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  • Sun, 26 Jan 2020 17:17:30 +0000: Tranmere Rovers 0-6 Manchester United – as it happened - Manchester United | The Guardian

    Harry Maguire’s goal set Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s team on their way to avoiding a cup giant-killing with a hefty rout of the League One team

    And here’s the match report from Andy Hunter.

    Related: Solskjær finds FA Cup respite as Manchester United hit Tranmere for six

    Tranmere manager Micky Mellon also spoke and revealed his wonder at Harry Maguire’s goal. “Three defenders scored their first three goals and that showed the quality they have...it’s outrageous a centre-forward coming forward and bending one in like that.”

    And Ole Gunnar Solskjær speaks.

    The players went out on that pitch, we played football the way it should be played on a pitch that was very very difficult to play on. We were playing against a League One team and I thought the attitude was spot-on. I think if you just play long balls and give them a fight we are not used to that and it went well. Every game is good for your confidence and we just need to rest. [On Anti-Glazer chants] We just have to stay together and try to win the next one and the one after that and we will get the good times back.

    More from Mark Exton: “OGS is texting the ground staff at OT: “Scrape off the grass down to the mud...spread sand around the wings...I’ve found the way!”

    And Jesse Lingard spoke too, admitting “I have not been in the best of form” and that “it’s always nice to score”, and that “everyone contributed”.

    United had six different scorers today.

    Harry Maguire speaks

    It was really important that we got the win, coming off a bad performance and losing to Burnley. Getting to the next round is what we came to do. [On his goal] It’s been a long time coming, I have had a lot of chance and it’s nice to put the ball in the back of the net. It was difficult. We knew we had to get the ball down and play. If they played us at their own game they would probably have beaten us.

    The damage was done in the first half and Ole can breathe easy. Three goals in six minutes did the job and United were able to fill their boots. Tranmere were tired and this was a bridge too far. No need to talk about the pitch and well done to their fans. The One Show and the fifth round draw awaits United.

    90+1 min: Greenwood has one last go at trying to find another but Monthe eventually stops him in his tracks.

    90 min: Just two minutes to be added on.

    89 min: Phil Jones steps out to stop an attack. This has been one of the better days for Manchester United’s Edvard Munch-influenced stopper. No calamity to speak of, and a goal.

    87 min: Pereira takes a knock and stays down, and it looks like he took a nasty one to his ankle. No injuries until now for United but that would be a blow if Pereira was the latest victim of the midfield curse.

    85 min: The Manchester United fans are singing that Ed Woodward song again. It began with a song directed at former City player Davies then switched to the unloved club suit. Chong, meanwhile. rattles the crossbar with a ripping shot.

    83 min: Shaw gets on the end of some link-up play but his left-foot shot is weak.

    82 min: Hepburn-Murphy, spins inside and goes for a shot from outside the box. Just wide, with Romero scrabbling. He then creates a chance for Morris, whose shot is saved with some comfort by Romero.

    80 min: Mullin and Hepburn-Murphy have been lively since coming on. Perhaps playing an unchanged team was something of an error, not enough to make a difference but Tranmere’s energy levels did not sustain beyond their opening salvo. Once Maguire scored they were spent up.

    78 min: A foul on Connor Jennings forces a free-kick on the edge of the box for Tranmere. Mullin will take it, and he whacks that some way into the stands. It has not been their day.

    75 min: Ole has a grin on his face. Relief, for now at least. His team are playing some lovely stuff; Lingard almost makes it seven by getting time and space and then drilling a shot off the base of the post.

    73 min: Double Tranmere subbing: Blackett-Taylor for Hepburn-Murphy, and Paul Mullin, scorer of the winner v Watford, comes on for Ferrier.

    72 min: Dalot and Greenwood, two players with an eye on a first-team berth, have continued to take up the pace. They want more goals to prove their worth.

    71 min: United, by the way, are cruising, but playing pretty patterns on the edge of the Tranmere box. Chong has a shot well saved by Davies, who you can’t even say has had a bad game, barring perhaps the penalty though he had little choice there.

    69 min: The Tranmere fans have been a credit, it has to be said. The United fans have been quiet in the second half, and some of them might be fancying a trip back across the Wirral.

    67 min: John Delaney, maybe not that John Delaney but then again it might be, has this to say:I like the ‘Tequila’ chant, everyone should sack the game off and have a big old party! Some things are bigger than football... like getting hammered and dancing on tables.”

    65 min: Subs: Off comes Perkins for Gilmour, with the veteran midfielder able to rest up after being given a frightful chasing.

    65 min: Pereira tries to get in on the act but his shot spins wide.

    64 min: Off comes Harry Maguire, which makes sense considering he has been playing with an injury. The captain got the game going with that opening goal. Williams comes on.

    63 min: Brandon Williams is set to come on for United, and has been waiting on the sidelines.

    61 min: By the way, the ever active Blackett-Taylor almost made something happen, only for the move to come to nothing.

    58 min: The Tranmere song is to this piece of 60s kitsch.

    57 min: The Tranmere fans are now singing very loudly indeed. Now, what is that 60s kitsch song they are singing to. We all know it, but I can’t put my finger on it.

    Greenwood sends Davies the wrong way with a cool finish.

    56 min: Penalty to Manchester United, as Greenwood sends Chong away, and Davies fouls the youngster. Yellow card for the keeper.

    55 min: “Please, please tell me that Mike Dean is there and the cameras have spotted him,” asks Gareth Rogers. Nothing like this so far.

    Look carefully and you'll spot Mike Dean going wild during Tranmere's game against Watford in the FA Cup tonight pic.twitter.com/qrJ3CS58v9

    54 min: An unamused Micky Mellon looks like he has been sucking a lemon rather than a, well, melon on the sidelines. They dared to dream but this has been something of nightmare.

    53 min: Luke Shaw, who actually did OK last week at Liverpool after some initial confusion, has looked decent on the left flank, though has been given plenty of space.

    51 min: The Tranmere fans trying their best to get back into this, the noise from the early stages has abated. A drummer has taken up the cudgels and got the songs going.

    49 min: Early sight of Chong’s mane as he chases down a backpass to Tranmere goalie Davies, only for the City-supporting custodian to wallop clear.

    47 min: Greenwood, who ebbed from view as the rest of his team were plundering goals, crosses the ball and Dalot makes a mess of it.

    46 min: Off goes Blackett-Taylor on one of the runs he made during those long-forgotten early stages.

    Two changes for Manchester United, and understandable, too. Tahith Chong and Fred come on for Anthony Martial and Nemanja Matic. Ole working out when to rest players? Harry Maguire surely worth a few minutes off, too.

    Important reporting from Sean Ingle.

    Related: Sport England report finds BAME people ‘excluded and let down’

    Jamie Jackson saw another sadly one-sided FA Cup tie.

    Related: Gabriel Jesus double eases Manchester City past Fulham after Ream’s early red

    A correction on Jesse Lingard: that was his first goal in English football since January 25 2019; he also scored v Astana in the Europa League in November.

    There’s been a London derby in the Women’s FA Cup.

    Related: Lia Wälti and Katie McCabe sink West Ham and put Arsenal back on track

    Hello, hello, United are back.

    4 - Manchester United have scored four goals in the first half of a game for the first time since September 2016 (v Leicester), while they last did so away from home against Reading in December 2012. Flurry. pic.twitter.com/xfJE1Qgo01

    That’s the same scoreline as 1976 but in half the time. Five great goals for United and Tranmere’s big day has been as muddied as Phil Jones’ shirt.

    Martial uses Morris as a screen and lays up an unerring finish.

    43 min: At this point, would it suit both teams to just give up on this. Sir Alex is in the stands and laughing away with a pal.

    42 min: This is a test for Tranmere...no, it’s over. Micky Mellon looks utterly downcast. United have had four attempts on target and each has resulted in a goal.

    Pereira takes the corner and Phil Jones heads in. And what a broad smile he greets that with.

    39 min: A long session of possession play from United, with Tranmere trying desperately to hold their shape. Matic wins a corner.

    38 min: Harry Maguire seems to be enjoying his chances to bring the ball out of defence in an old-style libero fashion. He is being given space to do so. Lingard also enjoying himself in finding space. He forces a corner.

    36 min: Tranmere look a little weary. United look full of running and passing.

    34 min: And the United fans are singing the name of their manager and lustily so. Recent service resumed from Jesse Lingard as he makes a mess of a cross from Luke Shaw, who is playing as a line-hugging left winger. Martial makes a claim for a penalty when he and Clarke collide but the referee Lee Mason will not have a bar of that.

    32 min: Mary Waltz takes to the floor: “Is United “in chaos?’ Maybe not. They are in denial. Good news for Ole ripping apart Tranmere but this win doesn’t mean they can skip this transfer period and go with what they have now. Even if they overpay for a midfielder and a striker they can make their money back by getting into the Champions League.”

    31 min: On with the football, where Tranmere are pushing up a bit, and having a go without really looking too convinced that they can get back into this game.

    30 min: Daire Finnie emails in: “That ‘found their level’ remark ..An excellent two-footed tackle, winning the ball cleanly whilst also making United look like the clowns they truly are. I bet Jonathan Wilson is looking on admiringly.”

    29 min: The United songbook in the Prenton Park cowshed has turned to the Glazer family. “We want Glazers out” gets a hearty go.

    27 min: United passing the ball around on the Prenton Park paddy field with far more comfort than they have done for some time on the Old Trafford bowling green surface. Funny old game.

    26 min: Duncan Edwards emails in: “Oh dear, John, seems like you are going to have to rip up your United in chaos gag script and just commentate on the match. Now that’s funny.”

    Lads, it’s Tranmere.

    24 min: Perkins falls over on a pothole but Jesse Lingard is penalised. That looks a harsh decision. Blackett-Taylot then escapes down the flank and puts a promising ball across goal but there are no takers.

    23 min: Caprice (32), blocks a shot from Mason Greenwood, who looks desperate to join in the jamboree of goals.

    21 min: Lingard fancies another, as Greenwood lays him up. He tries to whip the ball but misjudges the spin required. It goes wide. United queueing up to fill their satchels with goals.

    20 min: Chance for Tranmere as Ferrier cuts in and shoots, but Romero gets down and saves well.

    19 min: Almost another as Dalot carves down the right again and Martial tries to find a way through; his shot fizzes wide.

    18 min: Three goals within six minutes from United; the panic can abate for now. Mind you, Tranmere were three goals down to Watford and drew 3-3.

    A first goal since 2018 for Lingard...nice pass from Maguire and then Lingard bends in his shot beyond Davies.

    15 min: At this point, it would feel remiss not to suggest that perhaps United have finally found their level...they are stroking the ball around with class.

    14 min: “We’re on the march with Ole’s army,” sing the United fans. They’re all going to Wem-ber-lee.

    Dalot on the overlap comes on to a pass from Martial, cuts outside and smashes it. A great goal. Another first goal for United.

    13 min: Maguire booed by the home fans. He must have done something right.

    11 min: Maguire stepped forward, fancied his chances and took ownership of the situation. Big smile from Ole on the sideline, as well there might be.

    Wallop, that is a howitzer, and his first goal for United...it took a slight deflection off Peter Clarke.

    9 min: Harry Maguire, looking, well, harried, has to clear behind. Tranmere’s latest corner comes to naught but the most dangerous team on show is that who used to be sponsored the Wirral’s council.

    8 min: Mark Exton asks: “Please tell me OGS took the squad somewhere to train on a surface similar to today’s! Or did they stay at Carrington, in their bubble?”

    No suggestion they did, Mark.

    7 min: A spell of United attacking with Greenwood to the fore. It comes to an end when Tranmere break. Blackett-Taylor barges into the United box and goes down. Penalty? No, a foul by the Tranmere attacker and Phil Jones is hurt and limping. His shirts and shorts are now around 35 percent covered in mud.

    4 min: Phil Jones is booked for clattering Ferrier, and he is also already smeared in mud. Not a good start for United’s Jonah.

    3 min: Tranmere for a corner and it causes panic in the United box, as Romero is unsure of the ball’s flight and the ground below him. Jennings’ shot goes straight at Romero. An early warning sight...

    1 min: And away we go....great throwback atmosphere in Birkenhead. Boos for every United touch, and lots of chanting. Mason Greenwood involved early, though does seem to get his feet stuck on one of the gulleys down the flank of the field.

    Harry Maguire, who never seems to get rested, steps on to the field gingerly as the teams take to the field.

    And here’s that famous pitch.

    OGS speaks.

    [On the pitch]Nothing we can do about it other than play on it. We are not going to come away with any excuses. We want to play, we want to have runners and energy. It’s about giving some players a chance; we have many games coming up…We are together thought there’s a lot of noise going on around us. Inside the walls of the Carrington training ground we are all together. The lads stayed at home tonight, not in a hotel so they didn’t have a night playing with their phones and all that.

    Micky Mellon, a Scotsman, speaks about his Tranmere team.

    You only have to look around to see the huge numbers. It’s terrific for the local community to have Manchester United in town. [On the pitch] We have to play on it as well…we’ll give it a right good go…there’s lot of adrenaline.

    Reminder that Tranmere were a non-league club as recently as last May, and came from the National League via the play-offs. They are in League One after being promoted straight away, but this season has been more of struggle; they are third bottom.

    These two clubs have actually met this season, in the Football League trophy, where Tranmere beat United’s Under-23 team 3-2 but they have only met once at full senior level, in the League Cup on September 1976. United, managed by Tommy Docherty, won 5-0, thanks to two goals from Gerry Daly, and one each from Stuart Pearson, Gordon Hill and Lou Macari. Steve Coppell, in the United team that day, had been signed from Tranmere.

    Paul Mullin scored the winning goal against Watford on Thursday.

    Related: ‘It’s a great feeling’. Tranmere’s Paul Mullin ready for Manchester United

    Ole’s hopes spring eternal.

    Related: Solskjær hopes FA Cup win at Tranmere can finally kick-start United’s season | Paul Wilson

    For Manchester United, Romero. Dalot, Lindelof, Shaw, Lingard, Martial and Greenwood come in; it looks like Ole has opted for three centre backs, unless Phil Jones is going to resurrect his central midfield role of yore. Luke Shaw played at centre back last week so perhaps Ole has opted for a Pulisian/Allardici/Sgt Wilko approach of playing as many defenders as possible.

    There has been one hell of an effort from volunteers and the club to get the pitch ready for this match, really quick turnaround. It looks like the centre of the field is where the best surface is. Prenton Park also hosts the Liverpool women’s team and a waterlogged pitch caused the cancellation of a women’s Merseyside derby not too long ago.

    Here are the teams.

    An unchanged starting 11 for Rovers today!

    Kane Wilson replaces Sid Nelson on the bench. COME ON ROVERS!#TRFC #SWA #FACup pic.twitter.com/AObiRjbbDU

    Six changes to today's #MUFC starting line-up...#EmiratesFACup

    Ian Muir, Dave Challinor, Stuart “Barndoor” Barlow, Kenny Lunt, Wayne Allison, Aldo, Friday nights at Prenton Park, Half Man Half Biscuit blowing out an appearance on The Tube so they could stay on the Wirral to watch their heroes, reaching the semis in that weird Mercantile Credit Festival thing in 1988: how’s about that for all the Tranmere cliches?

    After coming through an epic two-parter with Watford in the finest traditions of the FA Cup, now for not so-mighty Manchester United, the club - ‘cloob’ in the case of Ole Gunnar Solskjær - going through more crises than a series of The Colbys.

    The pitch is a throwback to the Baseball Ground of the 1970s, and might even redouble as a location for the film 1917, so it could be a great leveller...and here comes the gag about how it could reduce Tranmere to Manchester United’s level. There is a shock in the offing here, though would it really be a shock if Micky Mellon and his men were swigging champagne in celebration at full-time?

    Kick-off is at 3pm UK time, join me

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  • Sun, 26 Jan 2020 17:15:57 +0000: Solskjær finds FA Cup respite as Manchester United hit Tranmere for six - Manchester United | The Guardian

    Prenton Park promised a depressing pitfall for Ole Gunnar Solskjær but instead it provided respite. His Manchester United team eased into the fifth round of the FA Cup with a comprehensive victory at Tranmere Rovers – the club’s biggest since the 8-2 defeat of Arsenal in 2011 – as a troubled week at Old Trafford ended without a fresh sense of crisis.

    Tranmere, 21st in League One and tiring throughout, were no match for United from the moment Harry Maguire struck his first goal for the club in the 10th minute. The visitors were three up by the 16th minute and any trepidation that Solskjær may have felt at visiting a lower league opponent operating on a mud bath of a pitch evaporated.

    Related: Gabriel Jesus double eases Manchester City past Fulham after Ream’s early red

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  • Sat, 25 Jan 2020 22:30:05 +0000: Solskjær hopes FA Cup win at Tranmere can finally kick-start United’s season | Paul Wilson - Manchester United | The Guardian

    Defiant manager looks for spirited performance that will set his team on the road to a grace-saving appearance in the final

    The good news for Manchester United supporters seeking a little uplift at the end of a depressing week is that Ole Gunnar Solskjær is looking forward to playing on the notorious Tranmere Rovers pitch. “A game on the Prenton Park surface sums up the romance of the FA Cup for me,” the United manager said. “We should be able to go to a League One side and outplay them but, if the state of the pitch makes that impossible, then we’re up for a scrap. We want to go as far as we can in this competition, I’d love to get to the final.”

    Related: Grenada pair hoping Shrews can help tame the big beasts of Liverpool | Paul Wilson

    Related: Michy Batshuayi takes his chance in Chelsea’s nervy win at Hull

    Related: David Moyes wanted to make more than three substitutions in West Ham’s defeat

    Continue reading...
  • Sat, 25 Jan 2020 07:30:47 +0000: Eric Cantona and 'the hooligan': the impact of the kung-fu kick 25 years on - Manchester United | The Guardian

    Twenty-five years have passed since Cantona launched himself into the crowd at Selhurst Park. It remains his best moment

    By Rob Smyth for Nessun Dorma

    Eric Cantona scored 82 goals for Manchester United. He won four league titles and two Doubles, and was a catalyst for the most successful period in the club’s history. None of that will keep him warmest in his dotage. “My best moment? I have a lot of good moments but the one I prefer is when I kicked the hooligan.”

    Cantona always refers to Matthew Simmons, with a delightful, absent-minded contempt, as “the hooligan”. It’s a neat way of dehumanising the gobby fan he dealt with when he tried to kick racism out of football on 25 January 1995. Twenty-five years later, the footage and images of his kung-fu kick retain an exhilarating power. It was the definitive example of what Alex Ferguson called Cantona’s “defiant charisma”. His defiance that night defined his career, and also his life.

    Related: The target

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    Related: Nessun Dorma podcast: from Eric Cantona to Glenn Hoddle and Kenny G

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  • Fri, 24 Jan 2020 20:03:00 +0000: ‘It’s a great feeling’. Tranmere’s Paul Mullin ready for Manchester United - Manchester United | The Guardian
    League One side’s Cup hero is an avid Liverpool fan but will be motivated on Sunday by a desire to lift his own club’s fans

    At around 11pm on Thursday Paul Mullin was standing on the bog of a pitch at Prenton Park reliving his match-winner for Tranmere against Watford while, outside, fans had started queuing for tickets to the prized draw of an FA Cup date with Manchester United. Hopefully with more luck than the avid Liverpool fan Mullin had trying to attend United’s visit to Anfield last weekend. Going toe-to-toe with Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s fragile team on Sunday offers ample compensation.

    “That and Barcelona last season are the only games in two years I haven’t been able to get a ticket for,” lamented the 25-year-old, who was in the same Liverpool youth team as Raheem Sterling before their careers took very different paths.

    Related: Homesickness lingers as Coventry host landlords Birmingham in FA Cup | Ben Fisher

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