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Revenge for Mourinho as Man Utd stun Chelsea

April 17, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho masterminded a brilliant and unexpected 2-0 home victory over former club Chelsea on Sunday to breathe new life into the Premier League title race.

Manchester United

Mourinho gambled by resting Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but Marcus Rashford and Ander Herrera’s goals gave United a win that leaves Chelsea just four points above Tottenham Hotspur with six games to play.

Victory at Old Trafford also lifted United to within four points of fourth-place Manchester City, on whom they have a game in hand, ahead of the derby at the Etihad Stadium on April 27.

It was a personal triumph for Mourinho, who saw his side thrashed 4-0 at Chelsea in October and was branded “Judas” by fans of his old club during last month’s FA Cup defeat at Stamford Bridge.

A wet, cold Manchester afternoon was the setting for United to end a run of 12 games without victory against Chelsea, stretching back to a 3-2 away win in October 2012.

Chelsea have now lost twice in four games, having gone down 2-1 at home to Crystal Palace earlier this month, which will give in-form Spurs fresh hope that the Blues may yet collapse as the finishing line nears.

The top two meet at Wembley in the FA Cup semi-finals next weekend in what now looks a significant test of Chelsea’s mettle.

United, meanwhile, will approach Thursday’s Europa League quarter-final second leg at home to Anderlecht, which is poised at 1-1, on the back of their best display under Mourinho.

Chelsea were without goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois due to an ankle problem, while Marcos Alonso succumbed to a virus, bringing Asmir Begovic and Kurt Zouma into their usual first XI.

Mourinho set United up to stop Chelsea, with Herrera and Matteo Darmian tasked with the responsibility of tracking dangermen Eden Hazard and Pedro wherever they went.

But despite Herrera’s chief role as a stifler, he created United’s seventh-minute opener, albeit in contentious circumstances.

He seemed to block Nemanja Matic’s pass with his right hand, but referee Robert Madley played on, enabling Herrera to split the Chelsea defence with a sublime through ball for Rashford.

The 19-year-old raced in behind David Luiz before clipping a shot past Begovic for his ninth goal of the season.

With Chelsea striker Diego Costa spending more time provoking his opponents than taking shots at goal, David de Gea was a virtual spectator between the posts for United.

Costa became embroiled in penalty-box tangles with United centre-backs Eric Bailly and Marcos Rojo and was booked for a late challenge on Paul Pogba.

With the willing Jesse Lingard in support of Rashford, United looked far more lively going forward.

Ashley Young twice spurned presentable shooting opportunities from the edge of the box, while Rashford saw a cross headed onto the roof of the net by Gary Cahill.

Short of a 25-yard drive by Costa that flashed wide in stoppage time, the half-time whistle sounded without Chelsea having offered anything in attack.

Any hopes the visitors had of masterminding a turnaround vanished within four minutes of kick-off in the second half as Herrera doubled United’s lead.

Zouma’s tackle on the burrowing Young sent the ball rolling into Herrera’s path and his drilled effort flicked off Zouma to fly past the grounded Begovic.

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte sent on Cesc Fabregas for Victor Moses, with Pedro moving to wing-back, but still the league leaders toiled, Pedro twice curling shots over De Gea’s bar.

At the other end Rashford remained a constant menace, teeing up Lingard to bend a shot over and twice going close himself, ruffling the side-netting and testing Begovic at his near post.

When he departed in the 82nd minute, with Ibrahimovic taking his place, he was accorded a richly deserved standing ovation.

Rooney in a fix as Arsenal gun for Man United

November 18, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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Damaged and derided, Wayne Rooney embodies Manchester United’s delicate current predicament as they prepare for Arsenal’s visit to Old Trafford in the Premier League on Saturday.

Rooney

Rooney has been splashed across Britain’s newspapers this week after photographs emerged of him looking the worse for wear during a post-wedding party at the England team hotel last weekend.

The incident has prompted an apology from the player himself, news of an investigation by the Football Association and the unlikely backing of Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp.

Fortunately for Rooney, manager Jose Mourinho’s anger over the matter is said to have been directed at the FA, for allowing the striker to go off the rails, rather than him.

But the 31-year-old is nonetheless expected to start on the bench against Arsenal, having been forced to withdraw from international duty with a minor knee injury.

Rooney found himself in the spotlight even before his late-night antics at the luxury Grove Hotel in Watford, north of England, last weekend.

Dropped by first Mourinho and then interim England manager Gareth Southgate, Rooneymanaged to force his way back into the starting XI for both club and country.

His last United display, in their 3-1 win at Swansea City prior to the international break, was one of his best in recent memory as he created a pair of goals for Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

But an injury sustained in England’s 3-0 win over Scotland forced him out of Tuesday’s 2-2 draw with Spain and he now looks likely to find himself back in the increasingly familiar setting of the bench.

Rooney has made a habit of tormenting Arsenal over the years, scoring 14 goals against them — a figure bettered only by his tally against Aston Villa (15).

As a swaggering 16-year-old with Everton, he scored his first ever Premier League goal against Arsenal in 2002 and they were also the victims for his first United league goal and 100th league goal overall.

But with Rooney sidelined and Ibrahimovic suspended, the teenage terror gunning for the Gunners this time around is expected to be Marcus Rashford.

The 19-year-old striker scored twice on his Premier League debut to inspire United to a 3-2 win over Arsenal in February and the London club’s manager Arsene Wenger has not forgotten.

“The man who killed us last year was Marcus Rashford,” said Wenger, whose side have not lost away in the league since that game.

“He took us completely by surprise.”

Although Arsenal won 2-1 at United in the FA Cup in March 2015, they have not won a league game there since September 2006, while Wenger has never overcome Mourinho in the league in 11 attempts.

But although the historical omens would appear to favour United, the form and the momentum belong to Arsenal.

Whereas United have won just two of their last eight league games, Arsenal have won seven of their last nine, drawing the other two.

Wenger’s men will provisionally go top if they prevail, which would leave United — sixth in the table ahead of the weekend’s fixtures — a yawning nine points off the pace.

But midfielder Michael Carrick said this week: “We still feel we’re well in touch.

“I know people are looking at it and saying we’re drifting and we’re not right at the top, but we still feel there’s more to come and we’ve got a great chance of being up there.”

Mourinho’s preparations have not been helped by selection issues that could deprive him of four frontline defenders.

Centre-backs Chris Smalling (foot) and Eric Bailly (knee) are definitely out, while there are doubts over full-backs Antonio Valencia (broken arm) and Luke Shaw (leg).

Arsenal will be without flying right-back Hector Bellerin (ankle) and his Spanish compatriot Santi Cazorla (Achilles).

Alexis Sanchez, meanwhile, faces a fitness test on his hamstring and is not due to return from international duty with Chile until Friday.

Rashford bags hat-trick on England Under-21 debut

September 7, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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Marcus Rashford grabbed a hat-trick on his England Under-21 debut as they crushed Norway 6-1 in a European Championship qualifier on Tuesday.

Britain Football Soccer - England v Norway - UEFA European Under 21 Championship Qualifying Group Nine - Weston Homes Community Stadium - 6/9/16England's Marcus Rashford scores their first goal Action Images via Reuters / Matthew ChildsLivepic

The 18-year-old Manchester United forward, left out of the senior squad by new manager Sam Allardyce, slotted home from 18 yards before adding a deflected shot and converting a penalty to complete his treble.

Rashford also scored on his Premier League and Europa League debuts last season as well as netting his first England goal three minutes into his first international start against Australia in May.

Nathaniel Chalobah, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Lewis Baker also scored for England to put them two points clear of Switzerland at the top of their group.

Rashford strikes late to extend United’s perfect start

August 28, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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Marcus Rashford extended Manchester United’s 100 percent start to the Premier League season with a dramatic strike two minutes into stoppage time to seal a 1-0 win at Hull City on Saturday.

Rashford

Teenage forward Rashford, left out of the starting line-up for each of United’s opening three matches, made his case for greater involvement as he came on as a substitute to convert Wayne Rooney’s low cross from close range.

Up to that point, it looked like being an evening of frustration for Jose Mourinho’s team, but they leave the KCOM Stadium in second place in the table behind leaders Chelsea only on goals scored.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic went close twice in the first half for United, while Rooney was denied by a brilliant first-half block from Hull captain Curtis Davies.

Hull, themselves looking to maintain a perfect league record, spent most of the match on the defensive but did have threatening moments of their own.

Robert Snodgrass’ free-kick flew just wide in the opening half, while Tom Huddlestone’s shot was deflected just wide off Eric Bailly inside the final 15 minutes.

Indeed, David Meyler lifted a shot over the bar from a promising position just seconds before Rashford struck, leaving the home side wondering what might have been.

Aside from the agonising manner of the defeat, a major concern for their caretaker manager Mike Phelan, though, will be an injury to Scotland international Snodgrass, who had to come off early in the second half.

Phelan, who is hoping to sign goalkeeper David Marshall from Cardiff City, is desperately short of senior players, despite the return of defender Harry Maguire from injury.

Hull’s stand-in manager is continuing to have to field players out of position, with midfielder Jake Livermore once again filling in as a centre-back, and winger Sam Clucas figuring in a holding midfield role.

The club’s lack of signings has been a sore point with supporters, who have called for owners Assem and Ehab Allam to leave the club.

Ehab, writing in the match programme, indicated that a deal has been agreed to sell the club, with a Chinese consortium led by commercial property investors Dai Yongge and Dai Xiu Li believed to be taking over, having been in negotiations for several weeks.

Despite chaos off the pitch, Hull’s players have shown remarkable strength in adversity on it, withstanding United’s pressure until the final seconds in torrential rain in east Yorkshire.

The visitors almost took the lead in the eighth minute, when Ibrahimovic glanced a header onto the roof of the net from Anthony Martial’s clever cross.

They found it difficult to create clear chances after that and Hull did cause problems at the other end.

Marouane Fellaini conceded a free-kick right on the edge of the penalty area which Snodgrass, a regular threat from set-pieces, curled just wide.

United should have gone in front eight minutes before the interval when Juan Mata raced past Andrew Robertson and crossed for Rooney six yards out, but the England captain’s effort was blocked by Davies, and the visitors’ appeals for handball went unheeded.

Ibrahimovic then backheeled into the side-netting just before half-time, and United’s search for a goal continued with little success for much of the second period.

Paul Pogba and substitute Henrikh Mkhitaryan both had long-range efforts that missed the target, and the match looked set for a draw until Rashford’s late intervention.

Rashford nets place in record books as England win

May 28, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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Marcus Rashford’s rapid progress continued as the 18-year-old took 138 seconds to become the youngest player to score on his England debut in a 2-1 friendly win over Australia on Friday.

Britain Football Soccer - England v Australia - International Friendly - Stadium of Light, Sunderland - 27/5/16 Marcus Rashford celebrates after scoring the first goal for England Action Images via Reuters / Ed Sykes

The Manchester United striker probably booked his place in Roy Hodgson’s Euro 2016 squad and his Manchester United team mate Wayne Rooney added a second before substitute Eric Dier headed a late own goal.

But the night belonged to Rashford, who netted three minutes into what was only his 19th professional match, stroking the ball first time past goalkeeper Matt Ryan after creating space inside the area at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light.

Rashford, who also scored on his United debut in February, could have had a second goal minutes later and produced an assured performance before coming off on the hour.

Manager Hodgson praised his debutant but refused to confirm whether Rashford will be in the trimmed down 23-man squad that must be named before Tuesday.

“It was fantastic, he did very well and I am pleased for him on his debut,” Hodgson said. “He would not be out of place in anyone’s 23.”

Rashford probably only started against Australia because of an injury to Daniel Sturridge, but Hodgson said he was hopeful the Liverpool striker will recover sufficiently to train with the squad on Monday.

“If he does, the calf injury will not be a reason to leave him out of the 23,” said Hodgson. “None of those decisions (about who to leave out) will be injury-related.”

Rooney scored a record-extending 52nd goal for his country with a fine strike 10 minutes after the break.

Villa relegated as Rashford strikes again

April 17, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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Aston Villa’s long-expected relegation from the Premier League was finally confirmed with a 1-0 loss away to Manchester United on Saturday as teenage rising star Marcus Rashford scored his seventh goal in 12 games.

Rashford

The 18-year-old striker, also on target in United’s FA Cup quarter-final replay win over West Ham United in midweek, struck in the 32nd minute when he turned in Antonio Valencia’s low cross.

Defeat left bottom-of-the-table Villa 15 points shy of safety with only a maximum of 12 on offer to the Birmingham club in their four remaining league matches this season.

Villa, under the caretaker charge of Eric Black after former manager Remi Garde was sacked last month, have won just three times in 34 league games this campaign and Saturday’s loss saw them drop down to the second-tier of English football for the first time in 29 years.

“It’s a mood of disappointment,” said Black. “What I will say is today I thought they were outstanding.

“I know there has been criticism, some of it deserved, but today they made a step back for the supporters and showed there was some pride for the shirt.

“There are players in there capable of playing in the Championship. People in certain places will make sure that Villa will come back, I’m confident of that.”

United’s victory saw them move to within a point of local rivals Manchester City but manager Louis van Gaal criticised his side’s display, saying: “I’m not too happy with the performance. We have to finish the games a lot earlier and today we didn’t do that.”

City will strengthen their grip on the fourth and last Champions League place on offer to English clubs if they win away to Chelsea in Saturday’s late kick-off.

Earlier, Sunderland gave themselves hope of yet another escape from relegation, with a 3-0 win away to fellow strugglers Norwich City.

Victory at Carrow Road left the north-east side still in the bottom three but just one point adrift of Norwich and with a game in hand over the Canaries.

Fabio Borini’s first-half penalty and strikes from Jermain Defoe and Duncan Watmore after the interval saw Sunderland to a first win in seven matches.

The result was an understandable relief for Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce, who told the BBC: “The most pleasing thing of all was the clean sheet, that is our way forward with five games to go.

“I know if we can keep two or three clean sheets in those games we’ll be safe because I know we can score.”

Newcastle United, Sunderland’s north-east rivals, bolstered their hopes of top-flight survival with a 3-0 win at home to Swansea.

Jamaal Lascelles headed in Andros Townsend’s corner four minutes before the break and Moussa Sissoko made the game safe for the Magpies eight minutes from time, as they marked manager Rafael Benitez’s 56th birthday in style.

Townsend rounded off the scoring in the 89th minute.

Newcastle remained in the relegation zone but victory saw them move to within three points of Norwich.

“I have to say congratulations to the players,” Benitez told the BBC. “They showed passion and commitment.”

Watford, promoted last season, cemented their place in the Premier League with a 1-0 win away to West Bromwich Albion, that saw goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes twice save penalties from Saido Berahino.

His first spot-kick stop came in the 66th minute after he had tripped Berahino and Gomes denied the striker again three minutes from time when he dived low to his left to push another penalty effort past the post.

Gomes’s saves helped Watford maintain a lead established through Ben Watson’s 27th-minute goal at the Hawthorns.

Meanwhile Southampton moved to within a point of a top six place after a 1-1 draw away to Everton, unable to win

Ramiro Funes Mori put Everton, who now haven’t won any of their last four league games at Goodison Park, ahead in the 68th minute but their lead lasted just eight minutes, with Sadio Mane equalising for the Saints.

Sunday will see leaders Leicester City looking to go 10 points clear of second-placed Tottenham Hotspur against West Ham, while Arsenal will try to maintain their grip on third spot at home to London rivals Crystal Palace.

Liverpool, buoyed by a dramatic come-from-behind Europa League quarter-final win over manager Jurgen Klopp’s former club Borussia Dortmund, are away to Bournemouth.

Tottenham, bidding for a first English title since 1961, travel to Stoke on Monday.

Rashford rewards Van Gaal for faith in youth

April 14, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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Whatever criticism is hurled Louis van Gaal’s way even his harshest detractors cannot accuse the Dutchman of failing to give Manchester United’s youngsters a chance.

Football Soccer - West Ham United v Manchester United - FA Cup Quarter Final Replay - Upton Park - 13/4/16 Marcus Rashford celebrates after scoring the first goal for Manchester United Reuters / Toby Melville Livepic

They did him proud on Wednesday as United responded to Sunday’s dismal Premier League defeat by Tottenham Hotspur to beat much-fancied West Ham United 2-1 in an absorbing FA Cup quarter-final replay at Upton Park.

Two in particular stood out — 18-year-old forward Marcus Rashford and defender Timothy Fosu-Mensah.

Rashford, who scored twice on his debut against FC Midtjylland in the Europa League, bagged two against Arsenal and a winner against Manchester City, produced a moment of magic to curl United into a 54th-minute lead.

Fosu-Mensah, a product of the Ajax academy, showed tremendous maturity at the back to help snuff out West Ham’s dangermen, including Dmitri Payet and Andy Carroll.

Jesse Lingard also impressed in a vibrant forward line while Hiddink signing Anthony Martial tormented West Ham’s defence.

All in all, it was a good night for Van Gaal who found himself again under fire after defeat at Tottenham left United fifth in the Premier League and struggling to qualify for the Champions League — the minimum requirement this season.

“He’s very focussed on his work and that I admire, when you are so young and there is so much attention,” Van Gaal said of Rashford who he took off at halftime against Tottenham.

“He is scoring so many goals and important goals.

“He can cope with criticism also and he can say about himself, ‘yes manager you are right and I have to do that’. I think it is fantastic.”

Victory kept alive Van Gaal’s hopes of salvaging some silverware from a troubled season, although the Dutchman still insists his side can finish in the top four.

Everton will be United’s opponents in the FA Cup last four with Watford or Crystal Palace waiting in the final.

“I have a desire to win a title because I have done that with every club I’ve coached,” Van Gaal said.

“But it’s more important for the club, for the players and for the team. I said I wanted a title and I am very happy but it is very important for the club.”

Van Gaal also hit back as reports of discord in the United dressing-room over his tactics — saying the proof was in the reaction of his team after defeat by Tottenham.

“Upton Park is a difficult place to come — they haven’t lost here since August; it was difficult because they have beaten all the top teams here,” he said.

“The spirit in the team is very good, you cannot deny that.”

More heroics from United’s Rashford in Manchester derby win

March 21, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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Manchester United teenager Marcus Rashford wrote another chapter in his fairytale introduction to top-flight football, scoring a brilliant goal to secure a 1-0 win in his first derby match against Manchester City on Sunday.

Rashford

The 18-year-old local hero, who also netted on his Europa League debut and in his first Premier League game, endeared himself further to United fans with a dazzling piece of skill after a quarter of an hour to stun the Etihad Stadium crowd.

After being freed by Juan Mata, Rashford sped past Martin Demichelis, leaving the defender on his backside, before side-footing coolly past the advancing Joe Hart.

The youngster should have been awarded a penalty just before halftime after another rash challenge from the hapless Demichelis, whose torment was ended when he was brought off soon after halftime.

At 18 years and 141 days, Rashford became the youngest player in the Premier League era to score in the derby, leaving his manager Louis van Gaal delighted with his extraordinary progress.

“He is a real striker and that’s why I let him stay in that position,” Van Gaal told Sky Sports.

“He can score goals but he’s also an attacking point and runs the channels. I like him very much. He’s just 18 so we have to wait and see how consistent he is.

“Rashford is very quick and Demichelis looked like the years are catching up with him. He was a very good defender, he was my centre-back at Bayern (Munich) but that is the life of football.”

Rashford provided the cutting edge that the home side lacked and, though City piled on the pressure in the second half, the usually deadly Sergio Aguero headed against the post and had tow other glaring misses.

City’s defeat in the 171st Manchester derby virtually ends their lingering hopes of regaining the title they won in 2014.

They are fourth, 15 points behind leaders Leicester City and one point clear of their sixth-placed Old Trafford neighbours.

To make things worse, City’s England goalkeeper Hart had to be taken off moments after the break, damaging his calf after rushing off his line to challenge United striker Anthony Martial following Demichelis’ poor, under-hit back pass.

United youngster Rashford on Hodgson’s mind for Euros

March 4, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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Manchester United teenager Marcus Rashford’s stunning introduction to big-time football has come as no surprise to Roy Hodgson and the England manager has not ruled him out of selection for his Euro 2016 finals squad.

Rashford

Hodgson has been keeping a close eye on the 18-year-old forward, who scored twice on his debut against FC Midtjylland in the Europa League and got two more in Sunday’s Premier League win over Arsenal.

“I would neither rule him in nor rule him out, I just hope he can do well,” Hodgson was quoted by British media as saying at a Euro 2016 coaches’ briefing in France on Thursday.

“I have been watching Rashford for two years, so I have known about him for a long time. He is in our system.”

Hodgson added that while he was pleased to see an England Under-18 player featuring in United’s first team, he hoped Rashford would not have too many expectations placed on him.

“My hope for Rashford, and it is a vain hope, is that he will be allowed to develop in peace and it won’t suddenly be a question of, ‘You have scored two goals for Man United and you’re going to be the next Cristiano Ronaldo’ or every time he has two or three bad games he is a flash in the pan.

“Let’s hope the lad gets a chance to develop in the same way as Raheem Sterling, Ross Barkley, Wayne Rooney, David Beckham and Paul Scholes,” Hodgson added.

“Scoring four goals in three games is a great achievement and if he can keep that up, it is great for Manchester United and England.”

Rashford was a late inclusion in United’s team against Midtjylland after Anthony Martial was injured in the warm-up and struck twice in a 5-1 win in the last 32, second-leg clash.

Man United kids make mark for King Louis

February 29, 2016 by · 1 Comment 

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There have not been many days in another season of massive under-achievement when Manchester United supporters roared their appreciation for manager Louis van Gaal.

Football Soccer - Manchester United v Arsenal - Barclays Premier League - Old Trafford - 28/2/16Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal before the gameAction Images via Reuters / Jason CairnduffLivepic

But he had them laughing out loud on Sunday and cheering a team selection in the best traditions of the squads of yesteryear known as the Busby Babes and Fergie’s Fledglings.

The normally austere Dutchman’s comic moment came as he attempted to demonstrate how Ander Herrera had been fouled by throwing himself to the ground in front of an astonished fourth official.

The crowd loved it, although Van Gaal felt obliged to apologise.

“My emotion was a little bit too high,” he told Sky Sports, “So I apologised to the ref and linesman and fourth official.”

One of the many criticisms of the veteran coach has been that he has failed to understand treasured United traditions, including adventurous attacking football and the promotion of home-grown players.

It has been the lack of excitement, as much as underwhelming results, that have caused speculation that Van Gaal will lose his job at the end of the season, despite having a contract until 2017.

Sunday’s team selection may have been largely out of necessity with a dozen senior players unavailable but the Dutchman threw three youngsters in for league debuts against title challengers Arsenal.

He reaped rewards when 18-year-old Marcus Rashford scored twice and added an assist in the 3-1 win, a return that gave the Manchester-born striker four goals in four days.

Tim Fosu-Mensah, 18, and James Weir, 20, were brought on as substitutes and with Adnan Januzaj, 21, Memphis Depay, 22, and Jesse Lingard, 23, all involved, United fans saw a glimpse of a brighter future for the first time since Alex Ferguson retired three years ago.

As England international Michael Carrick said, a third win in seven days, with 11 goals scored, has given the side new confidence going into games against Watford and West Bromwich Albion.

United are also through to a home FA Cup quarter-final against West Ham United and play arch-rivals Liverpool in the last 16 of the Europa League.

But will it be enough to save Van Gaal?

British media have reported that United have been in touch with Jose Mourinho’s representatives about succeeding him.

The Sunday Times said the United board were split over appointing Mourinho, adding that it wants to put a director of football in place for the first time.

While it seems highly unlikely that Van Gaal’s squad can make up a 12-point gap to win the Premier League, they are only three points behind Manchester City in the chase for a Champions League place, which could also be achieved by winning the Europa League.

Should United finish the campaign with a trophy and Van Gaal is still be in charge next August, he might look back at a Sunday in late February when Old Trafford warmed to him as a turning-point.

Van Gaal puts Rashford’s league debut on hold after Europa heroics

February 27, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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Louis van Gaal has upset plenty of Manchester United fans already this season and may do so again by resisting calls for teenager Marcus Rashford to start against title-chasing Arsenal in the Premier League on Sunday.

Rashford

The 18-year-old Rashford had a dream senior debut on Thursday when, thrust in after Anthony Martial was injured in the warm-up, the striker responded by scoring twice in a 5-1 win over Danish side FC Midtjylland as United overcame a first leg deficit for a 6-3 aggregate success in their last 32 Europa League tie.

Such was Rashford’s display, and United’s injury crisis, there were those who said he should remain in the first team for Arsenal’s visit to Old Trafford this weekend.

But veteran Dutch manager van Gaal, who has come under fire this season for adopting a defensive style at odds with United’s attacking tradition, advised caution.

“No, he shall not play,” said the United manager of talk Rashford might start against Arsenal.

“He can come off the bench maybe. I cannot risk it. I’m a long-term coach.”

First-choice goalkeeper David de Gea is expected back against the Gunners, but Martial remains more of a doubt.

“I don’t know about Anthony Martial,” van Gaal said. “I have talked with him and the physiotherapist, but I cannot say. The problem is not as heavy as everybody thinks. But you never know.”

United remain without a long list of injured players, including captain Wayne Rooney, who has a knee problem, but defender Chris Smalling has a chance of recovering from a shoulder injury in time to face Arsenal, while left-back Marcos Rojo is likely to be in the squad too.

Rojo played the final 11 minutes against Midtjylland, his first appearance since late November after recovering from shoulder surgery.

Meanwhile Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has revealed that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is set to miss a significant period of his side’s run in following a knee injury suffered in the 2-0 Champions League defeat by Barcelona at the Emirates on Tuesday.

The England forward could be out for up to seven weeks with the problem, sustained in a challenge with Javier Mascherano, but Wenger was confident he will be available for Euro 2016.

“We lost Oxlade-Chamberlain on Tuesday night,” he said. “His injury is quite serious and keeps him out for a few weeks. He is consulting a specialist at the moment because he is injured at his knee. Hopefully we will have good news. He is out for a few weeks.

“How long exactly? I don’t know but a few weeks.

“I don’t think he will miss Euro 2016,” the veteran French boss added. “He is seeing a specialist now.

“It’s not (a recurrence of a previous injury). Not at all. It’s a new injury.

“He is devastated. Let’s hope that we get good news that it’s only two or three weeks, not six or seven.”

Wenger, whose side could end the weekend top of the table if they win on Sunday and other results fall their way, refused to answer questions over whether England forward Danny Welbeck will earn a first league start of the season against former club United.

Arsenal could do with a boost up front after failing to score in five of their last eight matches and Wenger said of Welbeck: “He is still in the squad and he is not completely over his knee problem.

“”He has done really well and is very fit. I have to analyse that.”

United, Liverpool and Tottenham sweep into Europa League last 16

February 26, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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Manchester United came from behind to beat Midtjylland 5-1 with a brace from debut striker Marcus Rashford while Tottenham beat Fiorentina 3-0 and Liverpool squeezed past Augsburg to make the last 16 of the Europa League on Thursday.

 Rashford

United had been trailing 2-1 from the first leg, and went 3-1 down on aggregate to the Danish champions before an own-goal, 18-year-old Rashford’s brace, an emphatic Ander Herrera penalty and a late Memphis Depay strike saw United qualify 6-3 on aggregate.

Tottenham started their game on a calmer note having drawn the first game in Florence 1-1, and eventually eased past the Italian’s 4-1 on aggregate.

Ryan Mason curled home a peach of an opener after being brilliantly set up by England midfielderDele Alli on 25 minutes while Argentine Erik Lamela hammered home in a goalmouth scramble to make it 2-0 just after the hour.

An own-goal from Fiorentina’s Gonzalo Rodriguez completed the Italians’ misery.

An early James Milner penalty saw nervy Liverpool beat Augsburg 1-0 as Jurgen Klopp’s men also went into the hat for the last-16 on Friday.

He first clipped home Juan Mata’s cut back from around the penalty spot on 64 minutes and from a similar position ten minutes later then tapped home from Guillermo Varela’s cross, giving United the lead for the first time in the contest.

“We’ve seen a special debut and hopefully his career wil kick off from here,” former United player Paul Scholes told BT Sport.

“There’s some very good teams in this still, so it isn’t going to be easy.”

The last-32 tie at Anfield had been finely poised after last week’s first leg in Bavaria ended goalless and the home side also had one eye on Sunday’s League Cup final at Wembley against Manchester City.

“If you can’t decide a game early enough it’s always nervous,” said Klopp.

“It was a really good game and it everyone who saw it would say we deserved to win.

Milner’s slick penalty conversion on five minutes came after Augsburg’s Dominik Kohr handled after his arm got into a tangle with a teammate leaping to head away a shot.

Tournament favourites Napoli could only draw 1-1 with Spaniards Villarreal and crashed out 2-1 while Borussia Dortmund beat Porto 1-0 to ease through 3-0 over the two legs.

Gary Neville’s Valencia racked up a 10-0 aggregate score with a 4-0 win at Rapid Vienna, Shakhtar Donetsk stunned Schalke 04 with a 3-0 win in Germany while a Karim Bellarabi double for Bayer Leverkusen helped them beat Sporting Lisbon 3-1 on the night and 4-1 on aggregate.

Athletic Bilbao edged Marseille 2-1 after a 1-1 draw in Spain and Lazio beat Galatasaray 3-1 (4-1 on aggregate) to also go into the hat for Friday’s last 16 draw.

Copyright © 2010 Mirror Sports  Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.