Juan Mata has urged Manchester United's players and supporters to "stick together" following the club's slow start to the Premier League season.

United are eighth in the table after failing to win any of their three matches since beating Chelsea 4-0 on the opening weekend of the campaign.

Mata played a part in the away draws with Wolves and Southampton, either side of a 2-1 home loss against Crystal Palace, and the Spanish midfielder has admitted improvement is needed.

"We had a great start against Chelsea and a big result," he told United Review.

"After that, two difficult games away where we should have got more, but football is not about deserving - although I think if you constantly deserve, you’re going to finally get what you deserve.

"Especially at Southampton - we should have killed the game. Obviously, Crystal Palace at Old Trafford we cannot repeat. We cannot lose these kinds of games and know we have to improve."

United have finished outside of the Premier League's top four in four of the past six seasons and Mata conceded neutrals take joy in seeing his side fall short.

"My message [to United supporters] is always being grateful for what they give us," he said. "I understand their frustration when we don’t get the results they deserve, so I feel sorry for that.

"But what I can do, individually, and what we can do, as a team, is give our best. Fans recognise that."

He added: "If we want to get our objectives, we need to stick together - managers, players and fans - because there's many people on the outside enjoying it when Manchester United don't win. It's key for us to stick together as a whole."

United return to action on Saturday with a home match against Leicester City.

Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba has been ruled out of Saturday's Premier League clash against Leicester City due to injury.

Pogba was forced to withdraw from international duty with France after injuring his ankle in United's 1-1 draw with Southampton on August 31.

The 26-year-old has started all four of United's matches this term but will sit out this weekend's visit of Leicester, barring a "miraculous recovery".

Providing an injury update at his pre-match news conference on Friday, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer told reporters: "Pogba won't be fit, unless he's had a miraculous recovery overnight from yesterday to today, or maybe from tonight to tomorrow.

"He's not been ready to do 100 per cent training, no."

Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Jesse Lingard also pulled out of England's squad through injury and illness respectively, while Luke Shaw and Anthony Martial played no part in the draw at Southampton.

Solskjaer does not expect any of his walking wounded to play a full part against Leicester and Thursday's Europa League match with Astana may also come too soon.

"The treatment room has been busy and still is," he said. "We don't really know who is going to be available.

"Maybe Aaron, maybe Jesse and I think maybe that's it from the ones that had to pull out [of the internationals], but I can't promise those two will be available either.

"We hope that more can be ready for West Ham next week and Paul and Anthony are in that category. I think they'll be ready for then and I can't say more than that really."

United have gone three games without a win since beating Chelsea 4-0 on the opening weekend of the season and find themselves down in eighth, three points worse off than Brendan Rodgers' Leicester.

"Leicester is always a tough game, as a team, a club wanting to push into the top four," Solskjaer said.

"They've got good players, a good manager, a proven top manager - Brendan's teams always play with football and we've got to play well to get the three points.

Marcus Rashford believes Ole Gunnar Solskjaer relates to Manchester United's players better than Jose Mourinho and deserves time to carry out his long-term plan.

Solskjaer took over on an interim basis when Mourinho was sacked in December 2018 following a poor run of results.

The former United forward's position was made permanent in March and he presided over the recruitment of Daniel James, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire during the close season.

While results this season have been unconvincing, England international Rashford insists the squad remain supportive of Solskjaer's vision.

"Right now, everyone is confident in the manager," Rashford told the BBC. "We might not be doing what he's telling us to perfection yet, but the initial response to his tactics, his training has been phenomenal.

"For me, [the difference to previous managers] is just a plan. It's not a plan for just this season, or a plan for just the next game. It's a plan for years.

"I think [managers] need to be backed. In the position we are in now we don't need this rotation of managers, because you never settle."

Solskjaer proved a popular appointment with United fans as a result of his success as a player at Old Trafford.

Rashford thinks the 1999 Champions League hero's experience on the pitch gives him a unique advantage over predecessor Mourinho, who had a modest playing career in his native Portugal.

The 21-year-old said of Solskjaer: "Off the pitch he understands the players a bit more. I don't think it was a problem for [Mourinho], because he is obviously a top manager, and he has his way of reading people.

"But for me, when a manager has played, they have lived the lifestyle we have lived and they might be a bit more understanding."

Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba has been ruled out of Saturday's Premier League clash against Leicester City due to injury.

Pogba was forced to withdraw from international duty with France after injuring his ankle in United's 1-1 draw with Southampton on August 31.

Inter forward Alexis Sanchez said there is no one like Romelu Lukaku in the world as he hailed the Serie A club's most expensive player.

Lukaku joined Inter in a club-record deal after leaving Premier League giants Manchester United last month.

The 26-year-old has already scored two goals in two games for Antonio Conte's Inter, who are looking to dethrone Italian champions Juventus this term.

Sanchez followed Lukaku to Inter from United on loan and the Chilean heaped praise on his star team-mate.

"You won't find anyone else like him, anywhere in the world," Sanchez told ESPN.

"Lukaku and I trained very well. But we needed to play more in games to get to our best.

"It wasn't the right time for us to be at Manchester. Too many changes. When you change that much, it's tough.

"Lukaku and I trained very well. I can feel the will here to achieve. This is why I'm here.

"That's why Romelu is here. Will it work? We will have a lot more to say about that at the end of the season."

Lukaku scored 42 goals for United across all competitions following his move to Old Trafford from Everton in 2017.

Sanchez swapped Arsenal for United in a high-profile transfer in January last year, however, form and injuries limited the 30-year-old to just five goals.

Inter host Udinese on Saturday, with Sanchez looking to make his debut for the Nerazzurri.

David de Gea is not irreplaceable at Manchester United as doubts remain over his future, according to former Red Devils goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar.

De Gea has been tipped to sign a new long-term contract with United, however, the star goalkeeper is yet to commit to the struggling Premier League giants.

The Spain international – who arrived from Atletico Madrid in 2011 – is out of contract at the end of the season and has been linked to Serie A champions Juventus as his reported contract offer remains unsigned.

Van der Sar – now Ajax's chief executive officer – won four Premier League titles and the Champions League during his time at United and the 48-year-old said De Gea is not indispensable despite his quality.

"Other goalkeepers can also fill the gap," said Van der Sar, who has been linked with a return to United as a sporting director, though the Dutchman has dismissed speculation.

"There are a few Premier League goalkeepers playing at the club who can also take the step up.

"I was 34 when I went to United, so there are lots of opportunities there.

"The decision needs to come at a certain point. It's taken a long time now, so it's a case of 'yes' or 'no' but I'm not a director of United."

De Gea's form has been questioned after a number of errors at the end of the 2018-19 season, while he could have done better for Crystal Palace's last-gasp winner against United last month.

However, Van der Sar added: "That happened to me, it happened to [Ryan] Giggs also, to everyone.

"Your form differs. He has been for so long at such a high level, so at a certain point it gets noticed [when your form dips], maybe not the first two times, but then people start to write about it. But he'll be fine. He's a great goalkeeper."

United – who have only won one of their opening four matches – are back in action at home to Leicester City on Saturday following the international break.

Romelu Lukaku says he was "scapegoated" during his time at Manchester United.

The Belgium striker left Old Trafford to join Inter ahead of the 2019-20 Serie A season and has scored two goals in two games under Antonio Conte, who previously tried to sign him for both Juventus and Chelsea.

And the 26-year-old feels he was mistreated after falling out of favour last term under United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

"Scapegoated," Lukaku told ESPN. "Meaning 'You. Are. The. Reason.'"

Lukaku was criticised for a perceived weight problem, with former United captain Gary Neville describing the issue as "unforgivable" for a professional footballer.

"Normally I have a fine digestive system," Lukaku explained.

"I digest everything very quickly. That's how it had been my entire life. But what the nutritionist said to me was it had stopped working.

"I'm good now. My body is in the zone."

Lukaku feels the time was right to leave United and revealed he has settled in quickly at Inter.

"This could be the team I need," he said. "There's the love I have for this area. The love that I have for Inter.

"And it was the perfect moment for me to leave England. I didn't want to be there anymore."

Leicester City are unbeaten and seemingly ready to rattle Manchester United when the Premier League resumes on Saturday.

Their Old Trafford record might be poor but a strong start to the new season and an in-form Jamie Vardy make the Foxes a fearsome prospect.

Harry Maguire will be tasked with stopping his former team-mate and delivering a clean sheet which would steady Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side following a three-game winless streak.

History, according to the Opta data, is in United's favour, but this Leicester side is on the rise.

 

LEICESTER OFF THE LEASH

Brendan Rodgers took over at King Power Stadium two days after Claude Puel's dismissal in February 2019 and is proving an inspired choice as manager.

Four games into the new season, Leicester have eight points on the board and sit third. 

Avoiding defeat at Old Trafford would not just underscore their credentials as top-four contenders, it would be the second time the Foxes have gone unbeaten in their opening five fixtures since doing so in 2000-01.

The other occasion, in 2015-16, ended with the most miraculous of title triumphs.

Such feats might be beyond this crop of players but there is much to be admired about the work that has delivered Leicester a haul of 25 points during Rodgers' time in charge.

Since March 3, the date of Rodgers' debut defeat at Watford, only Liverpool (40) and Manchester City (37) have claimed more points.

HEAD TO HEAD: MARCUS RASHFORD V JAMIE VARDY

Vardy never really stopped scoring in the years following Leicester's top-flight triumph and yet he still seems a man reborn under the current set-up.

In the time former Celtic boss Rodgers has spent at the helm, the experienced striker has scored a league-high 12 goals.

Solskjaer would love a similar return from Marcus Rashford in the months leading up to Christmas as he attempts to manufacture a high-class centre-forward.

The 21-year-old could do worse than to study what happens at the other end of the pitch on Saturday.

Concerns over whether Rashford can replace Romelu Lukaku at the point of attack centre on an insufficient 'big chance conversion' figure of 26.9 per cent since the start of last season.

Vardy, a more natural goalscorer, has taken 48.7 per cent of his big chances in the same period.

After the 1-1 draw at Southampton, Solskjaer asked his potential leader of the line to eschew spectacular efforts in favour of scoring scruffy goals.

Certainly, Rashford's shot conversation rate of 12 per cent suggests he could be more judicious, particularly as Vardy has taken 15 fewer shots for the accumulation of nine more goals. 

FORM GUIDE

United have lost momentum since steamrolling Chelsea on the opening weekend of the season.

Away draws at Wolves and Southampton would normally be palatable, but not either side of a negligent 2-1 home loss to Crystal Palace.

Imminently returning to winning ways appears particularly important with the club's Europa League campaign to commence against Astana next week.

Leicester beat Bournemouth 3-1 in their last outing, the result following an EFL Cup triumph at Newcastle United and a hard-earned 2-1 win on the road against Sheffield United.

Earlier draws against Wolves and Chelsea, teams who could finish around them, laid the foundation for an assault on bigger targets.

HISTORY SAYS…

Old Trafford is a true trial for the Foxes.

United might have lost three of their past five Premier League home games but this trip is unlikely to be any less daunting for this weekend's visitors.

From their previous nine visits, Leicester have secured nothing more than a solitary point.

The general record in recent league meetings between the teams makes for similar reading: 15 victories, four draws and a single defeat for United over the course of 20 encounters.

When it came to Paul Pogba during the transfer window, Real Madrid and Juventus were the teams on everyone's lips.

Manchester United star Pogba was reportedly keen to leave Old Trafford in search of a new challenge.

However, another team were apparently poised to lure Pogba from the Theatre of Dreams…

 

TOP STORY – NEYMAR STOPPED PSG FROM SIGNING POGBA

Neymar prevented Manchester United midfielder Pogba from moving to Paris Saint-Germain, according to Calciomercato.it.

PSG and United reportedly had an agreement in place for the transfer of Pogba, however, the Ligue 1 champions and their inability to offload Barcelona target Neymar stopped the deal.

The report says PSG were ready to pay €150million (£134m) for Pogba, who joined United from Juventus in 2016 for a then-record fee of €105m (£89m).

 

ROUND-UP

Real Madrid have an agreement with Chelsea for midfielder N'Golo Kante. DefensaCentral claims Los Blancos have the first chance to buy the France star should he be made available at Stamford Bridge.

- In-demand Dinamo Zagreb star Dani Olmo wants to leave the Croatian club in January or at the end of the season, according to Fichajes.net. The 21-year-old was linked with Bayern Munich, AC Milan, Atletico Madrid and Valencia during the transfer window.

Juventus have not given up on signing Fiorentina and Italy forward Federico Chiesa, according to Calciomercato.it. The Serie A champions were keen to bring in Chiesa during the off-season but were unable to lure him from Florence.

- Sport says Paris Saint-Germain are beginning their remodelling job, with Thiago Silva and Edinson Cavani facing uncertain futures. Silva and Cavani – who has been linked to incoming MLS outfit Inter Miami – are out of contract at the end of the season and are no guarantees to renew their contracts. Eric Maxim Choupo-MotingThomas Meunier and Layvin Kurzawa are available at the right price in January.

- Juventus forward Mario Mandzukic has turned down a move to Qatari outfit Al-Gharafa, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport. Mandzukic was linked to Manchester United prior to the transfer window closing.

Inaki Williams revealed he had contact from Manchester United before signing a new long-term contract with Athletic Bilbao.

Williams emerged as a target for United during the closing days of the Premier League transfer window, with Romelu Lukaku heading to Inter.

The 25-year-old Williams, though, remained at Athletic and signed a nine-year extension with a €135million release clause.

Reflecting on the August speculation, the Spain forward told Cadena Ser: "I had contact from Manchester United but I cannot tell you who it was.

"My number one option has always been to stay at Athletic Club and to retire here.

"Joining Real Sociedad? No, I could never go there – 100 per cent."

Williams made his Athletic debut in 2014 and he has since scored more than 45 goals in all competitions.

The one-cap Spain international enjoyed his best scoring season in LaLiga last term, netting 13 times in 38 matches.

Williams has already scored once this term for Athletic, who are unbeaten after three matches and two points adrift of leaders Atletico Madrid.

Athletic travel to newly promoted Mallorca following the international break on Friday.

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez admitted the LaLiga giants have chased Robert Lewandowski and Paul Pogba.

Bayern Munich striker Lewandowski has been linked to Madrid previously, while they have also targeted Manchester United star Pogba.

Speaking on Wednesday, Perez said Madrid had chased Lewandowski and were experiencing similar in their pursuit of Pogba.

"There are players who do not sell," he said, via Spanish media.

"For Lewandowski, we have gone for several years for him and nothing because he has no clause and they don't sell him.

"There is no way and that has happened to us with Pogba. When certain players are sold, we can go for them."

Another player Madrid have been linked to is 20-year-old Paris Saint-Germain superstar Kylian Mbappe.

Perez was coy when asked about the France international, who is widely regarded as the best young talent in the world.

"Of course we like a Frenchman that they say out there and we'll go for him," he said. "But they don't sell him."

Ajax chief executive officer Edwin van der Sar has rejected speculation linking him with a return to Manchester United.

The former United goalkeeper is reportedly a target for the Premier League club as they seek to appoint their first sporting director.

United have struggled in the transfer market since the 2013 retirement of managerial great Alex Ferguson, under whom Van der Sar played.

Van der Sar has helped mastermind stunning success for Ajax, who won the domestic double last term as well as reaching the Champions League semi-finals.

But a move back to the Premier League does not appear to be on the cards for the 48-year-old, who was asked about the links to United after playing in Vincent Kompany's Manchester City testimonial on Wednesday.

"No, I'm focused on my job as chief executive at Ajax," Van der Sar told reporters.

"We had a fantastic year in Europe last year, also won the league in Holland.

"We want Ajax at a higher European level and making sure we get back to the elite. That's what we're working on.

"I'm enjoying my time at Ajax. We touched the top level last year and we have to make sure we have the best opportunity to stay there."

United have only won one of their opening four Premier League matches this season following a 1-1 draw at Southampton prior to the international break.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's United welcome unbeaten Leicester City to Old Trafford on Saturday.

Patrice Evra has started work at Manchester United as he bids to complete his coaching badges.

Former France defender Evra announced his retirement from the game in July, having last played for West Ham.

Evra signalled his intention to pursue a coaching career and he is already on the path.

Posting on social media on Tuesday, Evra revealed he has teamed up with old club United to work on his badges.

"I can't describe how I feel right now!!!" Evra wrote on Instagram.

"Just wearing that training coach kit made me one of the most happy man thank you @manchesterunited for helping me to complete my coach badges!!!

"Day one done."

Evra has become almost as famous for his exploits on social media as his football career, with his bizarre Instagram posts including putting the leg of a raw chicken in his mouth during a video he claimed was meant as a Thanksgiving message.

Christian Eriksen – the name that will not go away, even with the transfer window closed.

Eriksen wanted to leave Tottenham for a new challenge as Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Juventus and Inter reportedly circled.

A move did not materialise, much to his disappointment, but a transfer could be on the horizon.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID LOOK TO ERIKSEN AMID POGBA DOUBTS

Sky Sports News claims Real Madrid will make a move for Tottenham star Christian Eriksen at the end of the season if Paul Pogba extends his Manchester United deal.

Zinedine Zidane has made no secret of his desire to reinforce his midfield, with Tottenham's Eriksen, Pogba and Ajax sensation Donny van de Beek linked to the Santiago Bernabeu.

While Los Blancos remain keen on Pogba, they are eyeing a move for Eriksen – whose contract expires at the end of the campaign.

 

ROUND-UP:

- According to Tuttosport, Paris Saint-Germain and Tottenham are set to go head-to-head for Juventus attacker Paulo Dybala in January. Both clubs were reportedly interested in signing Dybala prior to the transfer deadline, and with Dybala set to struggle for regular game time PSG and Spurs are poised to fight it out.

- Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea is close to finally signing a new £290,000-a-week contract at Old Trafford, claims The Guardian.

Inter are keeping tabs on Borussia Dortmund attacker Mario Gotze, says Welt. Gotze is out of contract at the end of the season and negotiations over a new deal are reportedly not progressing.

- The Serie A side, meanwhile, will not sell star defender Milan Skriniar in January. That is according to Tuttosport amid growing speculation Manchester City are targeting the Inter centre-back.

- According to Sky Sports News, Wolves are still interested in signing AC Milan midfielder Franck Kessie. Wolves tried to prise Kessie from Milan before the transfer window shut, but the 22-year-old knocked back the move.

Arsenal could make another attempt to sign Belgium international Yannick Carrasco from Chinese Super League side Dalian Yifang, reports The Sun. The Gunners have long been linked with Carrasco and Dalian's supposed interest in Napoli star Dries Mertens could make a deal possible.

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