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Man United players ‘surprised’ by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer decision after Man City defeat

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Manchester United stars were reportedly shocked to be given a week off by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the wake of their 2-0 loss to bitter rivals Manchester City.

Those squad members not away on international duty – including the likes of Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Mason Greenwood and Donny van de Beek – were expecting to be put through their paces at Carrington, with the Red Devils suffering six defeats in their last 12 games in all competitions.

But Solskjaer was pictured boarding a flight from Manchester to Norway on Monday and it has since emerged that players and staff have been given a break away from training.

According to The Daily Mail, the decision came as a big ‘surprise’ given the intense pressure on Solskjaer and the ongoing crisis at the club, with Brendan Rodgers, Erik ten Hag and Ralf Rangnick linked as possible managerial replacements in recent days.

However, the report claims Solskjaer’s position is safe for the time being, with the 48-year-old set to be in the dugout for United’s trip to Watford after the international break.

Solskjaer has repeatedly batted off questions regarding his future and it’s clear he expects to lead the side at Vicarage Road a week on Saturday.

Asked whether he was beginning to feel he was on borrowed time following United’s recent derby defeat, he told Sky Sports: ‘No, I don’t start to feel like that.

‘I have good communication all the time with the club that’s very up-front and honest about the situation.’

Rio Ferdinand has been reluctant to criticise his former United team-mate and remained loyal to the Norwegian throughout the club’s struggles.

But the legendary ex-United and England defender appears to have changed his stance regarding Solskjaer’s future this week, suggesting the time may have come for ‘the baton to be handed over’ to another manager.

On his Rio Ferdinand Presents FIVE YouTube channel, Ferdinand said: ‘We started this season with such hope, but also the transfer window we had, the excitement, we were all sitting there going, “You know what? This is our time now!”

‘I have to be honest, Ole was brought in to get us to that point. Under the previous management eras that we had, he was brought in to fix that and bring us to a place where you get the squad intact, you get the players to a point where we can challenge for the league.

‘I sit here now and I don’t think we can challenge to win this league. I look at our team every week and I’m wondering what we’re going to do tactically, I don’t see any philosophy or identity in the United way of playing, whatever that should be from the management and I sit here confused looking at the team.

‘When you look at it like that with the transfer window we had… we were all sitting here excited thinking, “Wow! This is where we’re meant to be!”

‘But Ole was brought in with the remit to get us back to a point, a moment where you think he’s brought some foundation back. At the end of the season we were thinking: “Yes, that’s it!”

‘I was always deep down a bit sceptical. Could he take us on to be champions? I wasn’t fully convinced, I hoped he would be able to do that. But what I’ve seen this season I just feel it might be the time now for the baton to be handed over to somebody else who can take us on now.

‘I think Ole can leave with his head held high because from where he came in to where he left us at the beginning of this season it’s positive.’

Ferdinand added: ‘I hate being in this position where I’m having to call out ex-team-mates or friends, people that I want to see do well.

‘But you have to be honest. You can’t sit here and say, “This player should never wear the shirt”, but then protect a manager. I don’t agree with that. You can’t have one rule for players and another for managers.

‘It’s not nice to see a man lose his job, but you’ve got to call it how you see it. It’s hat’s best for the football club not what’s best for the individual.

‘The football club will be living and breathing longer than any individual.’

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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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