The resumption of the footballing season is just around the corner. Some big sacrifices and changes have had to be made – but the Premier League is set for a comeback.
Much of the talk leading up to 17 June has revolved Liverpool’s seemingly imminent title win – but what lies ahead for Manchester United?
Ole’s men have managed only 12 wins from 29 matches this season, with 8 losses – but things were beginning to look a little brighter before the season was halted.
In March, the Reds found themselves unbeaten in ten matches in all competitions and just three points off the top four.
Should the knock-out competitions be resumed as planned, the Manchester side will find themselves in contention for the FA Cup and the Europa League.
As the big date looms closer, this is the ideal time to look back at Man United’s season so far – and where they find themselves once play resumes.
David De Gea: De Gea has conceded 33 times in 32 appearances in all competitions. He’s managed 10 clean sheets, most of which have come in the latter half of the season. Still, despite the upturn in performances, we have seldom seen the Spaniard at his best this season. (6/10)
Sergio Romero: United’s second choice goalkeeper doesn’t get a look in when it comes to the league, but he has rarely put a foot wrong in the cup competitions this season. In his 14 appearances this season, he’s conceded only three goals and managed 11 clean sheets. (8/10)
Aaron Wan-Bissaka: Questions have been asked about the 22-year-old’s attacking abilities but there is no doubt that defensively he has been excellent, particularly in 1v1 situations. A strong debut season so far. (7.5/10)
Brandon Williams: While his inexperience is evident at times, Williams has certainly proved himself to have great potential after providing a strong challenge to Shaw throughout the season. Not bad for a 19-year-old. (6.5/10)
Diogo Dalot: The Portuguese defender has only played only few games due to injury and has had very little impact on the team. (3/10)
Eric Bailly: Bailly has only managed five appearances this season due to ongoing injury problems. He did however put in a standout performance at Stamford Bridge during a crucial game for the Reds. (5/10)
Harry Maguire: There is clear confidence at the club in the English international’s abilities; naming him captain in his first season at the club. While his performances haven’t always been up to scratch, there have been obvious improvements during the back half of the season. (7.5/10)
Luke Shaw: The introduction of Brandon Williams is the best thing that’s happened to Shaw this season; he’s put in some great performances in the back half of the season. (6.5/10)
Marcos Rojo: Rojo is currently on loan at Estudiantes after just nine appearances this season; it seems as though his time at Old Trafford may soon be coming to an end. (3/10)
Phil Jones: The English defender has been on a downward spiral for some time now. He has just eight appearances this season and one of few positive contributions came from a headed goal against Tranmere Rovers in the FA Cup. (3/10)
Victor Lindelof: Very unconvincing at times, but has improved with the rest of the defensive line-up as the season has progressed. (6/10)
Andreas Pereira: Inconsistent at best, completely absent at worst. He may have made 37 appearances this season but he’s only managed 2 goals and 4 assists. It’s clear that Pereira isn’t up to it. (3.5/10)
Bruno Fernandes: The newest addition to the team has only featured in blank games but his arrival was definitely a turning point in United’s season. He’s been the standout player in almost every game he’s featured, whether that will continue when football returns remains to be seen, however. (8.5/10)
Fred: After a lot of criticism and uncertainty about his place in United’s team, Fred has had an impressive season after a consistent position in the starting line-up. A shout for POTY for many United fans. (8/10)
Jesse Lingard: A disappointing season to say the least and probably his last at Old Trafford. (3/10)
Juan Mata: Proven to be a decent squad player but nothing more. (5.5/10)
Nemanja Matic: Matic was out of favour at the start of the season but he has proven suddenly became a vital player to the team in the back half of the season. (6/10)
Paul Pogba: Hindered by injury problems for most of the season, the Frenchman has only featured in 8 games and wasn’t always convincing. Certainly not his season. (4/10)
Scott McTominay: He was one of the standout performers during the first half of the season and his knee injury was a massive blow to the midfield. He seems to have picked up right where he left off since returning to the team. (7/10)
Anthony Martial: The Frenchman has been under scrutiny this season but he has no doubt been a key element in the attacking line-up with 16 goals and some important strikes against City and Chelsea. (7.5/10)
Daniel James: The Welshman got off to a strong start but has wilted slightly as the season has progressed. He’s managed four goals and seven assists in all competitions but he has definitely shown promise. (6.5/10)
Marcus Rashford: United’s star man this season until a back injury in January put Rashford out of action for the foreseeable future. He has still managed to score 19 times in 31 appearances in all competitions and has been a standout performer for the Reds. (9/10)
Mason Greenwood: It’s clear that the 18-year-old has natural ability in front of goal and that he has a bright future ahead of him. His record of 12 goals in 36 appearances is excellent. (7.5/10)
Odion Ighalo: Many were mocking United’s decision to sign the Nigerian forward in January but Ighalo has proven himself to be a decent squad player. Fans were largely pleased to hear his contract had been extended to January (6.5/10)
Andy Cole makes the case for Ivan Toney as a January transfer target for Manchester United
Manchester United legend Andy Cole has suggested that Manchester United should consider making sidelined striker Ivan Toney their next transfer target in the January window as they look to strengthen their side.
The Brentford striker is currently serving an eight-month ban following a total of 232 breaches of FA rules for gambling offences and hasn’t played since May but is, nevertheless, still considered one of the best centre-forwards in the Premier League and earned his first England call-up back in March.
Following an Athletic report which claimed an unnamed football agent has now confirmed Toney is “destined” to leave the West London club once he returns to the fold, the former Man United player and prolific number nine has said he believes Toney would be a good addition.
In an interview with Betfred, the 51-year-old said of Toney, “I like him. If Manchester United did move to sign Ivan, then he’s only going to make them a little bit better than they find themselves at this exact moment.”
“He’s been a key player for Brentford and he’s scored plenty of goals for them in the Premier League”, says Cole; “if the opportunity came up, then why shouldn’t Manchester United consider signing him?”
While he did go on to say that the prospect depends on what the club’s recruitment plan is going forward, he insisted that given Toney’s experience at the top level now and that he’s commonly considered in his ‘prime’ years now, he could add more goal threat.
Cole even went on to suggest that Toney could form a partnership up top for United, adding, “he could even help Rasmus Højlund come through.” Højlund scored his first goal on his Champions League debut for the club in their 4-3 defeat to Bayern Munich.
Although he acknowledged that it might be a step up for the forward, it goes without saying that Erik ten Hag‘s team are in a difficult period right so far this season, not to mention with absences and injuries piling up, and he also compared the potential challenge to his own move up the football pyramid.
“When I moved from Bristol City to Newcastle, did people believe I could make the step up? I don’t think they did, but I was able to. When I moved from Newcastle to Man United, did people believe I could make the step up? I don’t think so but I proved that I could, so it’s all about giving players the opportunity…”
“You’re never going to know whether they’re capable or not until they’re given the opportunity to show that they can do it.” Cole also argued that regardless of his well-publicised off-field issues with betting, like with United’s other ongoing dramas at present, they “shouldn’t have an impact on the players”.
Citing Brighton’s Evan Ferguson as another “really good player” that many clubs will be interested in come January and next summer, he said that the likelihood of him signing him is less favourable, noting that “if [he’s] scoring hat-tricks in the Premier League, then he’s already worth around £100 million now by that comparison.”
When speaking in his tell-all podcast interview back in August, Toney did reveal that he’s been a Liverpool fan all his life but that he “like[s] watching Arsenal and how they play and kind of how passionate the fans are”.
The Gunners have already been linked with a possible £50 million sweep for his signature but we’ve seen plenty of targets snapped up by rival clubs already this season. Would you take Ivan Toney at Old Trafford, United fans?
Featured Image — Ivan Toney/Andy Cole (via Instagram)
Sale Sharks Academy raise over £17,000 for Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital after completing Rob Burrow Leeds Marathon
Sale Sharks’ Academy team have managed to raise over £17,000 for the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital after completing the Rob Burrow Leeds Marathon earlier this year.
The inaugural Leeds Marathon, named after former rugby league icon and motor neurone disease campaigner Rob Burrow, took place back in May with more than 12,000 people taking part and over £4 million raised in charitable donations for various worthy causes. Immense.
While MND was obviously a key focus of the event after Burrow was diagnosed with the condition in December 2019, those joining in could choose to fundraise for any organisation and, in the instance of the Sale Sharks, they chose something close to home and their hearts.
Running the 26.2 miles in aid of the RMCH, the largest children’s hospital in the UK, Sharks Academy manager Fergus Mulchrone and six members of his backroom staff raised a whopping total of £17,048.
With help from Peninsula, who committed to matching the amount raised by Mulchrone and his coaches, the team saw their total of £7,303 raised through their JustGiving page alone, along with further donations amassed in the build-up and after the event, doubled by the organisation.
Teaming up with the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, Peninsula agreed to double the total donations figure provided the Sharks hit their target; that’s exactly what they did and then some.
Following their impressive feat, the hospital tweeted: “Congratulations to Sale Sharks who ran the Leeds Marathon AND hit their £5,000 fundraising target. They’re the first to raise the £5K eligible for match-funding by Peninsula in our ‘Making a Difference…Together’ scheme.”
The initiative, which is set to run throughout the entirety of 2023, saw the HR, health and safety firm set aside £100,000 to encourage businesses to do their bit and help raise money for the hospital.