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Gary Neville is right about the next Manchester United manager

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If Sky Sports are registering their successes over social media interactions then they will have been delighted with the latest post-match inquest into Manchester United at the Etihad on Sunday.

The days of calm and rational analysis appear to be over. Instead, Sky treated viewers to a studio of middle-aged blokes trying to shout louder than each other to make their points heard.

The post-match debrief over United’s latest derby disaster was so chaotic and uncontrolled it made Prime Minister’s Questions look like a well-run forum of sensible debate.

It would be interesting to know how many viewers managed to stick with the discussion rather than become exasperated at the sight of people just shouting at each other.

The social media interactions over digestible clips might be through the roof, but this was hardly a roaring success for the format of punditry in 2022.

Gary Neville was attempting to be the voice of reason but was often met with a hysterical Micah Richards. The former City defender enjoyed a bright start as a pundit but now seems to have descended into the equivalent of a fan sitting and screaming at the TV.

Perhaps the most interesting segment of their ‘debate’ was over United’s managerial decisions, with Richards wondering forcefully why they didn’t appoint Antonio Conte when he was available in October. He’s a winner, was the sum of the argument, overlooking a fairly mediocre record at Tottenham that suggests that isn’t always the case.

“Conte’s not a manager for United,” Neville responded. “He comes in for one or two years, he does a great job but we’ve been there with Jose Mourinho, they want to appoint either Mauricio Pochettino or [Erik] Ten-Hag on a long-term project and they needed someone to get them to the end of the season.”

There is certainly a debate to be had over whether Ralf Rangnick was the best candidate on an interim boss. After all, he has spent just two of the last 10 seasons in coaching, but there is little merit in castigating United over not appointing Conte.

Going from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to Conte would have been swapping one extreme from the other, the kind of tactic that usually smacks of a club without a plan, reactive rather than proactive. The experiment of appointing a proven winner failed with Mourinho and it’s not going to be repeated with someone who is so similar in terms of the style of aggravation he can cause the club and the players.

Anybody – such as Richards – still wondering why he wasn’t appointed at United only needs to see his record at Tottenham and more importantly the emotional volatility he has bought to that role. This was the best group of players he’d ever worked with after winning at City and then a group of players who had let their last three managers down when they lost to Burnley four days later.

That kind of extreme emotion is not what United need right now. Conte has been successful, but he’s done so with an almost blank chequebook and Juventus and Inter Milan have actually improved for his departure, with the argument that players have become worn down by the intensity of his methods, in private and in public, and relished a change of boss. That is hardly a recipe for success for this current United squad, who are clearly in a fragile place after a disastrous season.

United have got all of their permanent appointments since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement wrong and it’s probable Conte would have gone the same way. They have to appoint a long-term manager now, someone they have faith in to last five or six years and bring a modern, progressive style to the club.

That is clearly not Conte. There is an element of risk to Pochettino and Ten Hag, but both fit the bill for United more than a character such as Conte does.

There’s little point United appointing a short-term winner, given the chances of them usurping City or Liverpool next season are almost non-existent. The best chance of success is the seasons to follow when Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp are expected to leave their posts.

That gives a long-term, project manager such as Pochettino or Ten Hag time to get things right before United might finally expect to be serious title challengers once again.

Chelsea

Tuchel hands 22-year-old his first Chelsea start – predicted starting XI against Leeds this weekend

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Chelsea will look to get back to winning ways in Sunday’s game against Leeds United at Elland Road.

The Blues dominated proceedings in the London derby against Spurs last week, however only came out of things with a point following Harry Kane’s late equaliser.

Thomas Tuchel operated a fluid and unique system at Stamford Bridge, with Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Mason Mount especially thriving in the new look system.

However, the Blues could turn back to the recognised back three this weekend, with our predicted lineup for the game against Leeds.

GK and Defence

Edouard Mendy made a brilliant save just before Spurs’ late equaliser at the end, and his position in the squad is more than secure for this one.

With there still being no breakthrough on the Wesley Fofana front, Cesar Azpilicueta will return to the starting lineup as captain at Elland Road.

Fixtures are yet to pick up in the early stages of the season, so Thiago Silva should still be fresh and okay to participate again.

The centre-backs will be completed by Kalidou Koulibaly, who showed his quality again in an emphatic display against Spurs.

Midfield

Reece James scored almost instantly after being moved back to wing-back on Sunday, and the Blues will look to get the attacking best out of him on Sunday.

Jorginho may have been at fault for the first conceded goal last week, although his great performance will still see him start again against Leeds.

Injuries have ruled N’golo Kante and likely Mateo Kovacic out of the game, there is a big choice to be made to partner the Italy internatonal. While Ruben Loftus-Cheek starred against Spurs, Conor Gallagher will be chosen to partner in midfield, being handed his first start for the club.

Marc Cucurella will look to build on his impressive performance last week with another start against Leeds, with Ben Chilwell still not quite at match fitness.

Attack

The Chelsea attack will have a familiar look to the last two weeks, with Mason Mount occupying the free-roaming role in the attack against an opponent he has had a lot of success against before.

Raheem Sterling will try again in his quest to open his Chelsea league account, with him missing a glorious chance last week.

Kai Havertz is another man who missed a great opportunity to win the game for the Blues at the weekend, although his work in the front three was enough to see him start again.

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Atletico Madrid do not want to pay €40 million for Barcelona attacker

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Atletico Madrid are in a precarious situation in regards to their ownership of Antoine Griezmann.

The Spanish giants had signed the Barcelona forward on a two-year loan deal last summer. The contract included a mandatory purchase option worth €40 million if the player features in 50% of the matches with a minimum of 45 minutes between the games across two seasons.

Last season, Griezmann featured in 82.5% of the matches, meaning Atletico Madrid may have to virtually leave him out on the bench throughout the 2022/23 campaign if they are to avoid paying the fee for the Frenchman in 2023.

However, with Luis Suarez leaving the club, Atletico Madrid consider Griezmann a viable part of the club’s attacking unit and Los Colchoneros must get the best out of him, if they are to regain their lost status in the title race in this new season.

At the same time, the club are not too keen on meeting the mandatory €40 million purchase clause set on Griezmann’s contract. This has been reported by Mundo Deportivo which suggests the club are looking to reduce the overall valuation of the clause.

While Barcelona are yet to respond to Atletico’s overtures, there is a clear indication that the capital club have no intention to pay anywhere near the €40 million for the services of Griezmann, who was barely even a starter for Diego Simeone’s men last season

The Frenchman was even left out on the bench in Atletico’s opening game against Getafe. However, coming on as a substitute in the final half an hour, the attacker was able to break his scoring duck by netting the third goal in a 3-0 victory.

It will be interesting to see whether the little cameo compels Simeone to start him in future matches, although his performances should not deter Atletico Madrid from their attempts to lower the price tag of the star striker.

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Chelsea

Barcelona star’s move to Chelsea is now ‘heating up’ – report

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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang could be close to securing a move to Chelsea from FC Barcelona, with the move now heating up, reports Victor Navarro on COPE.

Aubameyang joined Barça only eight months ago, arriving as a free agent from Arsenal in January. He helped the Catalans finish second in La Liga last season and finished the campaign as the club’s joint top scorer in all competitions along with Memphis Depay

And, Barcelona could now lose both their top scorers this summer. Depay is closing in on a move to Juventus, having reportedly agreed a two-year contract with the Italian giants.

And now Aubameyang could be on his way to Chelsea imminently, with the move ‘heating up’ recently. The Blues have made the 33-year-old Gabonese striker their top target after losing both Timo Werner and Romelu Lukaku.

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel enjoyed a successful relationship with Aubameyang during their time at Borussia Dortmund and is now pushing for a reunion.

Reports earlier on Thursday indicated that Chelsea were planning to submit a formal offer for the former Arsenal captain imminently.

Now, Victor Navarro is claiming that the two clubs are negotiating over the transfer of the 33-year-old, with all parties intent on getting the move over the line.

Barcelona need to get rid of players so that they can register Jules Kounde and make more additions, with a new right-back and left-back on the club’s agenda.

The departure of Depay alone will not be enough to register Kounde. And with Frenkie de Jong unwilling to leave and no offers arriving for Sergino Dest yet, Aubameyang’s exit seems the best option for Barça.

The ex-Arsenal superstar has fallen down the pecking order at Camp Nou this season following the arrival of Robert Lewandowski. A move to Stamford Bridge could see him become the first-choice striker and enjoy regular game-time.

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