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2 strengths, 2 weakness that will get Man Utd a top-four finish in the league

Solskjaer’s rebuild of Manchester United looks promising as Man Utd win their first two games of pre-season.

Manchester United have begun their pre-season tour with two victories. The Reds beat Perth Glory 2-0 and then went on to crush Leeds United 4-0. Though being lower-tier clubs than Man Utd, fans saw glimpses of what Solskjaer is instilling into his squad.

The coaching staff have vigorously trained the boys, even having double sessions on several occasions.

Solskjaer will have a full pre-season under his belt, and it looks as though the Red Devils are on their way to being fully prepared for the 18/19 campaign.

Here are 2 strengths this Manchester United squad have that can place them in the top four…

High Intensity

The high pressing has been notable in the two pre-season games so far. This is something we haven’t seen for years. Previous managers took a defence-first approach which made pressing high up the field almost impossible for the players.

In the Premier League, a high level of intensity and constant pressure is a key ingredient to success.

Back on the saddle

Solskjaer has mentioned a rebuild on several occasions, and also revealed that each player will start with a clean slate. After a full break and a full pre-season, we could see a totally different Manchester United next season.

The disappointment of last season and the seasons before should spur the Reds on as their closest rivals both grabbed silverware at the end of last season.

Manchester United are far from having a world-class team who can be aiming for several trophies each season. The following weaknesses at Man Utd could destroy the dream of the reds having a great season for the first time in six years.

Defensive clown show

This could be entirely fixed by bringing in Harry Maguire. Manchester United need a solid defender who can protect the Reds from conceding as many set pieces as they have in recent years. The purchase of Aaron Wan-Bissaka has already massively improved the defence.

Chris Smalling struggles on the ball, and Phil Jones is extremely unreliable. Eric Bailly is prone to injury and Marcos Rojo is prone to red cards. Axel Tuanzebe may not yet be in contention to start for Man Utd. This leaves Man Utd with one reliable and high-quality defender; Victor Lindelof.

Slow negotiations

An unfortunate weakness with the Manchester United board. The Reds are terrible at securing transfers and a long time to negotiate with other clubs in order to spend as little money as possible.

This could mean that Man Utd don’t get the players they require to rebuild the Man Utd squad. Which would mean they are in for a very difficult season.

This Man City midfield will blow Wolves away

This Man City midfield three could run rampant against Wolves on Saturday.

The Football Manc Cave bring your attention to Manchester City, who will play against Wolves in the final of the Premier League Asia Trophy.

Pep Guardiola can test the strength of his squad on Saturday 20 July. His side will come face to face against fellow-Premier League side Wolves, who finished 7th in the league last season.

The Man City eleven who start the game could be a strong outfit, and the manager has the opportunity to see how his side will fare against one of the league’s better sides.

The Citizens recently smashed West Ham with a fairly weak squad, by Man City’s standards. However, this is midfield you can expect to see against Wolves…

Rodri

Rodri made his debut against West Ham United. The £62million defensive midfielder had a shaky start to the game, regularly passing the ball sideways or backwards. But after finding his feet, the Spaniard began to drive the ball forward and pick out positive passes ahead of him. It is important that he is integrated with the squad and figures out his new team, and is likely to start the game against Wolves.

David Silva

Going into his last season with Man City, David Silva is still crucial to the way the Blues tick. He scored a fantastic goal against West Ham, getting on the end of a long pass, bringing it down and slotting it home. The Spanish international will continue to be the heartbeat of the side in the upcoming season, and it is important that he has a strong pre-season.

David Silva will likely be the captain, as he was against West Ham, should he play against Wolves.

Kevin De Bruyne

Arguably the best midfielder in the Premier League. Kevin De Bruyne will be crucial to Manchester City’s hunt for domestic and European glory. With David Silva leaving the club in 2020, De Bruyne will be looking to be the new face of Man City.

The Belgian didn’t play alongside Rodri and David Silva against West Ham. Seeing these three world-class midfielders work alongside each other promises to be quite the spectacle. It is important for Guardiola to set the foundations of his squad, despite the knowledge that Fernandinho will feature heavily in place of Rodri next season.

Man City will hope that Kompany can teach 22y/o defender these 2 things

Philippe Sandler is under Vincent Kompany’s wing for a further year, and will most certainly return to Man City a more well-rounded player.

The 22-year-old Dutchman will be leaving the Etihad to play for Anderlecht on loan for a season. Man City made the announcement this week.

Apparently, Kompany had been working alongside Sandler long before the Belgian hero left to Anderlecht to take the role as player-manager. Kompany and Man City have opted that Sandler goes with him to spend more time learning from the Premier League champion.

Kompany’s influence on the Blue’s defence will be missed at the Etihad. However, after Sandler returns, that hole may well be filled. Here are two things Sandler can bring home with him from his season in Belgium.

Leadership and demands

Kompany captained Man City for many years. Organising his backline with ruthlessness, he managed to evolve with the ManCity team, playing with many different defenders alongside him.

Upon his return, we may see a very confident and vocal Philippe Sandler. Man City need a long-time servant for their defence in order to maintain winning ways in the future.

Bring the ball out from the back

At Man City, Kompany and Laporte made quite the pair. Often, Kompany would get the ball to his defensive partner, who would make a long ball to the Man City attack. But Kompany would regularly bring the ball out or bring himself forward to support midfielders. This type of play got Kompany in prime position to score his wonder goal against Leicester last season.

This will be something Kompany tries to pass on to Sandler and will develop his confidence off the ball as well as on the ball.

Sandler will return to the Etihad with more game time and experience in his football career. As well as the invaluable tutorship of Vincent Kompany. Rejoining the squad at 23 years-old, he may be well on his way to starting week in week out of the blues.

A Look Back at Salfords Recent Play Off History

In the five years since the class of 92 took over Salford City, it’s seen the Ammies gain three promotions in four seasons, and possibly a fourth on the cards.

Living life in the Northern Premier League Division One North for six seasons, it was seventh time lucky after managerial duo Bernard Morley and Anthony Johnson took over the reins midseason in 2015.

Much as been made of the Co92 takeover, and how Salford are ‘buying’ their way up to the football league. However, it takes a well-structured club with determined players to claw their way through the leagues.

Furthermore, that determined set of players and managers have got Salford City up to the National League and within touching distance of stepping into the unknown world of league football, giving them 10 years to reach their 15-year plan of playing in the Championship.

Let’s take a look back at what Salford have achieved since 2015…

2015: Northern Premier League Division One North : Champions

The then Ramsbottom United managerial duo Morley and Johnson took over in January 2015, with the Ammies teetering near the top of the table. the Duo won 15 of the last 17 matches in charge and gaining promotion to the Northern Premier League Premier Division with a game to spare.

Gareth Seddon was the top scorer that season with 24 goals.

2016: Northern Premier League Premier Division: Play Off Champions

Danny Webber inspired Salford to a double bounce promotion with 16 goals in Salfords season at the seventh tier of English football.

An FA Cup run to the 2nd round proper was a major achievement for the Ammies, seeing off League Two side Notts County and taking Hartlepool to extra time in a replay.

They finished third in the league, seeing off Ashton United 3-1 in the semi-final, and Workington 3-2 in thrilling style to reach the highest level in their 76-year history.

2017: National League North: Playoff Semi-Final

Salford’s first season in the sixth tier of English football seen them not taste a promotion for the first time in the Co92’s very short history in charge.

They became a full-time club in 2017 and unveiled the newly named Peninsula Stadium. Mike Phenix became Salford’s top scorer with 15 goals, helping them achieved a fourth-placed finish. They, however, lost in the semi-final on penalties to eventual winners Halifax Town, after the teams couldn’t be split after the two legs.

2018: National League North: Champions

Salford set history once again by gaining promotion to the National League, and once again achieving the highest level the club has played at.

The Ammies finished top with a game to spare, Jack Redshaw topped the scoring charts with 17 goals. Unfortunately in the summer that followed the managerial duo parted ways by mutual consent, which seen now manager Graham Alexander take the reigns.

2019: National League: ???

Steve Dale Puts Bury Up For Sale as Bailiffs Tried To Take The Goalposts

Bury chairman Steve Dale has announced he has put the League Two up for sale to new prospective buyers. The club back in court on May 15, having had a previous hearing on April 10 adjourned at the Insolvency and Companies Court.

In a statement released on Thursday, Dale announced he was only a temporary custodian of the club. He announced since his arrival last November, temporary plans had been put in place to ensure the clubs long term future, but admitted in a lengthy statement on the clubs website, decisions taken had been ‘worse than imagined’.

Dale said, ‘I have outlined in my previous statements the difficult environment we bought into in late November, which has been well documented. Even though I was advised by my advisors not to proceed, I decided I could help, given the information we had was true.

Whilst not ideal, we took it on. This football club was in serious trouble, and this turned out to be far in excess of what we could have comprehended. I can confidently say that had the takeover not gone ahead when it did, Bury Football Club would have been no more’.

It’s fair to say the club has been living on thin ice now for long time. Club memorabilia and goalposts were among the items debt collectors tried to take, trying to prevent Ryan Lowe’s team from playing their home games.

Moreover, Dale goes to further state that he and his company are the reasons the club is still afloat today, for without him, Bury FC would have gone bust.

Citing massive outgoings on player wage bills and staffing levels equivalent to that of a championship club. Ghosts of the Stewart Day era look set to haunt the future of the club and as the statement suggests, work done over the past few weeks by Dale could ensure the League Two clubs survival, with the hope a new custodian take the role.

The Statement continues with,’Let’s be clear here; there would have been no Bury FC had we not took it on. Was it 100 times worse than we thought? Yes, it was. I can’t expand on this, as it would prejudice our case in law. We have daily battles to keep the Club alive, but one thing is clear the Club needs to understand what it is. It’s a Club with c4,500 regular fans; it has staffing levels akin to a Championship Club. We need c£1.6m to pay wages, HMRC, pensions (not creditors) to the end of May, and we have a projected income of c£180k for this period’.

Life at Bury has been more than eventual where issues off the pitch have been as a big a talking point as events on it where the team itself is doing rather well, second in League Two.

In the final part of his message, the soon to be outgoing chairman credited work done on the football side of the club and, said there was interest from potential investors in buying the club.

Furthermore, over the last few days, I have received some expressions of interest. Given this, I would like to openly invite offers to me directly, to take over ownership of the Club.

Consideration will be given to prospective buyers who are able to commit the necessary time, money and full, undivided attention that’s needed to build upon the progress we’ve made which is considerable, and secure the future of this great Club for many years to come’.

The final line could be in doubt, for the time being at least. Whoever takes over from Dale has by no means an easy job.

Oldham’s Pete Wild Is Three Games Away From Achieving The Impossible

There has been much discussion as to how Pete Wild has managed to steer Oldham to within three games of the playoffs with exactly the same squad as Paul Scholes. According to Scholes the problems stemmed from unhappiness in the dressing room concerning team selection interference from Abdallah Lemsagan, and arguments between players but such a malaise doesn’t get fixed overnight. I’m not entirely sure what Scholes expected to find at Oldham but whatever it was, his protestations have been roundly ignored by Latics fans, who now find themselves checking that they are free on the date of the League Two playoff final – just in case.

The simple explanation for the situation Athletic find themselves in, is that Scholes was completely unsuited for the job and Wild very definitely is. Scholes can use his appearances on TV to winge about showers not working at the club, but simple facts will show that he has been upstaged by someone who was coaching kids on a bumpy pitch not that long ago.

Six games ago following defeat at Lincoln, Latics faced an uncertain future with the departure of Scholes and the chances of making the playoffs disappearing swiftly. Wild might well have been forgiven for turning down the opportunity to manage the team again given the supposed behind the scenes issues but he is obviously made of sterner stuff.

Thankfully, he once more took up the reins and results haven’t just improved, they have exceeded all expectations. Draws against Swindon and Cheltenham who were in the hunt for points as well, coupled with a string of three consecutive wins and the latest result against Mansfield, have hoisted Latics into a commanding position despite being in twelfth place in the table.

The key ingredient in Oldham’s end of season plan is their game in hand at Newport on April 30th. There is no longer a need for calculators and spreadsheets as the simple equation is that if Latics win their last three games they will make 7th place. It will require an Herculean effort of course which will give the club their best second half of season finish for over 20 years, however, if Peter Wild can do it, the town better think about an end of season party to match the one Joe Royle got after steering Latics to Wembley nearly 30 years ago.

FC United Will Look to Bounce Back After 2 Losses by Defeating Boston

This afternoon looks to see Boston United take on FC United of Manchester in the National League North at York Street. The match sees 11th Boston United play 21st place FC United as The Reds look for 3 crucial points that, depending on results could edge them closer to safety. Whereas The Pilgrims are hoping for a home win that could see them push towards the playoff places.

Neil Reynolds, who is back after an educational trip in relation to his day job, will be looking for a response from the red rebels after back to back defeats against local rivals Ashton United and Stockport County, with the County match showing some promise and team spirit, after giving 2nd place Stockport a run for their money and only losing to a last minute from Oldham Athletic loanee Jamie Stott.

Currently 6 points off 19th place York City, tomorrow’s match is a must win game for Reynolds team. However, Boston will be hoping for a long overdue home win that could get them into the playoffs, with only being 4 points behind 7th place Altrincham. The Pilgrims have only won one of their home matches in the past five. Reynolds will be hoping to take advantage of Boston’s poor home record as the reds have enjoyed 4 victories away from Broadhurst Park against teams in the top 10 of the National League North.

Neil Reynolds will be hoping in this match that his attacking flair players will be able to convert the chances, they have shown that they can create in recent games without having to rely on England C international and the clubs top goal scorer Kurt Willoughby – with his 11 league goals.

FC’s Gaffer will also be hoping for another solid performance from last seasons fans player of the year, Lloyd Allinson who after a shaky couple of games has showed signs of getting back to his best with some outstanding saves in recent matches.

Today’s match is set up to be an enthralling, entertaining encounter between two teams who like to attack which was evident in last seasons 4-4 draw and is a game not to be missed!

Ramsbottom Eye Up Potential Cupset as Part of an Incredible FA Trophy Run

If ever a conversation crops up when discussing football clubs in and around the Greater Manchester area, the automatic assumption is ‘so your talking about Manchester United and City then aren’t you’.

By five o’clock tomorrow night, people could well be discussing another ‘United’. The biggest hint in deciding which club I’m talking about is this:  They’re located on The Lancashire/Greater Manchester border and play their home matches by The River Irwell.

On Saturday Evo-Stik West division side Ramsbottom United will play their biggest cup game in their history against Weymouth in The FA Trophy second round. Having never got this far in this Non-League competition, Rammy are certainly not in it to make up the numbers.

Having already played eight games which have seen them have to contend with a few replays along the way, while at the same time juggling a promotion battle in their own domestic league, it’s been a busy yet exciting time for those connected with the club.

Officials from Ramsbottom have been promoting the tie all week in preparation for the game on local Radio. Club manager Chris Willcock was in good spirits ahead of Weymouth visit to The Harry Williams Riverside Stadium.

‘Our League form has been going well alongside this game and we can’t wait for Saturday to come We try to emphasise on winning every game. Full credit to the players as they’ve always done the job on the second occasions we’ve played having not won at the first attempt’.

‘The players have to juggle so many things in their lives in which involves work commitments and family lives. The way Weymouth have been operating is completely different to ours over the past 10 years. But at present, we are very much on the up and we don’t want this run to end’.

Having seen season-high attendances over the Christmas period in a thrilling 2-1 victory over Radcliffe on Boxing Day, Ramsbottom fans are clearly enjoying the football that has been played since Willcock took over in October.

Gate numbers are crucial in Non-League and recent attendances can only be good financially for the club. Club secretary Tony Cunningham plays a major part in running the club alongside Chairman Harry Williams and stated that Rammy’s game against Weymouth is certainly their biggest ever cup fixture, and one of the most important at any point since the club was formed in 1966.

The attendances obviously crucial for a Non-League Club but there are not the only thing on the clubs mind at present. The fact that due the club are only a handful of games off a Wembley final in The FA Trophy says something for their efforts in the competition.

Cunningham was thrilled for the clubs current progress. ‘For a club like Rammy to be in the last 32 is tremendous, we’re one of the minnows in the competition that’s for sure. Saturday will be our ninth game in the competition which is almost a quarter of a season’. With Wembley, do Rammy have a chance of making it? ‘There is a chance but of course, but we know it’s a very hard ask’.

Ramsbottom take on a Weymouth side going great guns in their own league, currently lying second in the Evo-Stik Premier South division. But with the beauty of cup football, just anything can happen, as results in all knockout competitions show.

‘Look at some of the FA Cup games last weekend’ said Cunningham. ‘Barnet beating Sheffield United and Newport beating Leicester, they are complete one-offs. Hopefully, if we can get some good support for our lads tomorrow, then you just never know’.

Oldham Will Be Looking to Extend Their Unbeaten Streak By Giving These Two Stars a Place in The Starting 11

Playing an unchanged side is always a bonus for any manager. For Oldham’s Frankie Bunn, selecting the same players shows that we are free from injury for another week. Having an extremely small squad might be a major problem for some managers but it is part of the everyday situation at Boundary Park.

There is little or no ‘tinkering’ with selection, Bunn has been playing his best side and the results have been positive. Following Latics’ emphatic win over Bury last weekend, they face Exeter who are looking to keep themselves in the play off places. The South West club aren’t having the best run of form however and can be be overtaken by Latics if the three points go to the home side.

Exeter have no doubt studied recent Oldham games and they will be well aware of the threat posed by two particular players who, when fit and available are automatic choices by Bunn. Midfield has seen a particularly pleasing improvement and the one player who has stood out as the most improved is:

Gevaro Nepomuceno

Born in Willemstad, Curaçao (it’s in the South Caribbean) and raised in the Netherlands, Nepomuceno started playing football when he was 12 years old. After a couple of years with Dutch club Fortuna Sittard and
Romanian side Petrolul Ploiești, Gevaro signed for Latics in September 2017 on a one year contract with the option of a further year.

There is little doubt that he has played a key role in the upturn in Latics fortunes with several assists and match winning performances. If there’s a list of players who Exeter have targeted to beware of, Gevaro will certainly be on it. It is the Latics forward line which made the news last weekend though with a hat-trick from Chris O’Grady and a clever looping header from:

Sam Surridge

Sam has only figured in 15 games this season and it is to be hoped that he has left his bad luck with injury behind him. Without doubt, Surridge is a class player with good balance and an eye for goal. It may have been O’Grady who made the headlines last weekend but not taking the threat of Surridge seriously is a mistake not many teams want to make. Needless to say, both players will be an automatic choice for Frankie Bunn hoping to take Latics into the play off places.

When Saturday Comes – #NonLeagueDay Special

Good morning lads and lasses, get yourselves a nice brew, sit yourselves down and relax.

No seriously relax! I bet you are all still full of adrenaline from that fire fuelled Three Lions performance last night.

No me neither.

The international weekend is upon us yet again! Normal procedure for you Premier league team supporters whilst less affected are most League One and Two sides.

But for the Non-League guys out there, life goes on as normal, and this week is no exception. After careful study of the form, both home and away, I have narrowed my bets this week down to three local teams from three of the lesser known leagues.

Salford host Braintree in what seems to be a home banker, in the Vanarama National League.

Curzon Ashton take a trip to Leamington in the National League North. A tricky encounter lies ahead.

Finally, Stalybridge Celtic make the trip all the way to Basford United. Which is near Nottingham, obviously! I definitely didn’t google that at all.

Five of the six teams mentioned here, average over 3 goals a game in their last five matches. Braintree the only party poopers, as they average 2.9 goals a game.

THE BET

Well, this weeks bet is simple:

All three games to have over 2.5 goals.

Over 4/1 with most bookies.

image-1

As always if you are having a go please bet sensibly and please please please be lucky!

The Gents Wager

@thegentswager

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