With the 2022/23 campaign now drawing to a close, Manchester United are on the verge of securing top-four and perhaps even an FA Cup, but most fans are already looking towards the next season and what aspects they can build on — the squad being the most obvious answer.
It only took a few injuries and suspensions to reveal that Erik ten Hag‘s options were much thinner than first thought, with several players in key positions suffering setbacks throughout the season, including Raphael Varane, Marcus Rashford, Casemiro, Marcel Sabitzer and, of course, Lisandro Martinez.
However, rather than dipping straight into the transfer market, fans are delighted to have received regular reminders throughout the season that there’s already an existing Red who could be added into the mix come August: Amad Diallo.
The 20-year-old is on the books at United but has spent the year on loan at Sunderland, where he has enjoyed a seriously impressive campaign and has been dubbed by many as “one of the signings of the season”. Here’s one of his most recent from the Championship play-off semi-final on 13 May:
Ok, so the youngster can hit a naughty little free-kick which happened to come in a big game — not totally unheard of, but why exactly are people getting so excited by Amad’s game on the whole?
Not only does that happen to be more than any other Sunderland player but it also saw him win the EFL’s Young Player of the Month for January and the club’s Young Player of the Year award in April.
Moreover, he does have a tendency to score the odd banger. Just a few days before scoring the goal shown above, he netted this absolutely wonderful first-time strike in an equally important game which saw the Black Cats cement their spot in the playoff positions:
As you can see, United fans are understandably very excited by clips like these and for anyone that’s actually sat down to watch him this year, you’ll know that he’s often looked like one of the best players on the pitch, even regardless of his limited experience.
Not only was he the club’s top goalscorer this season, sitting in 11th overall in the league table when it comes to the number of goal contributions, but he’s regularly the one driving the attacking impetus for Tony Mowbray’s side week in, week out.
Speaking of his progress, the Sunderland boss recently said that Amad is an “amazing player” and often “finds the game too easy”, adding that even if he doesn’t play for United next season, he will go for “big, big money”, having already pretty much accepted he’s unlikely to return to the Stadium of Light.
Following his massive equaliser against Luton Town, even Gary Lineker felt he had to jump on Twitter to laud the Ivorian starlet, labelling him a “seriously talented” prospect.
His incisive passing, driving forward runs and fine finishing might not have been enough to see Sunderland all the way through to the playoff final, losing 3-2 on aggregate to Luton, but he’s already done more than enough to prove he’s one of Europe’s brightest prospects.
Sharing an emotional and disappointed statement after the defeat, social media was awash with people praising him as “the best loan signing ever” and some even going so far as to call him the best player the club has had in years.
He went on the state that the club is “really strong on them in the matter of the way [they] mentor” and maintain regular “communication throughout the season… especially Darren Fletcher”, adding that the former United midfielder turned coach and current technical director “invests a lot in such processes and the aim is to bring them back as a better player and with better experience.”
As reported by Fabrizio Romano, United are already in talks to extend Pellistri’s contract even after only a handful of appearance and it looks increasingly likely that they will do the same with Amad, with the journalist insisting that he “dreams more than anyone” of being given a chance in the first-team.
United might still be missing an out-and-out striker in their forward line but it’s safe to say that their wide attacking options for next season look promising with Amad back at Old Trafford.
The question is would you have him going straight into the squad or should the club resist the urge to jump the gun and send him out on another loan?
Featured Image — Sunderland (via Twitter)/Amad Diallo (via Instagram)
Bolton Wanderers boss Ian Evatt slams Wigan Athletic player for post-match celebrations
Bolton Wanderers manager Ian Evatt has criticised Wigan Athletic following their 1-0 loss away at the DW Stadium on Tuesday night, with a player from the home team’s celebrations sparking a bit of a coming together on the pitch.
Understandably rumbling not only the away support but the players on the pitch, it wasn’t long before individuals began confronting each other, including both Evatt and Latics boss Shaun Maloney, with multiple club staff and match officials needed to separate people and calm things down.
Addressing the furious finish to the game, Evatt said, “We just won’t accept one of their players celebrating in front of our fans” and was also quick to remind the home side that there is quite a gulf between the two sides in the table.
“It’s not acceptable — go and celebrate with your own fans, no problem with that, don’t celebrate in front of ours”, Evatt continued, adding: “You certainly shouldn’t be celebrating when you’re mid-table, that’s what I think”.
Bolton sit joint second in League One on 66 points with an extra game in hand on Derby County above them; meanwhile, the Tics are currently in 13th place having played one more game than their fierce rivals, though they have taken all six points from their two meetings this season.
The 42-year-old head coach went on to admit that he was frustrated with the result and felt “apologetic to the fans” as he felt they and the squad deserved more from the game, insisting that Wigan “probably know they’ve got away with one” and the celebrations merely proved the Trotters were “a big scalp”.
Elsewhere, opposite number Maloney said the result should serve as wind in the sails for his players, telling BBC Radio Manchester: “Tonight was just a real deep desire to not concede, a really strong mentality. It’s definitely a question I’ve put to us as a team and as a group.
“I know we’re really young, we’ve got a lot of academy boys there that have not played a full season before, but I want that mentality and tonight they showed it”, he added — citing Godo in particular as one of the top performers on the night.
Nevertheless, as Evatt hastened to add both in defiance and to quell and simmering derby day hangover amongst Bolton fans, there are still “12 big games” left in the season and it’s his team that is fighting for promotion back to the Championship after more than half a decade out of the second tier.
You can watch the highlights from the fiery clash between Wigan Athletic and Bolton Wanders here:
Five-star Haaland: Man City’s striker reminds everyone he’s an utter goal machine
Erling Haaland is well and truly back to business as usual after his five-goal contribution in Manchester City’s 6-2 thrashing over Luton Town.
Fittingly bagging five goals in the fifth round of the FA Cup as the holders cruised into the quarter-finals, Haaland barely wasted any time getting back on the scoresheet as he opened the scoring inside three minutes of the away fixture.
It only took him another quarter of an hour to get his second and while it looked for a brief moment like Luton might have some glimmer of hope after an absolute corker from Jordan Clark, who managed to grab two on the night, the goalscoring phenom managed a first-half hattrick on the 40-minute mark.
Clark’s second came in the 52nd minute to bring the scoreline to 3-2, once again making it look like they might have something to cling on to, only for the Norwegian number nine to resume the annihilation by grabbing his next just a few minutes later and his fifth only moments after that.
While the 23-year-old had looked somewhat off his best over the last few weeks, he did manage to find the net once again in Man City‘s last home game against Brentford and despite striking out against Bournemouth, it looks like the floodgates are once again open.
Fans can argue till the cows come home about the level of opposition and quality of defending on the night, but the reality is that many a team have struggled in the cauldron that is Kenilworth Road and anything can happen in knockout tournaments like this — after all, that’s the ‘magic of the cup’.
Oh yeah, and he broke another record in the process before being taken off — the same thing happened the last time he scored five too. Preventing injuries/preserving players’ energy aside, Guardiola seemingly doesn’t fancy letting him score six for some, even though we all know he would.
He literally could’ve had six but Pep clearly thought five was plenty and subbed him off in the 77th minute, but it goes without saying that the legend in the making regaining his form right before the Manchester derby this weekend only spells disaster for Man United.
The Red Devils looked lacklustre in their previous game at home in the 2-1 defeat to Fulham and they haven’t won at the Etihad Stadium in their last three visits, while the Blues are now unbeaten in their last 18. Sunday is going to be a blockbuster.
You can watch the highlights from Manchester City’s emphatic FA Cup victory over Luton and yet another star showing from Erling Haaland down below: