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Soccer

Nemanja Matic admission made by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after Sheffield Utd display

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has admitted Nemanja Matic could earn himself a new contract at Man Utd if he can keep up his current form.

The Serbian midfielder's time at Old Trafford looked to be up earlier in the season amid reports he was set for a move elsewhere.

Injury problems at the club have given Matic ample chances to impress though, and he has been a consistent performer for his side.

He started in United's 3-0 win over Sheffield Utd on Wednesday, and Solskjaer believes the star is currently at the top of his game.

Solskjaer told United’s  official website : “Nemanja is playing some of his best football.

"He’s had a good pre-season for the first time in many, many years and today he was dictating the game and his experience is vital for us.

"I’m very, very happy that we’re seeing the best of Nemanja and he’ll be important for us and then, of course, it’s down to performances and if Nemanja wants to stay but at the moment he’s in great form."

The 32-year-old still has a year left to run on his current contract at United, though with competition for places in the midfield rife, he may look to move on at the end of next season.

United have just tied down Scott McTominay until 2025, with the option for a further year, while Fred has been one of the club's standout performers this season.

Both players started against Spurs, but were rotated to the bench for the visit of Sheffield Utd.

Matic was included in the starting XI instead, alongside Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba, but he seems happy to share responsibilities going forward.

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“It is always good to play with top players and we are lucky we have top players in every position. [Against Sheffield United] I played with Bruno and Paul and we did really well," Matic said.

“It was a good formation and I am sure in the future we can improve a lot together also with Scott [McTominay] and Fred when they play with us.”

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Sports News

Goodwood unveil Qatar Festival prize funds

A total of £2.3million will be on offer across the five days of the Qatar Goodwood Festival, which kicks off behind closed doors on July 28.

The feature event of the week – the Qatar Sussex Stakes – will be run for £275,000, in contrast with the £593,391 taken home by last year’s victor Too Darn Hot.

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Soccer

Man Utd tipped to replace Anthony Martial with Harry Kane and beat Liverpool to the title

Manchester United have been urged to sign Tottenham striker and replace Anthony Martial next season despite the Frenchman’s hat-trick last night against Sheffield United. The Red Devils won 3-0 at Old Trafford to keep their push for a top four place going.

But Jamie O’Hara thinks Martial is not quite at the level required to lead United to glory in the future.

The former Tottenham man believes Kane would be the perfect addition for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer this summer if he wants to challenge Jurgen Klopp’s side for honours next season.

The England captain has impressed again this campaign, netting 18 goals in 27 appearances across all competitions.

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O’Hara said on talkSPORT: “Listen, I’d love to see him stay at Spurs but they have to match his ambition. He wants to win trophies.

“Man Utd for me are still the biggest club in the world for me even though they aren’t where they were.

“I think the missing piece in that Man Utd team – even though Martial is a fantastic player – if they did sign someone like Harry Kane then you’re talking about a team that wins the title again.”

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O’Hara is not convinced Martial is the man to lead the frontline for the club in the coming years if they want to bridge the gap to Liverpool and Manchester City.

That’s despite the Frenchman netting 19 goals across all competitions so far this season.

O’Hara added: “I think Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hit the nail on the head really when he said he is capable of doing that and he is. He can be a world class player.

“He showed yesterday how good he was, his finishing around the box.

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“For me, the jury is still out on him in terms of whether he can be the No 9 at Man Utd who is going to go on and be a legend and win them trophies.

“Personally I don’t think that’s him.

“I don’t think he’s quite at that level when you talk about the players they’ve had over the years in Rooney, Tevez, Van Nistelrooy, Van Persie. I just don’t know if Martial does it enough on a weekly basis to win them a title.”

United return to action on Saturday when they take on Norwich in an FA Cup quarter final (5.30pm).

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Rugby

Anthony Seibold responds to explosive allegation

Under-fire coach Anthony Seibold says he is the right man to lead Brisbane and has rejected claims he has lost the dressing room.

But Seibold has asked frustrated Broncos fans to be patient as he plays “the long game”, warning that the six-time NRL premiers may not be title contenders any time soon.

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Seibold is feeling the heat ahead of Saturday’s NRL derby clash with Gold Coast after losing four straight and reports this week claiming he no longer had the players’ backing.

The report said only two players came out in support when Seibold asked the team if they were behind him following their round five loss to Manly a fortnight ago.

Seibold laughed it off on Thursday.

“Nothing surprises me at the moment,” he said. “I’m from Rocky (Rockhampton) so I have a good sense of humour but that is a fabrication.

“It is what it is but the staff and players will say that never happened.

“I am not sure where the motivation for things like that come from but I will just roll with the punches.”

Asked point blank if the players were behind him, Seibold replied: “Yeah, 100 per cent they are.”

Seibold said he was determined to reverse third-last Brisbane’s fortunes but warned that would take time.

He said it was an approach rubber-stamped by Broncos chairman Karl Morris when Seibold was first handed the reins last year.

Seibold needs to find a way to fire up his players.Source:AAP

“He (Morris) gave me a five-year deal because he told me it’s going to take a couple of years to sort out this roster,” he said.

“I know I can coach. I haven’t lost any belief in what we are trying to do but it’s about the long game.

“Not everyone who is a Broncos old boy or in the media want the Broncos to play the long game.

“But the reality is we are in a salary cap era and the way the cap is governed and the way you have to recruit, retain and develop players, we are playing the long game.”

But Seibold hoped Broncos fans wouldn’t have to wait too long for their next victory.

“After losing four games of course you want to win,” he said. “I hate losing four times in a row. It is the second time it has happened to me as a head coach.

“(But) I have been there before, I know what needs to be done.”

Meanwhile, Seibold confirmed young playmaker Tom Dearden would come off the bench against the Titans as support for veteran hooker Issac Luke after back-up No. 9 Cory Paix (pectoral) was injured at training this week.

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Soccer

Man Utd now ONLY transfer option for Jadon Sancho with Ed Woodward set to beat Liverpool

Manchester United want to sign Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund this summer and they look set to beat the likes of Liverpool and Real Madrid. Ed Woodward is ready to fund a mega move with the Bundesliga side wanting more than £100million for the England winger.

Sancho has been in stunning form this season, netting 20 goals and providing 20 assists in all competitions.

The Sun claim only United will have the funds available to make a viable bid for the impressive winger.

Sancho joined Dortmund from Manchester City for just £10m but the Bundesliga side now want 10 times more than that figure.

Real Madrid and Liverpool are the other two sides linked with a move for the 20-year-old.

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The Reds have already missed out on signing Timo Werner with the RB Leipzig forward joining Chelsea this summer instead.

And Real are unlikely to make a bid in excess of £100m in the post-coronavirus world.

Dortmund are determined to keep Sancho at the club for at least one more season though and will offer him a big bumper contract to entice him to stay put.

A move for Sancho from United could ultimately hinge on the Red Devils qualifying for the Champions League.

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  • Anthony Martial steals the show as Paul Pogba gives Man Utd a glimpse

They took a step closer to that goal with an impressive 3-0 win against Sheffield United last night which saw Anthony Martial net a hat-trick.

Tim Sherwood believes United need to make three signings to challenge Liverpool for the title next season.

He does not see Sancho as one star they should go after though as he feels a striker and defender should be prioritised.

He told Premier League Productions: “I look at that squad now and I think they’re two or three players short of challenging for the title.

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“I think they need another striker, I think they need Jack Grealish, who is a brilliant player to have when teams sit back against them like Tottenham did the other evening where he can occupy the tight areas and create something.

“I think they need another centre-back as cover. If they can get that and they have the money to be able to go out and buy them sort of players to attract them to the biggest club in the world then I think they’ll be real challengers. I think Ole’s done a brilliant building job.

“The back five picks itself, there’s a lot of good players in there. I think another centre-back would be useful to them and I think they’ll go out and get that.

“Midfield we have a lot of options if it’s not Scott McTominay it’s Matic, who has two Premier League winners’ medals to his name. He has experience of doing that.

“We have exciting players up front with a lot of pace we just need that stick-on no9 Harry Kane type – I’m not trying to sell him don’t worry Daniel [Levy]!

“But I believe that if they get that top player and I think they can because it’s Manchester United then I think they have a real chance.”

United return to action against Norwich on Saturday in an FA Cup quarter-final (5.30pm).

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Soccer

Anthony Martial’s progress justifies Manchester United transfer decision not to revive striker hunt

One of the first pieces of business that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer carried out as Manchester United manager was to sign Anthony Martial to a new contract. Solskjaer was not even a permanent fixture at Old Trafford himself when, a little over a month into his caretaker spell, he tied the striker down for the next five years.

Martial had been on the periphery not long before that, at odds with Jose Mourinho after going absent without leave to attend the birth of his son Swan during a pre-season tour of the United States. Mourinho asked the United hierarchy to sell Martial that summer. His request was rejected.

It is easily forgotten that Martial gradually won Mourinho’s favour back, playing regularly during the Portuguese’s final weeks and months in charge, but their relationship was never an easy one. Even before the incident on tour, Martial’s agent was openly saying his client wished to leave.

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With Solskjaer, it was different. “I would like to thank Ole and his coaching staff for their belief in me and for helping me to take my game to the next level,” Martial said on renewing terms, words which were not just lip service. Solskjaer had helped convince him that he had a long-term future at the club in the matter of only a few weeks.

And yet, less than a year later, United were looking at other options up front. Martial’s Old Trafford career would not have come under any immediate threat if another elite centre-forward had joined, either in January or this summer. But if, for example, Erling Haaland had opted for Old Trafford, he would not have come to provide cover.

A look at Martial’s scoring record under Solskjaer before Christmas may explain why. Four goals in 12 league appearances was good, considering a hamstring injury caused him to miss six weeks during the autumn, but unspectacular. Martial only managed four goals between Solskjaer’s caretaker appointment and the end of last season, too.

Compare that with his post-Christmas record: 12 goals in 18 appearances, including Wednesday’s hat-trick against Sheffield United. It was not only United’s first league hat-trick of the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era, but the first of Martial’s senior career. It also saw him surpass his previous season’s best of 17 goals, achieved during his first year in Manchester.

Incidentally, that was when Louis van Gaal predominantly played him as a central No 9, the position that Solskjaer has always advocated as his best. Despite doubts over his ability to play the role, his two best goalscoring campaigns have now come in that position. And the nature of the goals he is now scoring may be most pleasing of all for Solskjaer.

The United manager has consistently asked his strikers to improve at scoring ‘scrappy’ goals, the type which he once thrived off as a player. Martial’s first on Wednesday night was exactly that, with a run to the edge of the six-yard box to tap in Marcus Rashford’s low cross.

“I think the first goal, I think that’s a vital goal as well today,” Solskjaer said post-match. “I was very pleased with that one.

“I am very happy for Anthony,” he added, delighted not only with three points and an excellent performance, but also his striker’s starring role. “He’s getting more and more into those positions. He nearly got a goal against Tottenham as well, great turn and finish and great save by Lloris. Anthony’s in good form.”

But the hope – or belief – is that this is not just form and that it is something more permanent. Martial’s development is one of several factors – along with Mason Greenwood’s emergence, Odion Ighalo’s impact as a backup striker and the effect of the pandemic – which mean that United are not expected to revive their pursuit of a centre-forward when the transfer market reopens. The long-standing need for a right-sided attacking player is quite rightly the priority.

That means Martial should get the long, sustained spell as United’s No 9 that Solskjaer has always wanted for him and always believed he can thrive in given the chance. Practically his first major decision was to show faith in Martial, extending his contract. It seems now that his faith is being repaid.

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Soccer

Jurgen Klopp won’t watch Chelsea vs Man City to see if Liverpool win title as Premier League homework comes first

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp will tune in to see how Manchester City fare at Chelsea but insists it is purely for tactical reasons and he will not be cheering on the Stamford Bridge side to do them a favour.

Following the Reds’ 4-0 demolition of Crystal Palace at Anfield, Klopp’s side require just two more points to secure a first title in 30 years.

If City fail to beat Chelsea that long wait would be over without Liverpool having to kick a ball.

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Klopp, however, said he would not be watching to will on Frank Lampard’s side, but for other reasons.

“I watch the game not to prepare a celebration but we play City a week later and also Chelsea,” he added.

“This game is a really important game to watch for plenty of reasons. Whatever happens tomorrow night we have no influence on it so I have no interest.

“It will happen when it happens.”

The performance against Palace was befitting one of champions and Klopp’s only regret was that it was played out in front of an empty Anfield when it should have been a night of celebration.

Trent Alexander-Arnold opened the scoring with a brilliant free-kick before Mohamed Salah, Fabinho and Sadio Mane completed a rout with one of their best performances of the season.

Klopp said the players had a duty to put on a show out of respect for supporters unable to attend and watching at home and they duly delivered.

“I said to the boys ‘I want to see the best behind-closed doors football ever’. I’m not sure about the best behind-closed-doors football but it was the best-behind-closed doors counter-pressing ever,” he said.

“We scored some fantastic goals. It was only important we gave this sign and we showed our supporters the respect they deserve: that we can play like they are here even when they are not here.

“Yes they can push us to incredible things and I never missed them more – imagine if this game had happened with 55,000 people in the stadium, that would have been incredible?

“But we cannot have that so it was important we showed the respect to the people. That’s what the boys did and I loved it.

“This night could have been better with people in the stadium, it was an important step for us, a sensational football game and it would have wished for all people to be here so we made their night any way.”

Palace were so dominated – they had just 26 per cent possession – they failed to record a single touch in the opposition box against Liverpool, becoming the first side to do so in a Premier League match since the full statistics began being recorded in 2008-09.

Manager Roy Hodgson, whose side came into the game on the back of four successive victories with clean sheets, admitted they were out-played and out-fought all game.

“It was always going to be hard against their pressurising when they play with intensity and power and asking questions,” he said.

“When we eventually won it back from them they pressured us so well we couldn’t retain possession. As a result it was a constant pressure on the midfield and back players.

“I thought they held out till just before half-time but that second goal was decisive as that put them in the driving seat and a third goal put the game to bed and left us hanging on.”

PA

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Soccer

Frank Lampard: ‘Fantastic’ Raheem Sterling got manager race comments wrong

Frank Lampard believes Raheem Sterling was wrong to compare individual managers but hailed the Manchester City forward’s “brave” fight for equality. Sterling questioned how Lampard could be appointed Chelsea manager and Steven Gerrard as Rangers manager while their international contemporaries Sol Campbell and Ashley Cole are yet to break through at a top level.

Lampard paid rich tribute to Sterling for taking a consistent stand in the fight for equality, admitting more action must be taken, but he felt Sterling’s comparisons of the four ex-England team-mates was too “casual”.

“What Raheem Sterling has spoken about in the last year or two, he has been brave enough to speak about issues that maybe hadn’t been broached and should have been broached a while before; he deserves huge credit for that,” said Lampard. “I think you could say the same for a real spectrum of Premier League players: Marcus Rashford recently, Jordan Henderson, Troy Deeney, Mark Noble. I don’t want to leave too many out, but I think they are making a great impression of themselves in what they are saying.

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“I think in the actual case of managers, I think he got it, from my point of view, slightly wrong, because it felt like a very casual comparison. Because if you compare opportunities and pathways of individual managers, you can compare myself, you can compare Steven, you can compare Sol, who by the way did an incredible job at Macclesfield and the job now at Southend is tough, it’s one all of us would find difficult to do.

“Then you can compare Ashley Cole who finished his career last year with me at Derby, and is working away here (as Chelsea academy coach) with me and doing a great job, and I think he’s going to be successful whatever he wants to do. So I think it’s very hard to make that comparison from the outside.”

Lampard’s Chelsea will host Sterling’s City in Thursday’s Premier League clash at Stamford Bridge. Sterling’s vocal stance on the wider issues affecting football and beyond continues to impress Lampard, who believes the 25-year-old has been right to speak out. Insisting he has had to graft for his chance at Chelsea, Lampard also conceded that football still has a lot of work to do in terms of striving for equality.

“Those opportunities have to be equal for everybody, I think we all agree on that,” said Lampard. “But within that then there are the details of how hard you worked. I certainly worked from the start of my career to try to get this opportunity, and there’s a million things along the way that knock you, set you back, that you fight against.

“I’ve sat with, well the two owners I’ve had for starters, in terms of Mel Morris was an incredible, inclusive man who wants the best for his football club, and is the most fantastic fella that I’ve been involved with and fortunate enough to work with. And I think what he does at Derby is very inclusive and he’s doing it the right way. And in terms of the club I’m working for now, it’s a club that makes huge statements and actions around any form of prejudice. We did it a lot last season, we’ve done it a lot recently.

“I think our owner (Roman Abramovich) wants success, and I’d like to think that no matter your background, and I’ve played for a lot of managers at this club, you’ll get a chance. Having said that I think there is certainly an argument… I think we’re moving fowards and I think we can move forward more quickly, where players are getting equal opportunities if they move into management. And not just players, young coaches who come into the game.

“The FA do a lot of good work, I’ve just finished my pro licence, it was very diverse, it was very open. That needs to be encouraged, if there’s anything we can do to ensure everyone gets an equal opportunity in the paths towards management then it needs to be done. And the numbers suggest that needs to be done. But with Raheem, the individual comparison, when you don’t have the detail of each person’s pathway, I felt that wasn’t quite right. And again I’ll level that out slightly, because I want to say that Raheem Sterling as a player and as a person and what he’s stood up for over the last two years, I think has been fantastic.”

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Soccer

Arsenal predicted lineup vs Southampton with Arteta set to make changes

Arsenal head to Southampton on Thursday night in desperate need of three points if they are to kick-start any kind of European push.

Mikel Arteta spoke during the Premier League's Covid-19-enforced suspension and made clear that the Gunners need to be in Europe next season.

But their back-to-back losses following the restart and the successes of rivals have pushed Arteta's men further from their goal.

A defeat at Manchester City – particularly after David Luiz's dismal cameo – was fair enough, given the quality of the champions.

But the manner of the loss at Brighton, particularly coming via two late goals and after Nicolas Pepe's fine opener had handed Arsenal the lead, will have proved particularly irksome.

Now, with Manchester United, Spurs and Wolves all winning in the last two nights, Arteta's men need a positive result on the south coast.

Unfortunately, Arsenal will be without Bernd Leno, the No.1 goalkeeper, due to the injury that saw him taken off on a stretcher at Brighton.

The German's absence will hand Emiliano Martinez a chance to impress between the sticks.

Now 27, he has been with the club since joining as a teenager in 2010 but has made just 26 appearances since his debut in 2012, having been sent out on loan six times.

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Kieran Tierney is set to return at left-back, while it will be interesting to see if Granit Xhaka – back in training this week – returns after injury or whether Matteo Guendouzi keeps his place at the heart of midfield.

Bukayo Saka again impressed at the weekend, operating in a new central midfield role, and should keep his place ahead of Mesut Ozil while Eddie Nketiah is expected to replace Alexandre Lacazette, who was largely ineffective on Saturday.

Arsenal predicted XI (4-3-3): Martinez; Bellerin, Mustafi, Holding, Tierney; Ceballos, Guendouzi, Saka; Pepe, Nketiah, Aubameyang

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Fighting

Fury 'not convinced' he'll face Joshua despite agreeing two-fight deal

‘Can I honestly say 100 per cent this fight is going to happen? I can’t’: Tyson Fury ‘not convinced by any means’ that he will ever face Anthony Joshua – despite the two British heavyweights agreeing a two-fight deal for next year

  • Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua verbally agreed to fight each other twice in 2021
  • The two British heavyweights have to win their next fights before facing off
  • The historic undisputed title decider between has long been dreamed up by fans
  • However, WBC champion Fury believes a bout with Joshua will not materialise 

Tyson Fury has admitted that he is ‘not convinced by any means’ that he will ever face Anthony Joshua – despite the British heavyweight duo agreeing to a two-fight deal in 2021.

Fury and Joshua verbally agreed earlier this month to face each other twice next year, should the duo both win their next fights – with Fury facing Deontay Wilder for a third time and Joshua taking on Kubrat Pulev.

A win for each man will set up a fight British boxing fans have been pining for – a historic undisputed title with a 50/50 split purse before the winner takes a 60 per cent cut in the rematch.

Tyson Fury admits that he is ‘not convinced’ that a fight with Anthony Joshua will materialise

Earlier this month, Fury and Joshua (pictured) verbally agreed to fight each other twice in 2021

https://youtube.com/watch?v=JcrBBd7XkgU%3Frel%3D0%26showinfo%3D1

However, considering what has to fall in place for a potential bout to take place, the Gypsy King believes a fight with AJ is too good to be true.

‘If it’s supposed to happen, and I’m not convinced it is, by any means of the imagination,’ Fury told iFL TV.

‘I never have been convinced, never. Never, ever, ever have I been convinced that I will fight Anthony Joshua, I have never been convinced.’

Fury needs to overcome Deontay Wilder (left) for a second time in their trilogy bout this year

AJ will need to successfully defend his titles against Kubrat Pulev (R) to set up a fight with Fury

Should Joshua defend his belts against Pulev, Oleksandr Usyk is next in line for Joshua’s WBO strap, putting a fight between him and Fury further in doubt.

Fury acknowledges that he doesn’t have a east run-in, either. 

The 31-year-old remains wary that it only takes one monstrous shot from Wilder to end all hope of a meeting with AJ, while he is also mandated to face Dillian Whyte by February next year, too. 

But should both come fighting out the other side, then Fury insists there will be hope.

However, Fury believes that both men overcoming the odds appears to be too good to be true

He added: ‘How can I be convinced? If he’s got to fight Pulev and if he’s got to fight Usyk, how can I be convinced he’s going to get through those fights without losing?

‘How can I be even confident I’m going to smash Wilder? Wilder can be absolutely blitz me in one round, good night Vienna. That would put a hell of a wedgie in the door. This is why I hate talking about fights that don’t exist yet.

‘Can I honestly say 100 per cent this fight is going to happen? I can’t. But providing we both get through our next two fights, then I know it’s going to happen.’




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