12pm Man Utd transfer news LIVE: Fletcher hailed as, Diallo flies to Manchester, Cavani ban, Haaland UPDATE

MANCHESTER UNITED are heading into their big Carabao Cup semi-final tie against rivals City TONIGHT.

The Red Devils have drafted in Fergie favourite Darren Fletcher who has been hailed by former team-mate Rio Ferdinand.

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  • Josh Graham

    RESTLESS SOL

    Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes Manchester City's demolition of Chelsea came thanks to the rest they got after Covid KO'd their game at Everton.

    Solskjaer said: "“With City against Chelsea, you could see the freshness and sharpness and intensity they had.

    "It was a quality, game physically, one of the most intense games in the league this season.

    “And it’s no surprise there because they had a few extra days to prepare.”

    The two meet in the Carabao Cup semi-final on Tuesday after previously playing out a boring 0-0 stalemate in December in the league.

    The Norwegian boss added: "They were not as possession based against Chelsea, more counter attacking, we've got to be aware of that."

    Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is preparing for Manchester City in the Carabao CupCredit: EPA
  • Josh Graham

    OLE'S GOAL

    Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has revealed his desire to bag a trophy as Red Devils boss ahead of the Carabao Cup semi-final against Manchester City on Wednesday.

    He said: “Of course, you play football to win trophies, to get your hands on a trophy.

    “For this team it would be a very, very big step, getting our hands on a trophy,

    “When you get to a semi you've done a lot of good work to get there and you play better and better opposition.

    “But it's about fine margins in those semi-finals as well.”

  • Josh Graham

    SEMI-NAL MOMENT

    Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insists his Manchester United team are ready to shake off their semi-final jinx.

    The Red Devils lost in three last season including a two-legged EFL Cup tie with Manchester City, a 3-1 FA Cup reverse to Chelsea and European heartbreak against Sevilla.

    They face their neighbours again at the same stage of the competition on Wednesday night but this time in a one-off game at Old Trafford.

    And Solskjaer said: “We've improved immensely in a year since that last semi and since we were in the Europa League semi in August.

    “We've earned the right to go all the way with our performances.

    “We are confident with our form, so no excuses.

    “We have prepared well, the squad is focused and ready to give it a go.”

  • Josh Graham

    RIO SEAL OF APPROVAL

    Rio Ferdinand said his old team-mate Darren Fletcher will bring one of the 'sharpest young brains' in football to Manchester United.

    Fletcher has returned to Old Trafford as part of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's first-team coaching staff.

    On Rio Ferdinand presents FIVE, the former defender said: "If he goes in directly with the first team, I think he's a straight talker.

    "He's somebody who will tell people how it is, and I think he's a man of details as well, he'll be going in there identifying certain individuals.

    "I speak to him a lot because we've got a group chat of about 20 of us.

    "We chat all the time – he's always insightful. He likes a bit of banter. He's not Mr Serious, he's a good personality.

    "He likes to have a laugh, laughs at himself – he has to the way he looks. But when it's time to get serious about football, there wouldn't be many sharper young brains in the game."

  • Josh Graham

    HIGH FIVE

    Carabao Cup semi-final teams will be allowed five substitutions – but not a sixth if the game goes to extra-time.

    EFL bosses confirmed the change in regulations when the last four begins as Tottenham take on Brentford on Tuesday night.

    Manchester United face neighbours City in the other semi on Wednesday.

    Teams will now be able to make five subs across a maximum of THREE opportunities.

    Ties will now go to extra-time – rather than straight to penalties as it had been during the earlier stages – where applicable.

    But teams will not be granted an additional, sixth sub for the extra half an hour.

  • Josh Graham

    MOMENT IN TIME

    Legendary Manchester United centre-back Nemanja Vidic joined the Red Devils 14 years ago today.

    The Serbian hardman arrived at Old Trafford on January 5, 2006 after receiving his work permit.

    He went on to form a colossal defensive partnership with Rio Ferdinand and made 300 appearances for the club in eight years after joining from Spartak Moscow.

    Sir Alex Ferguson with new signing Nemanja Vidic in 2006Credit: PA:Press Association
  • Josh Graham

    DEVIL'S ADVOCATAE

    Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has drafted in club legends Roy Keane and Ryan Giggs to boost his side's title charge.

    The Norwegian boss has turned the club's fortunes around after teetering on the edge of the sack in October, but United could move three points clear at the top if they beat Liverpool later this month.

    Roy Keane and Ryan Giggs have been involved in Manchester United's turnaround Credit: PA:Press Association

    And The Athletic write how changes at their Carrington training base have coincided with their revival.

    One of those is by inviting pundit Keane and Wales boss Giggs to speak with the younger players to help inspire them and 'create a family feel' around the club.

    It comes after Darren Fletcher returned to Old Trafford as a first-team coach yesterday.

  • Alex Terrell

    MAKE HAY

    Manchester United have confirmed the sale of Max Haygarth to Brentford on a permanent transfer.

    The Bees are in the hunt for promotion to the Premier League and the midfielder joined the Championship club's B team before making his debut against Nottingham Forest.

    The 18-year-old impressed the West London club enough to make the move permanent, in United's first transfer dealings this window.

  • Alex Terrell

    FANS HIT BACK

    United fans are none too pleased with Jurgen Klopp's comments last night ahead of the massive Liverpool vs Manchester United clash a week on Sunday.

    The champions lost 1-0 at Southampton to give United the chance to go TOP with a win over Burnley on January 12, before heading to Anfield.

    Klopp said: "I hear now that Manchester United had more penalties in two years than I had in five and a half years. I've no idea if that's my fault, or how that can happen.”

    But Red Devils fans were happy to correct him, including author Wayne Barton.

  • Alex Terrell

    PALS SLAM CAV BAN

    Edinson Cavani’s Uruguayan players' union have condemned his ban – and accused the FA of 'racism’, writes MARTIN LIPTON.

    The Manchester United striker was given a three-game suspension for using the word 'negrito' in an Instagram post, before taking it down and apologising.

    But Cavani's countrymen – including former Liverpool star Luis Suarez – have slammed the FA and demanded the punishment is overturned. The Mutual Uruguaya de Futbolistas Profesionales – Uruguay's equivalent of the PFA – issued a lengthy statement attacking the "arbitrary conduct" of the "biased" FA.

    It said: "Far from condemning racism, the FA has itself committed a discriminatory act against the culture and way of life of the Uruguayan people.

    "The sanction shows a biased, dogmatic and ethnocentric vision and the FA should act to reinstate his good name and honour in the world that has been so unfairly tarnished by this reprehensible decision.

    "Edinson Cavani has never committed any conduct that could be interpreted as racist.”

  • Alex Terrell

    THE SHOW MUST GO ON

    Prem chiefs received the news they needed from Boris Johnson: The show can go on, writes MARTIN LIPTON.

    The Prime Minister announced a new national lockdown last night as the mutant Covid strains spread out of control.

    But even though League bosses are set to reveal today that there were a record number of positive tests among clubs last week, elite football received the green light to keep playing.

    The Premier League had spent recent weeks liaising with the Government in a bid to ensure football was not shut down again.

    Those fears abated after the Scottish Government expressly excluded "those involved in professional sports, for training, coaching or competing in an event" from the "stay at home" order. The UK Government then followed suit.

    The ruling extends to the FA Cup, allowing minnows Marine and Chorley ? as well as National League Boreham Wood and Stockport ? to play their third-round ties.

  • Gary Stonehouse

    GOOD MORNING RED DEVILS FANS

    The Premier League will be allowed to continue behind closed doors despite England going back into a national lockdown.

    PM Boris Johnson addressed the nation last night to confirm tighter restrictions across the country but there is an exemption for elite sport, meaning professional football will carry on.

    Borussia Dortmund’s chief exec Hans-Joachim Watzke believes the collapse of Jadon Sancho's summer transfer to Manchester United affected him in the early weeks of the season.

    The England ace, 20, was Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s top target last summer but Dortmund’s £108million demands prevented a deal from taking place.

    Watzke said: "Maybe Jadon had subconsciously prepared for a move a bit.

    “I believe he at least thought about it that much that he lost a bit of his ease.”

    Former midfielder Darren Fletcher has returned to the club as part of Solskjaer's coaching staff.

    United do not want to let Amad Diallo stay at Atalanta on loan for the rest of the season – instead they plan for the £37m teenager to link up with the first team as soon as possible.

    United could face competition from rivals City for Sergio Ramos, who is into the final six months of his Real Madrid contract.

    Misfit Phil Jones could be the shock name at the top of the shopping list Sean Dyche will hand to new Burnley chairman Alan Pace.

    Ex-Blackburn man Jones, 28, has not played a single game this season because of a knee injury and would be a suitable loan option if James Tarkowski leaves Turf Moor.

    And finally, Uruguayan players joined forces to slam Edinson Cavani’s three-game ban as ‘discriminatory’.

    The South American stars have demanded that Cavani’s suspension for using the term 'negrito' is overturned.

  • Joshua Jones

    MARC HIS WORDS

    Marcus Rashord took to Twitter this evening after it was announced children who receive free school dinners will continue to be fed while schools are shut.

    The England striker received an MBE for his tireless campaigning for the least privileged youngsters in the country who would go hungry without the meals.

    He wrote: "Well that’s progress. Happy to hear the Prime Minister reference free school meal extension during lockdown.

    "Should never be in question. Let’s all stay safe and check in on each other often.

    "Heading to bed but wanted to say how much respect I have for the teachers and assistants who have and will continue to dedicate their time to preparing food packages and printing vouchers to guarantee no child goes without.

    "You play such an important role. Thank you."

  • Joshua Jones

    AMAD FOR IT

    United reportedly have no interest in letting Amad Diallo stay at Atalanta on loan for the rest of the season.

    Goal claim Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is keen to integrate the teenager into his first-team squad ahead of his imminent arrival in England.

    The Red Devils have already had to wait three months for the 18-year-old after first agreeing a £37million deal including add-ons on deadline day in October.

    Yet Atalanta manager Gian Piero Gasperini claimed over the weekend that his side would like to keep Diallo on loan until the end of the season.

  • Joshua Jones

    LIVERPOOL LOSE

    A great result for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer tonight.

    Southampton have beaten Liverpool 1-0 thanks to Danny Ings' second-minute finish.

    That result means United stay level on points with the champions at the top of the Premier League table – with a better points-per-game ratio.

    If the season was scrapped now…

  • Joshua Jones

    ARE BRU SURE? 

    Most Manchester United fans still prefer Paul Scholes to Bruno Fernandes, despite the Portuguese sensation's better stats.

    SunSport polled Red Devils fans on which playmaker they'd rather have at their peak.

    And, after nearly 7,000 votes were cast, Scholes was the overwhelming favourite.

    Of voters, 61 per cent chose the Class of 92 star over Fernandes, with just 21 per cent opting for United's current main man.

    The remaining 18 per cent couldn't split the pair.

  • Joshua Jones

    BREAKING NEWS

    The Premier League will be allowed to continue behind closed doors despite England going back into a national lockdown.

    PM Boris Johnson addressed the nation this evening to confirm tighter restrictions across the country.

    But there is an exemption for elite sport, meaning professional football will carry on.

    The Premier League has had four matches postponed this season due to Covid-10 outbreaks at Manchester City, Fulham and Newcastle – while a further 52 have been scrapped across the EFL.

  • Joshua Jones

    WING AND PRAYER

    Borussia Dortmund believe Jadon Sancho had his head turned by the prospect of a move to Manchester United last year.

    The England ace, 20, was Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s top target last summer but Dortmund’s £108million demands prevented a deal from taking place in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

    United remain interested in signing Sancho this summer although once again the price may have to come down.

    Dortmund’s chief exec Hans-Joachim Watzke believes the collapse of the switch affected him in the early weeks of the season.

    Watzke said: "It was signalled that the fee offer would be paid in instalments over several years. 

    “It was all theoretical from then on.

    "Maybe Jadon had subconsciously prepared for a move a bit. 

    “I believe he at least thought about it that much that he lost a bit of his ease.”

  • Joshua Jones

    PHIL YOUR BOOTS

    Misfit Phil Jones could be the shock name at the top of the shopping list Sean Dyche will hand to new Burnley chairman Alan Pace.

    Jones, 28, has not played a single game this season because of a knee injury.

    But he had been shunted to the sidelines anyway, despite signing a new contract two years ago that would keep him at Old Trafford until June 2023.

    Dyche could be tempted to take him on loan for the rest of the season, especially as United have indicated they would be prepared to pay a large chunk of his £130,000-a-week wages if he is loaned out.

    And if Leicester or West Ham renew their interest in James Tarkowski – and meet Burnley’s £35million valuation, after falling short in the summer – the Clarets boss will be desperate to bring in an experienced replacement.

    The snag is that as a former Blackburn player, Jones would be an obvious target for stick from Burnley fans, given the fierce rivalry between the Lancashire clubs.

    But with Burnley playing behind closed doors, that is not going to be a problem for the foreseeable future.

  • Joshua Jones

    RECORD BREAKER

    David De Gea made his record 327th Premier League appearance for the Red Devils on New Year’s Day – and vowed for plenty more.

    The Spaniard, who signed from Atletico Madrid in 2011, is facing a challenge for the No1 spot between the sticks from Dean Henderson this season.

    But he is still the preferred choice under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his 327 Premier League games means he is now the most-capped non-British player for the Red Devils.

    His appearance against Aston Villa took him past Roy Keane.

    United tweeted the stat and De Gea added: “More to come.”

    Man Utd – Most PL appearances

    Ryan Giggs 632

    Paul Scholes 499

    Gary Neville 400

    Wayne Rooney 393

    DAVID DE GEA 327

    Roy Keane 326

  • Joshua Jones

    MAN ON

    Manchester United face competition from rivals City who are weighing up a contract offer for Real Madrid legend Sergio Ramos, according to reports.

    The defender, 34, is out of contract at the end of the season and can talk to other teams to agree a summer switch now.

    According to ESPN, Premier League club City are monitoring the situation in case Ramos looks like leaving Real.

    Paris Saint-Germain were also linked with the 178-cap Spaniard.

    The LaLiga giants have long maintained that Ramos wants to stay, and that a new agreement will be found.

  • Joshua Jones

    RACE ROW

    Uruguayan players joined forces to slam Edinson Cavani’s three-game ban as ‘discriminatory’.

    And the South American stars have demanded that Cavani’s suspension is overturned.

    The United striker was suspended by the FA, handed a £100,000 fine and ordered to complete a face to face education.

    The statement read: “Far from condemning racism, the English Football Association has itself committed a discriminatory act against the culture and way of life of the Uruguayan people.

    “The sanction shows the English Football Association’s biased, dogmatic and ethnocentric vision that only allows a subjective interpretation to be made from its particular and excluding conclusion, however flawed it may be.

    “Edinson Cavani has never committed any conduct that could be interpreted as racist. He merely used a common expression in Latin America to affectionately address a love one or close friend.”

  • Joshua Jones

    CUP CHOICES

    The EFL have confirmed a change to the number of substitutes permitted for this season's semi-finals and final.

    Clubs can name up to nine players on the bench with five changes allowed during the match, including extra time.

    Like at the end of last season, these can only be made at three stoppages during play.

    The Carabao Cup semis will be single-legged and go to extra time and penalties if required, with VAR in operation.

    Manchester United host rivals City at Old Trafford on Wednesday to face either Spurs or Brentford in April's rearranged final at Wembley.

  • Josh Graham

    'UNITED DNA'

    Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer revealed new first team coach Darren Fletcher has 'United DNA'.

    The former Scotland midfielder has joined the Norwegian's backroom staff.

    Solskjaer said: "Darren has the United DNA running through his veins and he knows exactly what it takes to be a Manchester United player.

    “He is at the start of his coaching career and his experience both on and off the pitch along with his winning mentality, commitment and hard work will be a great addition to the staff.”

  • Josh Graham

    RAM RAID

    Sergio Ramos' agent has aimed a dig at Real Madrid for letting the club legend's contract run down.

    The defender, whose contract expires at the end of the season, has been linked with a move to Manchester United in the Premier League and Paris Saint-Germain.

    Ramos' brother retweeted a comment from a journalist which criticised Real Madrid's handling of his contract.

    Alfredo Duro said: "Someone will have to explain how and why we've got to this stage, allowing your captain, one of the legends of Real Madrid, to appear in absurd teams of players who can freely sign for another club right now."

    Ramos has made 13 appearances in La Liga this season, scoring twice. The Real Madrid icon has won 22 trophies at the club including five league titles and four Champions Leagues.

    Ramos is reportedly ready to quit Spain with a move to the Premier League an option.

    The 34-year-old, who has made 666 appearances for the club, wants longer than a one-year contract offer at Real Madrid and could be willing to sample English football.

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