TUESDAY’S BIG STORIES
Yesterday we brought you Manchester United players voicing their discontent while away on international duty.
Today? An international boss and former Manchester United manager warning another coach against taking the gig at Old Trafford.
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And so the circus continueth.
"Erik ten Hag is a great coach and that is always good for Manchester United, but Manchester United are a commercial club, so it's a difficult choice for a coach. He'd better go to a football club.”
Those are the views of Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal, who managed United – the team that currently list Adidas, TeamViewer, Tezos, Kohler, Apollo Tyres, Cadbury, Canon Medical, Casillero del Diablo, Chevrolet, Chivas, DHL, Ecolab, HCL, Hua Ti Hui, Konami, Marriott Hotels, Maui Jim, Melitta, Mlily, Remington, Renewable Energy Group, Tag Heuer, Visit Malta as their global partners – for two years from 2014 to 2016 and has never been one to mince his words.
He went on. "I'm not going to advise him, he'll call me himself. But he must choose a football club and not a commercial club.”
Tell us what you really think, and all that, but these words will carry some weight given Van Gaal’s own experience at United.
Ten Hag, you’ve been warned, and there's a bloke down in Rome who might have some stories to put you off too.
Gaz backs Harry
So. England play this evening. Potentially their last friendly before the World Cup, what with six Nations League matches on the way this year and four in June alone (yes, four).
Will we learn anything from this evening? Perhaps not, there'll likely be more experimenting, more chances for those on the fringes to impress, but club managers will just hope their players come through unscathed ahead of the final two months of the campaign, while the players themselves will know that World Cup selection will not hinge on tonight's showing – nor performances to come in the next few weeks, but more likely at the start of next season.
Though if you're a Gareth Southgate favourite you may not have to worry anyway. The England manager has backed Harry Maguire despite some recent poor displays for Manchester United, and suggested a player wouldn't get selected if they played badly for two years, which is, well, a long old time.
Gareth Southgate faces 'complicated decision' on defender Harry Maguire
"He was very good for us in the autumn. His club is in a difficult moment - there are any number of reasons for that," said Southgate.
"That doesn't mean players can be poor for a couple of years and still find their way in."
A bit odd, no?
Abramovich suspected poisoning
It’s not every day you read about the owner of a football club suffering suspected poisoning while taking part in peace negotiations as the war his nation’s leader ignited continues in their neighbouring country – but then again, these aren’t normal times.
The Wall Streeet Journal revealed to the world yesterday that Chelsea’s Russian owner Roman Abramovich, and at least two Ukrainian peace negotiators, all developed symptoms including “red eyes, constant and painful tearing, and peeling of skin on their faces and hands”.
There’s little to add here, naturally, but investigative website Bellingcat goes into greater detail in a fascinating Twitter thread.
IN OTHER NEWS
Andorra have won two games in a row. Yes. Really. For the first time ever. Genuinely. And they’re delighted, so you can’t be mad.
Portugal will look to book their spot in the World Cup tonight, so let’s celebrate Rui Costa’s 50th birthday in style by remembering his corker against England at Euro 2004. Eighteen years ago, yeesh.
A fascinating interview with Nacho Monreal by FourFourTwo, with the ex-Arsenal defender opening up about Mesut Ozil's issues with Arsene Wenger and, well, just about everybody at the club it seems:
Ozil’s problem is that he had problems with everyone. It ended badly with Wenger, he didn’t play the last few games with him, then Emery tried to bring him back and make him our leader. To begin with, he gave him a lot of confidence and Mesut played a lot, but the coach understood there were other teammates who were in better condition. Ozil was one of the best players in the team, one of the best paid, but they saw he wasn’t at the level required. As a person, he was good with everyone, but he also missed a lot of games through injury.
Much, much more football than yesterday. A shed load of friendlies including England v Ivory Coast, Portugal taking on North Macedonia for a place at the World Cup, and then five second legs in Africa as qualifying there reaches its conclusion. Egypt or Senegal? Find out tonight.
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