In the opening 20 minutes against Sevilla, Manchester United looked to be playing some of the most fluid football under Erik ten Hag yet and it seemed like the tie might already be over in the first leg.
However, following a dramatic display of complacency, a lack of concentration and admittedly some misfortune, a game that United should have buried by three or four goals somehow became a 2-2 draw in the dying minutes: a huge blow that was only worsened by even more injuries and further suspensions.
While Raphaël Varane also came off injured at half-time, the biggest blow came when fellow centre-half and one of the signings of the season, Lisandro Martínez, suddenly pulled up following an injury to his foot/ankle.
The World Cup winner looked to be in serious discomfort after planting his foot, having to be carried off the pitch by his Argentina teammates and leaving the ground not only in tears but on crutches, leaving United without both of their first-choice centre-backs.
The initial signs seem to suggest that Varane’s injury is no way near as severe as his teammate’s — simply a recurring issue following a recent knock — ten Hag admitted that although Martínez’s isn’t his Achilles as feared, “it doesn’t look good” and the team will now have to wait for a full diagnosis.
Either way, it looks like fan-favourite and key player Licha could be out for a significant amount of time and during a crucial period for the club, with the FA Cup semi-final just over a week away.
Moreover, despite the return of Casemiro following his second red-card suspension and Christian Eriksen following a long-term injury, the centre-back pairing now join the likes of Marcus Rashford and Luke Shaw on the injury list — again two key players, none more so than the in-form number 10.
As injuries and a big FA Cup game weren’t worrying enough for United, the squad have now also created their own mess by giving themselves everything to do in the second leg against Sevilla if they still have designs on winning a second Europa League — and those injured aren’t the only ones who’ll miss it:
As you can see, in a rather ridiculous decision by the referee — which was only amplified by Erik Lamela’s narrow escape from a red card for stamping on Casemiro’s leg — Bruno Fernandes received a booking for turning his back on a shot which ended up striking his arm and was judged to be handball.
Despite his furious protests, his yellow card now sees him suspended for the second leg away in Seville on 20 April, which also happens to land just three days before the semi against Brighton.
So yeah, it’s going to be a tough couple of weeks for the Red Devils.
You can watch the highlights of Manchester United vs Sevilla down below:
Featured Image — Manchester United/Sevilla (via Twitter)
Manchester City’s Matheus Nunes rolls back the years and goes to work at Flat Baker in Ancoats
Manchester City star Matheus Nunes has already impressed many during his short time at the Etihad so far, but he impressed a few more this weekend not with his skills on the pitch but in the kitchen after moonlighting at a popular Manchester bakery, The Flat Baker in Ancoats.
The recent Man City signing might only have the one assist to his name during his time as a Blue thus far, but he’s served up more than a baker’s dozen to local Manc residents thanks to a quick shift as a pastry chef this past weekend.
However, it was by no means his first time in the kitchen, as Nunes revealed that he used to work in a bakery during the earlier days of his footballing career.
Getting put to work on one of The Flat Baker‘s bestsellers, their unbelievably addictive pastel de natas — trust us, they’re utterly sinful these things — the bakery’s owners Débora and her husband, also called Matheus, got the City star back up to speed. You can see the full video here:
That being said, as you can see, the 25-year-old midfielder was a bit of a dab hand after a few goes at it; the fact he not only had prior experience but also shares the same heritage as the bakery’s founders no doubt helped.
Born in Brazil but raised in Portugal — two places where these unmistakable sweet treats are most famous — Nunes explained how he, his mother and English step-father moved to Europe for “a better life” and to help his chances of becoming a footballer.
The former Wolves player went on to explain how he “failed a lot in school” and eventually his mum gave him a choice: “give up football or school, in order to start working”.
Starting out in his godfather’s bakery, he went on to spend a fair bit of time making bread and pastries and even appeared in a similar video back in Portugal after signing for Sporting Lisbon.
Naturally, the trio did eventually touch on football a little bit, with Nunes discussing what it’s like to play under Pep Guardiola and how nice it’s been to arrive at a club where there are plenty of Portuguese-speaking players like Ederson, Ruben Dias, Bernardo Silva and others.
Débora also joked about how he has fared getting used to ‘Rainchester’ and he was polite enough to smile it off and simply reiterated that playing for City was oppurtunity he culdn’t pass up.
So, if things don’t work out in the Premier League, he can always swap the sky blue shirt of city for a lovely chef’s apron and help out over at The Flat Baker.
Featured Image — Manchester City/Sporting Club de Portugal (via YouTube)
Tributes pour in for Manchester City legend and former chairman Franny Lee
Tributes are being paid to Manchester City legend and former chairman Francis ‘Franny’ Lee CBE, who has passed away aged 79.
The ex-Man City, Bolton Wanderers, Derby County and England star is said to have passed away in the early hours on Monday morning, 2 October, following a long battle with cancer.
Speaking via a club statement, his wife Gill along with children Charlotte, Jonny and Nik said, “He will be sorely missed and would like to thank everyone for their kind words”.
Both Manchester teams led tributes to the British footballing legend, with avid City fan Liam Gallagher and countless others joining in paying their respects.
Franny Lee scored 148 goals in 330 appearances during eight-year City, helping the club win multiple honours during their first periods of success, including the old First Division title back in 1968.
Born in Lancashire and starting out elsewhere in Greater Manchester at Bolton Wanderers, he also went on to play for Derby following his time with the Blues, helping the Rams to their second-ever title in 1975.
The striker also had 27 caps for England between 1968–1972, scoring 10 goals and winning FA Cup, League Cup, European Cup Winners’ Cup and the Charity Shield twice at club level during that period.
Honouring their former centre-forward who went on to serve as Chairman for four years from 1994 onwards, the club statement read, “It is with the deepest sadness and heaviest of hearts we announce the passing of former Manchester City player and Chairman Francis Lee, aged 79”, adding that flags around the Etihad Campus are flying at half-mast.
His first club, Bolton, said of the former marksman, “All at Bolton Wanderers are saddened to learn of the passing of former forward, Francis Lee. The thoughts of everyone at the club are with Francis’ family, friends and loved ones at this difficult time.”
As for legacy as for his time in Blue, the club had already planned to immortalise Lee prior to his death, announcing the erection of a statue back in May 2022, the reveal date of which will no doubt be moved up following his passing.
The club has also assured that “more tributes will follow in the coming days.”
Rest in peace to a legend.
Featured Image — Manchester City/England/Bolton Wanderers (via Twitter)