Gary Neville believes VAR officials are "frightened to death" to overturn on-field decisions following further controversial incidents in the Premier League on Thursday. 

Aston Villa boss Dean Smith was left fuming after Manchester United were awarded a penalty when Ezri Konsa was adjudged to have fouled Bruno Fernandes, who scored the opening goal from the spot in a 3-0 win following a VAR check. 

Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho was also stunned when Harry Kane appeared to be pushed over by Joshua King, but both referee Paul Tierney and VAR official Michael Oliver did not feel a foul should be awarded in a goalless draw. 

Former Manchester United and England defender Neville wants to see referees check pitch-side monitors rather than rely on verdicts from Stockley Park. 

"On VAR. Send the Ref to the screens for goodness sake! The "we know better" than Europe way is failing badly," Neville tweeted. 

"The officials off-site are frightened to death to overrule on-site colleagues." 

Villa boss Smith was left frustrated at the VAR call made in the defeat to United as they battle to avoid relegation from the top flight.

"It all changed round on the penalty. I can understand Jon [on-field referee Moss] getting it wrong on the pitch but VAR? I don't know what they're looking at. It's a disgraceful decision," he said.

"They've got a screen there they can go and look at, but they don't seem to be bothered now." 

Carl Robinson hopes Wolves keep star duo Adama Traore and Raul Jimenez, but the former midfielder knows the Premier League club may have to sell in order to improve their squad. 

Traore and Jimenez are reportedly attracting plenty of interest as Nuno Espirito Santo's Wolves continue to challenge the Premier League's elite since their return to the top flight in 2018-19. 

Wolves, who finished seventh last season, are sixth through 34 matches this term and flirting with another European berth thanks to Traore, Jimenez and a star-studded squad, including Portugal internationals Ruben Neves, Joao Moutinho and Rui Patricio. 

Jimenez – linked to Manchester United and Juventus – has scored 15 Premier League goals and tallied six assists in 2019-20, while reported Liverpool, Manchester City and Barcelona target Traore has set up nine goals and netted four of his own. 

While Traore and Jimenez could leave Molineux in big-money deals, Robinson insisted how Wolves reinvest transfer funds would be crucial in the club's bid to maintain their position and crack the Premier League's top five.

"The reality is, they've played fantastically well for Wolves this season, so there is going to be top clubs sniffing around them," Robinson, who made over 150 appearances for Wolves between 1995 and 2002, told Stats Perform News. 

"Wolves' decision will be: can they afford to keep them, can they afford to turn down these huge transfer fees and if they do and say we're going to turn down £70million for Traore, how can they invest and build the squad from where they are at the moment? 

"If they can't, they might have to look at the £70m and Nuno will ask the question, how much of that £70m can I have invested in the football squad because our starting point is lower than where we are today. That's why sometimes, unfortunately, managers lose jobs because their starting point is a lot lower, but expectations go higher based upon the club getting £70m and Nuno is spending £20m. 

"I hope they keep those players at Wolves because if they don't, there will be two major gaping holes. But I also understand football is a business and if they get £150m for two players, I'm not sure too many teams could turn that down. 

"You could bring in four or five £30m players. If you look at your squad, sometimes you have to go sideways, or backwards, to go forwards. But do it for the right reasons, do it because you're selling one of your key players knowing you have a youngster coming through in maybe 12 months.  

"That's an understandable plan you have as a club. That's why the executives and big boys are paid the big money, because they have to make major decisions. The buck stops with them. If they get it wrong, they lose their jobs." 

Wolves have come a long way since Chinese conglomerate group Fosun International purchased the club in 2016 – progressing from a mid-table side in the Championship to FA Cup semi-finalists last season and Europa League participants in 2019-20. 

Santo's side are six points adrift of fifth-placed Manchester United with four Premier League matches remaining, while Wolves – back in Europe for the first time since 1980 – are preparing to resume their Europa League last 16-tie against Olympiacos next month after the competition was suspended in March due to coronavirus following the 1-1 draw in Greece. 

"When you have Mexico's number nine, when you have three Portuguese international players, the Portugal international goalkeeper in your team, when you have four or five other players who cost you £10-15m each, when you have Adama Traore, who you've managed to buy and develop and now maybe possibly on the verge of a move to Liverpool for £70-80m, you have a standard of players that are of high quality," Robinson, now head coach of Australian team Newcastle Jets, said.  

"When you have better players, they are able to win you games in moments where games are tight. Games are tight in the Premier League especially. The investment has been fantastic, not only on the field but off it.

"They've tried to regain some of what Wolverhampton is about – it's a good old honest, working men's town. It's not the city, the bright lights of London, it's Wolverhampton. When you go there, you see it and you're proud to play for Wolves. But you're only proud to play for them if you understand what they're about. 

"They've managed to be successful and compete at the top half of the Premier League. That's very important and it's great, it's got the interest back in Wolves. It's good when they see their rivals – Aston Villa, Birmingham and West Brom especially – languishing.

"Their issue now, and it's a good issue to have, is to maintain where they are and keep up with the big boys, they need to invest at the minimum level to what they've already invested. We see football clubs sometimes going out of business and drop. Hopefully Wolves will never be at the stage because of the continued investment. 

"Most clubs in football are feeder clubs and I'll say this with the greatest respect to other than four or five teams, and even Premier League champions Liverpool had to sell Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho. They might have to sell either Sadio Mane or Mohamed Salah because there are clubs bigger that can pay the money.

"As a club, you know if you're successful you will lose your key players. How you replace them is key. 

"Wolves are in a great place. Hopefully they can stabilise where they are for the next three, four or five years and then continually try to crack the top five or six, which won't be easy." 

Manchester City are reportedly eager to sign Valencia star Ferran Torres, while there is set to be further movement at Chelsea.

Torres, 20, has been linked to numerous European giants after impressing at Valencia, where he came through the youth system.

City are seeking to replace Leroy Sane, who has joined Bayern Munich, and may have found their man.

 

TOP STORY – MAN CITY EAGER TO SIGN TORRES

Manchester City have made signing Valencia star Torres a priority, according to Cadena SER.

Contracted at Valencia until 2021, Torres has been linked with the likes of Liverpool, Manchester United, Juventus and Borussia Dortmund.

Torres has scored six goals and provided seven assists in 41 games in all competitions this season.

 

ROUND-UP

- With Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner set to arrive, Chelsea could be set for further moves. Sport Bild reports defender Antonio Rudiger is in contact with Germany team-mate Kai Havertz as he tries to convince the Bayer Leverkusen star to head to Stamford Bridge.

- Staying at Chelsea and the Daily Express says Frank Lampard is looking to sell numerous players. It claims midfielder N'Golo Kante is among them and Real Madrid are eyeing the Frenchman.

- Emerson Palmieri and Olivier Giroud could also be set for Chelsea exits. Goal reports Inter are ready to offer €22million (£19m) plus add-ons for Emerson, while they are also interested in Giroud.

- With Luka Jovic seemingly set for a Real Madrid exit, the interest is apparently growing in the forward. The Daily Star claims Leicester City have joined the race for the forward, who is said to be a target for Chelsea.

- Back at San Siro and Inter have decided to put Matias Vecino on the transfer list, according to CalcioMercato. Vecino, 28, arrived at Inter from Fiorentina in 2017.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer urged his Manchester United players to use Paul Pogba's words as motivation to push for a Premier League title.

United extended their unbeaten run to 17 games with a 3-0 victory over Aston Villa on Thursday.

Pogba said the "standard" for United was to win the league title, something they last achieved in 2012-13.

United manager Solskjaer is confident the club will get back to the top, and said it was up to the individuals as to how quickly.

"I'm sure Man United will mount a challenge and get back to winning the league," he said.

"When that's going to happen is down to every single one of us that's here and how quickly we can make this process go.

"We're definitely improving as a team and developing, and we have to remember we've come a long way in one season.

"Let's just take Paul's words into the dressing room and expect and demand more of each other every single day."

Ahead of hosting Southampton on Monday, United are a point behind fourth-placed Leicester City.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes Paul Pogba has returned to a different Manchester United team and is back enjoying his football.

Pogba scored his first goal since April last year as United extended their unbeaten run to 17 matches with a 3-0 win over Aston Villa in the Premier League on Thursday.

The France international is forming a fine combination with Bruno Fernandes in midfield, and may yet re-sign with United, where he is contracted until 2021 with the club holding an option for an extra year.

Solskjaer praised Pogba and said the midfielder had come back to a different team after returning from an ankle injury in June.

"We've still got a contract with Paul and I've said it so many times I think he's a fantastic person, fantastic player, one of the best midfielders in the world," the United manager told Sky Sports.

"I think he's proving that he's getting better and better because he's been out for so long which is natural. You can see he's enjoying himself.

"The team is a different team to the one he, called it left, when injured. Now the focus, the attitude, everything's miles better in that dressing room."

Fernandes opened the scoring from the penalty spot against Villa before Mason Greenwood netted his fourth goal in three games.

Solskjaer believes there is even more to come from Greenwood, who has 16 goals this season.

"He's 18. Of course he can get better if he keeps on doing the right things and he loves football, he's a footballer, natural footballer," he said.

"He's been in the academy since he was a little boy, his dad showed me a picture of the two of us when he was seven when I took my little one into one of the academy centres.

"He's been in the club for so long, he knows what we want from him and he knows that we believe in him."

Sitting a point behind fourth-placed Leicester City, United will look to continue their fine form when they host Southampton on Monday.

Manchester United's Thursday triumph over Aston Villa gave them a full week of Premier League wins over the midlands club.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men won 3-0 at Villa Park as they became the first team in Premier League history to achieve four successive victories by three goals or more.

They claimed another record too, having become the first side in the competition to beat the same opponent on every day of the week.

This fixture became the sixth in the Premier League era to have been contested on all seven days of the week, and Villa have suffered defeats from Monday through to Sunday over the years.

Bruno Fernandes scored a contentious penalty to set United on their way as the visitors were awarded a record-equalling 13th top-flight spot-kick this season.

Teenager Mason Greenwood and Paul Pogba were then also on target.

Paul Pogba vowed to help Mason Greenwood reach the top after the Manchester United teenager scored again at Aston Villa.

Greenwood, 18, dispatched another brilliant long-range strike into the net in United's 3-0 win at Villa Park to take his tally to four goals in three games.

He is only the second teenager, after United's all-time top scorer Wayne Rooney, to score in three successive Premier League matches for the club.

Pogba, who scored United's third to end his 15-month wait for a Premier League goal, has been impressed with what he has seen from Greenwood so far and the World Cup winner thinks there is even more to come.

"It's very good," the Frenchman told Sky Sports of playing alongside Greenwood.

"I enjoy to see them play in front, I enjoy this kid in training and in the game, and I will keep pushing him to be at the top.

"He has so much to do again. He can do even more than what he's doing right now. He's just this talent and he's shown that he can play in this team."

The in-form Bruno Fernandes was the other scorer as United extended their unbeaten run to 17 games in all competitions.

They became the first club in Premier League history to win four consecutive games by three goals or more and closed the gap to fourth-placed Leicester City to just one point.

"We're really pleased with ourselves but we know we have to carry on as well," Pogba added.

"We talk before the game, we talk in training, that we have to carry on. That's what Manchester is. It's a big club and we want to keep the level up always.

"The performances today and the past few weeks, they are very good and they are the standard of Manchester United."

Pogba's long-term future at United looked unclear as recently as January but he appears to be enjoying life with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side again after fighting back to fitness.

"Right now, I've been injured for a very long time – I focused on myself and getting back and helping the team as much as I can," he said when quizzed on being happier at the club.

"This year we have two goals – to go for the Europa League and FA Cup. So we focus on that."

Paul Pogba scored his first Premier League goal in 15 months as Manchester United broke a Premier League record in a 3-0 victory at Aston Villa.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side became the first in the division's history to win four successive matches by a margin of three goals or more as they extended their unbeaten run to 17 games in all competitions.

Bruno Fernandes set them on their way by converting a controversial penalty, before Mason Greenwood took his tally to four goals in three games prior to the break.

Pogba picked out the bottom corner of the net from a Fernandes corner in the 58th minute to leave United one point outside the top four.

Despite United's recent purple patch, it was Villa who began brighter and Jack Grealish missed the target with a volley early on from a back-post Ezri Konza cross.

They came closer still when Trezeguet dispossessed Pogba and bent a low effort against the outside of the post.

Yet, a minute later, United had a penalty. Fernandes attempted a double drag-back to go beyond Konza, but his left leg came down into the defender, an act that referee Jon Moss deemed worthy of a spot-kick.

The contentious decision stood after a VAR review and it was Fernandes, rather than Marcus Rashford, who stepped up to slot home United's record-equalling 13th Premier League penalty of the season.

Greenwood and Fernandes then both came close before the former continued his fine scoring streak by blasting home right-footed in first-half stoppage time.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka really should have added the third early in the second half with a header that missed the target, and although he could not register his first goal of the season, Pogba soon did.

Fernandes picked out the Frenchman on the edge of the box from a corner and the World Cup winner steered his effort inside the post.

Pogba's compatriot Anthony Martial came close to adding a fourth - firing against the woodwork - but relegation-threatened Villa suffered no further misery.

 

What does it mean? Free-scoring United continue rich vein of form

Villa had good opportunities to open the scoring - and they may feel aggrieved at the manner in which United went ahead - but once Fernandes slotted in the penalty only one team looked like winning.

United are two points behind third-placed Chelsea and one behind Leicester City in fourth, and they still have to play the Foxes. In this form, it is hard to imagine them not finishing in the top four.

Brilliant Bruno

The impact January signing Fernandes has had on United is clear to see and this was another awesome display from the playmaker.

He has now had 28 goal involvements in 27 league goals this season with Sporting CP and United, scoring 15 and providing 13 assists.

Mings not merciless

England international Tyrone Mings was the latest target for Sky Sports pundit Roy Keane's ire at half-time, the ex-United captain ripping into the Villa defender for not closing down Greenwood.

Anyone who has seen Greenwood of late knows he possess a venomous shot from distance and Mings' inability to close the teenager down was emblematic of Villa's problems.

What's next?

United will hope to make it 18 unbeaten against Southampton at Old Trafford on Monday, while Villa will see the visit of Crystal Palace on Sunday as a more realistic chance to pick up points.

Jose Mourinho was reluctant to discuss "you know who" after another VAR review went against Tottenham in their goalless draw at Bournemouth.

Spurs dropped Premier League points in their bid to secure European qualification as they were held by the relegation-threatened Cherries, failing to even muster a shot on target.

But Mourinho felt Tottenham should have had an opportunity from the penalty spot in the opening minutes as Harry Kane went down in the area under contact from Josh King.

No spot-kick was awarded and Spurs ended the game clinging to a point, this time grateful for VAR after a King handball was spotted as Callum Wilson scored.

Mourinho acknowledged Tottenham were below par, yet after fuming at decisions in games against Manchester United and Sheffield United, the officials were again the subject of the head coach's ire.

"The game had the most important moment, you know when, you know who," he told Sky Sports.

"I don't want to say anything more in relation to that, because everybody knows and I don't need to say much more in relation to that. Everybody knows."

And it did not escape Mourinho's attention that Michael Oliver, as against the Blades, when Kane saw a goal controversially disallowed, was the VAR.

"The same referee who did the VAR decision against Sheffield United, Michael Oliver," he said. "Opinions matter.

"It's not only mine, everybody knows that is a penalty, and when I say everybody, I mean everybody. Everybody."

Mourinho added: "The performance was not good enough but good enough to win. I'm not saying [it was] a strong performance, I'm not saying a sharp performance, but I say good enough to win.

"In a way, they surprised us with the way they played. Since Bournemouth were in the Premier League, I don't remember them playing the way they did.

"But that is an option for them because they have a point they wanted. They played direct, only direct, they didn't move the ball in the first phase like they used to do, and they made it difficult for us in their approach.

"But I think we were not sharp. We were dominant behind - it was an easy game behind - but then [there was a] lack of sharpness in attacking areas.

"I made changes, I think the changes helped improve the game in the last part of the game, but we didn't score goals and you don't win when you don't score goals."

Manchester United were awarded their 13th penalty of the 2019-20 season on Thursday, equalling a Premier League record for the most spot-kicks earned across a campaign.

Bruno Fernandes won a contentious penalty in the first half of United's trip to Aston Villa when referee Jon Moss adjudged Ezri Konsa fouled the Portuguese midfielder inside the area as he attempted a turn.

The ruling stood following a VAR review and Fernandes slotted home from 12 yards to give United the lead.

It was the 13th penalty Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's team have been awarded in the top flight this term, a figure that only two clubs have achieved in the Premier League era.

Leicester City were given 13 penalties when they won the title in 2015-16, while Crystal Palace had the same number of spot-kicks awarded to them in 2004-05.

David de Gea moved past Peter Schmeichel on Thursday to become the overseas player with the most Manchester United appearances. 

The Spanish goalkeeper played for United for the 399th time when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side travelled to Aston Villa in the Premier League. 

It saw De Gea, who joined United from Atletico Madrid in 2011, move beyond another keeper in Schmeichel in the club's all-time list.

De Gea, 29, remains a long way behind Ryan Giggs, the man with the most United appearances regardless of nationality.

The Welshman spent his entire career at Old Trafford and played for them on 963 occasions.

Richarlison cancelled out Danny Ings' opener as Everton and Southampton battled out a 1-1 Premier League draw at Goodison Park.

The Saints had a golden opportunity to take the lead after 28 minutes but James Ward-Prowse crashed a penalty against the crossbar after he had been brought down inside the area by Andre Gomes.

Ings spared his team-mate's blushes just three minutes later, though, rounding Jordan Pickford to slot home his 19th Premier League goal of the campaign.

Richarlison levelled two minutes before half-time for Carlo Ancelotti's Everton when he collected Lucas Digne's superb pass and lifted the ball over the onrushing Alex McCarthy.

Tottenham's hopes of achieving European qualification suffered a setback with a toothless 0-0 draw at relegation-threatened Bournemouth on Thursday.

Spurs beat Everton 1-0 on Monday but could not make it back-to-back wins for the first time since the Premier League resumed last month, failing to register a single shot on target at the Vitality Stadium.

Harry Kane felt aggrieved not to be awarded an early penalty and Jose Mourinho was visibly irked neither the referee nor the VAR spotted Joshua King's shove in the area.

Bournemouth, who saw Adam Smith and David Brooks go off injured, thought they had a winner in the 90th minute, but Callum Wilson's overhead kick went in off King's arm and was chalked off, leaving them three points adrift of safety.

Mourinho was heavily critical of VAR after a 1-1 draw with Manchester United in June and a 3-1 loss to Sheffield United last week, and he had more cause to be frustrated with the system inside five minutes on the south coast.

King appeared to push Kane over in the six-yard box at the back post from a corner and referee Paul Tierney's decision not to award a penalty was upheld by the video official.

Kane made an important intervention to stop Nathan Ake nodding home at the back post, before Hugo Lloris kept Junior Stanislas' skidding 18-yard effort out of the bottom-left corner on the stroke of half-time.

Bournemouth saw Smith leave the pitch on a stretcher after a clash of heads with Ben Davies and then Brooks hobble off, before having a potential win taken away from them following a VAR review of Wilson's late goal.

Lloris produced a stunning stop to deny Harry Wilson in a one-on-one situation in the sixth added minute, ensuring Tottenham avoided a surprise defeat.
 

What does it mean? More problems than VAR

Mourinho will no doubt once again feel hard done by due to the lack of a penalty that really should have been awarded, but Spurs were dismal throughout.

They managed nine attempts on goal and were unable to test Aaron Ramsdale with any of them.

After Son Heung-min and Lloris had to be separated during the victory over Everton, Mourinho has bigger issues to worry about than contentious VAR calls.

Vertonghen back on song

Handed his first start since the restart due to Eric Dier's four-game ban, Jan Vertonghen was solid at the back for Spurs. Few impressed across the 90 minutes, but the centre-back was impressive on the deck and strong in the air.

Lacklustre Lo Celso

It was unsurprising to see Giovani Lo Celso hooked at half-time. He gave away three free-kicks and had a passing accuracy of just 73.3 per cent during his time on the pitch.

What's next?

Tottenham have a north London derby against Arsenal to look forward to on Sunday, when Bournemouth's fight against the drop does not get any easier with the visit of Leicester City.

David Silva's legacy at Manchester City will be to have changed the club, according to director of football Txiki Begiristain.

Veteran playmaker Silva is set to leave City at the end of this season, following a decorated 10-year stint that has yielded four Premier League titles, five EFL Cups and two FA Cups – the first of which in 2011 ended a 35-year trophy drought.

He offered a reminder of his enduring qualities with a masterful display in Wednesday's 5-0 routing of Newcastle United.

Silva supplied his 120th and 121st assists in City colours by setting up Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling, while he also dispatched a 65th-minute free-kick – the 76th goal of his time in England.

Begiristain feels Silva holds a special place in City history, along with club record goalscorer Sergio Aguero and the recently departed Yaya Toure and Vincent Kompany.

"He's been unbelievable in football in the world - especially here," he told the club's official website. "He's spent 10 wonderful years, winning trophies and changing the dynamic of the club.

"He's been one of the leaders – with Vincent, with Yaya and Kun [Aguero]. No one will forget what they've done for this football club.

"Not only the way David plays football but helping us be a successful club.

"David is always going to be remembered because of that."

Brazil forward Jesus opened the scoring with his 11th Premier League goal of the season – ending a nine-match drought that stretched back to February's 2-1 Champions League win at Real Madrid.

Echoing the sentiments of Pep Guardiola, Begiristain praised Jesus' selfless work for the team during a period of personal toil.

"His work rate, he's unbelievable," he said. "He helps a lot by creating space for the midfielders.

"He's the number nine and he likes to score and [against Newcastle] he could. We are always happy with the work rate."

Stiliyan Petrov is unsurprised by Aston Villa's struggles in the Premier League this season, believing questionable recruitment is a main factor.

Villa sit 18th in the table ahead of Manchester United's visit on Thursday, with Dean Smith's side four points off safety.

However, ex-Villa captain Petrov is in no way surprised by the club's perilous position, and the former midfielder cited the recruitment of inexperienced players as a major issue for Villa.

"I'm not surprised. I remember at the start of the season saying it was a big task for them," Petrov told Stats Perform News.

"Recruitment and prep, they were way behind everybody else. It was expected. It doesn't look promising.

"[These are] challenging times for the club and for fans, like me. I hope the boys can pick it up enough to stay up, but with Watford winning [on Tuesday] our task is more difficult.

"Villa signed a lot of promising players, but inexperienced players. It took me two years to adapt to the league from Celtic, so you can see where the trouble is.

"The problem is scoring goals. You can let them in but if you don't create opportunities then it's very difficult.

"I don't know what plan they have, but I hope we can stay up. Getting back up will be difficult."

Petrov also acknowledged it will be a challenge for Villa to keep hold of their key performers should they fail to beat the drop, using England international Tyrone Mings as an example.

"He's been a very good addition to the club," Petrov said of the defender, who joined from Bournemouth in 2019 following a successful loan spell at Villa Park.

"He's shown he's improving. He wants to be a leader; he likes to be a leader.

"It will be difficult to keep hold of him if we go down, he is an asset and some people will look to buy. I know we've lost a lot of games, but his individual performances and development have been well ahead of everyone else."

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