Author Archives: Ian Foran

Did Manchester United Do Enough Business in the Transfer Window?

Cast your mind back to April this year. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has just issued a public apology to the Manchester United fanbase following their 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Everton. More than that, the manager also states that there is plenty of work to do during the summer transfer window, hinting at a complete re-build from the ground up.

That interview left many Man United fans thinking that there would be more than a few transfers to look forward to, both in and out of the club. Yet just three notable deals have been struck to bring in Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Daniel James and, most recently, Harry Maguire. As for the outgoings, Ander Herrera (one of United’s best players last season), Antonio Valencia and Romelu Lukaku were all moved on.

That said, it’s clear that a large part of Solskjaer’s focus now lies in the youth prospects that are gradually coming through the ranks. Could this investment in young talent pay off next season? Let’s take a look at the key areas of the United squad as they currently stand.

Defence

It’s fair to say the Man United defence was in a sorry state last year, with a whopping 54 goals conceded over the course of the season. The club has made significant strides in strengthening their backline, with Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka coming in to replace Phil Jones or Chris Smalling and Ashley Young respectively.

Most fans will be fairly happy with these deals, not to mention the fact that goalkeeper David de Gea looks set to sign a new contract at the club over the coming weeks. Add in Victor Lindelof, Luke Shaw and Axel Tuanzebe to the mix and you’d have to say that a solid defensive unit could be formed out of those players.

Midfield

On paper, the middle of the park is perhaps the biggest area of concern for Manchester United next season. The departure of Ander Herrera to PSG is certainly a blow, and the board didn’t finance a move for a suitable replacement. Some fans still have confidence in the young talent of Scott McTominay and Andreas Pereira to step up alongside Paul Pogba, yet the lack of depth in the squad remains a worry.

There were plenty of rumours flying around regarding potential moves for a centre-mid – particularly Bruno Fernandes and Christian Eriksen – yet they were unable to get a deal done for either, which is probably of little surprise to Man United fans considering the number of top players they have been linked to over the past few seasons. However, their business has done enough to convince the bookies as they are fourth favourites at 11/10 in the football betting to finish in the top four outright markets.

Attack

The departure of Romelu Lukaku and the lack of a replacement means there should be plenty of opportunities for the group of young, talented attackers currently at the club. Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial will play important roles, that’s for sure, whereas up and comers such as Mason Greenwood, Tahith Chong and Daniel James will each get their chance to shine in the first team. They have also have older stars to complement these youngsters: Alexis Sanchez, Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard.

Even so, despite the improvements that have been made over the summer, you’d have to say that the squad still has a fair few holes to fill before they can put a top-four finish beyond doubt. There are still question marks over Ole Gunnar Solskjaer who will be keen to validate his new tactical approach and focus on youth as soon as possible. The first few months will be critical, let’s see how it all turns out!

Could Manchester United Sell Eric Bailly This Summer?

Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United tenure at Old Trafford was marred by a number of expensive transfers that failed to pan out for the club.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic comes to mind (due in no small part to a severe knee injury), while the Paul Pogba saga will likely reach an ugly conclusion in the near future. Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez are another 3 signings that failed to live up to expectations. 



Another of those is central defender Eric Bailly, who has dealt with a seemingly endless stream of injuries since arriving in Manchester in the summer of 2016. The former Villarreal man suffered a knee injury this past April that ultimately cost him an appearance in the Africa Cup of Nations, where he was scheduled to play for his native Ivory Coast. 

Man United have big expectations for the coming season, though oddsmakers are skeptical of their chances at competing with the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool in the Premier League next term.

These top UK betting sites have the Red Devils listed around 33/1 to win the English topflight in 2019-20, which gives them the fifth-best odds of any team in the division. 

While most believe Bailly will remain with the Red Devils into the upcoming season, the player is worried he could be sold. United have already been active in the transfer window with the signings of Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James, but Ed Woodward still has his sights set on England and Leicester City star defender Harry Maguire.

Leicester City holding out

However, Leicester has remained steadfast in their hefty £80 million asking price for Maguire’s signature, which could certainly complicate a potential move this summer. That said, the Metro says that sources close to United believe a deal will still get done before the window slams shut later in the summer.

Maguire signing would give Ole Gunnar Solskjaer a wealth of options in central defense. Too many, actually. That would give the Red Devils seven central defenders capable of contributing first-team minutes. While the Norwegian reportedly wants a larger squad with Man United having to compete in Europa League this season, it is believed that at least one
of those centre backs will be sold prior to summer’s end.
 
Victor Lindelof is firmly established as Solksjaer’s first choice to potentially pair with Maguire, while longtime United stalwart Chris Smalling’s spot in the side is safe, as well.

Solskjaer went so far as to label Axel Tuanzebe as the “future” of Manchester United following the club’s recent 1-0 win over Inter Milan in preseason play, so it’s safe to assume he’s not going anywhere, either.

Man United stars fight it out

That leaves Bailly, Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo to compete for the last couple of spots on the squad. With both Jones and Rojo having signed new deals with Man United within the last year, Bailly is worried that could mean he winds up being the player sold before the summer window comes to a close.

Rojo signed a new 3-year deal with the club in 2018, which prevented him from leaving on a free transfer. Jones signed a 4-year deal of his own earlier this year, with Solskjaer vouching for the player following his appointment as Mourinho’s successor.
 
Bailly currently has one year remaining on his deal with the club, though Man United do retain the option to extend the contract for another 12 months if they so choose. There have reportedly been no new discussions between Bailly’s representatives and the club regarding a potential new contract, though the player is reportedly set to speak with Solskjaer at some point in the coming days to discuss his future with the club. 

Bailly arrived from Villarreal for £30 million in the summer of 2016, and he was solid during his first campaign with the side. His spot in the pecking order has taken a hit over the last couple of seasons due to injuries, however, which has resulted in the team’s brass looking at other options to fill the position.

Punters Best Friend Major League Soccer betting stats and free betting tips

The Punters Best Friend is here again with another statistical MLS betting masterclass.

Check out below the highlighted matches we are going to cover in greater detail and our tips for each match…

TORONTO to win vs Houston Dynamo 3-0

Finally, Toronto has started to build up some momentum, they have been the MLS’s yo-yo team this year who just can’t seem to get three wins on the bounce. However, they can do just that this weekend against a struggling Houston Dynamo who got spanked 5-0 last week.

Philadelphia Union & Chicago Fire BTTS 2-1

Philadelphia lost heavily in their last game to a strong Salt Lake side who somehow managed to put 4 goals past them. They were away from home though, so I think in front of their home crowd they should do the business. They are prone to conceding however, so I think both teams to score is the best bet.

SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES to win vs Vancouver Whitecaps 2-0

San Jose is beating some high profile teams this season, and that should be no different on this occasion against a bottom of the table Vancouver Whitecaps. San Jose currently sits in 5th position and could slingshot themselves up into 3rd if results go their way. Vancouver has lost four games back to back and conceded 14 goals in the process. They sit bottom of the table and rightfully so. I think they’ll put up a fight but I wouldn’t expect miracles.

LA Galaxy vs Los Angeles FC over 2.5 goals 2-3

Los Angeles is the favourites to lift the MLS Cup this year, they’re form this season has been second to none. They come up against Zlatan though who lives for the big stage. I think Los Angeles will get the win but the safest bet would be over 2.5 goals.

FC Cincinnati vs New England Revolution over 2.5 goals 1-3

FC Cincinnati’s season is pretty much over, they’re just playing for pride now with the home crowd I fancy them to grab a goal. New England, however, is looking to make the playoffs. So a win here could move them from 8th into 5th.

12/1 >>> BTTS and win accumulator

132/1 >>> Philadelphia Union, New England Revolution, New York Red Bulls and Los Angeles all to win

Follow Us on Twitter for lots of free Tips, Accas and Bank Builders -@Punters Best Friend

The Punters Best Friend’s MLS Betting Accumulator

Here is the Punters Best Friend accumulator for tonight’s MLS matches.

Orlando City vs Columbus Crew

Orlando city managed to pull off a shock last week by drawing 2-2 with top of the table Philadelphia union away from home.

Nani is in impressive form so far this season and I think his technical ability will be too much for a colombus crew side who have lost their last four games.

Orlando managed to beat Colombus Crew in their last meeting 2-0 away from home. So with home advantage I see them doing this business in this one.

My prediction:

Orlando city 2-0 Columbus Crew

Nani to score at any time.

Portland Timbers vs Colorado Rapids

Portland Timbers beat New York City away from home in their last outing, mind you it wasn’t a convincing win they were dominated for most of the game but still managed to hold onto a 1-0 win.

Colorado rapids aren’t in terrible form but they’re facing the Timbers at the worst possible time.

I can imagine Portland with home advantage and the confidence they picked up from their last game will be enough to see it through.

My prediction:

Portland Timbers 2-1 Colorado Rapids

Over 2.5 goals

New York Red Bulls vs New York City

Anything can happen in a derby but I think both will be hungry to score some goals so my safe bet is both teams to score.

My prediction:

2-2

Both teams to score

Real Salt Lake vs Philadelphia Union

Philadelphia somehow conceded 2 goals to a weakened Orlando side last week so being away from home I can see them conceding a goal or two.

My prediction:

1-1

Both Teams to score

Chicago Fire vs FC Cincinnati

FC Cincinnati started this season very strong but cracks started to appear and they’ve been in a decline ever since. They somehow managed to pull of a 3-2 victory over Houston Dynamo last week. But the week before that they were spanked 7-1 but Minnesota.

Chicago Fire love to entertain especially when at home so my bet is…

My prediction:

Chicago fire 3-1 FC Cincinnati

Both teams to score.

EFL & Below Show 2018/19 Season Review: Bury FC, Salford City, Oldham Athletic, Rochdale, Wigan Athletic & Bolton Wanderers

This is the EFL and Below Show, your look at all the footballing action in Greater Manchester that doesn’t come from Old Trafford or the Etihad.

Niall McCaughan is joined by Ian Foran and Aaron Benson from the Football Manc Cave in this final episode of the season, taking a look back at the respective seasons of Bury, Salford, Oldham, Bolton, Rochdale and Stockport County.

Subscribe to the podcast now and never miss a show.

Thanks for listening this season!

EFL and Below Show Android: https://subscribeonandroid.com/rss.acast.com/eflandbelowshow

EFL and Below Show Apple: https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/manchester-football-social-efl-and-below-show/id1449475076

SOLSKJAER DEADLINE: Man Utd Need To Ship These 10 Out By Next Year

It’s well documented that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a massive rebuilding job on his hands at Old Trafford, with reports breaking that he has set a deadline of next year to complete the process of deadwood exiting the door.

It’s been six years since Man United last lifted the Premier League trophy, and in all reality, it could be another two to three years before they are competing again.

It’s been nothing more than papering over the cracks in recent transfer windows, as Ed Woodward has thrown sh*t at the wall, in the hope that something sticks.

However, Solskjaer seems to have a clear idea, and be up for the construction work to turn this great club around.

By next year, just under half the current first team could have been moved on for players that want to play for the club and show the same heart and desire the United fans are used to.

We take a look at eleven players that should be shown the door…

Lee Grant

The former Stoke City ‘keeper arrived on a free, and in all honesty, I have no idea why. Entering the late thirties and a GK of no real quality, he has to be a shoo-in to leave as soon as possible.

Phil Jones

The England defender has never really got the fans in his favour. He seems a liability and injury prone over his time at Old Trafford. A move on could reignite his career, much like Jonny Evans a few seasons ago.

Chris Smalling

Another defender who always creates a nervousness when he’s near the ball. Sometimes he can brilliant, but this is a very rare occurrence. Smalling is a squad player, and a backup, back up at best.

Matteo Darmian

How the Italian full-back is still at Man United is beyond most fans. Having seemingly been on the cusp of leaving each transfer window, he seems to have hung around the place and lurked in the shadows – nearly being a forgotten man.

Ashley Young

The converted winger is playing in a role that clearly doesn’t suit him. having been made to make the transition further back following a clear lack of transfer recruitment over previous seasons, Young has had to put up with a lot of stick of the fans. Having been a loyal servant, his time to leave is fast approaching.

Marcos Rojo

The Argentine defender is all action, however, he is also a massive liability. Always a certain yellow card when he’s on the pitch, Rojo may be renowned for his tough tackling style but he is not what United needs going forward.

Nemanja Matic

The ex-Chelsea player had been brought in by the former regime. Having impressed early doors, he has seemed to have slowed down even more over the seasons. With United looking for a fast-paced counter-attacking style, Matic doesn’t fit that bill at all.

Alexis Sanchez

An absolute flop, a move that never should have happened and has clearly damaged Sanchez’ high profile. The Chilean will be moved on, even it means United paying out to edge him out the door.

Romelu Lukaku

The striker has been hit and miss for most of his time at Old Trafford. When he’s on it, he’s brilliant, however, the other side is he can hit a barn door and looks like he doesn’t know what to do with a ball.

It seems a move to Italy is on for the Belgian, and it would be the right time.

James Wilson

The forgotten man, once an exciting prospect but following many a loan move it seems Wilson’s time at Man United is up. A move away will be the best all around.

Does Marcus Rojo Have a Future at Man Utd or Should Solskjaer Get Rid

When Louis Van Gaal signed Marcos Rojo from Sporting Lisbon in 2016, after only hearing good things about the player. Many thought he would become a first-team centre half regular. However, unfortunately for the Red Devils, Marcos Rojo’s career has been nothing short of disappointing.

After being injury prone ever since joining the club, his career at Man United has been under speculation for the past couple of seasons now. However, to the surprise of most fans, Rojo stated during a conversation with Soljasker to El Dia “He said that I was in his plans, that I’m an important player and that he wanted me to return to full fitness, to be able to count on me in the first team.”

For United fans, this comes very unexpectedly. In a window where the deadwood looks surely ready to be cleared out, one would assume Rojo would be a part of this clear-out, having barely featured under Solskjaer last term.

With Man United linked to Ajax’s young and promising centre-back Matthijs de Ligt, you’d think that that would be the standard Solskjaer is looking for to finally replace Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand these many years later (A problem that should have been sorted a long time ago).

Not someone to the equivalent of the Phil Jones and Chris Smalling level. At 29 and unable to finish the 90 minutes in his mere six appearances last season, perhaps it’s time to get rid.

Solskjaer has some tough decisions to make, and the Argentine has to be one of them surely. In a new era for the Red Devils, players like Rojo have to be bumped off the wage bill along with others who are happy to sit around and collect at the end of the week.

Granted Rojo does leave everything on the pitch, but in most cases is a liability – Solskjaer can not afford that going into next season.

Man Utd fans, let us know your thoughts below…

Wigan Athletic Let Six Go Ahead of Next Season’s Shake-Up

The retained and released list have been flying around in recent weeks, and today Wigan have made their‘s public.

Darron Gibson, Callum McManaman, Shaun MacDonald, Jonas Olsson,
James Vaughan and Dan Lavercombe have all been released, while last seasons joint top scorer Nick Powell and back up goalkeeper Owen Evans have been offered contracts.

Paul Cook will look to build on last seasons final hurdle form, as Wigan survived relegation with some brilliant form. Unfortunately, they won’t have the promising Chelsea youngster Reece James in the ranks as he returns to his club alongside Christian Walton (Brighton & Hove Albion), Antonee Robinson (Everton), Beni Baningime (Everton) and Leon Clarke (Sheffield United) who all impressed last season.

Wigan fans, however, will be looking forward to striker Callum Lang returning after a great season with Oldham Athletic where he scored 13 goals in 42 games in League Two, alongside Leo Da Silva Lopes from his spell at Gillingham.

Looking to promote some youth into the team, the Tics have given professional contracts to Charlie Jolley, Kyle Joseph, Joe Gelhardt and Emeka Obi while talks are still ongoing with Adam Long, Scott Smith, Will McGuffie, Victor Maffeo, James Berry and Divin Baningime.

All in all, Wigan will be wanting to better last season’s 18th place finish, and if anything it showed that Wigan can mix it with the big boys when they need to after the results against Leeds and Norwich.

Realistically a solid mid-table finish would be ideal, as they look to make steady progress back into the Premier League over the coming years. With Paul Cook at the helm, they also have a great manager who can steer Wigan back to the good times once again.

Wigan fans what do you make of your retained/released list?

It’s The Battle of Manchester as Man United Tussle With Man City Over Right Back Joao Cancelo

In a transfer window that we see everyone and everything linked to the two Manchester clubs, the latest is Joao Cancelo, the Juventus right-back.

Following the retirement of Antonio Valencia, United need to strengthen in that area, albeit Valencia didn’t show up much in his final season. Solskjaer has only Diogo Dalot to pick from at present and, Juventus’ Cancelo maybe the answer to the first part of the defensive conundrum he faces.

However, neighbours Man City, who seem to not be shy in the full-back areas, are also linked. It could see a tug of war between the clubs, much like the Alexis Sanchez saga. Which the red side won, as they splashed the cash, although United will be hoping for a better return of investment this time around.

Having only spent one season at the Old Lady, and winning the Serie A title in the process, Juve’s new man in charge may let the Portuguese defender go upon his arrival. Especially if he was to look to last season, as he failed to impress Allegri enough to hold down a regular starting spot.

However, after a great start to life in Italy following a move from Valencia, he seemed to fall off in the second half of the season and started to fall out of favour.

The only factor that could play a key role in the Manchester battle, is that of former red Cristiano Ronaldo, who would surely have only good things to say about his time at Old Trafford to his teammate.

With a reported 53m price tag on his head, United could see that as a decent deal, especially in today’s market. They need to spend big and well in the transfer market this summer, and Canelo could be a great signing.

Man United fans, what are your thoughts on Cancelo, good solid signing, or would you prefer someone else?

’44 & Still Better Than Half The Squad’ ‘Beckham Could Easily Be Man United’s New RW’ Twitter Reacts To Treble 99 Reunion

Yesterday a lad from the Manchester United Academy made an impression on the pitch, you may have heard of him – David Beckham.

In a rematch of the 1999 Champions League final, Man United legends hosted Bayern Munich legends, 20 years on from United historic day. This match was a little more one-sided than the one back in May 1999, with the Red Devils running out 5-0 winners.

Goals from current United boss and the hero of the original tie Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Dwight Yorke, Nicky Butt, Louis Saha and David Beckham sealed the victory.

It’s the latter that has gained the headline’s once again, with him showing that he can still ping a ball about like he used to do throughout his United career. After seeing the displays of Paul Scholes and Jaap Stam, United fans were left wondering what if they could get even half of this quality in their current team.

Beckham however played like he like he’s never been away and it left many Red Devils wondering if he could still do a job at Old Trafford…

« Older Entries