EPL

Rashford told to 'prioritise' football by Man Utd boss Solskjaer

By Sports Desk October 15, 2021

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants star forward Marcus Rashford to focus on football following his recovery from a shoulder injury.

Rashford underwent shoulder surgery in August and is in line to make his first appearance of the season when United visit Leicester City in the Premier League on Saturday.

The 23-year-old England international has been hailed for his off-field work, awarded an MBE in his campaign to end child poverty.

But Solskjaer urged Rashford to prioritise his football career moving forward.

"I know that we will see the best of Marcus in the years to come," Solskjaer told reporters. "He has done remarkable things at a young age but he is now coming into the best age for a footballer and he is more experienced.

"He has [had] time to reflect. You know what he has done off the pitch as well, because he has done some fantastic things, and now to prioritise, maybe prioritise his football and focus on football because he's got a challenge on his hands here at Manchester United, he has a challenge on his hands to play for England.

"I think Marcus is one of those who takes up those challenges and is going to.

"He is going to express himself and his talent and he knows that we want a lot from him but we are going to give him the time to get back to what he was and what he can be."

United – fourth in the Premier League and two points off the pace – are looking to extend their record unbeaten away run in the league to 30 games (W19 D10).

The Red Devils have not conceded more than once in any of their last 15 on the road (seven conceded in total) – their longest such run in league football.

United have the player with the most overall chances created (Bruno Fernandes, 23), the most chances created from set plays (Luke Shaw, 11) and the most assists (Paul Pogba, seven) in the Premier League so far this season.

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    Trafford Council is looking forward to working with Manchester United co-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe on his ambitious plans to regenerate the south of the city.

    Ratcliffe set out two routes to providing United with a stadium which he feels would befit the club’s status – either a redevelopment of Old Trafford or building a brand-new stadium which would be a northern rival to Wembley.

    Ratcliffe sees the extra revenue generated from either option as a key factor in helping United consistently challenge north-west rivals Manchester City and Liverpool for domestic and European honours, having vowed on Wednesday to “knock both of them off their perch”.

    He anticipated redevelopment would cost in the region of £1billion, while he estimated a new stadium and regeneration project would be £2billion. He saw no reason why state funding should not partially cover the cost of the bigger project, which he believes could transform the area around the stadium.

    United’s existing leadership have been working alongside Trafford Council on its Trafford Wharfside development plan, and council leader Tom Ross was excited by Ratcliffe’s vision.

    “We’ve got two visions that are coming together – a potential brand new stadium as discussed by Sir Jim, and also the vision we have for housing regeneration, bringing this area back to life,” Ross told BBC Radio Manchester on Thursday.

    “There’s a lot of excitement in Manchester United about this as a key partner of ours. We look forward to working together to deliver those plans.”

    Ratcliffe said on Wednesday that a task force – which could include former United defender Gary Neville – was being formed to consider the feasibility of the new stadium project. The PA news agency understands Trafford Council expects to be invited to join too.

    United have been urged to actively involve local residents and small business owners in their plans as they consider how to proceed.

    Dr Tom Bason, a sports legacy and football finance expert at Coventry University, highlighted research which found such groups had not been properly consulted in previous stadium-led regeneration projects, and ended up being priced out of the area.

    “(Proper consultation) is the sort of thing that needs to happen from the start otherwise you do end up with this sort of displacement that we saw around the Olympic Stadium (in east London),” Dr Bason told PA.

    “It’s not always intentional, but if you see house prices or rent increases going up 20, 30, 40 per cent, although you might not be kicked out because your house or flat is getting knocked down, you might still have to leave that area because you can’t afford to live there any more.

    “The same happens with businesses – multinationals start coming in, you start to get chains of coffee shops rather than a local café for example.

    “It’s not always intentional but if these sort of local community groups, residents and businesses aren’t part of the process, it is what happens every time.”

  • Sir Jim Ratcliffe outlines plans for success and glamour at Manchester United Sir Jim Ratcliffe outlines plans for success and glamour at Manchester United

    Manchester United co-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe has set out his vision for bringing some of the Eric Cantona glamour and swagger back to Old Trafford.

    The 71-year-old Ineos founder and chairman wants the club he has supported since the age of six to be seriously challenging their “noisy” north-west neighbours Manchester City and Liverpool for domestic and European titles within three seasons, and “knock them both off their perch”.

    In a wide-ranging briefing, Ratcliffe also:

    :: Outlined his hope to either redevelop Old Trafford at a cost of around £1billion, or build a new £2billion stadium with state support that could host England matches, FA Cup finals and Champions League finals.

    :: Admitted Dan Ashworth would be “a very good addition” to the Manchester United leadership as sporting director and said it would be “absurd” if he remained on gardening leave after his departure from Newcastle.

    :: Pledged that a fresh decision would be taken on Mason Greenwood’s future.

    :: Joked about whether Qatari businessman Sheikh Jassim, his long-time rival for full control of United, even existed.

    Ratcliffe, who by the end of the year will hold a 28.9 per cent stake in United and whose Ineos company now controls football operations at Old Trafford, conducted the interview with a bust wearing a United number seven shirt stationed behind him, collar turned up in the fashion of the club’s hero of the 1990s Eric Cantona.

    “(Cantona) was the catalyst for change in Sir Alex Ferguson’s era … and then that sort of kickstarted everything off. He was the sort of talisman,” Ratcliffe said.

    “There has always been a bit of glamour attached to Manchester United which has been lacking a bit in the last few years. You’ve had George Best, Bobby Charlton, Eric the King for a while.

    “At the end of the day we are in the entertainment business. So that’s why you don’t want to watch bland football or characterless football.

    “And to be honest, since Christmas, with the young lads, they have played some fantastic football.

    “There have been some great matches. I can’t remember many matches at the beginning of the season I was really excited by but since Christmas we have played some really good football and there has been a bit of glamour attached to some of these footballers on the pitch, and we have really enjoyed it.

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    Ratcliffe says improving the club’s record on recruitment is “top of the list” of things to get right, and publicly stated his club’s interest in Dan Ashworth, who has been placed on gardening leave by Newcastle after expressing his desire to leave the Tyneside club.

    “I think it’d be a very good addition to Manchester United, but he (Ashworth) needs to decide whether he’s going to make that jump,” Ratcliffe said.

    “We’ve obviously had words with Newcastle. They clearly would be disappointed to lose Dan. I understand why they would be disappointed to lose Dan but but then you can’t equally criticise Dan because it is a transient industry.

    “So we’ll have to see how it unfolds.”

    Ratcliffe said it would be “a bit silly” if it took £20million to secure Ashworth’s services, and added: “What I do think is completely absurd is suggesting that a man who’s really good at his job, sits in his garden for one and a half years.”

    Also key to the transformation as Ratcliffe sees it is a redeveloped Old Trafford or a new stadium built partially with state support.

    Ratcliffe said a taskforce would be set up to look at the feasibility of the latter option and agreed former Manchester United defender Gary Neville would be an “obvious” person to include on it.

    Ratcliffe sees no issue with one of the world’s richest clubs in United seeking state support for such a project.

    “The people in the north pay their taxes like the people in the south pay their taxes,” he said.

    “But where’s the national stadium for football? It’s in the south. Where’s the national stadium for rugby? It’s in the south. Where’s the national stadium for tennis? It’s in the south. Where’s the national concert stadium? It’s the O2, it’s in the south. Where’s the Olympic Village? It’s in the south.

    “All of this talk about levelling up and the Northern Powerhouse… where is the stadium in the north? How many Champions Leagues has the north-west won and how many Champions Leagues has London won? The answer to that is the north-west has won 10 – Liverpool have won more than us – and London has won two.

    “Where do you have to go if you get to the semi-final of the FA Cup and you’re a northern club? You have to schlep down to London, don’t you?

    “People in the north pay their taxes and there is an argument that you could think about a more ambitious project in the north which would be fitting for England, for the Champions League final or the FA Cup final and act as a catalyst to regenerate southern Manchester, which has got quite significant history in the UK.”

  • Man Utd will make fresh decision on Mason Greenwood future – Sir Jim Ratcliffe Man Utd will make fresh decision on Mason Greenwood future – Sir Jim Ratcliffe

    Sir Jim Ratcliffe says Manchester United will make a fresh decision on the future of forward Mason Greenwood and will “justify it one way or the other”.

    Greenwood, who is on loan at Spanish side Getafe, was suspended by United on January 30, 2022 over allegations relating to a young woman after images and videos were posted online.

    The now 22-year-old faced charges including attempted rape and assault but the Crown Prosecution Service announced in February last year that the case had been discontinued.

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    “It’s quite clear we have to make a decision. There is no decision that’s been made,” Ratcliffe said at a media briefing to mark the completion of his purchase of a minority stake in United which delegates control of football operations to his company Ineos.

    Asked asked if the Greenwood situation would be a “fresh decision”, Ratcliffe said: “Yeah we will. Absolutely. We will make a decision, and we will justify it one way or the other.”

    Ratcliffe added: “He’s on loan obviously, but he’s not the only one – we’ve got one or two footballers that we have to deal with and we have to make a decision on, so we will do that.

    “The process will be – understand the facts, not the hype, and then try and come to a fair decision on the basis of values, which is basically: is he a good guy or not?

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    Greenwood is under contract at United until the summer of 2025.

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