Happy Boxing Day Manchester United fans! Unfortunately supporters will not be treated to any football from Old Trafford today.
Due to the Premier League TV rights being give to Amazon Prime this festive season, the Reds will be facing Nottingham Forest on Tuesday evening this year. Ahead of Steve Cooper’s team’s visit to the Theatre of Dreams there is a slight concern about United’s defence.
Last week during their Carabao Cup round of 16 clash with Burnley, Casemiro had to fill in at centre-back alongside Victor Lindelof. Erik ten Hag’s preferred defensive duo Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane were unavailable after their involvements at the World Cup while captain Harry Maguire was ill.
Ten Hag has said that he hopes Martinez will be back in Manchester for the return of the Premier League but it remains to be seen if any of the trio will be able to feature against Forest. Meanwhile, the Reds will continue with their interest in Jude Bellingham.
MEN Sport reported this month that United were not against the idea of attempting to sign Bellingham for a second time. The midfielder was given a tour of Carrington while playing for Birmingham City but he opted to join Borussia Dortmund instead.
Work is well under way as Manchester United go in search of a new signing in the January transfer window, though that doesn’t make finding one any easier.
Erik ten Hag knows he has already been backed with more money than he anticipated at this stage of his rebuild, but desperate times call for desperate measures following Cristiano Ronaldo’s exit from the club.
United had initially planned for a quiet winter window, but they now accept that they must be in the market for a signing who could well dictate the success of their season.
Something for those who like gaming and / or predicting the future.
Clubs will be able to strike-up business when the transfer market reopens.
But what does computer game FM23 think will happen at Old Trafford?
Saudi Arabian side Al-Nassr’s sporting director Marcelo Salazar has claimed “when the time is right the future will be revealed” when asked about Cristiano Ronaldo’s potential move to the club.
Ronaldo left Manchester United under a dark cloud in the wake of his explosive interview with Piers Morgan. The 37-year-old attacked his former club from the very bottom to the very top – criticising the younger generation of footballers in today’s game, Erik ten Hag, the board and former colleagues.
The fallout from the two-part special saw United part ways with the veteran, as the only man to have played at the 2022 World Cup without a club continues to look for his next team. Saudi side Al-Nassr have been strongly linked with a move for the five-time Ballon d’Or winner.
It’s Christmas, and Manchester United supporters will be hoping that there is a late gift in the shape of a new arrival next month.
Erik ten Hag’s side have enjoyed a productive start to the new season, but are in need of reinforcement as we approach the January transfer window.
On the top of their list is a shiny new striker. United have prioritised the addition of a new forward next month following Cristiano Ronaldo’s exit, and work is under way to make that happen.
Roy Keane and Alan Shearer both enjoyed hugely successful careers. The former captained Manchester United and won 17 trophies during his time at Old Trafford, while the latter, who also captained his side, is still the all-time Premier League top goalscorer and famously won the top-flight title with Blackburn Rovers in 1995.
The pair followed a similar path after the conclusion of their playing days, which included stints as managers – albeit only as a caretaker in Shearer’s case – and more recently, in punditry. Keane is currently one of Sky Sports’ most popular and explosive pundits, with the Irishman also occasionally working for ITV Football. Shearer, meanwhile, is one of the BBC’s biggest names.
Given that United were considerably more successful than Blackburn Rovers, and later Newcastle United, the rivalry that began to develop between Keane and Shearer came as somewhat of a surprise to many people. Two of the league’s most prominent figures had somehow become on-field enemies.
United are targeting Inter Milan centre-back Milan Skriniar, according to TEAMtalk.
The report claims United consider Skriniar as an option to strengthen their backline, despite the arrival of Lisandro Martinez, who is a regular starter, from Ajax in the summer.
Skriniar’s contract in Milan expires at the end of this campaign.
The 27-year-old has made more than 230 appearances for Inter.
United youngster Alejandro Garnacho contributed seven goals and three assists in the Under-18s’ successful FA Youth Cup campaign and those displays were rewarded with a place on the first team’s pre-season tour of Thailand and Australia.
Garnacho was the talk of Manchester and supporters were looking forward to seeing him play among first-team players on that pre-season tour, but he didn’t make a single appearance and was the only outfield player not to be given any minutes.
That felt like a bizarre decision, which was made even stranger by Erik ten Hag giving someone like Tahith Chong the opportunity to play. Chong had already proved he was below the standard required at the club and it was inevitable he was going to leave in the summer, yet he was given 68 minutes against Melbourne Victory and Aston Villa with Garnacho on the bench.
Erik ten Hag says he is expecting Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane back at United soon while Harry Maguire returned to training on Friday.
The club captain missed the 2-0 League Cup win over Burnley due to illness with Martinez and Varane given an extra week’s rest after their World Cup final exploits. Ten Hag told a press conference on Friday that the former was “still celebrating in Buenos Aires” following Argentina’s Qatar triumph.
Frenchman Varane – who almost missed the tournament due to a knee injury – was helped off the pitch during extra time in the final after going down. The Manchester Evening News understands that his exit was nothing more sinister and he has no injury concern.
Zidane Iqbal has named Zinedine Zidane and Paul Scholes as the two players he looked up to.
Iqbal has been in the club’s academy since he was nine years old and he progressed to make his first-team debut under interim manager Ralf Rangnick against BSC Young Boys last year, coming on from the bench with Charlie Savage.
The 19-year-old was the only Under-21 player to play in every match of United’s tour of Thailand and Australia in the summer and he caught the attention of Erik ten Hag, who has promoted the Manchester-born lad to first-team training.
Atletico Madrid would allow Joao Felix to leave on loan in January, according to AS.
The report suggests Atletico would allow him to leave on a temporary deal but only until the end of the season and without a purchase option.
United have been regularly linked to the forward this season and Ten Hag wants to strengthen his attacking options following the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Premier League returns today and we can’t wait for the action to resume.
Today’s Premier League fixtures
Brentford vs Spurs
Crystal Palace vs Fulham
Everton vs Wolves
Leicester vs Newcastle
Southampton vs Brighton
Aston Villa vs Liverpool
Arsenal vs West Ham
United take on Nottingham Forest at Old Trafford tomorrow.
Given that Peter Schmeichel made over 350 appearances for United – winning a total of 16 trophies, including five top-flight titles – it was always going to be difficult to replace the dominant shot-stopper. The Dane, who even scored for the Reds during his time at Old Trafford, is widely regarded as the greatest goalkeeper in Premier League history – which is probably why United’s first attempt to replace him didn’t quite go to plan.
Known for his intimidating physique, which included specially made size XXXL shirts, Schmeichel was feared by strikers throughout his career. He won a host of individual accolades and ended his United career on the highest note – with the club winning the Treble in his final campaign.
It was far from plain sailing, though, with the goalkeeper being ‘sacked’ by Sir Alex Ferguson following a row in January 1994. However, after making an improvised apology to the other first-team players – which Ferguson had heard – he was allowed to remain at Old Trafford. The rest, of course, is history.
Erik ten Hag has reminded Martinez that the Premier League restarts on Tuesday.
United will face Forest tomorrow looking to continue their good form.
Martinez, meanwhile, has been in Argentina celebrating his World Cup triumph.
According to Spanish media outlet AS, Liverpool are pulling out of the race to sign Bellingham and will instead focus their attention on bringing Benfica’s Enzo Fernandez to Anfield.
MEN Sport understands that Erik ten Hag is open to United making a second move for the English teenager in the future. Bellingham received a tour of Carrington before opting to leave Birmingham City for Germany.