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Michael Carrick Hopes Move Into Defence Is Not Permanent

michael-carrickMichael Carrick is keen to make a swift return to his regular midfield role with Manchester United.

Carrick has been filling in at centre-back for Louis van Gaal because of injuries to United defenders in recent weeks, and has proved a hit in his new-found role.

With Marcos Rojo and Chris Smalling both still injured, Van Gaal may choose to keep Carrick in defence for Saturday’s visit to Aston Villa.

Although Carrick is happy to adapt to the needs of the team and play where required, the 33-year-old England star does not want his defensive role to become permanent.

“You have to adapt because that’s just how things have gone in recent weeks,” said Carrick.

“Maybe when the injuries settle down and we have more of a settled squad then it will be more consistent in terms of positioning.

“But you have to be ready to deal with injuries. It’s happened a few times this season and, the more it does, the easier it gets.

“I class myself as a midfielder and probably always will. I might have spells at centre-back, as I have over the last few years, but I’ve played for that long in midfield that I can’t class myself as anything other than a midfielder.”

Carrick is making up for lost time after missing the first three months of the season after undergoing ankle surgery in July, when Van Gaal took over at United. Since Carrick made his comeback, United have won six games on the spin, with many crediting his return to the starting line-up as a key factor in the winning run.

“I feel good and I feel fresh,” said Carrick. “Obviously I missed a lot of football at the start of the season, but I’m enjoying it.

“When you’re out for so long you really miss it, so I am just happy to be back playing and looking forward to the games ahead. You just try to play your own game.

“When you’re out for so long, you do think about how your return will go and it’s hard to judge where you’re at in terms of fitness and match sharpness, but things have gone alright.”

Carrick believes United, currently third in the Premier League, eight points behind leaders Chelsea, are moving in the right direction under Van Gaal and are only going to get better.

“I’m enjoying it and I don’t think you can ever stop learning,” Carrick told United Review. “You’re always picking up new ideas and new ways of playing.

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Di Maria Named Argentina Footballer Of The Year

dimaria-mufcManchester United winger Angel Di Maria has beaten the likes of Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero to win Argentina’s player of the year award.

The £60 million summer signing picked up the Olimpia de Plata at a ceremony on Tuesday, where he was celebrated for his successes for both club and country.

It is the first time that Lionel Messi has not won the award since 2006 – despite the fact the Barcelona man has scored 56 goals for club and country and won the World Cup player of the tournament award.

Former Real Madrid man Di Maria helped Real Madrid to their historic 10th Champions League triumph in May, before continuing his form for Argentina at the World Cup.

Argentina reached the final, their first since 1990, but the 26-year-old missed out on the match with Germany through injury. He scored a vital last-gasp winner against Switzerland in an earlier knockout round.

Di Maria capped his summer by becoming the most expensive Premier League signing of all-time, with Manchester United paying upwards of £60million on him in a bid to turn their fortunes.

His impact at Old Trafford was felt immediately, scoring three in his first five appearances for the Red Devils, including a succulent chip at Leicester – arguably United’s best goal of the season so far.

He has become a mainstay in Louis van Gaal’s line-up, as United have embarked on a six-match winning run following their 3-0 demolition of Liverpool on Sunday.

At the same awards, Lucas Pratto of Velez Sarsfield won the acclaim for best player in the Argentine league.

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Falcao: I really want to stay at United

Falcao-scoresRadamel Falcao says that he would love to stay at Manchester United, but admits that a permanent move to Old Trafford will depend on how much he plays from now until the end of the season.

United made a big splash by signing the Colombian striker from Monaco in deadline day, but Falcao was obviously not fully recovered from his knee surgery early in the year and as a result he has struggled to find form and has scored just once in 11 appearances.

United have an option to by the striker for £43.5m and the former Porto striker knows that his chances of remaining at Old Trafford depend on the amount of playing time he gets for the remainder of the campaign, though.

“I am very happy in this city, in this club and I am enjoying it here,” he told Press Association Sport. “I really want to stay. From my point of view, I’d like to carry on but obviously I have to analyse the situation, see if I play more and see what decision the board takes.”

Falcao, who cost Monaco £52m when they signed him from Atletico Madrid 18 months ago, admits he would prefer to play more, but is willing to be patient.

“Every footballer wants to play, no-one is happy when they are not playing, when they are on the bench, but whenever I am given the opportunity, whether it be for five, 10, 20 or 90 minutes, I have to give my best,” he said. “I feel ready for the moment that the team needs me. Whenever I have the opportunity to come on I try to do my best for the coach and I try to help the team.”

When asked whether he had spoken to manager Louis van Gaal about his lack of playing time, Falcao said:

“We talk a lot. He has a philosophy that I respect.

“I have had an injury, and I have had to wait for the opportunity to play. I am not playing many minutes at the moment, but I am sure that there will more opportunities to play.”

Falcao hopes he will soon reach peak fitness and start repaying the club for the money they have invested in him.

“I’m almost at 100 per cent now, let’s see wait and see what the decision of the coach is, when he wants to use me more,” said Falcao, who is one of the top earners at the club.

The challenge for Falcao is that he faces a lot of competition to get into the United line-up as Robin van Persie has scored four goals in his last four games and Wayne Rooney is starting to show good form, while Van Gaal has shown a lot of faith in 19-year-old forward James Wilson.

“We have a group of strikers who are very good and that’s good for everyone,” he said. “That means there is always a level of competition between us, healthy competition, and obviously I am very happy with how the team is doing.”

The holiday fixtures will be a key part of the season for Falcao as United play four league games and an FA Cup in a 14 day period. The Columbian should start at least one of those games and he will be desperate to get his name on the scoresheet a couple of times.

Do you think that Man United should sign Radamel Falcao to a permanent deal next summer?

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David De Gea: I’m really happy we beat Liverpool

DDG3Man United’s November PFA Fans Player of the Month winner was simply outstanding and the denied Liverpool time and time again in the Reds 3-0 victory.

After the game, United’s goalkeeper spoke of his delight at beating their hated rivals.

“I’m really happy with the three points against Liverpool,” he said. “I thought we were very good and scored three goals – it’s fantastic. I saved twice from Sterling in the first half and a few times from Balotelli in the second half. At the other end, we scored three goals, so it’s unbelievable. We’ve had a lot of injuries and we’ve had to change the defenders every week, but everyone played really well today. We want to be at the top of the league but we have to take it game by game. We have to keep training hard and produce results like we did today.”

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Van Persie: Fans were our 12th man today

RVPvCFSRobin van Persie scored one and assisted another in Manchester United’s win over Liverpool and the United striker is hitting a rich vein of form at the right time. After the win on Sunday the striker was full of praise for the United fans:

“The fans were brilliant today for the whole 90 minutes, so we had 12 men and we needed that at times,” he said. “It was a very good game, and David was outstanding again. I think it’s always important to score first in games like this; it gives you an added calmness. I think that while we were sloppy at times, we used the ball well overall. Michael Carrick made a big difference at the back; he’s so confident on the ball. Phil Jones and Jonny Evans, as well – the whole back five were excellent today.”

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Louis van Gaal felt Manchester United were the deserved victors over Liverpool at Old Trafford, but is demanding further improvements from his players.

Goals from Wayne Rooney, Juan Mata and Robin van Persie gave the Reds an emphatic result over the club’s historic rivals from Merseyside. But a string of saves at crucial times during the match from David De Gea proved to be vital in the final analysis, leading van Gaal to urge his players to perform better when a seventh straight win is sought at Aston Villa next Saturday.

“Today, I thought we were the better team, and we deserved to win,” said the manager. “So, it wasn’t the same as the Southampton game – we pressed more from the front, and that was the key.

“It’s a process. It’s important that we win the games, because it makes the players believe in the philosophy. But, we have to improve and I’m saying that to them every week. When that’s no longer the case, I’ll be pleased.

“I hope [this win provides a platform], but now Aston Villa becomes our most important match,” he added. “Every game in this league is difficult to win.”

De Gea’s heroics helped preserve a clean sheet, but despite the score and the result the manager was unhappy that his goalkeeper was called into action so often.

“We gave the ball away too easily, especially in the second half when we were leading. There was a lot of space out there, but we still gave the ball away, so I’ll speak to the players about that when we evaluate the game tomorrow.”

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Match Report: Man United 3 Liverpool 0

DDG2Manchester United secured a sixth consecutive Barclays Premier League victory by beating Liverpool 3-0 at Old Trafford.

Wayne Rooney netted a ninth goal in his last eight appearances on home turf to give United a 12th minute lead, 25 seconds after Raheem Sterling had passed up a fine opportunity to put Liverpool ahead. Louis van Gaal’s men doubled their advantage after 40 minutes as Juan Mata stooped to score from Ashley Young’s cross at the far post.

Liverpool created the clearer openings over the course of the contest but a fine display from United goalkeeper David de Gea, saving three times from Sterling and Mario Balotelli, served to frustrate them before Robin Van Persie completed the scoring with less than 20 minutes left. The result comes after Liverpool exited the UEFA Champions League in midweek, while for United, it acts as a measure of revenge for the 3-0 beating Liverpool dished out in last season’s corresponding fixture.

The intrigue in the United line-up was that James Wilson was selected to partner Van Persie up front, with Rooney playing a supporting role in an attacking line-up. Marouane Fellaini collected an early booking for fouling Adam Lallana but the England midfielder recovered to thread a deft through ball for Sterling to draw a first save of the match from De Gea in the 12th minute.

United surged back at Liverpool immediately to open the scoring. Antonio Valencia nutmegged Joe Allen and picked out Rooney, who was afforded room to steer home side-footed from 16 yards.

De Gea held a deflected drive from Steven Gerrard as Liverpool looked to regain their footing and Sterling gave the Spain goalkeeper a more taxing save when he skipped past Phil Jones in the 23rd minute.

The visitors were then forced into a defensive change, Glen Johnson hobbling off to be replaced by Kolo Toure, and they fell 2-0 behind five minutes before the interval. Young cut back to cross right-footed and Mata nodded home.

Balotelli came on for Lallana at the break and Jordan Henderson headed Sterling’s left-wing centre over as Liverpool sought a quick response. Sterling spurned his team’s clearest opportunity of the match, allowing De Gea to block after Jonny Evans’ backpass had sold his goalkeeper short.

Van Persie could have put the result beyond doubt after the hour when he sidefooted wide from Valencia’s excellent low delivery, and De Gea’s finest moment arrived midway through the second period as he touched Balotelli’s snapshot onto the crossbar with a stunning reaction save.

With 18 minutes remaining, Van Persie atoned for his earlier miss as Mata gave him a simple finish after Dejan Lovren’s misjudged clearance.

Balotelli was twice frustrated by De Gea from close range once more before Jones produced a save to compare with his opposite number’s collection in the 87th minute, as Van Persie smashed towards the roof of the net.

Challenging for a top-four place to return to European football’s top table next season looks an increasingly tall order for Liverpool, who lie ninth, 10 points behind United in third.

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Good News As Phil Jones Returns To Training

phil-jones2Phil Jones has given Manchester United an injury boost by returning to training.

England defender Jones has not played since starting United’s 2-2 draw at West Brom on October 20.

Jones, who has played only four games for United this season, has been suffering from a shin complaint for the past seven weeks.

His return to training is a welcome boost for Van Gaal, who is without Chris Smalling, Luke Shaw, Daley Blind and Rafael, although the latter has resumed training.

Jones is unlikely to feature against Liverpool on Sunday, but could make his comeback away to Aston Villa on December 20.

United will go into the Liverpool game without defenders Chris Smalling, Luke Shaw, Daley Blind and Rafael.

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Louis van Gaal: Man Utd ‘lucky’ to beat Southampton

lvgManchester United boss Louis van Gaal admits his side were lucky to beat Southampton 2-1.
Two goals from Robin van Persie saw United win at St Mary’s to climb up to third in the Premier League.

However, they were outplayed for much of Monday’s game and only had three shots to the Saints’ 15.

“When you are the better team then of course you deserve more,” Van Gaal told BBC Sport. “The performance was not good enough – we were the lucky team.”

United’s boss also praised the contribution of Van Persie – who scored either side of Graziano Pelle’s equaliser. Van Gaal had been critical of the Dutch forward after their win over Arsenal saying he had a “very bad game” but called his performance at St Mary’s his best of the season.

“I think not only the goals are telling something about Robin van Persie, I think also his performance,” he said.

“He was one of three players on the pitch for Manchester United who were good or maybe very good.
He had a great influence on the result and until now it is his best performance.”

After an indifferent start to their season United now find themselves in third position but Van Gaal admitted it was an unsavoury way to achieve it.

“It is fantastic to be third in the table but I had hoped to do it with a better performance,” he said.

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United Poor But Up To Third With Win

RVPvCFSManchester United climb to third in the Premier League after Robin van Persie’s brace gave them victory over an often-superior Southampton at St Mary’s.

United took an early lead as Van Persie pounced on Jose Fonte’s slack backpass, but Graziano Pelle swept in a deserved equaliser as the Saints fought back.

Southampton had plenty of chances, but Van Persie guided in Wayne Rooney’s deep free-kick for the decisive goal.

David De Gea turned away a low Pelle shot as Southampton ran out of steam.

United’s fifth successive Premier League win came despite registering three shots at goal to Southampton’s 15, while the visitors’ occasionally shambolic defensive performance cast further doubt over their solidity at the other end.

But the mere fact of the club’s return to the top three for the first time since August 2013 will raise hopes they can remain there until the end of the season – the bare minimum requested by chief executive Ed Woodward this summer.

United’s fans ended the match singing Van Persie’s name and it was the Dutchman who capitalised on Fonte’s early error to give their side the lead.

The Southampton skipper’s attempt to play the ball back to Fraser Forster was risky, but Van Persie’s anticipation and deft finish through the goalkeeper’s legs skilfully extracted full punishment.

Southampton had threatened through Shane Long, and an early muscle injury suffered by Chris Smalling fuelled their belief, as well as adding to United’s injury list.

Jonny Evans was ushered on for his first appearance since September’s 5-3 defeat by Leicester, but his introduction only spread uncertainty through United’s three-man defence.

Southampton found gaps between the Northern Ireland international, Paddy McNair and Marcos Rojo with Sadio Mane’s weaving run only ended by a last-ditch challenge and Dusan Tadic over-hitting a simple through ball to Long.

The seemingly inevitable equaliser arrived shortly after. A mob of United players failed to clear a cross, Tadic’s shot fell invitingly to the feet of Pelle and the Italy international swept home to end a run of five games without a goa

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