Jose Mourinho will expect his Manchester United team to delay Man City’s title celebrations when he travels to Etihad Stadium.
Pep Guardiola’s men were trounced midweek by Liverpool in the Champions League and Mourinho’s aim will be to deal a blow to Man City’s confidence.
Jose Mourinho has confirmed that United will be without goalkeeper Sergio Romero for the Manchester derby. 17-year-old Matej Kovar has been brought into first-team training.
“Everybody is coming back but Sergio [Romero] is injured,” said Mourinho (as quoted by the Mirror)
Daley Blind is also back in contention, while Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo and Ander Herrera have also returned to full fitness.
City can seal the title with a victory but Mourinho is more concerned with his team’s situation and is desperate to finish second, ahead of Liverpool, Tottenham and Chelsea.
“My motivation is to finish second,” Mourinho told in his pre-match presser, as quoted by Manchester United’s official website.
“I still have the motivation to finish [in the] top four, because mathematically it is not done. It is a good distance but not mathematically done.
“So that’s the first objective but, after that, I don’t hide that in practical terms and next season, especially next season to finish second, third or fourth is exactly the same, because you don’t win the title, but you qualify directly to the Champions League group phase. However, I prefer to finish third not fourth and I prefer to finish second not third and, because we are in the second position for many, many, many, many months.
“Obviously, it’s our objective to fight, to fight for that and for that we need points, so my objective for tomorrow is to try to have the points that can help us to finish second.”
Our Portuguese tactician knows the importance of the derby but as usual, was keen to stress that it is just another game for United.
“In the end, the points are the most important thing,” he added.
“In the end, it’s always a match of three points and not a match of seven, eight or nine points but there is also a little bit of the emotional difference in relation to other matches. But, in my case, I always try to play every match with the same mentality and responsibility and not try to make a derby an El Classico as we used to call it in Portugal and Spain – a special match.”
The Red Devils surprised the entire football fraternity when they signed Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal in January. Sanchez has so far failed to live up to the expectations but scored last weekend in the 2-0 win over Swansea City.
Asked if United’s capture of the Chilean proved we can still compete with City for the best players in the market, Mourinho responded:
“Are we? That’s your opinion. ‘It’s your opinion. Did they spend money in January? Did they?
“Do you know that [City were in for Sanchez]? Can you confirm that? I don’t know, I have no idea if they were interested or not, I’ve no idea.”
It will be a nightmare to see City win the derby and secure the title in front of us. Mourinho knows that and will be eager to delay the inevitable. Let’s hope we succeed in getting the bragging rights.
Man United keen on landing Ligue 1 star for a fee of about £43million
Manchester United prepare £43 million bid for Moussa Dembele
Manchester United are interested in Lyon striker Moussa Dembele (h/t Mirror)
The 23-year old has enjoyed a stellar season for Lyon and has scored 15 goals and 1 assist in 28 appearances. (h/t Whoscored)
Dembele is expected to cost in the region of £43 and is also drawing interest from Chelsea.
The Red Devils had failed to replace the outgoing Romelu Lukaku in the summer and were extremely reliant on the young Rashford for goals.
Rashford has scored 19 goals and 5 assists this season. He is the club’s top scorer and the second top assist maker. United have lacked a cutting edge in the Englishman’s absence and had been playing through injury of late.
Solksjaer was forced to bring on the striker against Wolves which unfortunately led to worsening the extent of his injury.
United currently lack a clinical player upfront. The result against Liverpool could have been different had Martial taken the chances afforded to him.
Lack of a plan?
United should have gone for a striker immediately after the signing of Lukaku. Rashford has had to play through injury and now finds himself out for 3 months.
The injury could also affect the youngster’s chances of making the England squad for the Euros. Rashford has made 201 appearances for United by the age of 22 and needs to be handled better to prevent him from burning out.
Prodigious youngsters such as Robbie Fowler and Micheal Own never got to reach the levels expected of them as they were burnt out and beset by injuries.
Dembele is an excellent player who will be an asset to United. But considering the position the club is in, it can be considered to be a step back for the Frenchman if he joins them.
The fact that the clubs has been linked to the player only after Rashford’s injury and not in spite of it reeks of a lack of long term planning.
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Dembele already has experience of playing in England for Fulham and Celtic. The 23-year old made 64 appearances for Fulham,with 2 of them coming in the English Premier League.
Man Utd to look at alternatives after refusing to sign this £68.24m star
Manchester United look at alternatives for Bruno Fernandes
Manchester United are looking at alternatives for Portuguese midfielder Bruno Fernandes. (h/t Manchester Evening News)
Fernandes has been linked with a move to the Red Devils since last summer and appeared to be in a strong position to sign the player in the January transfer window.
But the club now seem to have backed out of a deal citing Sporting’s sudden increase in the player’s valuation to £68.24 million.
With the clubs appearing to be unable to agree on a fee, United are considering Leicester City’s James Maddison and Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish as alternatives.
A better fit!
Both Maddison and Grealish have been critical to their team’s fortunes this season at different ends of the table. It can be argued that either of them would represent a better fit for the United midfield than Fernandes.
Maddison has been one of the Leicester’s stars as they push for Champions League qualification whereas Villa would be 4 points worse off at 19th if not for Grealish’s goals.
Both the players have experience of playing in the English top-flight and will not need a bedding-in period.
Fernandes does have better numbers than either of the player. But then Grealish and Maddison have performed at a higher level in the English Premier League.
Paying over the odds will not help United in the long term. It sets a precedent with other clubs likely to hold them for ransom.
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The 2-0 loss to Liverpool highlighted the gulf in quality that now exists between United and the Premier League elite.
A massive rebuild is required in the coming windows as the Red Devils look to close the gap to their arch-rivals. Rather than overspending on foreign players who present an element of risk, United can look at domestic alternatives. As Liverpool have shown of late, there is quality available if you are willing to look for it.
Man United keen to reinforce midfield with this 24-year-old La Liga ace
Manchester United are keen on signing Marcos Llorente
Manchester United are keen on reinforcing their midfield by signing Spanish midfielder Marcos Llorente. (h/t Manchester Evening News)
The 24-year-old who plays for Atletico Madrid has impressed at the Wanda Metropolitano following his move from city rivals Real Madrid.
Llorente has made 17 appearances for Atletico this season , with a majority of them coming off the bench.(h/t Whoscored)
Having started just 3 La Liga matches this season, a loan move to United could be of interest to both parties.
The Red Devils are currently short of players in midfield after the injuries to Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay.
Llorente is an assured passer of the ball and can play in central midfield in both a defensive and a holding role.
He is also an aggressive ball winner and will add much-needed energy in the United midfield. At 6 feet tall, Llorente is also an imposing presence who can deal with the physical aspect of the Premier League.
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The Spaniard came through the Real Madrid academy and has made 22 appearances for the Los Blancos.
He was a part of the Real Madrid squad that won the UEFA Champions League in 2018.
Man United veteran agrees to move to Serie A side for £1.3million in January
United skipper Ashley Young agrees to move to Inter Milan
The 34-year-old will undergo a medical on Friday prior to signing an 18-month deal with the Italian giants.
Young will join up with former United teammates Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez as Antonio Conte’s side aim to win their first Serie A in 10 years.
Antonio Conte has been a long term admirer of Young and even tried to sign him when he was at Chelsea. United were initially reluctant to sanction the player’s move in the middle of the season.
With the player keen on the switch and the prospect of losing him on a free in the summer seem to have convinced the United hierarchy to cash in on the veteran in the January transfer window.
Young joined United in the summer of 2011 and has gone on to make 261 appearances for the English giants.
The veteran, who started off as a winger has predominantly played at full-back for United the previous few seasons.
He took over as captain from Antonio Valencia at the beginning of this season
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United are 5th in the league, 5 points off Chelsea in fourth ahead of the match against arch-rivals Liverpool at Anfield.