Category: MANCHESTER UNITED
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.”
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.”
Paul Pogba had a penalty saved by Rui Patricio as Manchester United could only draw 1-1 at Wolves in the Premier League on Monday.
Anthony Martial’s 50th United goal opened the scoring in the 27th minute, the France forward reaching the milestone by converting the first shot of the game.
Wolves levelled in the 55th minute with a goal that survived lengthy VAR checks for offside, Ruben Neves smashing home a 20-yard drive after a clever set-piece routine.
Pogba had the best chance to take all three points but saw his spot-kick kept out by Patricio, with United unable to make amends for two defeats at Molineux last term.
Daniel James was booked for his second dive in the 24th minute as both sides, preferring to play on the break, felt their way into the match.
United broke the deadlock soon after, patient possession on the left leading to Marcus Rashford sliding a pass through for his strike partner, with Martial lashing home a first-time finish.
Wolves hit back after the break though, the half-time introduction of Adama Traore giving United a fresh problem to handle, with a glancing Raul Jimenez header hitting the inside of the post.
The equaliser came moments later. A short corner was well worked by Joao Moutinho to Neves, lurking with intent on the edge of the penalty area, and he crashed a trademark strike in off the underside of the crossbar.
United should have retaken the lead in the 68th minute but Pogba, having won a penalty for Conor Coady’s clumsy challenge, failed to beat Patricio from the penalty spot.
A stretched finale saw chances at both ends, with Luke Shaw denied at the death as neither side could find a late winner.
What does it mean? Wolves still a menace for top-six rivals
Europa League duties could hinder Wolves’ attempts to break into the top six this term but Nuno Espirito Santo’s side look set to bloody some more noses in 2019-20 having matched United.
The Red Devils, who would have gone top of the league with a win, have now failed to win any of their past five away games in the Premier League.
Neves unstoppable from outside the box
United knew what Neves was going to do when the corner routine worked the ball to his feet 20 yards out. Defenders scrambled to close the former Porto captain down but he still found enough time and space to whip home his 10th goal from outside the area since joining Wolves in 2017.
James has to cut simulation out
There is no doubt the raw pace of Wales winger James makes him one of the more thrilling additions to the Premier League this season but he must learn to stay on his feet. Reputations are built quickly at this level and they can be hard to shake.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side host Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Saturday. Wolves go to Torino for the first leg of their Europa League play-off on Thursday, then a busy start to the season continues when they host Burnley in the Premier League three days later.
Harry Maguire has become the most expensive defender of all time following the completion of a reported £80million move to Manchester United from Leicester City.
The England international underwent a medical on Sunday and signed a six-year contract with the option of a further season at Old Trafford after United and Leicester reached an agreement to end a long-running transfer saga.
While the fee has not been confirmed, media reports indicate it surpasses the £75m Liverpool paid Southampton to secure Virgil van Dijk’s January 2018 arrival.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer moved to make Maguire his third signing of the close season following the additions of winger Daniel James and right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka from Swansea City and Crystal Palace respectively.
“I am delighted to have signed for this great club,” Maguire said in a statement published by United.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Leicester and would like to thank everyone at the club, and the fans, for their fantastic support over the past two seasons. However, when Manchester United come knocking on your door, it is an incredible opportunity.
“From my conversations with the manager, I am excited about the vision and plans he has for the team. It’s clear to see that Ole is building a team to win trophies.
“I am now looking forward to meeting my new team-mates and getting the season started.”