Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s magic touch continues for United after Leicester victory

Marcus Rashford celebrates after scoring the opening goal for Manchester United against Leicester City. (AFP)
Updated 03 February 2019

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s magic touch continues for United after Leicester victory

LONDON: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer remains unbeaten 10 games into his caretaker reign of Manchester United as the rejuvenated Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba combined to earn a 1-0 win at Leicester on Sunday to close in on the Premier League top four.
Rashford blasted home his sixth goal since Solskjaer took charge after taking an exquisite touch to control Pogba’s lofted pass and United held out to move above Arsenal into fifth and within two points of fourth-placed Chelsea.
A 2-2 draw at home to Burnley in midweek is the only match Solskjaer has failed to win and much of that form is owed to the turnaround in both Rashford and Pogba’s roles since Mourinho was sacked in December with United 11 points adrift of the top four.
Solskjaer again chose to leave Romelu Lukaku on the substitutes’ bench, with Rashford preferred as his center-forward.
Rashford took just nine minutes to respond with the crucial goal, having already missed a good chance when he headed over when unmarked from Nemanja Matic’s cross.
Ricardo Pereira was the guilty party for Leicester with a dangerous ball that was intercepted by Pogba.
The Frenchman proceeded to display his deftness of his touch with a beautiful pass that was lofted over the Leicester backline for Rashford to run onto and he did the rest, taking a touch before drilling a low shot past a helpless Kasper Schmeichel.
“That pass by Paul Pogba is great and the control by Marcus better,” added Solskjaer.
Leicester have now conceded in the first 11 minutes in each of their last five games.
“It’s crazy. At the start we don’t believe enough in our quality,” said under-fire Leicester boss Claude Puel. “Afterwards we play with intent and we can hurt teams like United.
“It’s a big disappointment because we found good quality in the second-half with a lot of chances to come back.”
However, as is often the case on the road, United relied on goalkeeper David de Gea for all three points as a Leicester side that have often troubled the top six this season improved after half-time.
Twice the Spaniard stood tall to deny Jamie Vardy, but De Gea’s best save came from Rachid Ghezzal’s free-kick that arrowed toward the top corner.
“Leicester got in a few dangerous positions, David de Gea made a few great saves and blocks,” said Solskjaer.
“We could have done better higher up the pitch in terms of defending but we deserved the three points I thought,” he added.
A Ghezzal goal would have been rich vindication for Puel who was met with chants of “you don’t know what you’re doing” from his own fans for replacing James Maddison with the Algerian just after the hour mark.
Jonny Evans and Harry Maguire also failed to hit the target as the Foxes laid seige toward the United goal in search of an equalizer that never came to pile more pressure on the under-fire Puel.
His stock at Leicester remains on the slide but Solskjaer’s at Old Trafford continues to soar.


Police want Liverpool title decider in neutral stadium

Updated 30 May 2020

Police want Liverpool title decider in neutral stadium

  • The move aims to prevent fans from gathering outside when the competition resumes

MANCHESTER, England: Liverpool might not win the English Premier League at Anfield after police included the leader’s key games among at least five it wants at neutral venues in a bid to prevent fans from gathering outside when the competition resumes.
Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp hopes authorities will allow them to play at home as planned, with supporters adhering to advice while they are prevented from attending games due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Police originally wanted neutral venues for all 92 remaining games but the plan was opposed by the clubs — particularly those trying to avoid relegation.
The league plans to resume on June 17 after a 100-day shutdown to contain the coronavirus pandemic, pending final approval from government, which is trying to prevent a second spike in cases.
Police don’t object to the games on that Wednesday night being played at Manchester City and Aston Villa.
But police want the derby between Everton and Liverpool to be played away from Merseyside a few days later. The game was originally scheduled at Goodison Park. Liverpool, which leads by 25 points with nine games remaining, could clinch the title by beating Everton if second-placed City loses to Arsenal on June 17.
If the 30-year title drought doesn’t end that day, police want Liverpool’s next game, against Crystal Palace, to be played away from Anfield.
Greater Manchester Police have already determined Liverpool’s third game back against Manchester City should be staged away from Etihad Stadium.
Liverpool’s fourth game back is against Aston Villa, currently scheduled at Anfield.
The same Manchester force wants City’s game against Newcastle and Manchester United’s home game against Sheffield United played outside of the northwest location.
Police in Newcastle also don’t want the home game against Liverpool to be played at St. James’ Park on the final day of the season, which could be July 26.
Mark Roberts, the head of football policing in England, said the plans will remain under review but are based on public health demands.
“We have reached a consensus that balances the needs of football, while also minimizing the demand on policing,” said Roberts, the football policing lead at the National Police Chiefs’ Council. “The views and agreement of forces which host Premier League clubs have been sought and where there were concerns, the Premier League has been supportive in providing flexibility in arranging alternative venues where requested.”
One obvious neutral venue is Wembley Stadium in north London which is not the home of any club side.
“This plan will be kept continually under review to ensure public health and safety and a key part of this is for supporters to continue to respect the social distancing guidelines, and not to attend or gather outside the stadiums,” Roberts said.
Even without a vaccine for COVID-19, fans could return to games next season, which is due to begin in September.
“There is optimism at the Premier League and at clubs that we will see fans back in the stadiums next season,” Premier League chief executive Richard Masters told Sky Sports TV, “and it may happen on a phased basis.”
Only 200 of the 380 Premier League games each season are contracted to be broadcast live in Britain, but all remaining fixtures will be aired live because fans will not be allowed in stadiums.
The reshaped English season is set to end with the FA Cup final on Aug. 1.
The Football Association on Friday announced its competition will provisionally resume with the quarterfinals on the weekend of June 27-28. The semifinals are now scheduled for July 18-19.
“This has been a difficult period for many people and, while this is a positive step, the restart date is dependent on all safety measures being met,” FA chief executive Mark Bullingham said.
Though the COVID-19 deaths per day have fallen in Britain since early April, another 377 were still reported on Thursday, bringing the known death toll in all settings including hospitals and care homes to 37,837.