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Cristiano Ronaldo sends message to Man United team-mates ahead of Atalanta clash

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An impassioned Cristiano Ronaldo has called on his Manchester United team-mates to hit back at their critics and ‘prove themselves to the world’ in their Champions League clash with Atalanta.

The Red Devils head into the Group F tie on the back of a dismal 4-2 loss away to Leicester in the Premier League, the club’s fourth defeat in seven games in all competitions.

Ronaldo has scored five goals in seven appearances since rejoining United in the summer, but was widely criticised for his underwhelming display at the King Power Stadium and will be desperate to respond tomorrow evening.

Speaking ahead of the Old Trafford encounter, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer defended Ronaldo’s performance versus the Foxes and hit back at questions over the Portuguese’s perceived lack of pressing in recent games.

‘We’ve got 11 players out there on the pitch,’ the United head coach told reporters at his pre-match press conference.

‘We have different roles and responsibilities and we have a team out there that we really think is going to win that game.

‘We didn’t against Leicester so there is always going to be criticism.

‘And Cristiano is an absolute top player, we know what he can do for us, he is doing everything he can do to help the team.’

Ronaldo – the Champions League’s all-time top scorer – netted a crucial last-gasp winner in United’s last match in the competition, their 2-1 victory at home to Villarreal.

And the ex-Real Madrid and Juventus superstar is clearly itching to return to action to put things right after such a miserable afternoon in Leicester.

‘Our time is coming!’ Ronaldo posted on his Instagram page on Tuesday night.

‘We have to show what we are made of and the Champions League is the perfect competition to prove ourselves to the world.

‘No excuses! Let’s go!’

Gary Neville – Ronaldo’s team-mate for six years at the Theatre of Dreams – was disappointed with the forward’s showing at Leicester at the weekend.

Speaking on Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football, the former United right-back urged Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes to stop ‘flailing their arms’ at their team-mates and to focus on improving their own performances.

‘I don’t think this is a Paul Pogba problem,’ Neville said on Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football.

‘The reason I say that is that on Saturday I watched Ronaldo and Fernandes up front, nothing.

‘I saw them flailing their arms a few times at a couple of their team-mates which I didn’t like. That needs to stop!

‘I saw wide players with no intensity in their pressing. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer can’t go back to [Scott] McTominay and Fred and he can’t go back to [Nemanja] Matic and Fred because the reality is we know what that delivers. It won’t deliver Manchester United success.’

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Rio Ferdinand issues major warning about Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag

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Former centre-back Rio Ferdinand believes it is still too early to judge whether Erik ten Hag is the right man to lead Manchester United back to the top, despite their unquestionable improvement under him this season.

United head into tomorrow’s Manchester derby against City at Old Trafford with the knowledge that a win will lift them to within a point and place of their neighbours in the Premier League table.

The Reds have lost just one of their last 18 matches since being battered 6-3 by City back in October, featuring a current run of eight wins on the bounce.

The Reds, such is the level of progress they have made under Ten Hag this season, are now considered as one of the favourites to qualify for the Champions League for next season.

They have made significant strides in a relatively short space of time and victories over the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur already this season have proven that they are capable of competing in the upper echelons of the table again.

However, despite heading into the second half of the campaign with form in their sails, Ferdinand insists the jury is still out on Ten Hag, despite him reaching 20 wins as United manager quick than any of his predecessors.

“I think it’s too early to say,” said Ferdinand to the Mirror. “We’ve been here with previous managers when it looks like we are onto something.

“We’ve got to be patient and give the man time. I think all the signs are very positive at the moment. He’s come in and seen what is happening, assessed how things are, looked at individuals and looked at the shape of the team.

“These were a bunch of players that were quite low. They were shot to pieces and he’s had to build, not only footballers, but men back up again. He’s had to build a lot of human beings back up and that takes time.

“The fact he’s now talking about qualifying for the Champions League so positively, he can sense a confidence coming back into this team. There’s a consistency of performance from the team that wasn’t there before and the signals and signs are all very promising.

“But they’re still not where they want to be. City are way ahead of where United are. The distance is a bit closer, but it’s still not anywhere near where we want it to be. There’s still work to be done.”

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Manchester United takeover bids ‘expected imminently’ with serious interest in Club

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Manchester United are expecting takeover offers from across the world as they are set to invite bids ahead of ‘mid-February deadline’.

The Telegraph have reported that the club have received ‘serious interest’ from consortiums based in the Middle East, Asia and the United States.

British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe is also weighing up an offer, as the Glazers hope to the sell one of the biggest clubs in the world for over £5billion.

The report also adds that parties who had been interested in taking over Chelsea, before Todd Boehly’s £4.25bn takeover, are set to return with approaches for the Red Devils.

It’s expected that potential investors will go public with their attempts to buy United in the coming weeks with the clock ‘now ticking on a deal’.

Senior United figures will issue a mid February deadline for formal offers in order to help get get the takeover completed before the end of the season.

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Confirmed: Chelsea ready to make late bid to hijack another Arsenal transfer

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Chelsea will make a late attempt to scupper Arsenal’s hopes of finally signing Mikhailo Mudryk from Shakhtar Donetsk.

The Gunners have submitted their third bid for the Ukraine international winger and hope an offer of £62m before add-ons, which take the deal closer to £70m, will be enough to break the deadlock between the two clubs.

Chelsea’s interest in the 21-year-old winger was earlier this week described only as ‘exploratory’ but ESPN now claim that Todd Boehly will test the waters and attempt to throw a spanner in the works for the Premier League leaders.

Shakhtar’s technical director Darijo Srna was pictured at Stamford Bridge last week as he watched Chelsea’s defeat against Manchester City and Boehly would have little issue with meeting an asking price which is closer to £88million.

Arsenal are said to be confident that their latest bid for Mudryk will be enough to finally secure the services of their No.1 January target, but have already been beaten to the punch once this month by their west London rivals.

Chelsea won the race to sign Joao Felix on loan from Atletico Madrid amid competition from Arsenal and Manchester United, but the Portugal international’s promising debut ended in devastating fashion when he was sent off just shy of the hour mark for a dangerous challenge on Fulham’s Kenny Tete.

Felix will now miss the next three games through suspension as the problems mount for Chelsea’s under-fire manager Graham Potter.

‘It sums up where we are at the moment – everything that can go wrong, is going wrong,’ Potter said after Chelsea’s 2-1 west London derby defeat.

‘It was a forward’s tackle from Joao, there was no malice in it but I understand why it was a red. It is another blow the hits keep coming at the moment.

‘He was really good you could see his quality in the game so it is doubly disappointing for us because he was looking dangerous throughout.

‘I don’t think there was too much malice in it and it is an unfortunate action and we are going to lose him now for three games.’

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