Woodward confirms Mourinho wanted to sell this Man Utd superstar

Manchester United’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward has finally opened on just what happened when it was rumoured Jose Mourinho wanted to sell Anthony Martial.

Back when the news broke, it was reported the club refused to sell him with the Portuguese tactician believed to be in favour of signing Ivan Perisic.

Fans themselves were uncomfortable over the deal, particularly if it involved a straight swap as it was a younger player for an older one close to the end of his peak.

In the end Martial remained at the club and Mourinho was sacked with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer choosing to make him the main striker instead.

It’s certainly a decision that’s remained popular with the United fans and is probably the one call Woodward got right.

Martial unfortunately suffered an injury this season just when it appeared as though he was picking up steam.

His recent return to fitness will have fans hoping he can pick up where he left off but given the length of time he was out for, it’s likely he’ll need some time to get back to speed.

Although Martial’s talent is obvious, if he doesn’t start to prove he can remain fit consistently, he may soon find himself replaced by a better striker.

Attacking 4-2-3-1: Man United can smash Partizan Belgrade with this attack

Manchester United travel to Partizan Belgrade in the Europa League on Thursday with some much-needed confidence following an impressive 85 minutes against Liverpool.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side, whilst clearly limited in quality, demonstrated excellent organisation and application of the Norwegian’s game-plan, coming within minutes of beating the European champions.

However, they face a different task on Thursday as they look to break a winless run away from home which now stretches to 11 games.

Here is an attacking quartet which could cause the Serbian side some trouble on Thursday.

Solskjaer spoke confidently about Jesse Lingard‘s fitness after the game against Liverpool and the Englishman, in turn, should be given a run-out if he passes all the tests.

For a player who has seemingly forgotten to score goals, a solid performance against a team like Partizan – an organised but ultimately limited team – whilst playing down the middle would remind United supporters of his key qualities.

Lingard will be helped by the return of Anthony Martial, who came off the bench against Liverpool and looks set to receive a chance to inflict some damage from the start against Partizan as Solskjaer hands a rest to Marcus Rashford ahead of the meeting with Norwich City.

Official: Three key United players ruled out of Liverpool game with injury

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had good and bad injury news to deliver ahead of the hotly anticipated clash with Liverpool.

The legendary Norwegian’s job is on the line, particularly since a loss could see his side potentially drop into the relegation zone.

United have largely been disappointing this season with their only good display being the opening fixture against Chelsea.

Despite Solskjaer having a pre-season to prepare his players for the rigours of his tactics, it’s made no difference in terms of the amount of injuries they’ve picked up.

The Red Devils’ stars have had a reputation for being injury prone for quite some time now and whatever the root cause is, it must be solved.

According to Sky Sports, Solskjaer said: “David needs a scan. I think he’ll be out. It certainly looked like it anyway judging on last night so it’s just one of those things.

“Paul had an injury, he came back, he worked really hard. He came back and played a couple of games, maybe played through the pain barrier.

“He had a scan after the Arsenal game and maybe needed a few weeks’ rest in a boot so hopefully he won’t be too long, but he won’t make this game, no.

“I can’t tell you 100 per cent [who] is going to be fit as something might happen.

“But hopefully Aaron and Anthony will last the training this week and be available for selection. If it’s for half a game or 30 minutes I don’t know but let’s see where they’re at.”

Solskjaer had insisted both Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard were entirely ruled out for the match though he didn’t apply the same label to David de Gea.

Still, Sergio Romero has proven himself as a reliable backup so it’s unlikely the Spaniard will be risked.

Manchester United were never favourites for the clash but at least having their key players available would’ve given them some hope.

Unfortunately fans are not confident at all and are hoping for a decent loss; such is the sorry state of the club at this moment of time.

4-2-3-1: Man United’s strongest possible attacking quartet for Liverpool clash

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be desperate to have Anthony Martial back for Manchester United’s clash with Liverpool on Sunday.

The Frenchman has been injured since August 24, a date that preceded a painful wholesale demise in attacking potency.

Marcus Rashford is struggling in the number nine role, but his performance during England’s 6-0 win in Bulgaria was a sign that perhaps he would be best served through playing wide against Jurgen Klopp’s men.

With that in mind, here is how we think Man United could line up against the Premier League leaders.

More than anything, this front four needs to be lightning-fast, organised, precise in their movements and passes.

That is why Jesse Lingard, despite his poor form, simply has to be there ahead of Juan Mata, who will slow things down and allow for the tide to turn in Liverpool’s favour if his passing gets bogged down.

United must make this game a live wire, one that goes from end to end, as opposed to being quietly controlled by the visitors.

On a closer level, United really do need somebody who you would trust to put the ball away if an inch presents itself in the Liverpool box. At the moment, Martial seems like the best candidate for that.

Man United’s board would make a massive mistake if this happened

There has been a lot of criticism of Olé Gunnar Solskjaer’s tactics over the last couple of weeks, a lot of criticism of Marcus Rashford and a lot of speculation about getting in a striker in the January window to replace Romelu Lukaku. There have also been suggestions that the board were hasty in sacking José Mourinho. So what I’m about to say may be hugely unpopular, but it needs to be said.

I am crying in tears of pain as I write this, but it needs to be said. The best football team in the world at this moment in time is almost certainly Liverpool FC. There, I said it.

What has that got to do with tactics, Rashford and replacing Lukaku, or with sacking Mourinho? Well, it’s about the modern game, and about the fact that what worked tactically even five or six years ago is no longer relevant today.

Man-for-man, Liverpool are way short of having the best eleven players in the world. What they have is one or two world class players and a winning formula, the right shape for 2019 and the right tactics. The key, I believe, is a fluid, fast and mobile front three, in Sala, Firmino and Mané – incredibly difficult to mark, almost impossible to contain when defending deep or to catch offside when pushing up. Manchester City, arguably the second best team in the world right now, have something similar in a rotating front three comprising the likes of Aguero, Sterling, Bernardo Silva, Mahrez, Gabriel Jesus and, when fit, Leroy Sané. I would argue that City’s front three are slightly less fluid than that of Liverpool, with Aguero (or Jesus) generally “the front man”, but both are nonetheless not your typical, Lukaku-like centre forward – they are still part of a fluid front three, rather than your traditional target man.

This, for me, was Mourinho’s downfall at Manchester United. José was not a proponent of the fluid front three. He was old school. He brought in Zlatan Ibrahimovic and then Lukaku, tall, physically powerful target men who would form the focal point of Manchester United’s attacks. This set up is what brought Mourinho most of his success over the course of his career, with the likes of Didier Drogba and Diego Costa at Chelsea, Samuel Eto’o at Inter and Benzema at Real Madrid. The world’s best defences, even the Premier League’s best defences, have solved the riddle of how to defend against this approach. Football has evolved. The fluid front three is what will bring success these days.

Enter Olé Gunnar Solskjaer. Solskjaer immediately changed Manchester United’s formation and tactics to implement the more modern fluid front three, with Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard the trio chosen to play in these roles. As we all know, this brought initial, instant success in the run of 11 unbeaten games that led to Solskjaer’s permanent appointment. During that time, all three players interchanged, one popping up on the left, then the right, then down the middle, one dropping deep, then going forward. If you squinted you could almost see Salah and co. wearing the much cooler red of Manchester United.

The poor run of results that has happened since cannot, in my opinion, be laid at Solskjaer’s door. Lingard’s form has just consistently declined over that period until it has reached the point where Solskjaer has had little option other than to drop him. That coupled with the early season injury to Martial has been a huge blow, and the board’s failure to secure the Dybala – Lukaku swap deal has left the Norwegian with very few other options.

Where City have the six world class players I mentioned above available to fill those three positions, and Liverpool have been lucky in terms of injuries to their chosen three (imagine if, say, Mané’s form at Liverpool had declined as badly as Lingard’s and that Salah had picked up an injury that kept him out for two months), United have no backup, except for Dan James, who needs to learn this new role, and 17-year old Mason Greenwood, who Solskjaer does not want to over-expose too early and is trying to ease into the team over the course of the season.

What’s more, the lack of depth in these positions has meant that the loss of Martial and Lingard to injury and poor form, respectively, has forced Solskjaer into abandoning the fluid front three and playing Rashford as more of a centre forward – a role he is not cut out for, and which has then led to a dip in his form as well.

You could argue that, given the lack of options, United should not have allowed Lukaku to leave, but going back to the big target man approach is not the solution. Despite the crisis, Solskjaer is right to persist with the fluid front three. It seems likely that this type of forward player will be bought in January to swell the ranks. Current media speculation revolves around Lyon’s Moussa Dembélé, but he, again, is perhaps more of a target man. Expect instead another pacy, lively and creative forward who can play across the front three and who will fit into the fluid front three system.

Such a signing, coupled with a run of fitness for Martial and the ongoing development of James and Greenwood, will take the pressure off Rashford and allow him to recapture his best form.

Things might look dire now, but this is what Solskjaer is trying to build and it would be unbelievably self-destructive of the board to lose faith in that project now.

Pictures: Man United players return to training for first time since Newcastle

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been pictured driving into Carrington along with Anthony Martial, Diogo Dalot and Nemanja Matic as preparations for Liverpool on October 20 begin.

The players have been seen for the first time since Manchester United’s 1-0 defeat to Newcastle United – a result which further intensified the misery and chaos surrounding the club’s 2019/20 season so far.

And with a mixture of players either sidelined with injuries or on international duty, Solskjaer has something of a quiet week on his hands as he looks to resurrect this team from one serious quagmire.

Photos were captured of Solskjaer, Dalot, Matic and Martial – the latter still recovering from a thigh problem – entering Carrington on Wednesday morning.

Solskjaer confirms four injured players are still nowhere near Man Utd return

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has revealed that Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, Luke Shaw and Phil Jones remain some way from fully recovering from various injuries, with none of them expected to feature against Arsenal.

Both Martial and Shaw, two integral parts of Solskjaer’s starting XI, have both been sidelined with thigh injuries since the defeat to Crystal Palace last month.

Jones’ injury is a fresh one, while Marcus Rashford picked up a groin strain during the 2-0 defeat to West Ham United last weekend.

Speaking at a press conference on Friday, the Norwegian was not optimistic about the injured quartet, noting that only Shaw had the chance of recovering prior to the international break.

As has happened so often before, injuries to certain players have lingered, refused to go away, seemingly showing no signs of improving, to create a feeling of desperation around the squad.

The same thing happened ahead of United’s home clash with Arsenal last season, with Jose Mourinho having to navigate 10 first-team players being unavailable. Back in 2016, when Rashford scored a double, the injury list was massive as well.

United will have a barebones team which will, you hope, be instructed to play at a manic intensity throughout to compensate for a decided lack of quality. It promises to be an entertaining affair.