Louis van Gaal's United are going for goals
Manchester United's new-look team served up a dynamic attacking display in the 4-0 win over Queens Park Rangers, raising hopes of plenty more exciting football from the Reds this season.
It was a commanding display of attacking prowess and the matchday squad showcased van Gaal’s impressive armoury of forward options for the first time. Radamel Falcao had to settle for a place on the bench before making his first appearance as a substitute. But the terrace anthem in his honour - sung heartily throughout - highlights how excited fans are to see one of the game's most lauded finishers in action.
The Colombian striker arrived in Manchester with a strike rate of 0.62 goals per game to his name and while he had just one half-chance against QPR, which was saved by Rob Green, it doesn’t appear that he will need many more invitations to find the net. He has already impressed in training, with van Gaal saying last week: “He had one chance [in his first session] and it was in the goal.”
Robin van Persie, too, is a prolific marksman and boasts a record of 48 goals in 79 appearances for United, while Wayne Rooney is chasing goalscoring records for club and country. The skipper's strike in the win over QPR took his Reds tally to 218 – he is third in United's all-time list of top goalscorers.
It's not just the players spearheading United's attack that pose a threat, however. Angel Di Maria produced a sparkling home debut on Sunday. He arrived at Old Trafford boasting 49 assists in four seasons at Real Madrid, including 17 in 2013/14, which was the best return in any of Europe's top five leagues. In his first home game for United he scored one and played a part in all four goals.
Ander Herrera, who scored the Reds' second against QPR, said of Di Maria: “Angel is one of the best players in the world. Manchester United always has to have top players and he is one of the best.”
Juan Mata, who also chipped in to Sunday’s sauntering success, is on a run of nine goals in 11 games in competitive action for United, a sequence that extends backs to March last season. Even in the Under-21s on Monday, Adnan Januzaj produced a performance that hammered on the first-team door, scoring three goals in a 4-0 win over Sunderland. And while young James Wilson has suffered with injuries so far this season, he scored twice on his United debut late last season and hit four against Manchester City in the Manchester Senior Cup final last month.
As van Gaal prepares his squad for the visit to Leicester, the challenge once again is finding places in his team to fit those attacking talents into the equation – one thing he isn’t lacking is a list of players who can create and score goals with great regularity. Before last weekend, the boss told his players, “Let’s make a new start.” And he will hope his players have started as they mean to go on.
In need of more goals!
We are now left with Falcao and Van Persie yet to score ... hope they get into score sheet this weekend! Go for Goals ...
Leicester vs Man U on 21 Sept 2014.... hope they can progress from last week results, and hope to see Falcao scores!
Art is perception; Perception is art.
Sunday 8.30pm but before that
Preview: Leicester v United
Manchester United are back in action at 13:30 BST on Sunday, away to Leicester City in the Barclays Premier League. Following the victory over QPR, Louis van Gaal will be hungry for another three points and some winning momentum.
This will be only the Reds' second trip to the Foxes' current home, after a hat-trick from Ruud van Nistelrooy helped to clinch a 4-1 triumph in September 2003. A similar result this time around would be ideal, and following the superb attacking display last weekend, few would be surprised if that were the case. United were 4-0 up last Sunday before bringing on prolific scorer Radamel Falcao for his debut so it will be interesting to see what role the Colombian plays at the King Power Stadium.
Team News: Van Gaal declared last week that Marouane Fellaini was still "more than a month" and Phil Jones was "maybe three weeks or a month" away from returning to action. Michael Carrick has begun running again following ankle ligament surgery and Chris Smalling was due to train with "the second-team squad" last Saturday according to the manager, but the game may still come too early for both. Ashley Young, Sam Johnstone, Jesse Lingard, James Wilson and Reece James all also remain on a lengthy injury list. Leicester are without defender Zoumana Bakayogo, but two players with Reds connections - former midfielder Matty James and goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel, son of Old Trafford legend Peter - are set to return. Nick Powell, currently on loan from from United, is ineligible for selection.
The Opposition: Foxes boss Nigel Pearson is in his second spell with the club and led them back to the top flight last season following a 10-year absence. He'll want to forget his only previous meeting with the Reds as a manager, a 6-0 defeat while in caretaker charge of Newcastle in January 2008. Record signing Leonardo Ulloa has made a great start with three goals in four games so far, including the winner in a 1-0 success at Stoke last time out. Esteban Cambiasso's arrival from Inter Milan has also excited Foxes fans - the former Argentina internationa made his debut as a sub last weekend. There are also six ex-United players in the squad: the afore-mentioned James, Ritchie De Laet, Daniel Drinkwater, Danny Simpson, Jack Barmby and Tom Lawrence.
Leicester's last XI: Hamer; De Laet, Morgan, Moore, Konchesky; Mahrez, King, Hammond, Schlupp; Nugent, Ulloa.
Betting: The Reds are favourites to secure victory, available at odds of 1.62 with bwin. The draw is priced at 3.90, while Leicester are at 5.00. If you fancy goals, Wayne Rooney is 23.00 to net a hat-trick.
Last Meeting: Gary Neville was the unlikely scorer in a 1-0 win at Old Trafford in April 2004 when the sides last met. Away from home, United are unbeaten against Leicester in the Premier League, winning six and drawing two of eight previous encounters.
Match Officials: Mark Clattenburg will take charge of the fixture, assisted by Simon Beck and Jake Collin. Lee Mason has been appointed as the fourth official.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer leaves his post as Cardiff City manager
• Solskjaer: ‘difference in philosophy’ is behind departure
Cardiff City are giving serious consideration to more than half a dozen candidates in their pursuit of a replacement for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, after the Norwegian stood down from his position citing a “difference in philosophy on how to manage the club”. Solskjaer was referring to Vincent Tan, the club’s owner, who said that results under the former Manchester United striker “do not justify [his] continued role as manager at Cardiff”.
In a rather odd chain of events, Dundee released a statement before Solskjaer’s departure, saying that Paul Hartley, who was the early frontrunner for the Cardiff job, would not be leaving the Scottish Premiership side. A young, ambitious, upcoming British manager, Hartley fits the profile that Cardiff have drawn up in the wake of Solskjaer’s exit. Stories have emerged of Hartley being unimpressed with the salary on offer and of Dundee demanding too much in compensation. Either way, Hartley remains at Dundee.
With no other standout name on the list at the moment, Danny Gabbidon, who returned to Cardiff as player-coach this month, and Scott Young, an academy coach who spent his entire playing career at the club, have been placed in temporary charge for Saturday’s game at Derby.
The likelihood is that they will also take the team for the Capital One Cup tie at home against Bournemouth on Tuesday night and, although it is not in the current plan, senior sources at Cardiff have not ruled out the possibility of Gabbidon picking up the sort of results that would make him an outside contender.
Craig Bellamy, who retired from playing at the end of last season, has ruled himself out of the running. The former Cardiff player confirmed that he had been given the opportunity to manage the club in December, after Malky Mackay was dismissed, but said that he had never showed any interest at the time. Bellamy claimed that his stance would be the same now.
Hhe said: “I’m not right for the club at this present moment. They need to go a different direction and the club’s not right for me at this present moment. I wouldn’t be a good enough manager – it deserves better than me at the present moment.
“I’m doing my pro-licence – I need a bit of time. There are so many little aspects of the game I’m umm-ing and ahh-ing about that I want to try and nail down before I make this step. Unfortunately in football your first step can sometimes be your last as well.” Bellamy then offered his tip for the job: “The obvious choice would be Tony Pulis.”
Pulis, however, is believed to be holding out for a Premier League job, his stock having never been higher following his success with Crystal Palace last season. Neil Lennon would be a more realistic option and it is understood that the former Celtic manager, who is out of work, would be interested in the position.
Other names being weighed up include Steve Clarke, Alan Curbishley and Chris Hughton. A move for Karl Robinson, the MK Dons manager, is unlikely. However, although the idea of Dave Jones returning as manager is seen as far-fetched, it would not be a surprise if he came back in a director of football role at some point.
Cardiff’s situation is complicated by the fact that Fulham are also on the lookout for a new manager following their decision to sack Felix Magath and, inevitably, some names will appear on the shortlist at both clubs. There is also the issue of working under Tan.
Quite what Solskjaer meant when he talked about the “difference in philosophy on how to manage the club” is unclear but it is also something that Mehmet Dalman, the Cardiff chairman, alluded to in his statement. Dalman worked hard to bring Solskjaer to the club and formed a close working relationship with him, prompting both men to talk about “gaining a friend”.
The bottom line, though, is that Tan was not going to tolerate the sight of Cardiff languishing in 17th place in the Championship in a season when he fully expects the club to return to the Premier League at the first time of asking.
Solskjaer’s record – five wins in 25 league games in less than nine months in charge – was disastrous and there was a feeling that the manager, as well as the owner, had started to doubt he was capable of turning things around.
“Ole was hired by Cardiff City on our understanding and belief that he would help us fight relegation from the Premier League,” Tan said.
“Unfortunately that did not happen. After the club was relegated many people advised me to let him go, but I decided to keep Ole on for the Championship season. Regrettably our recent results do not justify Ole’s continued role as manager at Cardiff.”
All the best Solskjaer
Didn't expect him to leave so fast! Thought he will fight back to the premier league.
Van Gaal gives insight into Ryan's role
Louis van Gaal has shared some insight into Ryan Giggs' responsibilities as his right-hand man, revealing the Manchester United legend takes the lead when briefing the players about their opponents.
Giggs has been on the club's coaching staff since the summer of 2013 when David Moyes succeeded Sir Alex Ferguson and after a four-match stint as caretaker boss at the end of last season, the Welshman was retained in the new regime as assistant manager. And while one of van Gaal's compatriots Marcel Bout scouts the opposition, it's Giggs who gets to stand up in front of the squad and deliver the information.
"Yes, he presents it," said van Gaal, in a briefing with the Sunday newspapers.
"My analyst Marcel Bout goes to the [opposition team's] games and gives his analysis and cuttings to Giggs who makes a presentation. I check it, and then Giggs presents it to the players. The next day, we simulate our opponents in the training sessions."
Being asked to ape the opposition was something United's players became accustomed to during the pre-season tour when they impersonated Inter Milan and mimicked Real Madrid among other teams. This week, members of the squad will have been playing like Leicester City under guidance from Giggs and of course van Gaal.
"I always prepare for matches very thoroughly," added the boss. "I have four books about the games Leicester have played already, including the one they lost against a smaller club [Shrewsbury in the Capital One Cup]. I know everything about the team, about their individual players, about the subs who can come into the game, even the atmosphere in the stadium and how they kick the first kick of the match. Everything."
In depth of Giggs role
Van Gaal seeks United's new 'guardians'
Louis van Gaal has reiterated the importance of young players to his plans for Manchester United, declaring they can be its "guardians" going forward.
The Dutchman defines a guardian as someone who is ingrained in the club's identity and ideology, having been coached there from an early age or, as in the case of Wayne Rooney, signed from another team while still young. Rooney, now 28, has just passed the 10-year anniversary of his arrival from Everton, longevity which made him a logical choice to be the new captain in van Gaal's eyes.
"It's very important for a club such as Manchester United to have guardians of its culture," said van Gaal when speaking to the Sunday newspapers.
"Every youth player who comes through can be a guardian. The 'Class of 92' [Beckham, Butt, Giggs, Neville and Scholes] were guardians of the club's culture. You need very good youth education so you have always more players who can become guardians.
"Wayne Rooney is also a guardian of this culture now as captain and he can transfer this culture to his fellow players."
Van Gaal cited the cores of long-serving players he helped to create at his former clubs, and his intention to repeat this with the Reds.
"I did it with Barcelona where I gave debuts to Xavi, [Andres] Iniesta, [Carles] Puyol and [Victor] Valdes. At Bayern Munich, we had [Holger] Badstuber, [Thomas] Muller and [David] Alaba who can guard the culture. I also want to do that here but the youth players have to take their chance when they receive it."
2hrs and 40mins to go...
I have the same expectation for this game - a win with a 2 goal margin.
Pictures always should have a special story behind it or a special meaning to the photographer.
United team to face Leicester City: De Gea, Rafael, Evans, Blackett, Rojo, Blind, Herrera, Di Maria, Falcao, Rooney, van Persie. Subs: Lindegaard, Shaw, Smalling, Fletcher, Mata, Valencia, Januzaj
Mata on the bench for Falcao to start!