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The Changing Face Of Manchester United

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(Change is on the horizon at Manchester United. Photo credit: sky sports.com)

The summer of 2016 could be looked back on in the history of Manchester United as one of the most significant that the club has ever had. The changing face of the Red Devils is one that will be etched in United’s history for years to come and be looked back on as a defining period in the clubs’ history.

Jose Mourinho has arrived, as has Eric Bailly from Villarreal, Zlatan Ibrahimovic from Paris Saint-Germainon a free transfer and now Henrik Mkhitaryan is on his way to Manchester, as Borussia Dortmund confirmer earlier on Saturday. Bailly’s arrival signals the intent Mourinho has to bolster the Premier League’s best defence and is one for the future at 22 years-old. Mourinho, like his predecessor Louis van Gaal, prides himself on a strong defence and United fans will expect to see the return of formidable partnerships at Old Trafford.

The ‘Special One’ is slowly making his mark on United, something that van Gaal struggled with during his ill-fated two years at Old Trafford. Spending in excess of £250 million, the Dutchman could never find a formula for his system that harvested both the attacking and defending talents of a very strong squad. Barring a few new additions, the United board are of the opinion that Mourinho will have to make the most of an expensively-assembled squad for the time being.

The former Chelsea boss looks set to revive United and with big names arriving already to a team without Champions League football, the allure of Mourinho is clear for all to see. Ibrahimovic and Mourinho have previous, with the pair working together at Inter Milan and winning Serie A during the 2008/09 season. During his unveiling at Old Trafford on Friday, the recently-retired Swedish captain said: “From being a cat, I felt like a lion. He was amazing. He dragged out of me things that no other coach has done before. When I played I felt like a Terminator.”

Such gushing praise is likely to reinforce Mourinho’s opinion in that he has acquired a lieutenant in Ibrahimovic. As for how this ‘changes’ United, it illustrates the shift in the attitudes of the fans and powers that be at Old Trafford. It is widely accepted that Sir Alex Ferguson, the last manager to bring a title to Old Trafford, didn’t want Mourinho to take over from him once he retired. Instead, his touting of David Moyes has led to near-irreparable damage to the dressing room at United and discontent within a fanbase almost immune to the feelings of failure. Mourinho looks set to change all that in his own unique way, which the United hierarchy understand must be his own.

United’s fans could be forgiven for appearing concerned at the prospects of one of the breakout stars of last season in Marcus Rashford. The 18 year-old burst onto the scene towards the second-half of the season, netting five goals in 11 appearances to earn himself a call-up to the England squad for their ill-fated Euro 2016 campaign. Again, will Mourinho make a radical change in farming Rashford out on loan to gain more playing-time? It is highly unlikely that Mourinho will see Rashford as a more potent attacking threat than Ibrahimovic, Anthony Martial or Wayne Rooney. Much has been made of Mourinho’s perceived ‘distrust’ of youth players, preferring to sign big-money names from abroad.

Whilst it is true that Mourinho does indeed favour experience, he gave debuts to 20 academy players during his three-year tenure at Spanish giants Real Madrid and over the course of his two stints at Chelsea, handed out debuts to 11 academy players. There have also been doubts raised about his judgement of players, with Mourinho infamously moving on both Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku during his second spell at Chelsea, with the Belgian duo going on to prosper at Wolfsburg and Everton respectively. It is up to Mourinho to debunk these common myths associated with him and it will be interesting to see what the outcome of his Old Trafford stay is.

Regular contributor to the soccer/futbol section at sportsrants.com alongside completing my Journalism degree at University of Derby.

Soccer/Futbol

Birmingham City Fan Jailed for 14 Days for Punching Aston Villa Player

Anthony DiMoro

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27-year old Paul Mitchel, a Birmingham City fan has been jailed for 14 days after he plead guilt to assaulting Aston Villa midfielder Jack Graelish during the derby on Sunday.

Mitchell rushed the pitch and took a swing at Graelish when the player’s back was turned at Birmingham City’s St. Andrew’s stadium during the Championship match on Sunday.

Mitchell admitted to invading the pitch and has been officially banned from attending any football match in the U.K. for up to 10 years, and was also ordered to pay £350 in total fines.

Graelish made a statement in which he described how he was “shocked and scared” by the attack.

“I cannot help but feel how lucky I was in this incident,” he said (h/t ESPN). “It could have been so much worse had the supporter had some sort of weapon.”

“He cannot explain what came over himself yesterday morning,” Mitchell’s lawyer, Vaughn Whistance, said on Monday.

“His initial foolish intention was to go onto the pitch to whip up the crowd. He is certainly remorseful today. He is a man with a partner, they have a 2-year-old together and they’re expecting their second child.”

“This weekend a line has been crossed in terms of fan behaviour,” said a spokesperson for the FA.

“On Sunday we saw two separate incidents, at Birmingham City and Arsenal, of individuals entering the field of play and assaulting players.

“Not only is it an offence to enter the pitch, which could result in a club ban and criminal charges for the individual, but it also puts the safety of the players at risk.

“This is entirely unacceptable and we strongly condemn both incidents.

“We will be working with the clubs, the leagues and the police to discuss what collectively needs to be done to protect players and officials on the pitch.

“In addition, we have written to both Birmingham City and Arsenal to seek their observations to examine the security measures they had in place.”

Birmingham City apologized to Grealish and Aston Villa and banned Mitchell for life.

“Birmingham City Football Club would like to apologise to Jack Grealish and Aston Villa Football Club for an incident in Sunday afternoon’s derby match,” a club statement said.

“We deplore the behaviour of the individual who committed this act and rest assured he will be banned from St. Andrew’s for life. The club will also support any further punishment this individual may face in the eyes of the law.

“The club will be working with the relevant authorities to investigate all the circumstances and we will be reviewing our stadium safety procedures.

“What happened has no place in football or society. Jack is a Birmingham lad and regardless of club allegiance should not have been subjected to this — there are no excuses.

“Again, we apologise to Jack and all at Aston Villa Football Club.”

 

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Major League Soccer, Twitch Ink One-Year Partnership

Anthony DiMoro

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Major League Soccer (MLS) has inked a one-year sponsorship deal with popular streaming platform Twitch, per an official announcement from MLS.

Starting in March, MLS will start streaming the second season of their eMLS Cup, their esports league in conjunction with EA Sports’ FIFA franchise.

“FIFA is one of the main generators of the fans that we have” MLS Digital Senior VP Chris Schlosser said, via an official statement. “If you look at it historically – radio built baseball, television built the NFL and NBA, and the internet is building soccer.”

The partnership between Twitch and MLS could also include content outside of the eMLS Cup, featuring highlights or media produced by MLS teams, or clips of MLS games moving forward.

“We are looking to do some esports events – this is something we are taking a hard look at” DC United Chief Executive and Managing General Owner Jason Levin said, via an official statement.

“All of esports is a dramatically growing industry. It’s an opportunity to engage our current fans and connect with some younger sports fans who don’t know as much about DC United. It’s an exciting opportunity for us to grow our fanbase more than anything.”

It’s an exciting time for streaming, particularly on Twitch, as live sports such as the NBA’s G League, and MLS are starting to develop Twitch streams to help tap into the streaming market, diversify their digital content, and get more involved with esports teams and esports organizations.

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Manchester United Place Paul Pogba Contract Talks on Hold

Anthony DiMoro

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Manchester United is putting a hold on any contract negotiations or talks with Frenchman Paul Pogba, who is two years into a five-year pact he inked with the club when he returned from Juventus back in 2016.

Manchester United remain confident that they can convince Pogba, who has had a roller coaster run at Old Trafford, to stay with the club for the long-term future, according to ESPN FC’s Rob Dawson.

The club had hoped to engage in preliminary negotiations with Pogba, along with his agent Mino Raiola in September following Pogba’s successful stint playing in the World Cup earlier this Summer in Russie, but Pogba’s unhappiness with his situation in Manchester is now coming into play during talks.

While Pogba will not push for a move away in January 2019, he could be tempted by Barcelona next summer should they show a renewed interest in acquiring him.

Pogba’s agent, Raiola, is known for engaging in rather difficult negotiations concerning his clients and had done so during Pogba’s world record £89.3 million move from Juventus, so United was hoping to get an early start on contract talks this time around.

Per the report ESPN FC, after initial talks occurred earlier this month the plan was to step up discussions at the beginning of next season before executing the deal officially in early 2020.

Those scheduled negotiations are now being pushed back.

Per sources cited in the report, United is still relaxed about the situation with Pogba, due to their one-year option that they can fall back on which could be used to keep Pogba at Old Trafford until the Summer of 2022.

However, United is confident that they can reach a breakthrough with Pogba in negotiations prior to then.

It will be interesting to see how the lines shake up as the Pogba negotiations carry on.
OLBG.com has the latest free bets and they will surely keep monitoring the latest lines on Pogba’s future with United.

The report goes on to note that sources close to Pogba continue to insist that the cloud of uncertainty surrounding his future with the club is not designed to be a tactic to elicit any sort of pay raise.

Additionally, had executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward not refused to listen to any offers over the summer, Pogba likely would have joined Barcelona.

While Pogba is fine playing for manager Jose Mourinho this season, despite their well-documented rocky relationship in the past, he is not ruling out a move in the future.

 

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