deal. He is another product of the academy at the Greater Manchester club who have produced so many players who have gone on to play at a higher level. He has been at the club since the age of nine, so he is a real success story for their youth system.

Back in February, Matheson was called up into the England under-17 squad to face France where he started in the Three Lions’ 3-2 victory. He recently represented his country at an under-18 level too in games against Poland and Slovakia, the latter who they beat 1-0 on the road, so he is a player who is clearly rated by those who monitor young English players in this country.

Rochdale have made a mixed start to their League One campaign this season where they are 50/1 in the football betting to finish in the top six at the end of the 2018/19 campaign. Matheson is expected to continue to play lots of football as manager Barry-Murphy is not afraid to give the young players in his squad an opportunity to shine.

Higher hopes for Dale

Dale was in a relegation scrap last season but managed to survive with a late surge up the table at the end of the campaign. They are expected to finish much higher this season and still have hopes of finishing in the top six.

Newcastle has reportedly been scouting Matheson since January where they were initially impressed with his talent. Given his goal at Old Trafford though back in September, the two Manchester giants are also thought to now be interested in keeping him in the North West.

If a move for Matheson is made in either the January transfer window or next summer, he could be immediately loaned back to Rochdale in order to continue playing League One football which will help his progression at such a young age.

Forget Rice: 3 midfielders that Man Utd should be going for instead

Man United keep their transfer links going into another window with West Ham United’s Declan Rice according to goal.com.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer opted to bolster the defence in the summer window over a depleted midfield. In the winter window, it seems that the focus is now on the middle of the park area in a bid to save their season.

Many believe Solskajer needs three transfer windows to overhaul a very out of balance Man United squad. Another link to West Ham’s Declan Rice has arisen. Even though he’s another young British player, there is better out there that Man United could bring in.

The three below could certainly make United’s midfield stronger…

Wilfried Ndidi

Leicester City could soon become Man United’s feeder club if all the transfer links are to be believed. However, if they are to grab another player from the Foxes, Ndidi has to be the man.

This season he tops the tackles chart on whoscored.com with 53 total tackles from an attempted 71. Alongside an incredible 397 short passes completed.

Habib Maiga

The Metz 23-year-old plays in a similar position to Ndidi. With a slightly less 57 attempted tackles, he has been successful in 47 of them. Not bad going.

The Ivory Coast international thrives on tackling and intercepting the play. A pass success rate of 82% builds the picture of this midfield man. Stop them and pass it on.

Oriol Romeu

The Southampton 28-year-old has the Premier League experience that might give him the edge on the others. Romeu has made 11 appearances so far in the League and averaging 3.7 tackles per game with 1.4 interceptions.

The Spaniard isn’t goal-getter by any means. However, he can enforce the midfield and strengthen that core area Man United seem to be weak in at the moment.

Man Utd & Liverpool look to battle it out for red-hot German striker in January

Man Utd and Liverpool may not be direct rivals in the Premier League, however, there is a battle in January coming over RB Leipzig’s Timo Werner.

Man Utd has clearly been lacking firepower this season without a recognised striker. The Red Devils currently sit way off the top four and showing no signs of being able to launch a bid to get there anytime soon.

Solskjaer needs a man upfront to bear the burden of finding the back of the net on a regular basis. They think Werner is that man.

On the other hand, Klopp believes Werner is the perfect fit for his top three strike force to push Liverpool forward in the second half of the season. As they bid to end the long drought of title success.

The RB Leipzig striker is on fire in the Bundesliga this season. So far he has 9 goals in 10 games with 3 assists. 13 goals in 15 across all competitions.

Werner has shot Leipzig up to third in the table, above Bayern Munich – another supposed admirer of the German man. However, Sporting director Markus Krosche has rebuffed any chance of Europe’s elite coming in on a January deal, by stating he’s not for sale.

The 58.5m rated by Transfermarkt striker’s price is only going to increase if he keeps on this same trajectory. Wisely Leipzig would want to hold out to summer where the price could peak of any outgoing transfer.

If Man Utd or Liverpool is to be successful in a bid to bring the German to the Premier League. Then you can only imagine offers very much north of 90m would see Leipzig contemplate a move.

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