Archive for the ‘Manchester United’ Category

NBCSN’s Manchester United Treble documentary is a masterpiece: Review

It’s only fitting that one of the main storytellers in the Manchester United documentary that will premiere on Sunday on NBCSN about the treble-winning season is the man who called the game that night, commentator Clive Tyldesley.

His words and voice are so intertwined with that memorable day in 1999 when the Red Devils — against all odds — came from 0-1 down to win the UEFA Champions League 2-1 in injury time, thereby making history as the only English club ever to have won the treble of the Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup trophies in one season. The year 1999 still lives in infamy.

Fast forward to 2019, and Tyldesley now commentates Premier League games for NBCSN.

In the documentary, entitled The Impossible Dream, that was co-produced by NBCSN and Manchester United, World Soccer Talk had the opportunity to watch a screener of the film ahead of the premiere. And even though I’m not a fan of Manchester United, it’s one of the best documentaries in a golden age of soccer documentaries in the last five years such as Sunderland ‘Til I Die (2018), All or Nothing: Manchester City (2018) and Hillsborough (2014). Out of all of those, The Impossible Dream is possibly the best of them all. Yes, it’s that good.

In this, the 20-year anniversary of the treble-winning season, the timing of the documentary is perfect for three major reasons. One, most of the TV footage surrounding the herculean triumph was never seen on US television. In 1999, the match was televised live across the country but we wouldn’t have gotten a lot of the post-match reaction or scenes of people celebrating in the streets of Manchester. Second, the game of soccer has grown so much since 20 years ago that now is an ideal opportunity to air this documentary to a whole new audience in the United States that can better appreciate the achievement. And third, we could be just weeks away from Manchester City achieving their own treble if results in the Premier League and FA Cup Final go their way.

The Impossible Dream is more than just a film about United’s 1998/99 season. It’s also a fascinating history lesson into English football during the period of the late ’90s. The film touches on Arsenal emerging as a force in the Premier League under Arsene Wenger, as well as focusing on Sir Alex Ferguson’s managerial style, David Beckham’s mistake in the 1998 World Cup, the Munich Air Disaster, the phenomenon of Fergie Time and more.

To tell the story of Manchester United achieving the Treble, the two-hour documentary weaves a combination of archival footage, highlights from games and lots of interviews from everyone from fans to players, staff and commentators. The list of interviewees that appear in the documentary is a who’s-who of some of the smartest minds in English football: Bobby Charlton, Martin Tyler, Gary Lineker, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, Alan Shearer, Dwight Yorke, Andrew Cole, Rafa Honigstein, Phil Neville, Lee Dixon, Martin Keown, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Graeme Le Saux, among many others.

The Impossible Dream is a documentary about how a managerial genius can turn talented individuals into a powerful team that achieved the seemingly impossible – a feat that has never been achieved again in English football. Just like the team’s performances that season, The Impossible Dream is a masterpiece.

Editor’s note: The Impossible Dream will air on Sunday on NBCSN on 2:30pm ET after the Manchester United-Chelsea match.

NBCSN to debut Manchester United treble-anniversary documentary on April 28

NBCSN will debut a brand-new documentary to commemorate the 20-year anniversary of Manchester United’s incredible 1999 treble-winning season.

Schedule to air on April 28 at 2:30PM ET on NBCSN, The Impossible Dream features interviews with Sir Alex Ferguson, Ole-Gunnar Solskjaer, Gary Lineker, Jim Rosenthal, David Beckham, Andrew Cole, Teddy Sheringham, Dwight Yorke, Ryan Giggs and many others.

Co-produced by Manchester United, the two-hour documentary will air after the Manchester United match against Chelsea. The film will recall the 1998/99 season where United won the FA Cup, Premier League and UEFA Champions League.

The film opens with images from the festive parade through Manchester, as tens of thousands of fans gathered to fete the champions. Among the season’s many highlights, “The Impossible Dream” chronicles:

 The club’s improbable 2-1 victory over Bayern Munich in the Champions League final, with a pair of dramatic stoppage-time goals to turn a one-goal deficit into a win,

 The Red Devils’ unlikely away victory over Juventus in the second leg of the Champions League Semi-Final,

 Manchester United’s 2-1 victory over Arsenal in a “replay” of the FA Cup Semi-Final (the initial match was 0-0),

 Manchester United’s come-from-behind 2-1 win over Tottenham on the final day of the season, resulting in the club’s finish one point above Arsenal in the Premier League table.

Manchester United granted NBC Sports access to their entire archive – which includes more than 125 hours of historic footage – to produce the film.

SEE MORE: Schedule of Manchester United games on US TV and streaming

NBC Sports and Manchester United conducted dozens of interviews for the movie, which also included Peter Schmeichel, Paul Scholes, Phil Neville, Wes Brown, Lee Dixon, Martin Keown, Graeme Le Saux, Alan Shearer, Hayley McQueen, Rachel Riley, Clive Tyldesley, Martin Tyler, and Steve Bower.

Manchester United vs Liverpool preview, team news and prediction

Manchester United vs Liverpool

Premier League 2018/19

Sunday 24th February, 14:05pm GMT

Old Trafford, Manchester

Manchester United vs Liverpool Preview

Manchester United will be looking to put a dent in Liverpool’s Premier League title dreams when the two rivals meet at Old Trafford on Super Sunday.

The Merseyside club head into the weekend level on points with Manchester City but with this being their game in hand. The Citizens face Chelsea in the EFL Cup final shortly after the action at Old Trafford has concluded.

Both teams are coming off matches earlier in the week – Manchester United were comfortable 2-0 winners at Chelsea in the FA Cup on Monday night, whilst Liverpool were held 0-0 at home by Bayern Munich in the first leg of their Champions League second round tie.

The two rivals will be back in Premier League action three days after this one when United go to Crystal Palace and Liverpool host Watford in what has been a busy month for two of England’s giants.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was won 11 of his 13 matches as caretaker manager of the Red Devils but this weekend will certainly be his toughest test to date in the Premier League. I’m going for a score draw on this one, with a 1-1 scoreline available at 11/2. Your stake can be increased with a blacktype coupon too.

Manchester United vs Liverpool Team News

Manchester United will be without forwards Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard after they both picked up injuries in the first half of their defeat to Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League earlier this month.

Solskjaer went with Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford up front with Juan Mata in the number 10 role for their FA Cup tie last time out. The Norwegian does have Alexis Sanchez has an option to play on either flank though.

The United boss will continue to be without full-backs Antonio Valencia and Matteo Darmian as well. The latter has barely featured this season whilst Ashley Young will continue to play at right-back in the Ecuadorian’s absence.

Virgil van Dijk will be fresh as he was suspended midweek but fellow centre-backs Joe Gomez and Dejan Lovren remain injured. Trent Alexander-Arnold started midweek after a couple of weeks on the sidelines.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is the only other absentee for Jurgen Klopp – the England international has been out since the end of last season.

Manchester United vs Liverpool Predicted Lineups

Manchester United (4-3-3): David de Gea; Ashley Young, Phil Jones, Victor Lindelof, Luke Shaw; Nemanja Matic, Ander Herrera, Paul Pogba; Juan Mata, Marcus Rashford, Alexis Sanchez

Liverpool (4-3-3): Alisson; Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joel Matip, Virgil van Dijk, Andrew Robertson; Fabinho, James Milner, Georginio Wijnaldum; Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane

Prediction: Manchester United 1-1 Liverpool

Liverpool were comfortable 3-1 winners at Anfield back in December with Xherdan Shaqiri scoring a brace. That cost Jose Mourinho his job as Manchester United manager.

After that, in came Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and the Red Devils have overturned an 11-point deficit on Chelsea to move into four place, nine games later.

The attack is the strongest asset of both this teams who have been scoring a lot domestically. I am going for a score draw in this one and you can get 6/10 on Both Teams to Score.

Odds of 11/2 are available on Sunday’s game ending 1-1.

Steadying a sinking ship: How Solari and Solskjær saved two of Europe’s biggest clubs

Julen Lopetegui exited the Nou Camp in late October with both a sense of shock and a sinking realization that his dream of being Real Madrid’s manager was about to come to a screeching halt.

Real Madrid had just been thrashed 5-1 at the hands of their oldest and fiercest rivals, FC Barcelona, which was their worst loss in the Clásico since a 5-0 setback in November 2010. This defeat came against a shorthanded Barcelona, without Lionel Messi. It didn’t matter. Lopetegui’s Real were torn to shreds in their fifth loss in their last seven in all competitions.

Jose Mourinho exited Anfield in mid December with a similar feeling of resignation after Manchester United were handily beaten 3-1 by rivals Liverpool. The loss set them 19 points back of their opponents, who were leading the league at the time.

United had 26 points after 17 games, their worst tally since the 1990/1991 season.

Two of Europe’s biggest clubs were engulfed in turmoil. Lopetegui, who was fired on the eve of the World Cup from the Spanish job, never really took off at Madrid, inheriting a squad full of ego and veteran personalities, but notably without their best player and talisman Cristiano Ronaldo who fled for Juventus in the summer.

Mourinho, in his third season at Manchester United, had not made tangible progress from his predecessor, Louis van Gaal, and had created an air so toxic around the club that the press was fully aware of said toxicity, and blew it up in the tabloids. Evidence of dissent between the stubborn, pragmatic Mourinho and Paul Pogba, the club’s record signing and most marketable player, was present in spades.

SEE MORE: Schedule of Manchester United games on US TV and streaming

At the time of their manager’s sackings, both Real and United, two of the world’s most prestigious clubs, seemed truly dead in the water. Fast forward to early February, and the ship has been well and truly righted thanks to two interim managers who not only have reversed fortunes but have claimed a strong stake into turning their interim label into full time.

Santiago Solari took over Real Madrid after Lopetegui was sacked on October 29 with Los Blancos closer to relegation than top of the table having amassed a measly 14 points out of a possible 30.

Solskjær took over Manchester United after Mourinho was sacked on December 18, almost 20 points adrift of the top of the table and double digit points away from the all important top four, and with it a berth in the Champions League.

The results since have been marvelous. Under Solari’s steady management, Real Madrid have jumped to second place, only six points behind Barcelona, capitalized by a strong 3-1 away win vs. rivals Atletico Madrid in El Derbi.

Solskjær’s impact has been even more impressive, albeit more immediate. In 11 games as United manager, the Red Devils are unbeaten, winning 10 of them. After being ten points adrift of the top four, United are now fourth, having leapfrogged both Chelsea and Arsenal in the process, and are up to 51 points. They aren’t quite in the title race like Real Madrid are, but their short term recovery has been phenomenal.

So how have they done it? How have two largely unproven managers taken over two of the world’s biggest clubs at the seeming height of turmoil and slowly (or quickly, in Solskjær’s case) dragged them back to relevance?

Let’s take a look.

Santiago Solari has done many things for Real Madrid. Perhaps most importantly, he’s given the younger players in the squad meaningful game time. Seasoned veterans like Gareth Bale, Marcelo, Casemiro, and Toni Kroos simply weren’t cutting it at Real. Was it fatigue from three consecutive Champions League Final appearances tied in with the World Cup, which saw several of Madrid’s key players (Marcelo, Casemiro, Kroos, Sergio Ramos, Luka Modric, Raphael Varane) competing all summer on the worlds biggest stage? Or was it a sum of parts, unable to be held together due to the looming absence of Cristiano?

Regardless, Solari threw reputation out the window, to an extent, and focused on cultivating some of the younger talent in the squad. The results have paid dividends. Vinicius Jr. has transformed from an exciting young talent to a near-undroppable member of Madrid’s attack, showing exciting pace and a killer connection with elder frontman Karim Benzema.

SEE MORE: Schedule of Real Madrid games on US TV and streaming

Sergio Reguilón has made the left back role his own, showing a steady defensive hand in place of the attack-minded and often-erratic Marcelo. Under Lopetegui, Reguilón made just two appearances, playing the full 90 minutes once. Under Solari, he has played the full 90 eight times, and has helped shore up a defense that kept only four clean sheets in the first 14 games of the season. Real have conceded just seven goals in the 12 matches he has played under Lopetegui.

The same goes for Marcus Llorente, who only played two matches under Lopetegui, playing the full match in neither of them. Given a chance to shine under Solari, Llorente has played 10 times, and has finished the match on six occasions.

Solari has also steadied the ship on big occasions. Other than the impressive away win in the Derbi, he also returned Real to the Nou Camp for the first time since their 5-1 drubbing, and held Barcelona to a 1-1 draw in the first leg of the Copa del Rey, setting up Madrid well for the all important return leg at the Bernebeu.

As stated by “In October, they came to this stadium and were given a savage beating by Barcelona, with the Catalans romping to a 5-1 victory which resulted in Julen Lopetegui being sacked as Blancos boss.. since then, Madrid have made slow but steady progress and, remarkably, they now seem in a state of calm. For a club which is usually a box of fireworks, that is no mean feat.”

Real have some important fixtures in the immediate future, including the second leg of the Copa vs. Barcelona, and the Round of 16 vs. Ajax in the Champions League. However, through squad rotation, trust in the youth, and a calming hand, Solari’s Madrid appear more equipped than ever to handle the challenge.

Ole Gunnar Solskjær has made a blistering start to life at Old Trafford following Mourinho’s sacking. The numbers speak for themselves: 10 wins from 11, 23 goals in 11 games (an average of 2.09 per game, compared to 1.75 for Mourinho in 24 matches).

A reason for their phenomenal attacking success under Solskjær isn’t just because he has switched their style from pragmatism and geared it towards the attacking football that United fans have longed to see. He has also gotten the best out of his key attackers, particularly Pogba, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, and Jesse Lingard.

Firstly, Pogba has been given more freedom in the attacking third. In his last ten games with United under Mourinho, he tallied just a goal and an assist, both in the same match vs. Everton. In his first ten games under Solskjær, he has been a supernova, tallying eight goals and five assists, en route to four Man of the Match awards.

The numbers are similar down the line.

• Rashford (in Mourinho’s final 10 games): 3 goals; (in Solskjær’s first 10 games): 6 goals
• Martial (in Mourinho’s final 10 games): 3 goals; (in Solskjær’s first 10 games): 3 goals, 2 assists
• Lingard (in Mourinho’s final 10 games): 2 goals; (in Solskjær’s first 10 games): 3 goals, 2 assists

Perhaps Solskjær’s greatest feat with United has been restoring the feel-good factor and a genuine sense of unity amongst the coaching staff and players. There is no more hostility at training. And as a result, morale is high amongst the squad.

As put by United legend and current pundit Gary Neville, “He’s prioritizing, making sure he trusts his squad. Rotating gives them belief that they can get results regardless while also understanding that he can’t get the same level of performance from them three times in a week.”

United got off to an emphatic start, beating Cardiff 5-1 in Solskjær’s first match, and have had other strong moments: A big 1-0 win vs. Spurs at Wembley, they beat Arsenal in the FA Cup, and their lone blemish under Solskjær was still impressive as they scored twice in the last ten minutes to draw Burnley 2-2.

United’s upcoming stretch is truly a gauntlet, however. Before season’s end, they play PSG twice in the Champions League, and still have to play Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, and Manchester City in the league, as well as Chelsea again in the FA Cup.

Both Solari and Solskjær have done tremendous jobs at improving morale and the on-field product at Real Madrid and Manchester United, respectively. How they perform down the stretch will go a long way in proving if they have what it takes to hold down such prestigious jobs on a full-time basis.

Martial and Rashford resurgence better than new signings

Good times have returned to Manchester United. Interim manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has transformed Manchester United’s fortunes and restored the club’s DNA.

Solskjaer has been showered with praise. Some have compared him to former manager Sir Alex Ferguson, and most have become sure that he should become the permanent manager. While any Manchester United stay for Solskjaer will improve their title chances next term, two leading men are perhaps more crucial than even the manager himself. Those are 23-year-old Anthony Martial and 21-year-old Marcus Rashford, who are both the key to Manchester United’s future. They’re two players capable of being named the best in the world and becoming serial winners.

Anthony Martial was signed by Manchester United from Monaco in 2015 for a fee of around £50 million. Martial has scored thirty-two goals in 105 Premier League appearances for United. Martial has particularly impressed with darting runs and brilliant pieces of trickery. His style of play bears comparison’s to Thierry Henry, something that has become increasingly clear in the last few matches. Meanwhile, Martial’s current manager has challenged him to reach the heights of Cristiano Ronaldo, and has suggested that Martial could still improve. Martial is a leader, a creator and a goalscorer. He has eight goals in 19 appearances this year already, just one goal less than he scored in 30 games last season.

Meanwhile, Marcus Rashford is enjoying an often more central role under Solksjaer, scoring six goals since the Norwegian manager arrived in December. In all, Rashford has scored nine goals in 22 Premier League games this season. That is two more goals then the Englishman scored in 35 Premier League matches last season. Rashford’s increasingly clinical finishing, high work rate and bursts of speed have made him a fan favorite at Old Trafford. The former ‘United academy star has scored 26 goals in 100 Premier League appearances for his hometown club, something that is remarkable for a 21-year-old.

However, it is not the individual talents of Rashford and Martial that matter as much as their partnership. Solksjaer recently encouraged them to inspire one another. Both men are similar ages and of similar styles and talents. They will surely eclipse the achievements of many former Manchester United forwards if they are kept together. The trickery of Martial and the lethal finishing of Rashford, the splitting passes from Martial, and the powerful running of Rashford should make them blend beautifully. They should better the achievements of Ronaldo and Rooney, and Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole. The men are different enough to complement one another and are alike enough to understand each other. They both work hard for their team and score and assist goals. Surely when playing in tandem, both men can thrive.

SEE MORE: Schedule of Manchester United games on US TV and streaming

Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford have shined under Solskjaer, and have indeed shown their potential. Martial signed a new five and a half year contract on transfer deadline day. Meanwhile, Rashford is reportedly in talks with Manchester United about a similar length deal. Both men signing new contracts with the club is a good sign, but as football clubs get richer; contracts mean less and less. Thus, it will be up to the Manchester United board to choose to reject the massive bids that will eventually come their way. Rashford is reportedly a £100 million target for Real Madrid while Martial has touted the attention of Bayern Munich. Both clubs are world powers and rivals to Manchester United’s fame and financial prowess. Only time will tell whether the Old Trafford club have the steel to reject nine-figure bids for their star men, but one thing is certain. If they refuse them and Rashford and Martial stay together, the glory days could return to Old Trafford.