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Manchester United’s Europa League Final Preview: A Final With Possible Future Ramifications That Go Beyond the 20-21 Campaign

Manchester United Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and players Bruno Fernandes and Luke Shaw speak to the media.

Manchester United face Villarreal tomorrow in the Europa League Final and the final game of the 2020-2021 season, it might not be the final that United wants, but it is a final.

The true ambition of a club like United will always be the Champions League Final, every United supporter could agree, but the reality is, United is still a work in progress.

Too take that next step one can conclude that Manchester United must beat Villarreal in this final, if they do not, questions could arise about the capabilities of the players and coaching staff, could they compete for Champions League if they can not win the Europa League?

Manchester United’s Press Conference

Tomorrow’s final could be a catalyst for the future success of the club. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has spoken about that during United’s Europa League run and used his own career as an analogy for how important a team winning a trophy is for the overall chemistry of that team, Ole said this before the Roma game.

“It will be a dream come true, the day I can lift a trophy for this club as a manager, of course. That’s what we’re building for. But for this team and for myself, our ambition this season is to finish it with lifting a trophy and being able to celebrate. I know how much that can mean to a group moving forward.”

“It gives you more of that feeling that you are hungrier for more, you want it all the time, you want that feeling again with your teammates,” said Ole in the press conference for the Europa League final.

Solskjaer also echoed that the final is not about him, and it is for the players.

“Just sit back and relax and, if you have to make decisions tomorrow, you have to do it. If it’s been 10 minutes and Luke’s sleeping on the other side, that’s a problem for him.”

Manchester United’s Squad Preview

It was announced last week that Harry Maguire will not feature in the final, a decent sized blow to the cohesion that the defense has created at times in the second half of the season.

Without Maguire, United have given up eight goals in their last four games, four of the goals came against Liverpool who cut United’s defense to shreds in the second half.

The center back pairing could be an interesting one, the pairing of Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly looks the likeliest, but Axel Tuanzebe deserves a shout after the Fulham and Wolves games. His ability to mark quicker players was on display earlier in the season against PSG as well.

The center back pairing is of decent speculation, as well as who would be the first choice keeper, Dean Henderson and David de Gea have both been used in both European and domestic campaigns.

David de Gea has had some great saves lately and Henderson has benefitted have some great team performances. It is hard to say that the teams overall performances revolve around who the keeper is, but when Henderson is in goal the team seems more compact and tight.

When de Gea is in goal, there is almost like there is more trust that he can get a big save and bail out the team if the team plays more attacking.

At the weekend Wolves had only one solid chance, and they scored, Henderson had little to do all match, although it was a lot of youngsters there was emphasis tactical to stay compact.

The Milan games were like that as well, and those matches featured Henderson. When you compare the Milan matches to the Roma matches, it is night and day.

In the Roma matches, de Gea’s talents were on full display in both matches, and Manchester United played some extremely entertaining football because you have a shot stopper that allows your team to go for it.

The decision who starts has massive implications on the game, but also who is going to be the keeper in the future with the club. Tom Heaton looks set to sign and is a likely backup keeper for Manchester United, one of the two could be out the door this summer.

Manchester United’s Opponents

Villarreal finished the La Liga season in the seventh place, four points behind fifth placed Real Sociedad, United easily defeated Sociedad in the round of 32.

A final obviously has a different energy, so anything can happen, Villarreal has some solid players, players that United have been linked to in this upcoming transfer window. But, Villarreal is nothing special and Manchester United should be and are the favorites.

Villarreal defeated a few decent sides to get to the final: RB Salzburg, Dinamo Zagreb, Dynamo Kyiv and Arsenal, no one amazing, but some decent competition with some highly rated players sprinkled in the squads.

Seventh place in La Liga is underachieving for this Villarreal squad on paper, a lot of solid players, Gerard Moreno is their top scorer with 29 goals in all competitions.

Francis Coquelin, Etienne Capoue, Ramiro Funes More and Alberto Moreno all have Premier League experience. Parejo, Trigueros and Albiol are experienced savvy veterans in Spain and Pau Torres has been linked to Manchester United recently.

Carlos Bacca and Paco Alcacer add extra experience in attacking positions as well. Alcacer always has a goal off the bench, at Dortmund he scored a hat-trick off the bench.

Unai Emery’s side underachieved this season in La Liga, but they have a decent side that handled themselves well in the Europa League this season and will offer stern competition to Manchester United in the final tomorrow.

Manchester United’s season hinges on this final, do you go into the summer on a high or a low? That is always the case for a final, the club, the players and the supporters all know that.

This game could be seen as a catalyst if Manchester United use it as a spring board and compete for more prestigious trophies.

Manchester United’s Back Ups Frustrated By Leicester 1-2, Handing City the Title

Manchester United were defeated by Leicester 1-2, the defeat means that Manchester City is the Champions of the Premier League and Leicester are now extremely likely to qualify for Champions League.

Because of the congested week, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had to rotate his squad heavily, with 10 changes being made compared to Sunday’s game against Aston Villa and a debut for Anthony Elanga.

Ole said he was going to rotate heavily when speaking to the press and this was the likeliest game. Manchester United face Liverpool on Thursday.

Leicester City come in to the game with a slight dip in league form, but still have a five point cushion on West Ham for the last Champions League spot, Leicester had a grasp on the Champions League last season but faltered at the end.

Manchester United 1, Leicester City 2

Leicester could smell blood against Man Utd’s heavily rotated squad and attacked early and often putting massive pressure on United.

Luke Thomas got the scoring going for Leicester early in the 11th minute after he smashed home a volley after sustained amount pressure from Leicester.

Despite the obvious chemistry problems between the team, the attackers looked lively. Amad, Anthony Elanga and Mason Greenwood were taking on defenders and looking good on the ball.

Mason Greenwood leveled the game in the 16th minute after he received the ball from Amad he wiggled in the box to find space. He expertly picked out the bottom left hand corner of the goal, squeaking it past Kasper Schmiechel.

The game appeared to settle after the Greenwood goal. Man Utd were able to hold onto possession a bit and take some pressure off their backline.

After the initial 20 minutes of the first half the game drastically settled down and both sides went into the half leveled.

A lot of the same in the beginning of the second half, both teams trying to stay compact and get possession. After a stable few minutes of possession Leicester City won a corner.

On the subsequent corner Cagar Soyuncu out jumped his marker and headed home in the 66th minute. This was his first goal of the season and a crucial one for Leicester’s Champions League hopes.

In the 73rd minute Youri Tielemans had an opportunity to finish the game after Jamie Vardy redirected a cross across the face of goal, Tielemans could not stretch enough to get a shot on goal.

Manchester United were hardly getting good possession in the second half and constantly gave up the ball in their own half by trying to dribble out or with poor clearances, this allowed Leicester to compound pressure.

Manchester United never really got close to equalizing, a couple of half chances after Bruno Fernandes came on is all United could muster at the end.

A decent game to give some younger players some minutes, but what if everyone was fit and had the energy to go? Tough game for Manchester United because of the current fixture overload to end the season.

Mason Greenwood was easily the man of the match, a good finish for the youngster who is in really good form, Greenwood has six goals in his last six league appearances.

A good shout to someone like Axel Tuanzebe or Nemanja Matic for defending nobly against a potent Leicester attack, you would have hoped for the defense to be lights out, but being realistic two goals allowed for a defense that never started together is not bad.

Manchester City were always going to win the title but United would like to be as competitive as they possibly could in every match.

Leicester looked destined to return to the Champions League after losing to Manchester United on the final day last season. Leicester can clinch the spot if West Ham drop points in any of their remaining matches.

Manchester United would look to bounce back after a frustrating second half against Leicester. United will host their biggest rivals Liverpool on Thursday.

Man Utd’s 3-1 Win Against Burnley Overshadowed By Controversial European Super League Revelations

Man Utd defeated Burnley 3-1 on Sunday afternoon with a brace from Mason Greenwood. Edison Cavani sealed all three points with a late goal as Man Utd close in on second place.

The result would be overshadowed by a stunning announcement that Manchester United have agreed to join a European Super League.

Both sides went into half-time with some decent chances, Chris Wood looked a threat for Burnley and Paul Pogba was close to scoring for Man Utd. The game would open up in the beginning of the second half as well as the scoring.

Mason Greenwood would score in the 48th minute after Marcus Rashford beat a couple of Burnley players down the left side, his low cross was dummied brilliantly by Bruno Fernandes finding a wide open Greenwood who finished nicely.

Burnley would respond a minute after the celebrations. James Tarkowski headed home off a corner leaving Harry Maguire on the ground. The game tightened back up and Rashford continued to look amazing on the ball.

Mason Greenwood would give Man Utd the lead again after Burnley could not clear their lines after a corner. The ball was pinged to Greenwood on the far right side of the box. Greenwood cut in and shot from a tight angle, his shot was deflected in, making it 2-1.

Man Utd would kill off the game after a stunning counter attack was finished off by an Edison Cavani tap in. Fernandes, Greenwood and Cavani combined well in the build up. Fernandes then found an open Donny van de Beek who stayed calm and played in Cavani to seal the points.

The news of Man Utd agreeing to participate in a European Super League broke before kick-off and stole the show after the game.

European Super League

Five other English sides to include: Tottenham, Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool would join Manchester United and clubs from Spain and Italy in the league. The league could have up to as many as 20 teams.

The news of the league was met with great disdain:

It is not guaranteed that the league will happen but it could. All teams announced it on their social media and were berated by fans in the comments. The news would also be confirmed on Manchester United’s official website manutd.com.

The clubs may also be punished by the governing bodies of their league. The FA could ban those teams from ever competing in their leagues again. There are also talks that it could impact the players on an international level as well, players that participate may not be allowed to play in certain competitions.

It is possible they could just be using the announcement as a filler out, one big focus group. The super league idea has been flirted with before, but never an announcement this drastic, stay tuned for more.

Post-Match Comments

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was coy in responding to the European Super League news stating that he had just heard about the news today and would not comment.

Greenwood had another great game today and was the likely man of the match, other players played well, Ole was asked about the return of form for Greenwood.

“Very. Very confident because he is a natural footballer, natural finisher. He is a fantastic finisher and I think the improvement in his overall game has been there for everyone to see and I have always known he was going to score goals. That was not an issue. I have liked the variety of his goals, more varied. Today both with his left, last week against Tottenham he went on the outside with his right which is a big thing.”

Man Utd will travel to take on Leeds next Sunday in the league, the first week off in a very long time.

Man Utd host Burnley at Old Trafford; Frustration Against Burnley at Old Trafford Since 2015

Manchester United will host 17th placed Burnley tomorrow in the Premier League. Second placed Manchester United breezed paced Granada in the Europa League on Thursday setting up a nice matchup against Italian side Roma.

Burnley have not been defeated at Old Trafford since 2015, a win and three draws in the last six years against Manchester United could help motivate the Clarets, any points away from home against a top club is immense for a team like Burnley.

Burnley sit comfortably above Fulham for now, the two sides face off in May in a six point relegation game. Picking up points at Old Trafford would be a huge boost for survival for Burnley and could give them the push to stay up.

Manchester United have put the loss in the FA cup to Leicester City behind them and have won four games in a row. United have not lost in the league since January 27th, a 1-2 defeat at Old Trafford to Sheffield Untied. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer spoke about the situation at his press conference.

“It is a massive game for the players. Massive game for them to show the mentality that they have shown over the last 13-14 months because I think the attitude has been spot on. The determination, the bounce back ability the of not letting one defeat derail your season or lose the momentum. Get straight back on getting points or a win. The way the players have coped with the whole situation, the players I have to say they have impressed me.”

Sheffield United and Burnley are similar in style, they both like to defend, but have struggled this year. However, against United they have had success in sitting back and looking to counter. Man United some good games against counter attacking teams this season.

Burnley have this discipline to sit tight and wait for that counter. Even a draw would be big for them at this point of the season, it must e the game plan for Sean Dyche.

Their players really embrace that style, James Tarkowski and Ben Mee are solid defenders in the league, Nick Pope was the England goalkeeper during this recent international break and Chris Wood is a strong presence in the long ball and set piece part of the game.

Dwight McNeil is Burnley’s main playmaking asset, despite only having 2 goals and three assists in the league this season, he is a threat on a defensive minded team. The story the last couple of days is the fact that he used to play in the United youth system, McNeil spoke to the press about how his release made him more focused.

Manchester United Team News

Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw and Scott McTominay got some much needed rest in the midweek game against Granada, they were out because of yellow card suspensions, but they needed some rest, Maguire has played every minute in the league.

Manchester Untied are getting healthier and stronger at the right time to finish off the season strong. Axel Tuanzebe, Donny van de Beek and Edison Cavani had a good game against Granada and makes the team selection a little harder for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Cavani is in nice form at the moment and has scored in back to back games. Donny van de Beek knocked the ball around well against Granada and should have had an assist, but Mason Greenwood missed the header.

It was also a good health boost in the squad that Marcus Rashford also got to sit out. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer spoke about that during his press conference for Burnley.

“Big bonus that he didn’t have to put any pressure on his foot, yes. I have got to hope he can be available and not make it worse, that is the decision I have got to make so fingers crossed. He wasn’t due to be on the bench really, he didn’t train yesterday but just in case he put his hand up and said if needed I could do a job.”

Manchester United are in a great situation with the squad and form, three points is a must against Burnley tomorrow.

U-23 Action Report: Manchester City Easily Defeat Manchester United

Manchester United U-23 fell to Manchester City’s U-23 team 3-0. A tap in goal in the 15th minute, a long range beauty in the 52nd minute and a well placed shot in the 78th minute for City sank United.

Manchester United responded well after giving up the first goal early. Decent passing between Hannibal Mejbri, Anthony Elanga and Charlie Wellens but nothing major formulated as a result of the good passing and Manchester United went into the half down a goal.

Anthony Elanga found plenty of space in that first half but could not break Manchester City’s defense. It was a quiet first half for Shola Shoretire and Joe Hugill.

The hosts extended their lead shortly after halftime when Cole Palmer struck a left footed shot well outside of the box. Ondrej Mastny stretched but the shot was well placed in the top right hand corner.

If was not for Mastny the score would have been a lot more flattering for City. The rest of the team was flat, a few good passes in a build up would end up with a lack of cutting edge in the final third.

Manchester City would see the game off in the 78th minute when Cole Palmer struck again. His left footed shot found the bottom left corner of the goal, easily beating Mastny. The goal was scored after Man United gave away the ball in the middle of the field resulting in the counter.

Anthony Elanga had a curled effort saved in stoppage time. He took on defenders down the right side and cut in well to create the only real chance for United, forcing a good save out of the City keeper.

Giving the ball away in bad positions condemned Manchester United if not the U-23’s played decent at times. Man City have scored 65 goals in the league, 18 more than anyone else and in only 20 games.

Manchester City look set to win the PL2 title while Manchester United currently sit 8th in the table. United will next face Chelsea in PL2 next Friday.

Joachim Andersen Would Be A Brilliant and Cheap Bit of Business For Man Utd

According to BT in Denmark, Manchester United want to sign Fulham defender Joachim Andersen. The defender is currently on loan at Craven Cottage from Lyon.

If Fulham were to survive, which does not look likely, Joachim Andersen could stay in London, but Fulham are currently six points from safety with six games left for them. Plus, Newcastle also have a game at hand, things are looking bleak for the Cottagers.

Joachim Andersen will go back to Lyon regardless, but Fulham likely have an option to sign if they do survive. The fee for Andersen could be anywhere from €20-€30 million.

This a decent price in todays market for a center back that is impressing in the Premier League. You never know what you are going to get when you shop outside of the league. With Joachim Andersen you get someone who is young and succeeding in the Premier League.

Joachim Andersen at Fulham

Joachim Andersen has became the captain at Fulham while current club captain Tom Cairney is sidelined because of injuries. A loan player becoming captain of a Premier League club hardly happens. Andersen has a winning spirit as well.

“For me it is embarrassing if you do not stay up because I always want to win. And when I do not win I am really angry,” said Andersen in March.

The 24-year-old signed for Lyon in 2019 for €30 million after impressing at Sampdoria. It was a surprise that Fulham were able to get him on loan. He was not in the plans for Lyon anymore, so even when he does go back after his loan, Lyon are likely to sell.

Andersen has been really impressive passing the ball this season for Fulham. He has this amazing diagonal pass in his repertoire. The pass led to an assist to Ademola Lookman against Sheffield United.

The passing, defense and leadership of Joachim Andersen has been on display at the Cottage and if Fulham were to get relegated it would be a great business if Manchester United were to buy the Dane.

Manchester United’s 2-0 Aggregate Lead Should See them Advance, Plus Other News

Manchester United cruised to a 2-0 victory over Europa League Cinderellas Granada last week in Spain and should comfortably advance tonight at Old Trafford.

Granada came from behind to beat Real Valladolid at the weekend, 2-1. The win ended a four game losing streak for Granada, they went to eighth in the league.

Manchester United also came from behind on the weekend beating Tottenham 3-1 after controversially going down. If Manchester United were to advance they would face the winner of Roma and Ajax.

In other games where United have a comfortable lead on aggregate they have been tight, smart and compact, opting to see out the tie instead of over committing and giving the opposition hope.

Team News

Manchester United have players coming back from injury, so they have options in their squad. But in the win the previous week, three players will miss because of yellow card accumulations, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw and Scott McTominay will all miss out.

Eric Bailly was reported to return but will not be available and Axel Tuanzebe could also see some minutes. Tuanzebe could also play in the midfield if needed. Paul Pogba is one yellow card away from a suspension and will miss the first leg of the Europa League if he is booked.

Other News

Manchester United are set to change banners at Old Trafford because they blend in with the players.

“Some of the players have mentioned that split second decision you have to make where you look over your shoulder to see if your teammate is there or not and the red shirt is on a red background with red seats,” said Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

According to the Manchester Evening News, Declan Rice spoke to Manchester United players while on international duty about what it is like to play at Manchester United.

It will be hard for West Ham to keep hold of their talented midfielder but if they qualify for Champions League surely Declan Rice will stay at West Ham.

Eric Bailly To Reject New Contract Offer

According to ESPN, Eric Bailly is ready to reject a new contract offer from Manchester United. The 27-year-old’s contract expires at the end of next season.

Manchester United are likely to be in the market for a center back in the summer and with Eric Bailly’s contract set to expire in a season, selling the defender makes sense.

With the sale of Eric Bailly and other players on loan, Manchester United could easily finance a transfer a top center back. Jules Kounde, Kalidou Koulibaly, Ibrahima Konate and Pau Torres all could be options but come at a decent price.

That blow does become softened if Eric Bailly is part of the deal or is sold to finance a future deal.

Eric Bailly has been absent from the club because of his positive test for COVID-19 while on international duty but could be in the squad for the Europa League match against Granada on Thursday.

The Ivory Coast international has only made just 100 appearances in five seasons. The defender has been often injured at his time at Old Trafford and with this news Bailly could be gone in the summer.

Bailly is such a talented and athletic defender, he could have been a lot better if not for the injuries. If he does move on, best luck!

3 Players Manchester United Should Loan This Summer

Manchester United have around 14 players out on loan after they recently sent Connor Stanley to MLS side Atlanta United. The Jesse Lingard loan has exceeded everyones expectations and Diogo Dalot has impressed and could have another chance at Manchester United.

The Red Devils have some good prospects in their youth academy that are fringe squad players that could use another step up in competition. James Garner has benefitted immensely from his loan year and was in that same range in the squad, too good for the youth teams but not good enough for the squad.

Brandon Williams

Brandon Williams is an exciting young prospect still despite making his first-team debut in September 2019, the young fullback has 19 appearances for Manchester United. The 20-year-old from Manchester is in a tough situation at Old Trafford.

Luke Shaw has been phenomenal this season, Alex Telles is the back up left back and Aaron Wan-Bissaka is holding down right back. Williams has come on as a back up right back but is naturally a left back. He could continue his role as a back up right back but the club could take a look at Diogo Dalot after his successful loan at AC Milan.

The passionate Brandon Williams needs first-team minutes and a team getting promoted or another Premier League club can secure Williams on loan. Williams will be better suited in the Premier League because he has experience in the league already, the Championship is always likely but not necessary due to his experience.

Axel Tuanzebe

Probably the least likeliest of this list to go out on loan but it could be a decent possibility. Manchester United look set to sign a center back this summer and if they do not get rid of Eric Bailly or Victor Lindelof that could leave Axel Tuanzebe out.

Manchester United could even bring in two center backs this summer if that happens it is going to be tough for Tuanzebe to get any minutes. Axel Tuanzebe is still young but too old for youth team football and had a successful loan spell at Derby County a couple seasons back.

His versatility could also be handy, he can be used as a defensive midfielder as well. If Tuanzebe gets forced out a loan to another Premier League club could be likely and next summer he can be reassessed. Tuanzebe still has a future at Manchester United but he needs playing time.

Hannibal Mejbri

Hannibal Mejbri has been so close to making his Manchester United first-team debut but some injuries and a lot of competitive games have not allowed that. Second place can wrapped up soon for United and players could get debuts in the last couple of games of the season.

Hannibal Mejbri has 3 goals and 5 assists for the U-23 team this season and a loan could help continue the development of the young Frenchman. Joe Hugil, Charlie McNeil and Mejbri are all young and are likely to stay put in the U-23 side but a loan is still a good experience for a young player.

The tall playmaker seems to have the athleticism it takes to play in France, the Championship or even League One. It would be hard for another Premier League club to guarantee Hannibal minutes. League One seems safe but some Championship clubs might want his service.

Talented Young Forwards

It will be interesting to see what Manchester United will also do with some of their impressive young forwards: Shola Shoretire, Anthony Elanga and Amad Diallo will fight for positions in the squad. United have a lot of depth at forward and one of these youngsters could get loaned out.

Diallo is the least likely and could feature a lot for United next season. It will be interesting how Manchester United address the position in the summer with all these good young prospects in the squad.

Unpacking Manchester United’s Wild 3-1 Win Against Tottenham

Manchester United defeated Tottenham 3-1 in London yesterday after falling behind in the first half. Fred scored off a rebound tying the match, Edison Cavani then scored off a header and Mason Greenwood sealed the match in stoppage time.

The game had plenty of controversy after VAR overturned an Edison Cavani goal because of a foul on Heung-min Son, Son would go on to score shortly after. Son received a lot of grief for the way he sold the foul.

Manchester United kept pushing and eventually tied the game after Fred was there to finish after Edison Cavani’s shot was saved by Hugo Lloris, this was his first goal since 2017. Cavani would get his goal after Mason Greenwood sent in a beautiful first time cross on the right side.

Greenwood would get his goal in stoppage time, his near post shot was too hot for Lloris to handle and it squeaked in after some nice moves opened up his shot. Manchester United have collected 28 points this season in games that they were trailing.

Manager Comments

The controversy continued after the game as both Managers fired off shots. In Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s post match press conference he said that if Son was his son he would not get food, of course it was sarcastic, but Jose Mourinho took offense.

Jose Mourinho would respond directly to Ole and say that Son’s father is a better man. It was a highly contentious match, Manchester United were destroyed in their last game against Spurs at Old Trafford and wanted revenge.

Manchester United looked to have guaranteed themselves Champions League Football for next year and with a Leicester loss they look a lock for second place.

Man of the Match

Edison Cavani was such a big player yesterday for Manchester United, others played well, Paul Pogba looked good, Mason Greenwood was extremely effective off the bench and Dean Henderson was decent in goal.

Edison Cavani was sensational and deserves the man of the match. His classical number 9 prowess was on display against Spurs. He should of had two goals but the goal was disallowed, his hold up play was on display for Manchester United.

The performance by the Uruguayan asks a lot of questions of Manchester United and what they are going to do at the position this summer. Will they try and convince him to stay or go elsewhere in the market?

Ole has spoken about the struggles the Uruguayan has faced without his family and injuries, but either way, United are capable of big things with a classic 9 in their squad.

It was a crazy evening for Manchester United and a fun one. A good ending to the season will hopefully carry over to next season.

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