Manchester United’s talented youngsters are being let down by rest of the squad, claims Danny Higginbotham

27 Sep

Danny Higginbotham has defended Manchester United’s emerging starlets and says they are being let down and their progress hampered by the rest of the squad.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side faced more criticism this week after needing a penalty shoot-out to beat League One side Rochdale at Old Trafford in the third round of the Carabao Cup.

Their tepid cup performance followed their dismal display in the Premier League against West Ham at the weekend, as they suffered a 2-0 defeat at the London stadium, which led to claims Solskjaer’s current team is Man United’s worst in the Premier League era.

YOUNG REDS: 17-year-old Mason Greenwood scored the goal for Man United against Rochdale, while 21-year-old Axel Tuanzebe was named captain
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Significant onus was placed on the club’s up-and-coming youngsters, with many claiming they are not good enough compared to other bright stars that have emerged from rivals teams and are making waves at Premier League and international level, including the likes of Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold and Chelsea duo Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount.

Higginbotham agrees that their display against Rochdale was not good enough for a Manchester United team.

But he believes any criticism on the Reds Devils starlets is unfair as they do not have a strong enough group of players around them to help them progress and thrive.

Speaking following the Rochdale win, the former United defender told the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast:

“You’ve got to give Rochdale full credit, but I think you also have to look at United and the team that was put out, they shouldn’t find themselves in that position.

“I’ve heard a lot of things said in the last few days about the young players not being good enough and some of them are just being given opportunities but are not good enough, but I don’t agree with that.

“You look at most younger players who have come through at football clubs and have been successful, and you look at the players around them at that time – they’ve all been in a good place and they’ve all had leaders.

Higginbotham argues that other young players, like Liverpool star Trent Alexander-Arnold, have had better leaders and a more settled squad around them to help them thrive
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“Whereas I think at United a number of the players who played last night will probably think they’re surplus to requirements and aren’t in the right frame of mind.

“It was an opportunity for them to prove a point and to get through on penalties, yes they went through, but it’s not good enough for a team like Manchester United.

“Solskjaer will obviously get some stick for it, but he can’t go on the pitch and put the ball in the back of the net for them.”

Listen back to Danny Higginbotham on the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast IN FULL above

Harvey Elliott gives Liverpool shirt to young fan who feared he would be arrested for running on the pitch at MK Dons

27 Sep

Liverpool debutant Harvey Elliott made one young fan’s day when he gave him his shirt shortly after the final whistle of their Carabao Cup clash with MK Dons on Wednesday.

Elliott, 16, made his first start for the club as they progressed to the fourth round of the competition with a 2-0 win.

Harvey Elliott impressed on his Liverpool debut
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The teenage winger had a good game but it could have been a debut to remember had it not been for the crossbar.

One young Liverpool fan, Alfie Hughes, ran on the pitch after the game and Elliott kindly obliged with his request to give him his shirt.

The 10-year-old was at the match with his dad but was worried about being arrested.

His dad, Paul, posted a video on Twitter of his son approaching several players before the winger agreed.

Paul told the Liverpool Echo: “Alfie kept saying he hoped the players would come over and I kept saying there might be a struggle because there were a lot of kids where we were sitting.

“He asked if he could go on the pitch and I said yes, as long as he came straight back.

“He was flapping and asking ‘will I get arrested’ but I said no it would be different for an adult and he won’t do it again.

“It was a one-off.”

West Ham EXCLUSIVE: Glen Johnson slams Hammers for ‘not being bothered’ about Carabao Cup after humiliating 4-0 defeat to Oxford United

26 Sep

Glen Johnson has slammed West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini and his players for ‘clearly not being bothered’ about the Carabao Cup after they were ‘battered and destroyed’ by Oxford United.

The Hammers were thumped 4-0 by the League One side on Wednesday night to be dumped out of cup in a humiliating night for the London club.

Pellegrini made nine changes to the team that enjoyed a 2-0 home victory over Manchester United in the Premier League last weekend, and it backfired badly as the Hammers were outplayed in every department by a club 51 places below them in the football pyramid.


RANT: West Ham fan in ANGRIEST talkSPORT call ever – ‘It’s an absolute disgrace’


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West Ham were well and truly beaten by League One Oxford United in the Carabao Cup third round[/caption]

And boyhood Hammer Johnson is baffled as to why West Ham did not take the competition more seriously, especially given it’s one of their few chances to win a first major trophy since 1980 and have little else to play for.

“They’ve been battered,” he told talkSPORT host Natalie Sawyer on Thursday.

“Yes, they made changes and obviously these competitions can kick up the odd strange result, but to be hammered 4-0… that’s not just exiting the competition, that’s getting battered and destroyed.

“If they lost on penalties or it was 1-0, you think yeah, that can happen in football, but they made nine changes and were clearly played off the park by a mid-table league one side.

“I genuinely don’t get it, it’s a chance of winning trophy and a chance of winning a trophy by February.

“Clubs use it to give young lads minutes and give players who aren’t regularly playing a game, but you can do that at the same time as taking the cup seriously. You can still field a strong side and give a few players a chance.

“But to make nine changes, I think that is blatantly saying, ‘we’re not bothered, we’re just going to keep everybody fit for the weekend’.

Manuel Pellegrini has been criticised for his team selection against Oxford, although his starting XI should have been good enough to beat the League One outfit
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“I’ve been fortunate enough to win this competition twice and it’s something no one can ever take away from you.

“Their squad haven’t won many medals between them, so surely they’d love to get a trophy somewhere.

“West Ham aren’t going to be in the top four, they’re not going to be fighting for the Premier League, so this is the perfect opportunity for the mid-table teams to really field a good outfit and give it a good run.

“The bigger teams of course have the Champions League, they’re fighting for titles and they might rest players, but ultimately they’ve got a squad they can rotate and still have a strong side.

“West Ham don’t have that.”

Manchester United players ‘scared’ and Old Trafford has ‘lost the fear factor’, says Rochdale defender Jimmy McNulty after Carabao Cup clash

26 Sep

It’s fair to say Manchester United aren’t in the best shape right now, but you know it’s bad when a League One player says the fear factor has gone from Old Trafford.

That’s exactly what Rochdale defender Jimmy McNulty told talkSPORT after their Carabao Cup clash on Wednesday night.

United players left the pitch breathing a sigh of relief as they needed a penalty shootout to see off a side currently sitting 17th in the third tier on English football.

Manchester United named eight internationals and World Cup winner Paul Pogba in their side to face Rochdale
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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer named a much-changed, yet still undoubtedly strong, team featuring the likes of Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Phil Jones and Fred.

And while they avoided a similar upset to when United were knocked out of the League Cup by Southend United in 2006 – doo doo doo dooFreddy Eastwood – they still failed to produce a performance to give supporters any shred of hope that good times are around the corner.

What positives there were came from United’s youngsters, with 17-year-old striker Mason Greenwood scoring his second goal of the season, 21-year-old defender Axel Tuanzebe named captain for the evening, and £15million summer signing Daniel James netting the winning spot kick.

But there is a sense United are beyond the ‘transitional period’ many have labelled this season.

In fact, Solskjaer looks like he has a full blown rebuilding job on his hands.

McNulty says Rochdale were ‘proud’ to take the 20-time champions of England to penalties with a 1-1 draw after 90 minutes, after a first professional goal from 16-year-old star Luke Matheson.

But he admitted the visitors were helped by the overwhelming sense of dread, uncertainty and nervousness that emanated from the Old Trafford stands.

“Truthfully, there is definitely not the fear factor [at Old Trafford] right now,” the Dale centre-back told Natalie Sawyer and Glen Johnson on talkSPORT.

“I’m so proud to say that I’ve played there. It’s an incredible arena. It really does feel like you’re in a giant’s den. We very rarely go into a stadium like that and we were very humbled by it.

Jimmy McNulty says playing at Old Trafford was one of the highlights of his career, but that Rochdale were not intimidated by the Theatre of Dreams
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“We seemed to gain more and more support from the fans as the night went on, and even some of the home supporters applauded our performance. It was a special night for us. It was a shame we didn’t go all the way and dump Manchester United out on penalties but it was very special nonetheless.

“When we saw the team line-ups we were truthfully very happy; Ole had gone almost as strong as possible, and we felt he needed to do that after the West Ham game.

“We didn’t want to get ahead of ourselves and say that we were going to beat Manchester United, but we felt that it was as good a time as any to go and face them.

“There was definitely a feeling that once they hadn’t blown us away in the first 20 minutes, you could hear and feel the doubt and the pressure kicking in.


CUP ROUND UP: West Ham thrashed by minnows, Liverpool win, Chelsea score seven


“You can sense changes in stadiums, and to be fair a lot of United fans stuck with them and I thought it might get a bit volatile, but certain sections did change.

“I almost felt that the United players became very scared to be that player who gave the ball away, and they started taking fewer risks.

“All that helped us all out. We needed as much help as possible, our task was enormous.

“I’m glad they put almost a full complement out against us; it was great for our lads to head off against the likes of Pogba, Lingard and Wan-Bissaka. It was a great night and we almost did it.

“We did ourselves proud.”

Listen back to talkSPORT’s interview with Rochdale defender Jimmy McNulty

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer explains Paul Pogba captaincy snub after giving Axel Tuanzebe armband in Manchester United’s Carabao Cup win

26 Sep

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has hailed young Englishman Axel Tuanzebe as ‘a captain in the making’ after picking him to wear the armband over Paul Pogba in the Carabap Cup.

Tuanzebe led out the Red Devils at Old Trafford in Wednesday night’s third round clash against Rochdale, which the hosts won in a penalty shoot-out after a 1-1 draw.

Questions were asked why 21-year-old defender Tuanzebe – who has captained the Red Devils at every age level – was named skipper despite a more experienced player in World Cup winner Pogba, who has worn the armband regularly over the last 12 months, also starting the game.

Paul Pogba was one of the most experienced players on the pitch for Manchester United on Wednesday night
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But Solskjaer told talkSPORT following the game that he sees no problem giving one of his youngsters a chance to prove their leadership at the top level.

Speaking to Manchester correspondent Dom McGuinness, the boss said: “Axel is a captain in the making, he’s a leader – why not give to young kids?

“We know we can give it to Sergio [Romero] and we can give it to Paul, that’s no problem and they’ve been captains before.

“But it was Axel today and how does he handle it? He was absolutely fine, he enjoyed it.

“It’s just a way of telling him that we trust him.”

There was plenty of young talent on show at Old Trafford, as 17-year-old Mason Greenwood gave United the lead before Rochdale pulled level through a first professional goal from 16-year-old defender Luke Matheson.

Daniel James, 21, United’s stand-out star from their start to the new season, also scored the winning penalty of the shoot-out.


CUP ROUND UP: West Ham thrashed by minnows, Liverpool win, Chelsea score seven


And Solskjear hailed his young players following the match, with significant praise for young striker Greenwood.

“Some players learned a lot today and some proved to us that we can give them more responsibility,” added the Norwegian.

“Mason again showed with his goalscoring abilities why we regard him so highly.

Mason Greenwood celebrates his second goal of the season for Man United
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“He has two great feet and took the penalty with his right, so he must be a nightmare for defenders having him one on one in the box.

“He can go both ways, which is for me fantastic and you can just see he has got quality and he will get his share of games.

“But he is young and we will give him time to grow.”

Listen to talkSPORT’s post-match interview with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer above

West Ham fan rants about Hammers after Oxford defeat in ANGRIEST talkSPORT call ever – ‘it’s an absolute disgrace’

26 Sep

One West Ham fan could not control his emotions after seeing his beloved Hammers thrashed by Oxford United on Wednesday.

Elliott Moore, Matt Taylor, Tariq Fosu and Shandon Baptiste all scored in an embarrassing night for West Ham at the Kassam Stadium, with Oxford, who currently sit 12th in League One, booking a fourth round tie with Sunderland as a result of their victory.

It was a memorable night for Oxford in front of their own fans
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Manuel Pellegrini made nine changes from his side which beat Manchester United last Sunday, but Issa Diop, Arthur Masuaku, Jack Wilshere and Pablo Fornals all featured in what was a strong starting XI.

But the U’s ran riot after the break to stun their Premier League opponents and complete a remarkable giant-killing.

And Terry the Hammers fan was so annoyed after the match he phone talkSPORT and produced the ANGRIEST call ever received by the station!

You can read what Terry said below, but we think you should watch the above video to get a true sense of just how angry Terry was.

“The first 20 minutes we’re all over them, easy street but can’t score,” Terry ranted.

“As soon as they score it’s lets go down 1-0, 2-0, 3-0… I left at 3-0 and got outside the ground and it’s 4-0!

“I’m absolutely fuming. They ain’t worth two bob! Those players should reimburse the fans that went there tonight; train travel, cab travel… any travel you want.

“We are the laughing stock of the Premier League once again!

“After Tottenham lost [to Colchester] we were all taking the mickey, but we have undone ourselves losing 4-0 to Oxford.

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“It’s an absolute disgrace! An absolute disgrace… they make me sick!

“Honestly, I’m fuming!”

Terry actually joined the station a second time, just a few hours after his incredible rant, to chat with Big Alan Brazil and Ian Holloway on the Sports Breakfast.

He had slightly calmed down but was still irate, saying: “The thing is I would rather win the League Cup and go down. I’m not worried about all the money and everything else.”

Oxford United 4-0 West Ham: Squad players blew their chance to prove themselves, says Manuel Pellegrini after shock Carabao Cup exit

26 Sep

West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini says his squad players wasted their chance to prove why they should be playing more regular football, after they suffered a Carabao Cup exit at the hands of Oxford United on Wednesday.

The Hammers were hammered 4-0 by the League One side, who outplayed their Premier League opponents in every department on a night of humiliation for the London club.

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West Ham’s £8million summer signing Albian Ajeti failed to make an impact against League One Oxford United[/caption]

Both sides went into the clash on a high, with West Ham beating Manchester United 2-0 and Oxford breaking records with a 6-0 win at Lincoln City at the weekend.

But Pellegrini made nine changes from that victorious team against the Red Devils, and the much-changed line up could barely string two passes together as Oxford progressed into the fourth round for the first time in 22 years.


CUP ROUND UP: West Ham thrashed by minnows, Liverpool win, Chelsea score seven


The Hammers boss took most of the responsibility following the defeat, but sent a message to his under-performing stars that they, too, are to blame for underestimating their opponents.

“Nobody expected us to lose this game 4-0,” he told talkSPORT.

“It’s very easy to say we played badly, but they played very well from the first minute of the game.

“So the fact we lost this game is firstly on the merit of Oxford, and second it’s because I think we didn’t believe that they are a difficult team [to play], and the motivation of a League One or League Two to beat a team of the Premier League is high.

“We made too many mistakes. The whole team didn’t play well. Not only did we concede four goals, but we didn’t create too many chances. We missed too many passes from the beginning.

“The responsibility is first on me because I picked the players and second of course on the team that didn’t compete.

“We talked enough with all of them to understand that the competition was different, the team was different and to play now against Oxford, who were in a good moment after winning 6-0 in their last game.

“The players must understand, but I repeat we couldn’t do it because in front was a team that played very well. I don’t want to take anything away from Oxford because they played very well.”

West Ham did not look prepared to face the in-form Oxford team
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Only Issa Diop and Pablo Fornals retained their starting places from the win over Manchester United, but Pellegrini introduced Felipe Anderson and Sebastien Haller off the bench early in the second half.

And he defended his team selection at the Kassam Stadium, following criticism from fans that he should have picked a stronger side.

He added: “In England, if you want to play in all the competitions you have to use your whole squad, you cannot just continue to play with the same players that pay on Saturday.

“We must demand performances from them and they have the option to demonstrate why they should be playing, but tonight they didn’t do that, the performance was not good.”

Listen back to talkSPORT’s post-match interview with Manuel Pellegrini above

From a goal against Man United, Rochdale kid Luke Matheson now has to sit psychology test

26 Sep

What were you doing at 16? Not scoring at Old Trafford, I would wager.

Rochdale’s teenage starlet Luke Matheson told talkSPORT he was ‘ecstatic’ at scoring his first professional goal – against Manchester United at Old Trafford of all places.

The young defender smashed in a late equaliser for the Dale, cancelling out 17-year-old Mason Greenwood’s earlier opener, to take the 20-time English champions to penalties in their Carabao Cup third round clash.

United ultimately won the penalty shoot-out to progress in the competition, but Rochdale fans gave their side a standing ovation after a dogged performance and one which will remain firmly in the memory for Matheson.

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Stubborn Rochdale proved a tougher test for Manchester United than they probably expected[/caption]

It’s been a whirlwind of a 12 months for the teen, who became his club’s youngest ever player aged just 15 years old when he made his first-team debut in September 2018.

One month ago he collected his GCSE results, and did rather well, and now he’s a goalscorer at Old Trafford.

Asked to try and put the feeling of scoring at the Theatre of Dreams at his age into words, he said: “Wow, amazing, all the good words you can use!

“I don’t think I can actually pick a phrase to describe the feeling from the group of players in that celebration. The excitement was something I’ve never experienced before and I don’t think will ever experience again. It was something special, you could just tell how much it meant to us.

“It was a special moment to score in front of thousands of people at Old Trafford at only 16, it was a dream come true. Anyone would be ecstatic with scoring at Old Trafford , so to do that was very special.”

However, his celebrations will not last long – he’s back at school on Thursday afternoon for an exam.

Matheson goes to school just two miles away from Old Trafford, at the Trinity Church of England school where former United academy graduate Danny Welbeck also studied.

“I’ve got a psychology test, so I can’t wait for that,” he added.


CUP ROUND UP: West Ham thrashed by minnows, Liverpool win, Chelsea score seven


“It’s in the afternoon, though, so at least I can get some sort of lie in!

“Last year I was juggling GCSEs and football, so I’m kind of used to it. It’s what I’ve been doing for the last few years. Trinity and Rochdale have been fantastic in the support they’ve given me and supporting my education, so I can’t thank them enough.”

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Matheson – who swapped shirts with young Man United striker WIll Greenwood – is congratulated by Rochdale’s Spanish goalkeeper Robert Sanchez[/caption]

Hailing from the Manchester superb of Fallowfield, you’d assume Matheson was either a United and City fan and that, for different reasons, scoring at Ole Trafford would be a dream come true.

But, asked if he’s a red or a blue, the Rochdale youngster gave a surprising answer…

“I’m yellow,” he said. “I’m a Norwich fan!

“My dad’s from Norwich, he brought me up with Norwich all my life.

“But to play at a stadium like Old Trafford or the Etihad, it’s always a dream for anyone. To play in front of 50,000-plus people, that’s always amazing regardless of the team you support.

“I’m just thankful I got that opportunity, I grasped it and hopefully that sort of success can continue.”

Listen to talkSPORT’s interview with Rochdale starlet Luke Matheson IN FULL above

Manchester United drawn to play Chelsea in Carabao Cup and must follow up Liverpool clash with FOUR successive away games

26 Sep

Manchester United face a tough end to October with FOUR away games in a row after being drawn to play Chelsea in the Carabao Cup.

The Red Devils narrowly booked their place in the fourth round of the cup with Wednesday’s penalty shootout defeat of Rochdale, who came so close to recording one of the biggest upsets in English football history at Old Trafford.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer watched on as his side laboured to a narrow win over Rochdale
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But United survived and were pulled out the hat with Chelsea, who eased their way into the draw by thrashing Grimsby 7-1.

The match will be played at the Blues’ Stamford Bridge home on October 29, which is a worry for United given it means their run of successive away games extends to FOUR.

The run starts on October 24 with a trip to Belgrade to play Partizan in the Europa League, four days after hosting Liverpool in the Premier League.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side then visit Norwich three days later, before the trip to Chelsea another two days after that.

The run ends when United play Bournemouth on November 2 at the Vitality Stadium.

This means the Red Devils must host an incredible Liverpool team, and then play four away matches in just TEN days!

Man United's tricky run of fixtures

The Red Devils face a tough end of October with four successive away matches in just TEN days after hosting Liverpool

  • Man United vs Liverpool (Premier League) – October 20
  • Partizan Belgrade vs Man United (Europa League) – October 24
  • Norwich vs Man United (Premier League) – October 27
  • Chelsea vs Man United (Carabao Cup) – October 29
  • Bournemouth vs Man United (Premier League) – November 2

“That’s how it is,” the manager said about his run. “And we have got to make the best out of it – and I am sure we are because that’s the type of group this is, that’s the type of club we are.

“We are not going to say ‘argh’, we’re going to relish it and look forward to it.”

Despite United’s poor recent form, Solskjaer will likely be delighted to have drawn Chelsea in the Carabao Cup given how his side demolished the Blues earlier this season.

The two English heavyweights met on the opening weekend of the Premier League season and United secured a stunning 4-0 win at Old Trafford to get their campaign under way in brilliant fashion.

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Cesc Fabregas loves Billy Gilmour as Frank Lampard praises Chelsea youngsters, including Reece James after Grimsby win

26 Sep

Billy Gilmour ran the Chelsea midfield against Grimsby, a delighted Frank Lampard said after the Carabaou Cup win.

The Blues beat Grimsby 7-1 to set up a fifth round match against Manchester United, and the 18-year-old also won praise from Cesc Fabregas.

Gilmour, making his first start, was a stand out performer, with fellow newcomers Reece James and Marc Guehi also impressing on their debuts.

“I thought Gilmour ran the game from midfield, and Guehi was solid. They’ve been outstanding this year.

“With his end product Reece showed what he can do, an assist and a goal, but Reece’s performances on loan last year at Wigan showed the talent he’s got.

“I think he’s going to be a big player for this club. It’s just the start for Reece.

“And the young subs [Tino Anjorin and Ian Maatsen] showed how comfortable they are on the ball. Now the hard work starts to get in the team regularly.

“It says a lot about the academy, and nights like this give the opportunity to mix the team up and give them a chance, it gives good recognition to the academy.”

Also taking note of Gilmour was former Chelsea midfielder Fabregas, who tweeted: “He played amazing tonight. Personality is the most important at this age and he’s got it all right.

“Now time to keep learning and taking advantage of these games to prove the coach he’s good enough.”

It drew a simple ‘thank you’ from the rising star, who ’caused despair’ at Rangers when he moved to Stamford Bridge in 2017, according to Pat Nevin.

“He will be and is already a very, very exciting talent. Chelsea fans will definitely see more of him in the coming years,” the former Blue said of the highly regarded teenager.

Gilmour made his first start for Chelsea and ran the game, according to his manager
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