Manchester United return to Premier League action on Saturday when they host Leicester City – Sport Media News

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Manchester United return to Premier League action on Saturday when they host Leicester City in the late kick-off.

Plenty is on the line for United as they head into the final set of fixtures in the 2021/22 season. United sit sixth in the table and having been knocked out of the Champions League by Atletico Madrid in their last match, their hopes of qualification for the elite European tournament rest on a top-four finish.

If United are to gain the three points this weekend they are more than likely going to have to do it without Edinson Cavani. The veteran striker was forced off with a calf injury during Uruguay’s victory over Chile this week and United have confirmed that he is a doubt for tomorrow’s match.

Harry Maguire should be fit and available for selection after a difficult week on international duty. The defender was booed by England supporters during their victory over the Ivory Coast on Tuesday.

Bruno Fernandes ‘announcement in place’ after agreeing new deal
Again, nothing really new to report here.

The Manchester Evening News confirmed last week Bruno Fernandes is set to sign a new five-year contract at United as the club seeks to reward him for his performances since joining from Sporting Lisbon.

The latest report simply claims an announcement is in place and could be dropped soon.

Leicester will be without Wilfred Ndidi and Jamie Vardy for Saturday’s match against Manchester United.

Nothing groundbreaking here, but further confirmation of Erik ten Hag’s position as the favourite for the United role.

United are one of the sides interested in a summer move for Djed Spence, according to a report.

The Mirror claim United, Arsenal and Tottenham are all keeping an eye on the Middlesbrough right-back, who has shone on loan at Nottingham Forest this season.

The Premier League has granted Manchester United’s wishes while Louis van Gaal has been left proven right by his Paul Pogba call while manager at Old Trafford.

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Former Liverpool and England midfielder John Barnes has suggested that Manchester United’s players must work harder out of possession to help Harry Maguire get his career back on track and give him a sense of protection.

The United skipper, who was booed by some England supporters during the Three Lions’ 3-0 win over the Ivory Coast at Wembley on Tuesday night, has experienced a massively underwhelming season at Old Trafford. He has been guilty of committing a string of individual errors that have led to goals being conceded and his overall performances have not been good enough.

But, whilst Maguire has commonly been sounded out as the scapegoat by many United supporters, he has not been alone in failing to hit the required standards this term. A whole host of United players are experiencing underwhelming campaigns, contributing to the difficulties that the United skipper has faced.

Hello and welcome to Friday’s Manchester United transfer blog.

You can keep up to date on all the latest news, rumours and opinions on United ahead of tomorrow’s clash with Leicester City in the Premier League.

It had been billed as the Cristiano Ronaldo show, but by full-time, Portugal’s passage to the World Cup was all about his Manchester United compatriot.

Bruno Fernandes has experienced somewhat of a strange season at Old Trafford, in which his role in the line-up has been questioned despite his undeniable game-changing ability. His brilliant brace on Tuesday night served as a timely reminder of exactly what he does at his best.

His case has not been helped by the change of formation since Ralf Rangnick was appointed interim manager, with Fernandes still trying to adapt his game to work as part of a midfield three rather than the previous attacking midfield role he was allowed under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Another struggle for Fernandes has been coming to terms with the fact that he is no longer the superstar in the team and he has had to once again operate in the shadows cast by golden forward Ronaldo.

It is true the 27-year-old is not affecting matches quite as often as he did when he first arrived at the club, though that is more so a reflection of United’s overall demise this season rather than a specific criticism of a talisman who has now been asked to do a different job.

For a perceived drop off in form, it is still important to note that Fernandes has registered 49 goals and notched 40 assists since he joined United in January 2020. He has been overdue for a contract extension ever since that maiden season ended.

Since he made his debut for the club, the Portuguese playmaker leads the way among Premier League midfielders with the most goals, most assists and most chances created — surely a worthwhile trade for the amount of times he loses possession and tries the impossible.

For context, the United attacking midfielder has conceded possession an average of 18.8 per 90 minutes this season, the same amount as Andrew Robertson, while Trent Alexander-Arnold does so 24.6 times a game. Kevin de Bruyne does it 15.5 times per 90 minutes. To be a great creative player, you have to roll the dice.

So often, those spontaneous risks have paid off for the former Sporting Lisbon star, even if some of his decision-making this season has seemed like a gambler’s fallacy rather than a genuine belief that it’ll work.

Fernandes is set to finally be rewarded with a new contract in the coming weeks, a warranted renewal in order to reflect his importance to the United side and a signal of the key role he will play in the future, no matter who the next manager is.

With fellow midfielder Paul Pogba set to leave, it is clear Fernandes will have a huge role to play for United next season as he looks to guide them through another period of transition. A new contract extension is evidence the club is backing him to do just that, while it is also a message to the new manager that they must find a way to get the best out of a flawed genius who possesses world-class talent.

By committing the best years of his career to a new five-year deal, there is also evidence of his own belief in the long-term ambitions of the club, something which will need to be backed up by their appointment of the right manager this summer.

Fernandes’ brilliance and the success of United have gone hand in hand ever since he joined the club, and if they are ever going to mount a serious title challenge, then getting the best out of him will be essential.

“James Garner is a Michael Carrick, but 20 years younger,” Ole Gunnar Solskjaer cooed. The following evening, a 17-year-old Garner emerged for his Manchester United debut at Crystal Palace.

Garner’s last appearance for United was in December 2019 and going more than two years without playing for the club is usually a death knell for an academy player. The next time Garner, on loan at Nottingham Forest for the remainder of the season, could play in a competitive match for his parent club it would be nearer three years.

Yet there is more of a buzz about Garner now than when he was a teenager. The Birkenhead-born midfielder turned 21 last month and his polished performances in front of terrestrial broadcasters against the FA Cup’s record winners, holders and semi-finalists have encouraged United supporters seeking panacea for the team’s midfield malaise.

Garner’s pass for Ryan Yates in the luckless quarter-final loss to Liverpool matched any action by a United midfielder all season. Garner was around 40 yards from goal, with Jordan Henderson and Roberto Firmino breathing down his neck and slightly stretching for Jack Colback’s pass yet threaded the ball immediately through the entire Liverpool defence.

The failure of the craven referee Craig Pawson and Video Assistant Referee to award Yates a penalty overshadowed Garner’s lock-picking. ITV, the broadcasters, named Joe Worrall the man of the match but Forest’s Twitter account chose Garner. An admiring Jurgen Klopp embraced Garner on the pitch at full-time.

Garner is already a veteran of two United pre-season tours and three loan spells at Championship clubs but remains a shy speaker. Forest put up Colback, a midfielder with Premier League pedigree, for the pre-match Zoom call against Liverpool and Garner’s media appearances do not extend beyond club channels.

“For me, he’s got all the attributes needed,” Colback said of Garner’s ability to play in the Premier League. “He’s very good on the ball, technically his passing range is excellent but he’s also got the other side of that, which is defensive. I think he doesn’t get the credit, but he’s really good defensively, he covers a lot, gets a lot of tackles in and you need that.

“Like any player you’ve got to keep your head down, keep working, never think that you’ve done enough, but Jimmy will have as good a chance as anyone.”

Forest manager Steve Cooper added: “So far he’s been excellent, over recent months he’s been a high-performing player and a constant selection for us. The loan for him at the moment is proving to be a really beneficial one.”

At the start of last season, some academy staff at United were becoming impatient as Garner dwelt on a loan. One staff member questioned whether he really wanted to head out at all. Huddersfield spoke with Garner but he waited and Watford, recently relegated from the Premier League, signed him for the season.

Holding out for an upper-echelon Championship side paid off, only a Watford manager should always rent rather than buy and Vladimir Ivic was sacked before Christmas. Garner’s face did not fit under new coach Xisco Munoz and he relocated to the Trent in the winter window.

The arrival of Cooper in September has galvanised Garner, who played under the former Swansea coach for England Under-17s. Garner is hopeful of securing a place in the United squad next season and the club extended his contract to 2024 as part of his return to Forest in August.

Garner signed his first professional contract in May 2018 and had already caught the eye of Jose Mourinho, who selected him in the summer tour squad.

“Our good players are young,” Mourinho said in a sweltering Miami at the conclusion of United’s pre-season tour in 2018. “They are 16, 17, 18, they have to play in their league, training with us, like they had a wonderful experience.

“Jimmy Garner is 17, he can go home and say I play against Isco, against Toni Kroos, against [Marco] Asensio, he can go home and say that. It’s capital of experience, fantastic for the kids.”

Garner scored on the following year’s tour in Perth, where Solskjaer quelled expectations at a time United were trying to sign Sean Longstaff, a similar profile of player, from Newcastle. Garner impressed in the Partizan Belgrade bear pit three months later in one of only starts that season – all of them in the Europa League group stage.

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Midfielders have to mature a little more before they are deemed ready. A forward, be it Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood or Anthony Elanga, is in the vicinity to have the maximum impact.

United’s academy midfielders age a little more. Scott McTominay was 20 when he made his debut and 22 when he became a regular. David Beckham was 20 at the start of his first full season with United, Darren Fletcher earned undroppable status aged 24 and Tom Cleverley was five days short of his 22nd birthday when he changed the game in the 2011 Community Shield, his debut, no less. Nicky Butt came to prominence at 19 but turned 21 midway through the ‘double double’ breakthrough season of 1995-96.

With Paul Pogba arguably more useful to United shifting pre-season tour tickets than performing on the pitch in his final months, Nemanja Matic out of contract next year, Donny van de Beek’s uncertain and the club due to settle on a new manager before the campaign’s conclusion, it would be remiss not to utilise Garner next season.

Fletcher, the technical director, namechecked Garner among the loanees ‘reaping the benefits’ of regular playing time and said United were eager to recall Garner and see how he fares with the first-team players. Garner has already fared well and the next challenge is not to say farewell.

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