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Football Reporting
Football Reporting


Manchester United, Bruno Fernandes, Tottenham Hotspur, Gareth Bale, Manchester City, Sergio Aguero, Pep Guardiola

In the 89th minute of Manchester United’s 0-all draw with Chelsea, Bruno Fernandes summed up the side’s concerning trend with just a few words.

“Come on, guys, it’s the best chance. Come on,” he said after United blew a counterattacking opportunity with Scott McTominay failing to execute the final pass.

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Club legend turned Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville added: “Quality at both ends of the pitch has been missing. United had players in the middle, McTominay just had to put it in their path.”

But he couldn’t and after the final whistle sounded, Fernandes cut a dejected figure, left to wonder how his team can finally arrest a worrying habit that cost them once again.

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Fernandes was nailing “absolute stunners” in shooting practice during the warm-up according to NBC Sports’ Joe Prince-Wright but by the end of the night, it did not translate onto the stats sheet.

He had just one chance created while failing to have a shot on target or take-on completed along with 20 possessions lost.

Fernandes has been key to United’s success this season but he looked frustrated that in the big games, the Red Devils are struggling to fire a shot.

Fernandes’ penalty after 98 seconds against Spurs was the last time Manchester United scored a goal in a game against the ‘Big Six’ of Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham.

The star midfielder’s impact has been severely reduced in those games too, with Fernandes managing just one goal and no assists from seven games against those six.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had warned his team to step up in attack and the team pressed high accordingly in an attempt to disrupt Chelsea, with Thomas Tuchel admitting post-game it made them lose a bit of confidence.

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Former Manchester United captain Roy Keane was not convinced though, branding the side “really boring” on Sky Sports’ post-game analysis show.

“I think Man Utd are looking at the teams more behind them and trying to keep the distance, instead of saying ‘let’s go and win football matches’,” Keane said.

“I think that’s why you’re at Man Utd – to win matches and try and chase Man City down.

“From that second half performance, yes [they have given up the fight]. I think they’re concentrating on cementing second place and winning a cup.

“A real lack of quality from United. When you look back at the big games where they’ve not produced, that must be a concern.

“They have scored the most goals in the league, so they do try to win, but in these games I think their mindset is ‘let’s not be beaten’”.

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Keane pointed to the 6-1 thumping at the hands of Tottenham as one possible explanation for the “boring” approach.

“Maybe they are scarred from the Spurs game,” he said.

“Some of these games have been really boring, considering there are some really good attacking players on the team.

“The lack of goals from United players might be something to do with their mindset, or just settling for the draw.

“Their mindset is just not to be beaten in these big games, rather than going for it.”

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Jose Mourinho was heavily criticised for not giving star recruit Gareth Bale enough minutes but now the first sign has emerged that he knew what he was doing the whole time.

Mourinho admits Tottenham will need to challenge Bale to reproduce the dazzling display that destroyed Burnley after the Wales forward netted twice in Sunday’s 4-0 win.

Bale maintained his recent revival with a man-of-the-match performance in the north London sunshine.

The 31-year-old scored Tottenham’s opening goal with a close-range finish, provided a superb assist with a long pass for Harry Kane’s goal and then rounded off the scoring with another lethal strike.

After a wretched start to his second spell at Tottenham following his loan switch from Real Madrid, Bale is finally showing signs of the form that made him the world’s most expensive player when he moved to Spain in 2013.

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Mourinho constantly defended Bale, reiterating it was his fitness rather than talent that was holding the star recruit back from more game time.

That patient approach looks to be paying off if the result against Burnley is anything to by.

Tottenham desperately needed the jolt provided by Bale’s renaissance after losing five of their previous six league games.

The big challenge now is to replicate it against quality opposition.

Battling to drag Tottenham back into the race to qualify for the Champions League via a top four finish, Mourinho hopes Bale can carry his team up the Premier League table.

“I’m very happy for him and very happy for the team because the team needs his talent. He is quiet, doesn’t speak to you (the media), watches, reads, listens or probably not, because he is from Real Madrid, probably ignores it a little bit,” Mourinho said.

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“There is not one single manager in the world that doesn’t play Gareth Bale if Gareth Bale is in very good condition.

“There is not one – but now he is better than ever.

“It’s not just about the two goals he scored, it’s fundamentally about his physical performance. Now, he’s not flat. Now he has ups and downs in the speed he brings to his actions.”

Bale, a four-time Champions League winner with Real, rarely played in Spain over the last two seasons after falling out of favour with boss Zinedine Zidane.

This was only his third league start for Spurs this season and he admitted it has taken a while to get back up to speed.

“It was good, I have been building up a little bit to get fully fit. I felt comfortable and my form is coming back, it’s nice to help the team,” Bale said.

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“I’m delighted with the goals and the assist and whatever I can do for the team.”

Despite public criticism from Mourinho when he posted a social media message about a “good” training session just before pulling out of the squad for Tottenham’s FA Cup defeat at Everton, Bale insisted he never felt frozen out.

“I’ve been happy all season. In the dressing room I feel comfortable and I’m having fun. I’m happy and I’m sure it’s showing on the pitch,” he said.

“I wasn’t upset to be substituted. There are a lot of games to come. It’s important to keep building minutes each game.

“It’s understandable, it’s been a while so I just continue to work hard. I know you get criticism but I’m experienced enough to keep my head down, not say anything stupid and keep plugging away.”


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Pep Guardiola’s high standards have seen Manchester City surge to a 12-point lead ahead of second-placed Manchester United on the EPL table.

Those same standards also mean he faces a selection headache, albeit one that every other Premier League coach would be envious to have.

The club’s record goalscorer made his first start in four months after a disrupted start to the season.

Aguero first was sidelined by knee surgery before further complications in that injury, a hamstring problem and COVID-19 diagnosis made matters worse.

He finally returned as a late substitute against Borussia Monchengladbach last week and was given 61 minutes in the 2-1 win over West Ham.

Aguero is in the process of building his game up again after so much time out and it is not a point lost on Guardiola, who admits he cannot pick the star forward on a sentimental basis alone.

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“We want to help him but at the same time, Raheem (Sterling), Phil (Foden) and Bernardo (Silva) didn’t play. I try to handle it for everyone to be involved and part of it,” Guardiola said.

“Some players deserved to play but didn’t. That is why it is difficult for all the managers when you have a squad.

“Sergio has been one year injured. It is a lot of time. He played two or three games and then got injured again and was out.

“I always think we need him in this part of the season, in the right moments, because he has a special talent and quality. He’s going to help.

“But we have not denied that he needs time. The positive is he played 50-60 minutes and that is good for his legs. He has to continue training good and be positive.”

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