Maguire: I want Sheffield United to win every game – apart from against Man United

Harry Maguire is delighted to have Sheffield United back in the Premier League

Harry Maguire is delighted to see his boyhood club Sheffield United flying high in the Premier League and wants them to win every game – unless they are playing Manchester United.

England centre-back Maguire became the world’s most expensive defender when he moved to Old Trafford in a reported £80million deal from Leicester City in the previous transfer window.

The 26-year-old came through the Blades’ academy and made over 100 senior appearances for the club before leaving to join Hull City in 2014.

Maguire gets the chance to play at Bramall Lane again on Sunday, as the Red Devils – who sit a point behind the Blades – face Chris Wilder’s side.

“It means so much, the club that gave me the chance of fulfilling my dream of becoming a professional footballer,” Maguire told BBC Sport when asked about his return.

“I owe them a lot, I go back and support them whenever I can.

“It’s the first result I look for when I get off the pitch. I want to see them win every game they play, apart from when we’re playing against them. A fantastic club and it’s great to see them back in the Premier League where they belong

Maguire acknowledged he is unlikely to get much in the way of support from friends as he visits his old club – but insists his loved ones will be cheering him on.

“Hopefully I’ll be the one smiling with my friends and not them,” he said.

“I’m sure some of [my friends] will be supporting Sheffield United, but my family will be supporting Man United and hoping we get the three points.”


Lukaku: Solskjaer’s tactical tweak convinced me to leave Man United

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gives instructions to Romelu Lukaku
by Matt Dorman
23 Nov 2019, 11:59

Romelu Lukaku has pinpointed his positional change under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as the moment he knew his Manchester United career was over.

The imposing centre-forward, a big-money acquisition from Everton in 2017, was shunted out to the wing in the final months of his lean second season at Old Trafford.

Concerns over his form and fitness prompted Solskjaer to deploy Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial through the middle, a move that ultimately convinced Lukaku to depart for Inter in August.

“It was after the game against West Ham at home [on April 13] – Solskjaer decided to put me on the right wing, very wide,” Lukaku told Corriere dello Sport.

“The experience in Manchester made me mentally stronger because not everything went as I had expected. I didn’t win what I was hoping for, my performance was not entirely positive and I didn’t even feel 100 per cent wanted. Not so much from the technical staff or from my team-mates, but from the people around.

“So after the match against Chelsea, on April 28, the coach called me for a meeting and I told him what I thought, or that I wanted to leave.

“He saw on my face that I didn’t want to stay any longer and he replied that he didn’t want to hold anyone against [their will]. He understood my point of view and assured me that he would do everything possible to satisfy me. He earned my respect and, until I left Manchester, there was no problem with him.”

Lukaku holds former United team-mate Zlatan Ibrahimovic in even higher esteem.

The pair briefly competed for a starting spot under Jose Mourinho and could again come face-to-face if free agent Ibrahimovic completes a return to Italy, as has been speculated.

Lukaku said: “Zlatan is a warrior. We really resemble each other because we have faced difficult circumstances in our lives since we were children and when we talk we understand each other. He is one of the three smartest players I’ve met off the field.

“Not everyone knows it, but he helped me a lot when I arrived at United. He sat at the back of the team bus with me, we talked a lot and he gave me advice. If he hadn’t been injured, playing with him would have been perfect.

“Even now he is very strong, he has the quality of a champion and above all he has what we call a ‘dog mentality’, the mentality of one who never gives up. I believe he will return to Serie A.”


Napoli 0 Barcelona 4: Griezmann off the mark as Catalans turn on the style

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Category : BARCELONA , FOOTBALL , LATEST NEWS

Barcelona forward Antoine Griezmann

A stylish second half from Barcelona saw them sweep aside Napoli in Michigan to claim a 4-0 friendly win on Saturday.

Antoine Griezmann got his first goal for the club since his €120million move from Atletico Madrid, in between strikes from Luis Suarez.

Ousmane Dembele added a fourth against Carlo Ancelotti’s side, who lost the first friendly meeting in Miami 2-1 on Wednesday and were simply no match for the Catalans here once they fell behind.

It was an encouraging display from Ernesto Valverde’s Barca, without the injured Lionel Messi, ahead of their LaLiga opener at Athletic Bilbao on Friday.

Griezmann dragged a clear chance wide and Dembele also fluffed his lines as Barca failed to capitalise on their first-half openings.

Suarez was denied by Alex Meret, but Fabian Ruiz went within inches of giving Napoli a lead at the break.

Griezmann spurned another chance three minutes after the break, firing straight at Meret, but Suarez was on hand this time to side-foot home the rebound.

Barca turned on the style for their second eight minutes later. A passing move starting from the back four ended with Carles Alena sliding a superb throughball to Jordi Alba – perhaps fortunate not to be flagged for offside – who squared for Griezmann to bury an easy finish.

It got worse for Napoli just two minutes later, as Dembele picked up Suarez’s pass from a loose ball and teed up the Uruguay star for a stunning curling strike that flew past Meret from the edge of the box.

Dembele marked a strong second-half showing by driving into the penalty area and drilling a right-foot strike into the bottom-left corner, ensuring Barca will head into the new season in positive fashion.


Chelsea’s Kante Could Return For Potential Europa League Final

Chelsea head coach Maurizio Sarri hopes to have N’Golo Kante back for a potential Europa League final after conceding he made a mistake playing him against Watford.

Kante was forced off with a hamstring injury after just 10 minutes in the 3-0 victory over Watford at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, where second-half goals from Ruben Loftus-Cheek, David Luiz and Gonzalo Higuain proved decisive.

Sarri confessed he should have rested France international Kante after he completed the full 90 minutes in a 1-1 draw away at Eintracht Frankfurt in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final last Thursday.

Kante will sit out the second leg at Stamford Bridge this Thursday and the Blues’ final Premier League outing against Leicester City next Sunday.

However, Sarri suggested the midfielder could be available for the Europa League final in Baku on May 29 should Chelsea advance.

“The problem is with his hamstring. But I think that I made a mistake because, probably, today he had to rest,” Sarri told a post-match news conference.

“Sometimes it’s very difficult to put on the bench a player so important like [Eden] Hazard, like Kante, but you have to do it. Otherwise you [are taking a] risk, and I have to say that I made a mistake.

“I don’t know [how severe the injury is]. We have to wait until tomorrow morning.

“I think it’s very difficult to recover him for the next two matches. But we want to play in the final, so he’s lucky. We have to try and recover him for the final in case [we get there].”

Chelsea’s win sent them third in the Premier League and to the brink of a top-four finish that would guarantee Champions League qualification, though the Europa League offers an alternate route into the continent’s premier club competition.

Asked if the Europa League was a luxury for the Blues, Sarri replied: “No, because we want to be in the top four at the end of the Premier League because we want to play in the Champions League.

“We consider the Europa League in a different way; it’s a very important competition, we want to win it because we think we deserve to win a trophy this season. So we have two targets.”

Watford started well and saw Kepa Arrizabalaga tip Troy Deeney’s header onto the post in the first half, but Loftus-Cheek and David Luiz each scored in the space of three second-half minutes to turn the game on its head.

“The result was very, very bad for us. We didn’t deserve that bad result,” said Watford boss Javi Gracia.

“We had some good moments and performances in the first half, dominating the game and creating chances. We recovered the ball well after losing it, and had a very good, ambitious attitude. But we didn’t take the chances.

“We have to be more clinical in that situation, more aggressive in both boxes because in the first half we had the chances.

“The second half we conceded two goals from set-pieces – they always do that one-two at corner kicks, with the quick passes. It’s difficult to say I’m happy with the performance because, losing 3-0, I’m not happy.”


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