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A brief history of Post-Sir Alex Ferguson South American players at Manchester United

In recent history, the signing of Veteran Uruguayan striker Edinson Cavani has been a sensation for Manchester United. However, the club’s history with signing South American talent has been a mixed one at best, many arriving with great expectations and failing to deliver, notably during Sir Alex Ferguson’s reign at the club with signings such as Diego Forlan and Juan Sebastian Veron failing to live up to expectations.  

So, how many South American players have been a true success at United since the retirement of Ferguson? This piece will evaluate United’s Post-Ferguson South American signings and see how they compare. 

Edinson Cavani

Normally it is hard to determine if a player has been a nailed-on success at a club when he has only been playing for said club for just over one season, however, in the case of Cavani, every United fan would agree than the striker has been a breath of fresh air. 

Not only has his 18 goals and six assists since he has joined the club been vital for United, but the passion and drive the now 34-year-old shows every time he pulls on the jersey has solidified him as a cult hero. 

Even this season, with minutes being much harder to come by due to the signing of Cristiano Ronaldo, Cavani has been a model professional, and has given everything for the team when called upon, most notably in Manchester United’s 3-0 victory against Tottenham Hotspurs, in which he scored a crucial goal.

All of this and more means that United fans will always remember Edinson Cavani as nothing other than a success. 8/10. 

Alex Telles

Again, Telles has only been a United player for just over a season, besides this, he also appears to have signed at just the wrong time, with Luke Shaw, United’s other senior Left-back arguably having the best season of his career during Telles first season at the club. 

It could be argued that the introduction of another top level left back to United made Shaw play at a higher level more consistently due to the very real threat of Telles taking his spot in the first team, so in regards to providing competition for places, Telles has been a success. 

However, on an individual level, the Brazilian has not played nearly enough games for United to be deemed a success, or perhaps even a failure. Since signing for United in the summer of 2020, Telles has only made 27 appearances across all competitions, scoring one goal and getting four assists.

However, it should be noted that due to being second choice in his position, most of Telles’ minutes in the 2020/21 season came In the Europa League, and out of seven appearances in this competition, he was part of a defence that kept four clean sheets, which played a vital part in United reaching the final of the competition that season.  

Due to his form in Europe, it feels unfair to deem Telles a failure, he also has time to push to be United’s first choice at left back. 5/10. 

Fred

Fred was one of the last Jose Mourinho signings for the club, before his sacking in December of 2018, the Brazilian arrived with huge expectations after being signed for an amount in the region of £52 million as reported by Sky Sports

However, it seems as though this was a singing done out of panic instead of strategy as there were reports that Manchester City were in for the player as well. This perhaps explains why, for his first season at the club at least, it felt as though neither Mourinho or Ole Gunnar Solskjaer knew what to do with the Brazilian, as he has all the energy in the world, but is not an attacking minded midfielder and is too rash to be left on his own in the defensive midfield position. 

However, now that Fred is in his fourth season as a red, it feels as though his most effective position is in a defensive midfield pivot, with his energy often being utilised to break up attacks from the opposing team. Fred has amassed 133 appearances for the club since his arrival and has managed five goals and seven assists during this time. For a player used in defensive midfield these numbers are not terrible. 

Unfortunately, Fred is a player who divides opinion amongst the fan base, mostly due to the fact that he seems to lack in technical ability; as a midfielder, he does not have a good range of passing, and as a defensive midfielder he often gives away needless fouls, as can be seen by the fact he has received 27 yellow cards and one sending off during his time as a United player

While he no doubt runs himself into the ground most games and never stops, he is most certainly not one of the best in the league in his position, and the £52 million price tag, over three years later, looks like a mass overpayment. 

A player who gives his all each game but lacks the ability to be deemed a success at this level and at this club. 5/10. 

Andreas Pereira

Pereira is an interesting addition to the list due to the fact that he is classed an academy player, instead of a singing, unlike the vast majority of South Americans who have played for the club. As a youth prospect, the Brazilian looked like a world beater, often putting in dazzling performances at the under-23 level, making United fans everywhere desperate to see him break into the first team. 

After two loan spells in La Liga at Granada and Valencia respectively, Pereira’s chance to prove his ability in the Premier League arrived in the 2018/19 season where the youngster made 23 appearances across all competitions for the first team, scoring one goal and getting one assist from midfield

Even after a disappointing first season, the youngster was given another chance to prove himself in the 2019/20 season, with the midfielder making 40 appearances across all competitions, scoring two goals and getting four assists. His failure to make a lasting impact on the first team during this season seems to have been the beginning of the end for the Brazilian at Manchester United, with the player being sent on loan every season since.  

Once a bright prospect, now a forgotten player. 3/10. 

Alexis Sanchez

Probably one of the more disappointing names on this list, Alexis Sanchez arrived from Arsenal in January of 2018 in a swap deal with Henrich Mkhitaryan, as reported by BBC Sport. The winger arrived with immense expectations due to him being one of the best wingers in the league during his time at Arsenal, he played 166 times for the Gunners across all competitions, scoring 80 goals and getting 45 assists, a fantastic attacking return for a player who was often the best player on the pitch during his time at the London club. 

However, once again, it seems in hindsight that this was a signing made due to panic and not long-term strategy. There were rumours that the winger was near to joining Manchester City, and the owners of United wanted a big name signing as much for marketing reasons as for results on the pitch. 

This all made for a frankly disastrous signing for all parties involved, with Sanchez playing 45 times for United, only managing five goals and nine assists during this time. Not only were his attacking returns not good enough, but his wages were astronomical, with Sky Sports reporting that the Chilean was on a £560,000 per week contract. 

The wages simply did not match the performances and United were glad to be rid of the winger when he left to join Inter Milan in the summer of 2019. 

A great player who was signed for the wrong reasons at the wrong point in his career. 2/10. 

Sergio Romero

Usually, it would be hard to deem a backup goalkeeper as a success or a failure due to lack of playing time, however, Romero was as impressive a backup goalkeeper as anyone, often putting in big performances in cup competitions. 

The Argentinian’s clean sheet record at United is immense, with the goalkeeper keeping a huge 39 clean sheets in just 61 appearances for the club. Most notably, Romero was United’s Europa League Keeper in the 2016/17 campaign, which resulted in United lifting the trophy. During this campaign, Romero kept eight clean sheets out of 12 games in total, including a clean sheet in the final against Ajax.

A certain success in an extremely difficult position. 9/10. 

Marcos Rojo

United signed defender Marcos Rojo for £16 million in the summer of 2014 after an impressive display for Argentina in the 2014 world cup, as reported by BBC Sport. However, the defender arrived to very little fanfare, most likely due to the very reasonable amount United paid for him. 

This perhaps worked in Rojo’s favour as he was not subject to scrutinizing on the same level as other big money signings at the club. In total Rojo made 122 appearances for United, also scoring two goals and getting four assists in that time, which should not be worried over too much due to the fact that he was mostly utilised as a centre back during his time at United. 

Notably, Rojo played in many centre back pairings during his time at the club, with the defender struggling to put a run of games together in a settled defence, something that was out of his control. He was also injury prone, missing a huge 82 Premier League games during his time at United due to various injuries.

This meant that by the time Solskjaer took the helm, the defender had faded into the background, being sent out on loan and then eventually sold to Boca Juniors in the winter transfer window of 2021.  

At his best, an impressive defender who gave his all for the club, but too injury prone to be deemed a great success. 6/10. 

Angel Di Maria

Perhaps the most disappointing signing made in the post-Ferguson era, Angel Di Maria was signed for a then British record transfer fee of £59.7 million in the summer of 2014, as reported by BBC Sport.

On paper, the deal looked like great business for United, they had signed a world class player in a position that needed reinforcement and new manager Louis van Gaal was looking like he was getting the transfers he desired to be a success at the club.

After a fantastic first couple of months at United, things started to break down for the Argentinian, he was frustrated with the playing style of the manager and was sometimes being played out of position. This led to a break down in communications between the club and the player, and after only one season at United, Di Maria was sold to Paris Saint-Germain.

It was reported that the player felt unsettled after a break in at his Cheshire home in the January, as reported by BBC Sports, this seems to have been a big factor in the players exit. However, while his numbers were still impressive in his single campaign, getting four goals and 12 assists in 32 appearances for United, fans were left with a bitter taste in their mouth at his exit.

He seemed to disrespect the club by not reporting for pre – season duty before being sold and certainly did not reward the huge transfer fee United had paid for him. These factors led to Di Maria being labelled as one of the biggest ‘flops’ in United’s history.

Paying a record transfer fee for a player who leaves under a cloud after one season can not be labelled anything other than a massive failure. 1/10.

In conclusion, United’s record with signing players from South America has become no less shaky since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson, it is still all over the place in terms of successes and failures. However, with the more recent signings of Alex Telles and Cavani, perhaps United are getting better at deciding which South American players will fit Manchester United’s playing style and rise to the challenge most effectively.

It must be noted that Columbian Radamel Falcao was not included in this list due to being a loan signing and Uruguayan Guillermo Varela was mostly used in the Under 23’s during his time at United, and therefore could not be evaluated properly. 

Written by Jennifer McCord

Ratings: Greenwood, Lingard, Mata and Bailly played well in Hammers defeat; Martial terrible

Manchester United were beaten 1-0 by West Ham United in the third round of the Carabao Cup at Old Trafford. Ryan Fredericks assisted Manual Lanzini for the only goal of the game in the ninth minute of the match. The Hammers fans will suggest they played well against United, but they were pretty lucky. David Moyes had his team sat back for the entire match, which is why he did not succeed at United as he does not have an adventurous style of play for his teams. Anthony Martial was terrible, which is something that has been obvious for some time – perhaps Anthony Elanga should replace him in this team?

Solskjaer made 11 changes from the team which beat the Hammers on Sunday with David Moyes making 10 changes. It was a good start for the Hammers, who took the lead in the ninth minute through Manuel Lanzini, assisted by Ryan Fredericks. United tried to level the match almost instantly on the attack after the goal with Juan Mata aiming for the goal from the right flank, hitting the crossbar with the away side managing to clear the danger. After the goal, United seemed to find the spark to push for something from this match. United will need to ensure that they get an equaliser in the first half of the match to stop the Hammers running the game.

United broke forward in the 15th minute of the match with Anthony Martial receiving the ball and firing towards goal, with the ball heading wide. Diogo Dalot was running into the box but could not reach the ball to tap it into the back of the net – his response was his mere frustrating not getting to the ball to level the match. The Hammers made their first substitution in the 17th minute with an injured Fredericks being replaced by Vladimir Coufal. Jesse Lingard seemed to be determined to get something from the match, missing a shot from range. United won a free-kick in the 29th minute, which came to nothing for the home side.

United ended the half still trying to find an equaliser. Solskjaer side had 61.7% possession, had 13 shots on goal of which three were on target, seven were off target and three were blocked with 86.4% pass success rate. Solskjaer was probably looking at the changes he could make at he break, or on the hour mark of the match towards the end of the half with the likes of Bruno Fernandes, Mason Greenwood and Anthony Elanga on the bench. Defensively, they have enough on the pitch to win the battle – they just need the goals and the aforementioned trio can supply those. United will be seeking to try their resolve to win this match.

United started the second half well, although Solskjaer should have made at least one change to get the better of his team. There were a few opportunities for United to equalise but it just was not happening. In the 57th minute of the match, Mark Noble was booked for a foul and perhaps should have been in the first half for tugging Lingard’s shirt in the box. Dalot had a shot just after that, which was wide of the target. United seemed to be determined to get back into this match and the Hammers were seemingly playing right into that by sitting back, not being adventurous for that second goal. United just needed to be patient.

Solskjaer made his first substitution in the 62nd minute of the match with Mason Greenwood replacing Mata. The teenager got himself right into the game, making a marauding run into the box but seeing his effort, after Donny van de Beek fed him the ball, blocked by Alphonse Areola, who was doing well for the Hammers in this match. United perhaps needed one or two more changes to get back into the match. Moyes made a double substitution in the 69th minute with Nikola Vlasic and Pablo Fornals replacing Lanzini and Arthur Masuaku. Solskjaer made a double change with Anthony Elanga and Bruno Fernandes replacing Alex Telles and Lingard.

United tried to get back into the match and throughout the 90 minutes had 27 shots on goal, six of them on target, 13 off target and eight being blocked. There are some positives to take from this match; Donny van de Beek should get more time on the pitch as he played a good game, United’s defence can afford to be rotated, Dean Henderson is back and Jadon Sancho is starting to find his feet in England, which is a good sign. Anthony Elanga looks like a good player to have this season and there will be many conversations about Anthony Martial who did not seem bothered in this match. Some supporters will not be happy about this defeat.

United will be back in action in the Premier League on Saturday afternoon, this time against Aston Villa, who were beaten on penalties by Chelsea in the third round of the Carabao Cup this evening. The match was due to be played at the traditional time of 3pm but because of The Courneeners concert at Old Trafford Cricket Club in the evening, the match was moved to aid the police and the transport infrastructure in the area, so United will have a few hours less to prepare for this match, which is not a problem based on the number of players rested from this match ahead of the Villa match.

Manchester United

26 Dean Henderson

Had no chance to save Lanzini's effort on goal. Made to good saves in the second half to keep the deficit down but in all it was a good return to action for him.

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20 Diogo Dalot

Looked to get his name on the team sheet more often with his performance. Spent much of the time going forward, which was good to see. Could perhaps have a go at benching Wan-Bissaka now with this confidence.

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2 Victor Lindelof

Saw Lanzini's effort deflect off him for the only goal of the game. Partnered with Bailly well with both players not often on the team sheet now.

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3 Eric Bailly

Played well on his return. Has a few nervy moments but otherwise was solid in this match.

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27 Alex Telles

Good to see him back as it will give Shaw a break at times, when he's fully fit. Seemed rusty but got forward a lot of the game. Was not really tested. Replaced by Elanga in the 73rd minute of the match.

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31 Nemanja Matic

Rolled the years back in this match. Seemed to be the man pulling the strings in the first half but did tire in the second half. Good to see him still play a part in the squad.

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34 Donny van de Beek

After his performance in this match, he should get more minutes on the pitch. Got forward a lot from deep positions and found Greenwood with a decent ball seconds after he came on. Very tidy in possession. Pointless on the bench.

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25 Jadon Sancho

Had some bright moments against the Hammers in a match that he was not scrutinised as much. Showed some glimpses of what he can offer wen settled and his confidence is much higher. That was good to see.

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8 Juan Mata

Did well against the Hammers and seemed to be the one reading the game. Rolled back the years at times and perhaps should have scored from an angle, hitting the crossbar instead in the first half. Was replaced by Greenwood in the 62nd minute.

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14 Jesse Lingard

Played a good game against the Hammers and seemed to be the player that attacks were coming from whilst on the pitch. Had hard luck with some shots and should have perhaps won a penalty after Noble pulled his shirt in the box. Replaced by Fernandes in the 73rd minute.

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9 Anthony Martial

Had a shot in the first half, which was not even on target. I am struggling to see what he offers United. No wonder the club signed Cavani and Ronaldo. I don't know what he offers at times.

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Substitutes

11 Mason Greenwood

Replaced Mata 62'. Instantly got a shot on goal which was blocked by the keeper. Seemed determined to get something from this match.

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18 Bruno Fernandes

Replaced Lingard 73'. Had a good chance to equalise after a few minutes on the pitch but was just wide of the target. Seemed to be intent on getting United back in the match, which is good to see. Better to let this on drift away though as United will now not be congested with fixtures next month.

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36 Anthony Elanga

Replaced Telles 73'. Came on at left-back and did well, before being switched further forward. Should have replaced Martial earlier in the match as I think he would have done much better.

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Goals: Manuel Lanzini 9′

Assists: Ryan Fredericks 9′

Manchester United: Henderson; Dalot, Lindelof, Bailly, Telles (Elanga 73′); Matic, Van de Beek; Sancho, Mata (Greenwood 62′), Lingard (Fernandes 73′); Martial

Substitutes Not Used: Heaton; Jones, Wan-Bissaka; McTominay

Bookings: Mark Noble 57′

Written by John Walker

Confirmed XI: Henderson, Dalot, Van de Beek, Mata, Lingard and Martial start against the Hammers

Manchester United will return to Carabao Cup action this evening as they welcome West Ham United to the Theatre of Dreams just tree days after the two sides met in the Premier League at the London Stadium, which saw United leave victorious. Cristiano Ronaldo equalised five minutes after Said Benrahma opened the scoring with Jesse Lingard scoring the winner for United before David De Gea saved a last-minute penalty taken by Mark Noble, who was substituted before the spot kick. It was a good match to witness for United supporters and even better that is was another match unbeaten on the road – 29 now.

Over the last two seasons, United have reached the semi-final stage of the Carabao Cup, losing to Manchester City at this stage, who have been the eventual winners of the cup. Granted, the Carabao Cup is not the club that many would want to see Ole Gunnar Solskjaer lift as his first for United as it would not placate the fans who want to see him win a trophy as their stance will change as soon as it happened. I guess the flip flop fans are here to stay, even if they end up getting embarrassed week in and week out. Solskjaer should strive to make it to the final of this competition and lift the trophy – it could well be the first of many for him as a manager.

Manchester United:

Henderson;

Dalot, Lindelof, Bailly, Telles;

Mata, Matic, Van de Beek;

Sancho, Martial, Lingard;

Substitutes:

Heaton; Jones, Wan-Bissaka; Fernandes, McTominay; Greenwood, Elanga

West Ham United:

Areola;

Fredericks, Dawson, Diop, Masuaku;

Noble, Kral;

Yarmolenko, Lanzini, Johnson;

Bowen

Substitutes:

Randolph; Zouma, Coufal, Ogbonna; Fornals, Vlasic, Benrahma

United and West Ham have played a total of 147 matches in the history of the two clubs. United have won 70 times, drawing 32 times with the Hammers winning the remaining 45 matches. The majority of the matches have come in the Premier League, Football League Division One and Two, with the remaining being played in domestic cup competitions; 13 in the FA Cup with just three in the League Cup, which is now called the Carabao Cup with United winning twice and losing once. United won 1-0 in 1985, in 2010, the Hammers won 4-0 with United winning 4-1 in 2016. Solskjaer will want to win this match too.

There is a lot of history between United and the Hammers. David Moyes, the Hammers’ manager was the former manager of United during the ill-fated 2013/14 season and he was sacked before the season even finished. There have been many players to have played for both clubs, the most receipt being Jesse Lingard, who spent the second half of last season at the club. The likes of Rio Ferdinand, Patrice Evra, Michael Carrick, Teddy Sheringham, Javier Hernandez, Carlos Tevez, Roy Carroll, David Bellion, Jonathan Spector and Ravel Morrison have all played for both clubs and probably more in the not too distant past.

Written by John Walker

Predicted XI: Cavani, Sancho, Van de Beek and Lingard to start against West Ham? Ronaldo, Fernandes, Pogba and Maguire on the bench?

Manchester United will return to Carabao Cup action on Wednesday evening as they welcome West Ham United to the Theatre of Dreams just tree days after the two sides met in the Premier League at the London Stadium, which saw United leave victorious. Cristiano Ronaldo equalised five minutes after Said Benrahma opened the scoring with Jesse Lingard scoring the winner for United before David De Gea saved a last-minute penalty taken by Mark Noble, who was substituted before the spot kick. It was a good match to witness for United supporters and even better that is was another match unbeaten on the road – 29 now.

Over the last two seasons, United have reached the semi-final stage of the Carabao Cup, losing to Manchester City at this stage, who have been the eventual winners of the cup. Granted, the Carabao Cup is not the club that many would want to see Ole Gunnar Solskjaer lift as his first for United as it would not placate the fans who want to see him win a trophy as their stance will change as soon as it happened. I guess the flip flop fans are here to stay, even if they end up getting embarrassed week in and week out. Solskjaer should strive to make it to the final of this competition and lift the trophy – it could well be the first of many for him as a manager.

Previous meetings with West Ham and their connections with Manchester United.

United and West Ham have played a total of 147 matches in the history of the two clubs. United have won 70 times, drawing 32 times with the Hammers winning the remaining 45 matches. The majority of the matches have come in the Premier League, Football League Division One and Two, with the remaining being played in domestic cup competitions; 13 in the FA Cup with just three in the League Cup, which is now called the Carabao Cup with United winning twice and losing once. United won 1-0 in 1985, in 2010, the Hammers won 4-0 with United winning 4-1 in 2016. Solskjaer will want to win this match too.

There is a lot of history between United and the Hammers. David Moyes, the Hammers’ manager was the former manager of United during the ill-fated 2013/14 season and he was sacked before the season even finished. There have been many players to have played for both clubs, the most receipt being Jesse Lingard, who spent the second half of last season at the club. The likes of Rio Ferdinand, Patrice Evra, Michael Carrick, Teddy Sheringham, Javier Hernandez, Carlos Tevez, Roy Carroll, David Bellion, Jonathan Spector and Ravel Morrison have all played for both clubs and probably more in the not too distant past.

Here is my predicted starting XI to face West Ham United in the Carabao Cup at Old Trafford on Wednesday evening…

Goalkeeper: David De Gea

David De Gea has been in great form this season and it seems that he is determined to retain his number one shirt at the club, seeing off the challenge of Dean Henderson, who needs to play regularly to continue his development. Tom Heaton will also challenge De Gea for a place in the team being that he is experienced and has a part to play, however small. These things will help De Gea continue to find his place at the club once again, which has seemingly shrunk after a few seasons of mistakes and a lack of direction under David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho.

De Gea will be ready to step into the goal for this match days after saving a last-minute penalty which could have resulted in United moving from a winning position to a draw, which would have felt like a defeat. United are so much better with De Gea at the club and his experience and passion for United will be great for the club with United expected to challenge for the Premier League title this season, which has started well but needs to continue. United are in a much better place than they were five years ago, not that a section of the fan base will recognise that as the negativity seems to be something that they love more than United, which is strange.

Defenders: Diogo Dalot, Victor Lindelof, Raphael Varane, Luke Shaw

United’s defence has some strength and experience this season and it will be a luxury for Solskjaer to make some changes to keep the players fresh for what the rest of the season will present them. Against the Hammers, Diogo Dalot could step into the right-back position and show what he has to offer at the club this season and perhaps beyond. I believe that with the injury to Alex Telles, which he has overcome and will be working on returning to the squad, Luke Shaw will keep his place in the squad for this match, which is good because he has done nothing wrong this season so far and looks to be achieving a lot at the club.

Victor Lindelof could return to the starting XI for this match which will result in Harry Maguire being rested but on the bench in case he is needed to fortify the defence late in the game. Raphael Varane will partner Lindelof making his debut in the Carabao Cup this season, which realistically is a competition that United could win, stopping Manchester City from winning it for the fifth successive time with the trophy spending the last six seasons in Manchester with United winning it in the 2016/17 season. It is the first trophy to be won during the course of a season – not the best trophy for Solskjaer but a trophy none the less.

Midfield: Scott McTominay, Nemanja Matic

United’s midfield is far from perfect but it is something that will have to be endured for the 2021/22 season, or at least until January if the club have plans to make a purchase. Nemanja Matic will be due a start, which could be good for United, as long as he is not playing next to Fred, who offers little in most matches that he plays. Matic is getting older which has seen the club become less reliant on him but there are not many options in the defensive midfield area that have experience. Scott McTominay is a player that can operate well in that area, but he does offer more going forward. Replacing Matic is a problem for United that will have to wait.

Having both Matic and McTominay on the pitch at the same time could work well with the former shielding the back four and the latter linking the midfield with the attack and ensuring balls are played forward for the players in the advanced roles in the squad, aiming to get the better of the Hammers for the second time in three days. There will be options off the bench which will involve Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes which would either mean Matic came off and McTominay had to step in his role, of the Scotland international came off and Pogba played alongside Matic, which has happened before and worked well.

Attacking Midfield: Jadon Sancho, Donny van de Beek, Jesse Lingard

In these positions there are bags of talent available for Solskjaer and a few players who have not been given a lot of minutes so far this season. Jesse Lingard had a strange week last week with a mistake that cost United a point in the opening Champions League group stage match with Young Boys, which resulted in a 2-1 defeat with United in a leading position before Aaron Wan-Bissaka was sent off in the 35th minute. Lingard came on late in the match against West Ham on Sunday and scored the winning goal in the 89th minute of the match before David De Gea saved a penalty in added time, which secured the victory.

Donny van de Beek has not had many minutes of late and he is a player that should be doing so much more for United this season after the small part he played last season. I think he should play in Bruno Fernandes’ position in this match which will test him and see what he can bring to the table. To have the luxury of being able to rotate players will stop fatigue from setting in later in the season. Jadon Sancho has not yet settled in at United and playing in this match, which will not have the pressures of the Premier League or the Champions League could be good for him and allow him to show what he can do before the negative fans write him off.

Forwards: Edinson Cavani

Edinson Cavani has not played since the 1-0 victory away to Wolverhampton Wanderers which was almost a month ago. Solskjaer has suggested that he will be back in action for this match, which to me suggests that he will be starting. There are many positives here as he will rotate with Cristiano Ronaldo, Mason Greenwood, Anthony Martial and even Marcus Rashford when he is fit and there is a possibility with the number of attacking players in the squad that Solskjaer could change the formation at times for matches, which would allow the club to not be seen as predictable going forward.

Last season, Cavani scored 17 goals and six assists in all competitions which was a great fit for United as with other players, they helped the club to achieve their second place in the Premier League and reach the final of the UEFA Europa League. Solskjaer will be hoping that the attacking line he has at the club this season, which has been fortified by the arrival of Jadon Sancho and Ronaldo will result in goals galore, which is something the Norwegian will be memorable of during the management of Sir Alex Ferguson which saw a swashbuckling United side take on their opposition.

Substitutes: Tom Heaton; Harry Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bissaka; Paul Pogba, Bruno Fernandes; Cristiano Ronaldo, Mason Greenwood

Just three substitutes can be used in this competition this season, two fewer than last season because of the coronavirus pandemic. Only seven substitutes can be named on the bench too, which is two fewer than in the Premier League this season. Solskjaer may be able to use some fringe players in this match, also utilising some minutes for the players that are not currently playing regularly. I think Solskjaer will give other players the chance to earn a place in the starting XI ahead of the next match, keeping players fresh as the club starts to play two matches each week for the foreseeable future with the Carabao Cup and the Champions League here.

I think Tom Heaton might be on the bench, but there is also a chance that Solskjaer rests De Gea but after his penalty save, he might be in the zone to continue playing for the club in the League Cup. In defence, Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka should be available, but Eric Bailly could well step in to replace the United captain on the bench. In midfield, Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes could add something, should they be required in the match and in attack, Cristiano Ronaldo and Mason Greenwood should be available with Anthony Martial getting a midweek rest based on the fact his form is not up there with his teammates.

Written by John Walker

Preview: Solskjaer to shuffle the pack against the Hammers? Cavani to lead the line?

Manchester United -v- West Ham United

Carabao Cup

Old Trafford, Manchester

Wednesday 22 September 2021, KO 19:45 BST

Referee: Jonathan Moss Assistants: Marc Perry, Timothy Wood

Fourth Official: Chris Kavanagh

Manchester United will return to Carabao Cup action on Wednesday evening as they welcome West Ham United to the Theatre of Dreams just tree days after the two sides met in the Premier League at the London Stadium, which saw United leave victorious. Cristiano Ronaldo equalised five minutes after Said Benrahma opened the scoring with Jesse Lingard scoring the winner for United before David De Gea saved a last-minute penalty taken by Mark Noble, who was substituted before the spot kick. It was a good match to witness for United supporters and even better that is was another match unbeaten on the road – 29 now.

Over the last two seasons, United have reached the semi-final stage of the Carabao Cup, losing to Manchester City at this stage, who have been the eventual winners of the cup. Granted, the Carabao Cup is not the club that many would want to see Ole Gunnar Solskjaer lift as his first for United as it would not placate the fans who want to see him win a trophy as their stance will change as soon as it happened. I guess the flip flop fans are here to stay, even if they end up getting embarrassed week in and week out. Solskjaer should strive to make it to the final of this competition and lift the trophy – it could well be the first of many for him as a manager.

Manchester United – Recent Form, Goals Scored and Assists: WLWWDW

West Ham United 2-1 W, BSC Young Boys 2-1 L, Newcastle United 4-1 W, Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-0 W, Southampton 1-1 D, Leeds United 5-1 W

Goals: 4 – Bruno Fernandes, Cristiano Ronaldo, 3 – Mason Greenwood, 2 – Jesse Lingard, 1 – Fred

Assists: 7 – Paul Pogba, 1 – Bruno Fernandes, Victor Lindelof, Nemanja Matic, Luke Shaw, Raphael Varane

West Ham United – Recent Form, Goals Scored and Assists: LWDDWW

Manchester United 2-1 L, Dinamo Zagreb 2-0 W, Southampton 0-0 D, Crystal Palace 2-2 D, Leicester City 4-1 W, Newcastle United 4-2 W

Goals: 5 – Michail Antonio, 3 – Said Benrahma, 2 – Pablo Fornals, 1 – Aaron Cresswell, Declan Rice, Tomas Soucek

Assists: 3 – Michail Antonio, 2 – Said Benrahma, 1 – Jarrod Bowen, Vladimir Coufal, Pablo Fornals, Declan Rice

Previous meetings with West Ham and their connections with Manchester United.

United and West Ham have played a total of 147 matches in the history of the two clubs. United have won 70 times, drawing 32 times with the Hammers winning the remaining 45 matches. The majority of the matches have come in the Premier League, Football League Division One and Two, with the remaining being played in domestic cup competitions; 13 in the FA Cup with just three in the League Cup, which is now called the Carabao Cup with United winning twice and losing once. United won 1-0 in 1985, in 2010, the Hammers won 4-0 with United winning 4-1 in 2016. Solskjaer will want to win this match too.

There is a lot of history between United and the Hammers. David Moyes, the Hammers’ manager was the former manager of United during the ill-fated 2013/14 season and he was sacked before the season even finished. There have been many players to have played for both clubs, the most receipt being Jesse Lingard, who spent the second half of last season at the club. The likes of Rio Ferdinand, Patrice Evra, Michael Carrick, Teddy Sheringham, Javier Hernandez, Carlos Tevez, Roy Carroll, David Bellion, Jonathan Spector and Ravel Morrison have all played for both clubs and probably more in the not too distant past.

Team News: United have two players out due to injury with the Hammers missing one – others will be missing as they step up their fitness though – time to see Donny van de Beek and Jesse Lingard?

Marcus Rashford (Shoulder) and Amad Diallo (Thigh) will both be ruled out of the Carabao Cup clash with the Hammers at Old Trafford. Alex Telles (Ankle) and Phil Jones (Match Fitness) are both stepping up their return from injury and Edinson Cavani (Other) is said to me eyeing this match to make his return from injury. Scott McTominay made his return from injury on Sunday against the Hammers and slotted right in to the action, giving United’s midfield a boost ahead of the rest of the season. Perhaps Jesse Lingard, who scored the winner against the Hammers and Donny van de Beek will start this match with some players given a rest?

Winston Reid (Knee) is the only West Ham player to be injured for the clash against United at Old Trafford on Wednesday evening in the Carabao Cup. Michail Antonio will be eligible to face United in this match having been suspended for the Premier League clash at the London Stadium on Sunday afternoon which the Hammers lost 2-1 after Jesse Lingard scored a late goal for United and David De Gea saved a penalty in added time. David Moyes has no other doubts ahead of the match, at this time anyway and there may be some rotation for both teams as they keep their eyes on the Premier League matches at the weekend.

Predicted Starting XI: Solskjaer to shuffle the pack with Dalot, Lindelof, Matic, Lingard, Van de Beek and Cavani all starting in the Carabao Cup clash with West Ham?

It is expected that Solskjaer will shuffle the pack for this match, giving some fringe players the chance to get some minutes under their belts also giving other players a rest ahead of the Premier League clash with Aston Villa on Saturday afternoon, which has been moved to a 12:30 BST kick off. I think the likes of Diogo Dalot, Victor Lindelof, Nemanja Matic, Jesse Lingard, Donny van de Beek and Edinson Cavani could all start in this match, which would be good to see. Cristiano Ronaldo, Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba could all be on the bench in case they are needed at some point in the match.

I wonder if Tom Heaton could start this match, giving David De Gea a rest, but then again, after saving that last-minute penalty against the Hammers on Sunday, having De Gea start would be good as he will still be feeling confident, which is a good thing. Diogo Dalot and Luke Shaw could play in the fullback positions with Lindelof and Raphael Varane in the centre of the defence. In the midfield, Nemanja Matic and Scott McTominay could partner in the pivot with Jesse Lingard, Donny van de Beek and Jadon Sancho playing in the attacking midfield positions. Edinson Cavani could lead the line for United.

Match Prediction: United to get the victory they need to see them in the fourth round of the Carabao Cup this season but it will not be an easy victory for the Red Devils.

Solskjaer and United will be seeking to get through the Hammers for the second time in a week and put themselves in the draw for the fourth round of the Carabao Cup this season. Perhaps they will face lower league opposition, which is the path that Manchester City seem to get each season, not really tested in the competition until at least the latter stages of the competition when they have faced United in the past two seasons. This is normally a competition that United field youth in but with the level of competition each season, that has not been possible. This match should feature some fringe players though.

I think United will get the win that they want but it will not be easy with the Hammers seeming to head to the Theatre of Dreams with the mindset of causing an upset, which is hat they wanted to do against United on Sunday, however, Ronaldo’s equaliser five minutes after the home side scored, followed by Lingard’s winner – not to mention De Gea’s penalty save stopped that from happening. United got the points on Sunday and I think they will get their second victory over the Hammers this season, just three days after facing them in the Premier League. I wonder what kind of draw they could get for the fourth round of the competition, if they win?

Manchester United 2-1 West Ham United

Written by John Walker

Ratings: Ronaldo and Lingard score against the Hammers but De Gea saved the day…

Manchester United beat West Ham United 2-1 in the Premier League at the London Stadium. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side once again came from behind to set their unbeaten away run to 29 matches now, two more than Arsenal’s record from 2004. Said Benrahma opened the scoring in the 30th minute for the Hammers but five minutes later, Cristiano Ronaldo levelled the match. It looked like a 1-1 draw before Jesse Lingard won the match for United. There was late drama with a penalty awarded for the Hammers but David De Gea made the save from Mark Noble’s effort. What a match, what a moment, what a result!

It was a lacklustre start for United and the Hammers with chances being created by the home side and United seemingly using luck to deny the Hammers from the lead. Harry Maguire seemed to have a mistake in him in this match, which was a worry but the doubts were soon forgotten about as United started to find comfort in the match. There was a hairy moment for Paul Pogba in the opening stages after Kurt Zouma caught his foot and the Frenchman was writhing on the floor in agony – he soon recovered through. The Hammers took the lead in the 30th minute through Said Benrahma, assisted by Jarrod Bowen.

David Moyes seemed ecstatic with the goal as he has not yet beaten United since he was sacked in April 2014 but like Alan Pardue in the Emirates FA Cup final in 2016 – he celebrated too soon. Five minutes later, Cristiano Ronaldo had scored his fourth goal of the season – his 122nd goal for United, levelling the score in this match. United then started to dominate the game for bursts, pressing for a second goal to put them in the lead for the first time in the match – but it was not coming, at this time anyway. The Hammers regained possession and were trying to get ahead again but at the end of the half, if was a fair 1-1 scoreline.

There were no substitutions at the start fo the second half from either team and United were once again seeking to get the better of the Hammers, but were not able to at this stage. The home side were also trying to get back in the match and take the lead – things not working out for them either. It all seemed to be one way traffic around the hour mark in the match, which was probably worrying for the Hammers but United were unable to get anything from their attacks – but that would be tiring out the defence, which is dangerous ground for them. The Hammers then broke forward but the game was stopped due to a foul on Scott McTominay.

The Hammers made their first substitution in the 68th minute of the match with Andriy Yarmolenko replacing Nikola Vlasic. Just after the change, it seemed that United could have given away a penalty after Aaron Wan-Bissaka tackled Tomas Soucek, but the referee gave the free-kick to United. Solskjaer was readying a double substitution with Jadon Sancho and Jesse Lingard replacing Mason Greenwood and Paul Pogba. Minutes after the substitution, Ronaldo was seemingly fouled in the box but the referee gave nothing. On replay, it seemed that Ronaldo ran into the player, therefore was not fouled. United were still trying to break the deadlock.

In the last 12 minutes or so of the match, David De Gea gave away a corner after a defensive error in lofting the ball back to him. Luckily nothing came of that set-piece. United made their third substitution in the 88th minute of the match with Nemanja Matic replacing Fred. The Hammers also brought Manuel Lanzini on for Benrahma. It seemed that Lingard won the game for United a minute after coming on, beating the Hammers goalkeeper from range to put United ahead with Matic assisting the goal. The West Ham fans had their heads in their hands as they knew what Lingard could do after his loan spell last season and he righted a wrong from the last game too.

There was some more controversy in this match though with penalties. Ronaldo went down in the box again, and yet again nothing was given with the Portuguese record breaker looking bemused. It seemed to be one of those days. But at the other end of the pitch, as the Hammers were seeking to avoid defeat, Luke Shaw gave something away with an outstretched arm in the box, which clipped the ball. The referee had given a corner but VAR was brought into play for this one and the penalty was awarded. Declan Rice stepped up by Moyes made his third substitution with Mark Noble replacing Bowen to take the penalty, which David De Gea saved.

What a day for De Gea, who was no stranger to penalties but saving them was a different story. United lost the UEFA Europa League final to Villarreal on the 26 May 2021 11-10 on penalties with De Gea not saving a single one, also missing his spot kick. To see him save this and keep the win for United, as opposed to the draw is magnificent. The confidence he will gain from that is immense and it will help him on the road to becoming the goalkeeper he once was for the club. What a match, what a moment and what a result. United will have the Hammers again on Wednesday evening, this time at Old Trafford in the Carabao Cup third round.

Manchester United

1 David De Gea

Made a save from a Bowen strike but conceded on the half hour with the Hammers ahead through a deflected Benrahma effort. United levelled through Ronaldo and seemingly won the match through Lingard but De Gea was not done yet. A late penalty given to the Hammers saw De Gea save Noble's spot kick and confirm the victory for United.

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29 Aaron Wan-Bissaka

Ever present on the right flank. Made four clearances and two tackles with a positive pass success rate too. His crossing lets him down though. In the second half, his attacking was not very present.

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19 Raphael Varane

The deflection off him beat De Gea in the 30th minute. It happens though. He defended well for United as they persevere for the victory - which they got in the end.

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5 Harry Maguire

Seemed to strengthen the Hammers with his lack of decisiveness in defence at times. Carried on doing what he did and played a part in the victory.

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23 Luke Shaw

Attacked constantly on the left, which was lacking against the Young Boys on Tuesday. Hs service was something United failed to capitalise from. Conceded a penalty in added time, which De Gea saved.

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17 Fred

Careless at times with the ball. That is Fred though. Was replaced by Matic in the 88th minute of the match.

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39 Scott McTominay

Glad to see him back. He was right amongst it against the Hammers. Had a shot off target but was present with the defensive duties in midfield.

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11 Mason Greenwood

The Golden Boy contender played well against the Hammers. His pace was a problem, as was his ability but he never got a goal or an assist in the match. He was replaced by Sancho in the 73rd minute of the match.

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18 Bruno Fernandes

Lacked rhythm at the start of the match but soon found it. Played a part in the equaliser scored by Ronaldo. Might find himself rested on Wednesday, but on the bench no doubt.

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6 Paul Pogba

The Frenchman seemed to have been caught by Zouma in the first half and was in agony after the challenge. He soon recovered. He played on the left in the attacking three (behind Ronaldo) and did well at times. United needed a change to break the deadlock in this game and Lingard replaced him in the 73rd minute of the match.

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7 Cristiano Ronaldo

Scored his fourth goal in three matches for United - his 122nd goal for the club. Seemed unlucky with penalties today with nothing given, with one of them seemingly standing though. Great to see him back for United, scoring the goals as he did before he left and did more of after leaving.

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Substitutes

25 Jadon Sancho

Replaced Greenwood 73'. Came on to provide something different for United but seemed to be lacking a lot. It will take time for him to become acclimatised in the Premier League. But some will not be happy to give him a chance to earn his stripes.

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14 Jesse Lingard

Replaced Pogba 73'. Came on to create and did just that. Won the game for United in the 89th minute and the Hammers fans knew what it meant to see him score at the London Stadium once more, just in a different shirt this time.

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31 Nemanja Matic

Replaced Fred 88'. Came on at the death and assisted a minute later. Did was was required of him.

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Goals: Said Benrahma 30′; Cristiano Ronaldo 35′, Jesse Lingard 89′

Assists: Jarrod Bowen 30′; Nemanja Matic 89′

Manchester United: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Varane, Maguire, Shaw; Fred (Matic 88′), McTominay; Greenwood (Sancho 73′), Fernandes, Pogba (Lingard 73′); Ronaldo

Substitutes Not Used: Heaton; Bailly, Dalot; Mata, Van de Beek; Martial

Bookings: N/A

Written by John Walker

Confirmed XI: Ronaldo leads the attack against the Hammers; McTominay starts too

Manchester United return to Premier League action this afternoon when they travel to the London Stadium to face West Ham United, which is the first of two matches against the London club in the next five or six days with United welcoming the club to the Theatre of Dreams in the third round of the Carabao Cup on Wednesday evening. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side will be looking to bounce back from the defeat to BSC Young Boys in the opening UEFA Champions League group stage match on Tuesday evening, which saw Aaron Wan-Bissaka sent off for a challenge, Cristiano Ronaldo score his third goal this season and United fail to keep their 1-0 lead.

It is one of those things in football – it happens. It just annoys me that some supporters seem to put the victories down to ‘individual brilliance’ but always seem to blame Solskjaer for the defeats or the draws. Some of these people on social media seem to be very quiet when United win, seemingly only tweeting when United lose or draw, which seems very strange to me. That said, you are not allowed to criticise these people as they are always right, even when they are wrong. They seem to want the club to never achieve anything, always changing the manager, then moaning about the lack of stability brought by their demands.

Manchester United:

De Gea;

Wan-Bissaka, Varane, Maguire, Shaw;

Fred, McTominay;

Greenwood, Fernandes, Pogba;

Ronaldo

Substitutes:

Heaton; Bailly, Dalot; Mata, Lingard, Matic, Van de Beek; Martial, Sancho

West Ham United:

Fabianski;

Coufal, Zouma, Ogbonna, Cresswell;

Soucek, Rice;

Vlasic, Benrahma, Fornals;

Bowen

Substitutes:

Areola; Dawson, Diop, Fredericks, Masuaku; Lanzini, Noble, Kral; Yarmolenko

United and West Ham have played a total of 50 matches in the history of the Premier League. United have won 30 times, drawing 13 times with the Hammers winning the remaining seven matches. United have scored a total of 99 goals against the Hammers, winning five penalties and scoring four of them. West Ham have scored 45 goals, winning three penalties and scoring all of them. United have kept 19 clean sheets with the Hammer keeping just seven. In terms of discipline, United players have been shown a total of 62 yellow cards and four red cards with the Hammers’ players being shown 72 yellow cards and two red cards.

There is a lot of history between United and the Hammers. David Moyes, the Hammers’ manager was the former manager of United during the ill-fated 2013/14 season and he was sacked before the season even finished. There have been many players to have played for both clubs, the most receipt being Jesse Lingard, who spent the second half of last season at the club. The likes of Rio Ferdinand, Patrice Evra, Michael Carrick, Teddy Sheringham, Javier Hernandez, Carlos Tevez, Roy Carroll, David Bellion, Jonathan Spector and Ravel Morrison have all played for both clubs and probably more in the not too distant past.

Written by John Walker

Predicted XI: Ronaldo to continue scoring goals for United? Sancho, Greenwood and McTominay to start against Hammers?

Manchester United return to Premier League action on Sunday when they travel to the London Stadium to face West Ham United, which is the first of two matches against the London club in the next five or six days with United welcoming the club to the Theatre of Dreams in the third round of the Carabao Cup on Wednesday evening. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side will be looking to bounce back from the defeat to BSC Young Boys in the opening UEFA Champions League group stage match on Tuesday evening, which saw Aaron Wan-Bissaka sent off for a challenge, Cristiano Ronaldo score his third goal this season and United fail to keep their 1-0 lead.

It is one of those things in football – it happens. It just annoys me that some supporters seem to put the victories down to ‘individual brilliance’ but always seem to blame Solskjaer for the defeats or the draws. Some of these people on social media seem to be very quiet when United win, seemingly only tweeting when United lose or draw, which seems very strange to me. That said, you are not allowed to criticise these people as they are always right, even when they are wrong. They seem to want the club to never achieve anything, always changing the manager, then moaning about the lack of stability brought by their demands.

Previous meetings with West Ham and their connections with Manchester United.

United and West Ham have played a total of 50 matches in the history of the Premier League. United have won 30 times, drawing 13 times with the Hammers winning the remaining seven matches. United have scored a total of 99 goals against the Hammers, winning five penalties and scoring four of them. West Ham have scored 45 goals, winning three penalties and scoring all of them. United have kept 19 clean sheets with the Hammer keeping just seven. In terms of discipline, United players have been shown a total of 62 yellow cards and four red cards with the Hammers’ players being shown 72 yellow cards and two red cards.

There is a lot of history between United and the Hammers. David Moyes, the Hammers’ manager was the former manager of United during the ill-fated 2013/14 season and he was sacked before the season even finished. There have been many players to have played for both clubs, the most receipt being Jesse Lingard, who spent the second half of last season at the club. The likes of Rio Ferdinand, Patrice Evra, Michael Carrick, Teddy Sheringham, Javier Hernandez, Carlos Tevez, Roy Carroll, David Bellion, Jonathan Spector and Ravel Morrison have all played for both clubs and probably more in the not too distant past.

Here is my predicted starting XI to face West Ham United in the Premier League at the London Stadium on Sunday afternoon…

Goalkeeper: David De Gea

David De Gea will be seeking to keep his place in goal ahead of the clash with West Ham on Sunday afternoon. The Spanish goalkeeper has played all five matches that United have played this season, conceding five goals and keeping one clean sheet. It was an unfortunate defeat against the Young Boys in the Champions League on Tuesday evening, which is something that the club must bounce back form this weekend, keeping their place at the summit of the Premier League, which would seem a likely outcome. If they were not the top team in the league, they would be close to it. United need to continue the momentum they have set this season.

The supporters of the club could do with getting behind the manager and the players, rather than wishing defeats come and the manager is sacked, as that has happened before and each time it seems to set United back even further. Things are done without their acceptance because they have no control of any outcome at the club, so the sooner they realise they are nothing but critics who people don’t listen to, the better. De Gea has started this season in fine form, turning back the years and proving himself ahead of the challenges that will come – Dean Henderson seeking to become number one and Tom Heaton also challenging for matches.

Defenders: Diogo Dalot, Raphael Varane, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw

United’s defence suffered a setback in the opening Champions League match of the season, falling to a 2-1 defeat to the Young Boys. Aaron Wan-Bissaka was sent off for a bad foul which left United with ten men and having to sacrifice an attacking player for Diogo Dalot, then resort to a five at the back formation, under attack, which was unable to keep a 1-0 lead from Cristiano Ronaldo’s opening goal. Against the Hammers, Solskjaer will need to find a way for his side to bounce back and grind out another win in the Premier League this season, also seeking to extend their 28-match unbeaten record on the road in the Premier League.

Diogo Dalot could be given a rare Premier League start with Wan-Bissaka being dropped to the bench for this match, giving him a rest ahead of the suspension he will receive in the Champions League in just over a week and a half, which could be good for United and keeping key players fresh for other matches. Luke Shaw should keep his place in the left-back position, doing well against the Young Boys, despite doing more defending than attacking, which was rare after his start to the season. Harry Maguire and Raphael Varane should start in the centre of defence, which could keep United ticking over – although Victor Lindelof will be seeking a start too.

Midfield: Scott McTominay, Paul Pogba

The midfield is not ideal for United at this time as there is a lack of balance. Nemanja Matic is the only experienced defensive midfielder with Fred making more mistakes that settling in at the club after a number of years. Donny van de Beek seems to be getting few chances with Scott McTominay sitting out a period of time following the groin injury he sustained against Southampton earlier in the season. With the Scotland international back in training and likely to be involved against the Hammers, either this weekend or in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday, things could start to improve a little for United.

With McTominay picked to start in this match, providing that he has gone through all the fitness tests and he is ready to start playing again, it could come at the right time for Solskjaer, whose options in this area seem limited with players selected being limited in terms of their ability. Paul Pogba could feature in the pivot once again, as he played an advanced role on the left-wing against the Young Boys, which did not seem to work for United, especially after the sending off of Aaron Wan-Bissaka. This could work though with McTominay mopping up the defensive duties and Pogba linking the defence with the attack.

Attacking Midfield: Mason Greenwood, Bruno Fernandes, Jadon Sancho

United have many great options in these positions ahead of the clash with the Hammers. I think Solskjaer will go back to basics with Mason Greenwood, who scored in the first three Premier League matches of the season, playing on the right-wing, which is a position that he has excelled in at times, also running into the box and picking off the goalkeeper, or even assisting for the striker or another attacking player, which was shown a few times last season. Bruno Fernandes will play through the middle but we could Donny van de Beek come on in the second half to give the Portuguese magnifico a bit of rest ahead of the challenge later in the week.

Fernandes has scored four goals for United this season, also getting one assist but he is being challenged by Cristiano Ronaldo, who has three goals in his first two appearances for the club this season. Jadon Sancho could start on the left-wing once again, which is a position he can play in – although he may be more comfortable on the right. He was taken off before half time against Young Boys on Tuesday as United were down to ten men – which was through no fault of his own. United attacking players have lots of excitement in them with Ronaldo, Fernandes and Greenwood al scoring so far this season and Sancho seeking to score.

Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo

Since re-signing for United this summer, Cristiano Ronaldo has scored three goals in two appearances, making it 121 goals for the club, matching Andy Cole. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is in his sights, scoring 126 goals for the club during his time as a player. Wayne Rooney’s record is a long way off and might not be achievable for the 36-year-old but you never know in this game. Ronaldo was determined to get a good result for United in the Champions League this week, but a 2-1 defeat – the first of the season will have hit the team hard but given them determination against the Hammers to get back to winning ways.

There seems to be a lot of criticism of United and Ronaldo in the media and amongst fans of other clubs but that just shows you that Manchester United are coming back and people are threatened as to what the club could achieve. Manchester City lost their opening match this season, losing to Tottenham Hotspur but little was said about that but when United lose – hold the front page and the following seven pages as every man and his dog wants to say something about that. United are back, they are still a work in progress but to be able to grind out the results they already have grinder out this season shows that something is being created at the club.

Substitutes: Tom Heaton; Victor Lindelof, Eric Bailly, Aaron Wan-Bissaka; Juan Mata, Nemanja Matic and Donny van de Beek; Anthony Martial, Anthony Elanga

Solskjaer made many changes in the defeat to Young Boys in the Champions League on Tuesday evening, but the gamble did not pay off for him as United capitulated and conceded two second half goals to earn their first defeat of the 2021/22 season – it was going to come at some point. Back in the Premier League, United will be able to name nine substitutes, using just three of them. I think Tom Heaton will remain on the bench for United as I don’t think Dean Henderson will be over his fatigue from his battle with coronavirus and his match fitness will not be where it needs to be to play his first match in the top flight this season.

Victor Lindelof, Eric Bailly and Aaron Wan-Bissaka will be the substitutes in the defensive positions, although Alex Telles is now back in training from his ankle injury but it may be a week or so before he is considered for a place on the bench, let alone a starting place for United. In the midfield, Juan Mata, Nemanja Matic and Donny van de Beek could all be available against the Hammers – which will be another challenge for United – one that they will need to get the better of this weekend, if they want to challenge for the Premier League title this season. In attack, Anthony Martial and Anthony Elanga could both be available – it would be great to see the latter.

Written by John Walker

Preview: United to bounce back against the Hammers; Moyes still seeking a victory over United since being sacked in 2014

West Ham United -v- Manchester United

Premier League

London Stadium, London

Sunday 19 September 2021, KO 14:00 BST

Referee: Martin Atkinson Assistants: Lee Betts, Richard West

Fourth Official: David Coote

VAR: Darren England Assistant VAR: Dan Robathan

Manchester United return to Premier League action on Sunday when they travel to the London Stadium to face West Ham United, which is the first of two matches against the London club in the next five or six days with United welcoming the club to the Theatre of Dreams in the third round of the Carabao Cup on Wednesday evening. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side will be looking to bounce back from the defeat to BSC Young Boys in the opening UEFA Champions League group stage match on Tuesday evening, which saw Aaron Wan-Bissaka sent off for a challenge, Cristiano Ronaldo score his third goal this season and United fail to keep their 1-0 lead.

It is one of those things in football – it happens. It just annoys me that some supporters seem to put the victories down to ‘individual brilliance’ but always seem to blame Solskjaer for the defeats or the draws. Some of these people on social media seem to be very quiet when United win, seemingly only tweeting when United lose or draw, which seems very strange to me. That said, you are not allowed to criticise these people as they are always right, even when they are wrong. They seem to want the club to never achieve anything, always changing the manager, then moaning about the lack of stability brought by their demands.

Manchester United – Recent Form, Goals Scored and Assists: LWWDWW

BSC Young Boys 2-1 L, Newcastle United 4-1 W, Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-0 W, Southampton 1-1 D, Leeds United 5-1 W, Everton 4-0 W

Goals: 4 – Bruno Fernandes, 3 – Mason Greenwood, Cristiano Ronaldo, 1 – Fred, Jesse Lingard

Assists: 7 – Paul Pogba, 1 – Bruno Fernandes, Victor Lindelof, Luke Shaw, Raphael Varane

West Ham United – Recent Form, Goals Scored and Assists: WDDWWW

Dinamo Zagreb 2-0 W, Southampton 0-0 D, Crystal Palace 2-2 D, Leicester City 4-1 W, Newcastle United 4-2 W, Atalanta 2-0 W

Goals: 5 – Michail Antonio, 2 – Said Benrahma, Pablo Fornals, 1 – Aaron Cresswell, Declan Rice, Tomas Soucek

Assists: 3 – Michail Antonio, 2 – Said Benrahma, 1 – Vladimir Coufal, Pablo Fornals, Declan Rice

Previous meetings with West Ham and their connections with Manchester United.

United and West Ham have played a total of 50 matches in the history of the Premier League. United have won 30 times, drawing 13 times with the Hammers winning the remaining seven matches. United have scored a total of 99 goals against the Hammers, winning five penalties and scoring four of them. West Ham have scored 45 goals, winning three penalties and scoring all of them. United have kept 19 clean sheets with the Hammer keeping just seven. In terms of discipline, United players have been shown a total of 62 yellow cards and four red cards with the Hammers’ players being shown 72 yellow cards and two red cards.

There is a lot of history between United and the Hammers. David Moyes, the Hammers’ manager was the former manager of United during the ill-fated 2013/14 season and he was sacked before the season even finished. There have been many players to have played for both clubs, the most receipt being Jesse Lingard, who spent the second half of last season at the club. The likes of Rio Ferdinand, Patrice Evra, Michael Carrick, Teddy Sheringham, Javier Hernandez, Carlos Tevez, Roy Carroll, David Bellion, Jonathan Spector and Ravel Morrison have all played for both clubs and probably more in the not too distant past.

Team News: Five United players could be out of the clash with the Hammers this weekend with two missing for the home side; Ronaldo and Greenwood to be involved in the goals once again?

Marcus Rashford (Shoulder) and Amad Diallo (Thigh) have been ruled out of the clash with the Hammers this weekend. Alex Telles (Ankle), Phil Jones (Match Fitness) and Edinson Cavani (Other) seem to be doubtful for this match with the Uruguayan likely to feature in the Carabao Cup next week. Scott McTominay, who had to undergo groin surgery earlier in the summer, could be back in action after training for the last week or so, which is good news for United after the problems with the midfield recently with only one player, Nemanja Matic, able to play in the defensive midfield area. United will get there in the end.

Winston Reid (Knee) is the only West Ham player to be injured for the clash against United at the London Stadium on Sunday. This seasons top scorer (so far) Michail Antonio is suspended for this match after his sending off against Southampton last week, but he will be back in contention to face United at Old Trafford in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday evening. David Moyes will have something up his sleeve to get the better of United this weekend with the Hammers sitting in eighth place at the time of writing and United sitting top of the league, which will change with the seven matches being played before this one kicks off.

Predicted Starting XI: Ronaldo, Sancho, Fernandes and Greenwood to lead United’s attack against the Hammers; Pogba and McTominay in midfield; Dalot given rare Premier League start?

Solskjaer will be seeking to get back to winning ways after a defeat in the Champions League to Young Boys on Tuesday evening. David Moyes has never beaten United in seven Premier League matches since being sacked by United in April 2014 – he has lost five times, drawing twice. In his last four appearances against the Hammers, Cristiano Ronaldo has scored six goals against the Hammers and will be seeking to continue his goalscoring run against the club. The Hammers are unbeaten in seven Premier League matches, which is a record for them. Either that will continue or be ended on Sunday.

I think David De Gea will keep his place in goal this weekend. In defence, Diogo Dalot could be trusted ahead of Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who was sent off against Young Boys. Luke Shaw will keep his left-back position. Harry Maguire and Raphael Varane will partner each other in the centre of defence. In midfield, Scott McTominay and Paul Pogba could play in the pivot with Mason Greenwood, Bruno Fernandes and Jadon Sancho playing in the attacking midfield positions behind the striker. Cristiano Ronaldo will keep his place leading the like for United after scoring three goals in his first two starts after returning to United.

Match Prediction: United to get back to winning ways against the Hammers, using last seasons double over the club and David Moyes not beating United after being sacked by them in 2014.

United will need to bounce back against the Hammers this weekend. Solskjaer’s side have done well this season and at the time of writing, sit top of the Premier League. That will change before a ball has been kicked at the London Stadium with Chelsea, Liverpool, Everton, Manchester City, Brighton and Hove Albion and Tottenham Hotspur all seeking to make their way to the top of the league, however, Spurs and Chelsea will face each other in the late Sunday afternoon kick off after the Hammers v United match. The Red Devils will need to rediscover their good form to take all three points in this match.

Last season, United won 3-1 in this fixture with Tomas Soucek opening the scoring for the home side and Paul Pogba, Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford getting the better of the Hammers at home, taking all three points back to Manchester. At Old Trafford, it was a 1-0 victory for United with a Craig Dawson own goal settling the tie between the clubs as United did the double over the Hammers. Solskjaer will be hoping to do the same this season but first must find the route to victory in this match, coming from a defeat in the opening Champions League group stage clash against the Young Boys earlier in the week.

West Ham United 1-3 Manchester United

Written by John Walker

James Wilson: The Forgotten Golden Boy

Before Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood and Shola Shoretire, the name on every Manchester United fans’ lips, the next ‘big thing’ to come from the famed Manchester United Academy, was one James Wilson. A Staffordshire boy, at the club since the age of seven, seemingly with all the attributes to be a successful striker for the first team, Wilson was giving every Manchester United fan reason to be excited. So why did it not work out for the young striker? Was it ability, circumstance, or plain bad luck? 

Wilsons introduction to the first team could not have gone any better, in his First Premier league start, under caretaker manager Ryan Giggs, Wilson scored two goals helping United towards a 3-1 win against Hull City. This debut, in front of an Old Trafford crowd who had just witnessed one of the poorest seasons in recent memory of the club in the 2013/14 season, meant that Wilson was soon being heralded as ‘the next big thing’ to come out of the academy.

Scoring against Hull made Wilson the fourth youngest player to score a Premier League goal for Manchester United at the time, at the age of 18 years, five months, and five days, as BBC Sport reported. This record instantly put Wilsons’s name in the limelight as he scored at a younger age that Manchester United legends such as Ryan Giggs and Cristiano Ronaldo, these types of stats and records instantly lead to excitement around a player, which can be easy to not live up to, which in this case is what unfortunately happened to James Wilson. 

The following season promised a fresh start for all players under new manager Louis Van Gaal, a manager who also had a rich history of giving youth players a chance. However, Van Gaal signed Radamel Falcao on loan from Monaco leaving Wilson as Manchester United’s fifth choice striker behind Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie, Radamel Falcao, and Danny Welbeck.

This led to a very disappointing season for James Wilson, appearing only seventeen times in all competitions, scoring two goals, for a season that was supposed to be his breakthrough, these numbers were disappointing to fans and pundits alike, leading to the ‘golden boy’ shine leaving Wilson and instead being put onto new up and coming players at the club such as new signing Memphis Depay and on loan attacking midfielder Jesse Lingard. Over the course of twelve months James Wilson had gone from Golden Boy, to forgotten prospect. 

To get more playing time and to get back into reckoning with Louis Van Gaal, Wilson went on loan to Brighton in the Championship. Loans have been used by the club for youth prospects with varying results, some can be the making of a player such as James Garner who recently had a stellar season, as Manchester United reported, at Nottingham Forest, others can be more damaging to a player’s confidence, such as Adnan Januzaj’s failed loan move to Borussia Dortmund.

For Wilson, Brighton was valuable in terms of playing time, as he made 25 appearances in a league which is notoriously hard to find your feet in, in terms of goal numbers however, it was still disappointing with him only scoring five goals during the season. Wilson did enough for United to want to keep him on the books, giving him another loan in the Championship, this time to Derby County. 

The loan to Derby County is where most would point to as the moment things really went from bad to worse for Wilson, as after failing to score in his first four appearances for the club, he got a serious knee injury in training. The injury was to his anterior cruciate ligament and led to surgery, which in turn meant a long spell on the side-lines for Wilson, as BBC Sport reported. Derby manager Steve McClaren noted at the time that he was ‘looking forward to working with Wilson’ before his injury, according to BBC Sport.

This could imply that had it not been for the injury, McClaren was a manager who believed in Wilsons’s ability, and had Wilson flourished under him in that season at Derby, his career trajectory could have looked much different. This was the turning point that Wilson would unfortunately never bounce back from, a serious injury and a loan spell cut short meant that the striker was well and truly out of the plans of the Manchester United first team, only two seasons after his breakthrough debut. 

Wilson was sent out on loan twice more by Manchester United, to Sheffield United and Aberdeen respectively, with the latter club securing Wilson on a permanent move after he was released by Manchester United in 2019,with the club reportedly fending off interest from Sunderland to land the striker, as reported by the Daily Mail. This permanent move signalled the end of Wilsons times at Manchester United, a club he had played for since the age of seven, he officially had not broken through to the first team as many had predicted he would during the 2013/14 season.

However, to brand Wilson a failure would be unjust as his name will always be on the record books as being one of the youngest players to score a Premier League goal for Manchester United, and no one can take away his debut goals in front of a packed Old Trafford, something that many academy players dream about and never get the chance to live out. With Wilson now playing his club football at Port Vale after a goalless season at Aberdeen, and a disappointing season at Salford City, with the striker only netting nine goals in twenty-nine appearances, there is still time for him to leave his mark on the game.

Still only 25, the striker has every chance of turning it around and becoming the striker everyone saw glimpses of in the early days of his career. It goes without saying that every Manchester United fan who remembers the 2013/14 season will always wish James Wilson well for being one of few glimmers of hope and excitement during a turbulent time at the club, he will always be one of their own.

Written by Jennifer McCord

copyright: JW