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Mark my words, Wilson - United are done for


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Somewhere deep in the bowels of FMS HQ…

“Dave, we’ve got to stop this. Seven awards in one year is not a ratio I can deal with.”

“I know Boss, he’s blown past PM7 in no time. You worried?”

“Less of the ‘boss’ stuff, I’m only a mod. I’m not worried, but…”

“That sounds pretty worried to me.”

“Maybe a little. It’s nice up here, OK?”

“OK, so what are we going to do about it? Do we need Neil on board?”

“No, he’s new to this. We can’t have the new mod caught up in this. It’s got to stay… private. Low-key. Understand?”

“Gotcha. Just the two of us. So…”

“Dave, I’m a mod. I can’t be involved. You’re on your own here.”

“But… you asked me to be here! This was your idea!”

“Think of it as… a mission. An assignment. A…”

“You want me to do the dirty work, I understand. I’ve had some thoughts, as it happens. You aren’t going to like them, but…”

“Tell me more.”

“What does Mark value above everything else?”

“What are you are going to do to the forums?”

“No, not FMS. Think harder.”

“You’re going after them? Dave, that’s my club too. You can’t just…”

“I know it’s your club, that’s half the point. You’ve got contacts, you can make it happen. Do you want it doing or not?”

“Well, I do like being top of the pile. I guess I’m in. What’s the plan?”

“You’re a journalist, right? Leak something to Joel, get Babyface out of the club.”

“He’s at the wheel, Dave, I can’t just do that.”

“How's that working for you? You can, and you will. With him gone, I – sorry, ‘Mark’ – will take over. Long-term appointment, vision for the future, football philosophy, all that jazz. The fans will lap it up. Then, with maximum job security, ‘Mark’ runs them into the ground.”

“Dave, I hate it. But it’s genius. A word of warning though – don’t go too big on philosophy, we had a guy who tried that.”

“Sure, no philosophy. And don’t worry, I’ll be subtle.”

“How do you mean?”

“Well, now you’re asking the right questions…”


With apologies to @mark wilson27 and @tenthreeleader for misappropriating their identities, I present to you something of an experiment I've been mulling over for a while. With ‘Mark Wilson’ placed in charge of his beloved Red Devils and in possession of some compromising material on the Glazers, how long will it take for United to slip out of the Premier League and into oblivion?

The Set-up

- 'Mark' has a high reputation from his FMS days and 10-3 has called in some favours with the Glazers, so he is unsackable.
- He will delegate training to his coaching team – no playing for injuries - and things like staff recruitment and the youth sides elsewhere. Mark is focused on the first team.
- Transfer bids must be at least semi-realistic. Players may be frozen out, but I won’t offer everyone away for nothing. Equally, I can’t spend millions on pub players. We're being subtle, remember.
- Conventional formations must be played, and players can’t be unreasonably out of position – they’ll stray no further than one strata from thier natural positions (possible exception for winger/full-backs)
- United are a big club and demand big names – I’ll be keeping five internationals on the field at all times for Premier League games (and Champions League, should we somehow get there).
- Adherence to the ‘United Way’ – attacking football, high-profile signings, British core, giving youth a chance, terrible transfer decisions. After all, we have to keep the fans on board.
- Everything else is fair game in a bid to take United down…

Let the games begin!

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July 1st 2019

After the sensational sacking of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for ‘not being very good,’ the Glazers have stunned the footballing world by announcing the appointment of 41-year-old Mark Wilson as the new Manchester United manager.

A lifelong fan of the Red Devils, Wilson boasts a CV that defies time itself, listing sides as varied as Matlock Town, The New Saints, Barcelona and England among his employers without ever being noticed by the football community. Despite this odd résumé, the Old Trafford club have backed their man – Wilson is rumoured to have been handed a contract worth £125k per week as well as a transfer kitty of around £50m. Only time will tell how this paradox of a man will cope with the pressure of the Manchester United job.

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Thanks guys, I just hope the theory works out in practice. It's not often I try and deliberately fail at a game!


July 6th

The Mark Wilson era at Old Trafford is off to a shaky start, as less than a week after taking over, a strong United XI were beaten 1-0 by Cameron McGeehan’s 82nd minute goal at Fratton Park. Portsmouth were forced to hang on for the win, but United fans the world over will be hoping that the new manager can chalk this one down to inexperience and move on to more successful results sooner rather than later.

July 7th

Wilson’s first move in the transfer market gives an insight into his tactical preferences. Nemanja Matic leaves for Leicester in a £15m deal, and after seeing his side line up in an attacking 4-4-2 formation against Portsmouth, it seems the new man has no room for a midfielder lacking in both mobility and creativity.

July 8th

In a further bolstering of his 4-4-2 credentials, Wilson has made his first signing today by snapping up one of the last true target men in world football, Russian international striker Artem Dzyuba.

Dzyuba, 30, was one of the local heroes of the 2018 World Cup, and arrives for a fee of £18m from Zenit St Petersburg in his homeland. With Wilson perhaps looking to instigate more old-school English tactics at Old Trafford, the 6’5” striker could be the perfect foil for the pace of Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial up front.

In other United news, youngsters Angel Gomes and Timothy Fosu-Mensah have both signed contract extensions through to 2023, and are believed to have been handed significant wage boosts to keep them at the club.

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July 10th

Artem Dzyuba’s Manchester United debut was not one to remember, as his new side went down 1-0 at Championship side Stoke City, the club’s second defeat in a row to lower league opposition. The Russian striker was clearly off the pace after signing just two days beforehand, and United clearly have some work to do ahead of the Premier League campaign.


July 16th

Mark Wilson finally picked up a win at the third attempt, with goals from Dzyuba, Pogba and Mason Greenwood leading the Red Devils to a 3-1 win away at Birmingham City. United controlled the game from start to finish, and the win will be a welcome boost ahead of intense, back-to-back tours of Australia and Brazil before the league season.


July 17th

Manchester United have added to their squad again, snapping up 13-cap England winger Andros Townsend from Crystal Palace for a fee rising to £28.5m. The Eagles drove a hard bargain but Wilson got his man, and Townsend is expected to compete with the likes of Jesse Lingard and Dan James for a space on the United wings.   

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Just having a play with the formatting of this - does this spacing look better or worse than previous posts?

July 23rd
Teenage starlet Mason Greenwood lit up Old Trafford in a superb home debut for manager Mark Wilson as Manchester United thrashed Lyon 5-1 in a pre-season friendly. Greenwood added an injury-time strike to his two first-half goals to complete his hat-trick, and only an injury to Aaron Wan-Bissaka could dampen the spirits of the Red Devils faithful. Victor Lindelof and youngster James Garner added United’s other goals in an excellent evening for Wilson, Greenwood and co.

July 25th
For the second time in eight days Manchester United and Crystal Palace have done business, with Andreas Pereira swapping Old Trafford for Selhurst Park in a deal worth £18.5m. The 23-year-old Brazilian is expected to replace Andros Townsend in Roy Hodgson’s side after the England winger headed in the other direction a few days ago.

August 8th
Transfer deadline day passed fairly quietly at Old Trafford, with Roma's Aleksandr Kolarov the only arrival for a fee of £6m. Mark Wilson is believed to have brought in the veteran Serb, despite his former ties to the blue half of the city, as cover at left-back given that Luke Shaw is unlikely to play until November due to injury. With only youngster Brandon Williams and Diego Dalot, who prefers the right, in reserve, Kolarov provides a short-term solution to the problem.

Kolarov joins his new team-mates after highly successful tours of Australia and Brazil, on which United racked up seven wins from eight against top flight opposition. Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood shone in particular, raising hopes that they might fire the side to success in the coming season.

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August 10th
Premier League 1/38: Manchester United vs Watford
De Gea; Dalot, Jones, Maguire, Williams (Kolarov 67); Mata (James 67), Pogba, Fernandes, Lingard; Dzyuba (Greenwood 20), Rashford

Mark Wilson’s Manchester United got off their 2019/20 campaign off to a flying start with a comfortable win over Watford in front of their home fans.

Summer signing Artem Dzyuba took just 17 minutes to open his account with the club with a towering header from a Juan Mata cross, only to be taken off injured moments later. Bruno Fernandes curled in a fine second midway through the first half, and after five minutes of the second half it was Dzyuba’s replacement, Mason Greenwood, who secured the points with a poacher’s strike from six yards out. Watford struggled to get going, couldn’t keep up with United’s attacking intent, and were distinctly second best – Wilson will surely face tougher tests down the line.

Manchester United 3-0 Watford

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August 17th
Premier League 2/38: Everton (15th) vs Manchester United (2nd)

De Gea; Dalot (Kolarov 66), Tuanzebe, Maguire (Jones 72), Williams; James, Pogba, Fernandes, Townsend; Ighalo (Greenwood 66), Rashford

Everton were blown away by a rampant United side in a one-sided thrashing at Goodison Park.

It took Marcus Rashford just five minutes to open the scoring for the visitors with a well-taken finish, and from then on they never looked back, the England striker grabbing a second and Andros Townsend a third on his first United start. Bruno Fernandes added a fourth with a second-half free-kick, and the only disappointment was that Rashford couldn’t find a hat-trick. With the Manchester derby coming up, this will be the perfect boost to Wilson’s confidence as the new boss' side hit the top of the table early on, their seven goals in two games leading some commentators to name them as title favourites after just 180 minutes of football.

Everton 0-4 Manchester United

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Still early days yet Mark, although I'll be very disappointed if you keep up the form from the first two games!

August 21st
Premier League 3/38: Manchester United (1st) vs Manchester City (6th)

De Gea; Laird; Lindelof, Maguire; Williams (Kolarov 66); Mata, Pogba (Fernandes 61), Fred, Townsend (James 52); Dzyuba, Rashford

An injury-hit Manchester United paid the price for excessive caution against their noisy neighbours, leaving themselves too much to do after an early blow.

Forced into starting two inexperienced full-backs in Ethan Laird and Brandon Williams, Mark Wilson’s decision to go for stability ahead of creativity in midfield backfired in his biggest test to date, as a goal inside 50 seconds from Bernardo Silva and a typically composed Sergio Aguero finish condemned them to defeat in the Manchester Derby. Marcus Rashford continued his excellent personal form with a late consolation, but for all watching at Old Trafford, it was clear that Wilson let his nerves get the better of him in his first experience of elite opposition. He won’t be allowed to let it happen again without the fans starting to call him out.

Manchester United 1-2 Manchester City

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August 26th
Premier League 4/38: Wolverhampton Wanderers (4th) vs Manchester United (3rd)

Romero; Laird (Wan-Bassaka 45), Jones, Maguire, Kolarov; Lingard (James 78), McTominay, Fred, Townsend; Dzyuba (Greenwood 60), Rashford

A much-changed Manchester United side escaped Molineux with a point after being comprehensively outplayed by their hosts.

Responding to defeat by their city rivals last time out, Mark Wilson made a bold statement by dropping David de Gea and Paul Pogba from the matchday squad, only to see Wolves dictate play in the Black Country. The first half produced few opportunities only for the second to see four goals, a Ruben Neves thunderbolt levelling after Scott McTominay bundled in on his first start of the season, before Adama Traore’s mazy run and finish and Andros Townsend’s curling strike. Romero justified his start with two superb saves late on as Wolves pushed for the winner, but Wilson will be left wondering how best to deal with sides that don’t simply let his side play.

Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-2 Manchester United

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August 29th
Manchester United have been drawn at home to Championship side Birmingham City, who were beaten by United in a preseason friendly, in the third round of the Carabao Cup. Colchester United, the only League Two side left in the draw, were rewarded with a plumb draw away to Chelsea.

August 30th
In the Europa League, Mark Wilson’s top seeds will join 2018/19 semi-finalists Eintracht Frankfurt, one of Artem Dzyuba’s former clubs in Spartak Moscow, and Austrian outfit Wolfsberger AC in Group D. Elsewhere Wolves face a tough Group G alongside Sevilla, Saint-Etienne and Rosenborg, while last year’s runners-up Arsenal face FC Kobenhavn, Red Star Belgrade, and Istanbul Basaksehir in Group K.

August 31st
Premier League 5/38: Manchester United (9th) vs Norwich City (15th)

Romero; Wan-Bissaka, Jones, Maguire, Kolarov; James, McTominay (Fred 73), Fernandes, Townsend (Lingard 73); Dzyuba (Greenwood 50), Rashford

Manchester United’s early season blip lurched into a full-blown crisis after a shock defeat at home to newly-promoted Norwich.

With Mark Wilson keeping faith in Sergio Romero in goal and continuing to leave out Paul Pogba, there were sighs of relief around Old Trafford when Dan James slid the ball home five minutes before the break, cancelling out Teemu Pukki’s earlier strike. However, a lacklustre United never made it out of second gear, and despite firing off some 20 shots, not nearly enough were threatening. Norwich on the other hand had just five and two on target, but Ondrej Duda’s low effort deflected past Romero to send the Red Devils into the bottom half of the table, and leave Wilson with a lot of work to do ahead of the international break.

Manchester United 1-2 Norwich City

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September 11th
Mark Wilson breathed a sigh of relief after his sizeable international contingent returned from their respective nations with no knocks or niggles – after three games without a win in the Premier League, the new manager will need every bit of luck he can get in the coming weeks.

September 15th
Premier League 6/38: Newcastle United (8th) vs Manchester United (11th)

Romero; Dalot (Wan-Bissaka 81), Jones, Tuanzebe, Kolarov; James (Townsend 56), Fred, Fernandes, Lingard; Greenwood, Dzyuba (56)

The international break did nothing for Manchester United’s fortunes, as they were soundly beaten at a jubilant St James’ Park.

Two injury time goals from young Mason Greenwood and Andros Townsend added an air of credibility to the scoreline, but in what was a relatively even game, Newcastle’s clinical finishing made the difference. Three goals in 10 second-half minutes from Joelinton, Almiron and Danny Rose stunned the away fans, and at the final whistle those who had not already left were calling for Mark Wilson’s sacking, especially after his dropping of De Gea, Pogba and now Maguire. It has only taken six games for the new manager to be found wanting.

Newcastle United 3-2 Manchester United

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September 19th
Europa League Group D 1/6: Manchester United vs Wolfsberger AC

De Gea; Laird, Lindelof, Maguire, Williams; Mata (Townsend 72), Pogba, Garner (James 65), Gomes (Fernandes 65); Ighalo, Greenwood

After a horrific run of domestic form, Manchester United took full advantage of the Europa League distraction by hammering Austrian side Wolfsberger in their Group D opener.

A much-changed United team – including recalls for De Gea, Maguire and Pogba as manager Mark Wilson grapples with the big egos in his struggling side – ran rampant against their overawed visitors, racing into a 3-0 lead within 20 minutes courtesy of Odion Ighalo, Greenwood and young right-back Ethan Laird. By the time the full-time whistle blew Ighalo had a hat-trick, United had seven, and Wilson had some much-needed credit in his account. Make no mistake however - Crystal Palace will be a much tougher test at the weekend, and the embattled boss needs to rise to it to satisfy the increasingly unsettled fans at Old Trafford.

Manchester United 7-0 Wolfsberger AC

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September 22nd
Premier League 7/38: Manchester United (12th) vs Crystal Palace (17th)

Romero; Wan-Bissaka, Jones (Tuanzebe 77), Maguire, Williams (Kolarov 55); Lingard, Fernandes, McTominay, James; Ighalo (Greenwood 77), Rashford

Despite a return to something closer to a full-strength team – without De Gea and Pogba, who continue to be left out by Mark Wilson – Manchester United could not take advantage of their Europa League bounce against lowly Crystal Palace.

When Andros Townsend opened the scoring against his former club after just eight minutes, it looked as if we might finally see a return to form, but instead they were denied by a heroic performance from Vicente Guiata in the away team’s goal – the Spaniard making no fewer than 14 saves as United dominated proceedings. Wilfried Zaha’s breakaway goal inside the final five minutes was as cruel as it was inevitable, and the United reject drove another dagger into the heart of what is already a miserable campaign for his old side. This is a genuine crisis.

Manchester United 1-1 Crystal Palace

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September 25th
Carabao Cup Third Round: Manchester United (PL) vs Birmingham City (CH)

De Gea; Laird (Wan-Bissaka 66), Lindelof, Tuanzebe, Williams; James, Gomes, Pogba, Mata (Townsend 66); Dzyuba, Greenwood (McTominay 80)

In a game which finished 10 vs 10, Manchester United put their poor league form aside in a League Cup thumping of Championship side Birmingham.

Mark Wilson rotated once more and reaped he dividends, the trio of Dzyuba, Greenwood and James giving his side a 3-0 half-time lead. Two in two minutes from Greenwood and Mata on the hour mark added extra gloss on a one-sided contrast, before both Ivan Sunjic and Paul Pogba received their second yellow cards and marching orders. Pogba’s dismissal, at a time when he is unable to get into the league team, will only add to rumours of a falling out between player and manager, which is a shame given United’s highly impressive performance on the night.

Manchester United 5-0 Birmingham City


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September 28th
In the Fourth Round of the Carabao Cup, Manchester United have been handed another home draw, this time against Premier League opposition in the form of Brighton. League One Peterborough are lowest-ranked side remaining and host Manchester City, while Arsenal and Chelsea go head-to-head at the Emirates.

September 29th
Premier League 8/38: AFC Bournemouth (9th) vs Manchester United (12th)

De Gea; Laird (Wan-Bissaka 62), Tuanzebe, Maguire, Williams; James, McTominay, Fernandes, Townsend (Mata 68); Dzyuba, Rashford (Greenwood 80)

David de Gea returned to the Premier League line-up for Manchester United as Mark Wilson looked to stop the slump, but was let down by his forwards at Bournemouth.

As in previous matches against Norwich and Crystal Palace, the attacking unit created plenty of chances – United racked up 26 efforts on goal – but were profligate at best, testing the goalkeeper with just six. One of those, a back post header from Artem Dzyuba, found the back of the net, but that came four minutes after Josh King had beaten De Gea to put the hosts ahead with his side’s second effort on target. Try as they might, United could not break through in the closing stages and had to settle for a single point – a point which leaves them 12 off the top after just eight games, and keeps Wilson firmly under pressure.

AFC Bournemouth 1-1 Manchester United

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October 3rd
Europa League Group D 2/6: Spartak Moscow (3rd, RUS) vs Manchester United (1st, ENG)

Romero; Wan-Bissaka, Jones, Lindelof, Kolarov; James, Garner (Fred 75), Mata, Lingard (Townsend 86); Ighalo, Greenwood (Rashford 60)

After struggling to convert opportunities in the league, Manchester United suffered from a distinct lack of creativity in a dull European draw in the Russian capital.

Only Dan James kept his place from the side that drew at Bournemouth as Mark Wilson shuffled his pack once again, and it was the Welshman who created the opening goal, sliding a cross for Mason Greenwood to tap in on the hour mark after an uneventful first half. However, the central midfield pair of young James Garner and veteran Juan Mata struggled to unlock the Spartak defence, and with seven minutes remaining striker Ezequiel Ponce fired beyond his countryman Romero to earn a share of the points. Yet another slip-up from Wilson’s men – they are fast becoming the norm.

Spartak Moscow 1-1 Manchester United

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October 6th
Premier League 9/38: Manchester United (12th) vs Burnley (16th)

De Gea; Wan-Bissaka (Dalot 70), Jones, Maguire, Kolarov (Tuanzebe 70); James, Pogba, Fernandes, Townsend (Mata 71); Dzyuba, Rashford

Manchester United won a Premier League game for the first time in seven attempts to the huge relief of the Old Trafford crowd – but they did not have things all their own way against lowly Burnley.

United controlled the game from start to finish against the Turf Moor outfit, but had to come from behind after Johan Berg Gudmundsson stole in behind the defence after 20 minutes. James and Dzyuba netted three minutes apart to turn things around, but a Jack Cork header just before the break had Old Trafford worried once again. In the end, it took a red card – Gudmundsson turning villain for Burnley – to create enough space for the third, Rashford gleefully finishing with 25 minutes remaining before his side saw out time. The win is at least a step in the right direction, but Mark Wilson still has plenty of questions to answer over the international break.

Manchester United 3-2 Burnley

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October 17th
Manchester United will be without Bruno Fernandes for their Premier League with Chelsea after the Portuguese international strained his groin while away on international duty. In better news for Mark Wilson’s side, forward Anthony Martial will be available for selection for the first time this season after completing his rehabilitation from a hamstring injury. 

October 19th
Premier League 10/38: Chelsea (4th) vs Manchester United (11th)

De Gea; Wan-Bissaka (Dalot 90), Tuanzebe, Maguire, Williams (Kolarov 70); James (Lingard 70), Fred, Pogba, Townsend; Dzyuba, Martial

Manchester United tore up the form book with a textbook counter-attacking performance to hand Chelsea a comfortable defeat at Stamford Bridge.

Despite having just 36% of the ball and the scoreboard reading 0-0 after 70 minutes of football – Chelsea pressing and the visitors looking to strike on the break – Mark Wilson’s men ran out 3-0 winners after two set-pieces ended with Artem Dzyuba heading home and a quick counter saw home captain Cesar Azpilicueta slice into his own net. Frank Lampard will be wondered how his side didn’t take at least a point after controlling the tempo and fashioning several chances, but David de Gea made 11 saves to keep his sheet clean and send his side shooting up the Premier League table.

Chelsea 0-3 Manchester United

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October 24th
Europa League Group D 3/6: Manchester United (1st, ENG) vs Eintracht Frankfurt (2nd, GER)

Romero; Dalot, Tuanzebe (Maguire 60), Jones, Williams; Mata, McTominay, Gomes (Garner 45), Lingard (James 45); Ighalo, Martial

Manchester United’s Europa League progression remains uncertain after an inspired performance from visiting goalkeeper Kevin Trapp earned Frankfurt a famous win at Old Trafford.

Mark Wilson’s side did very little wrong in a game which saw them dominate possession and rack up 22 shots to their opponents’ five, but Trapp’s 12 saves and a glaring late miss from a ring-rusty Anthony Martial allowed last year’s semi-finalists to escape with the points after scoring with their only two efforts on target – a Flip Kostic drive midway through the first half and late Sebastian Rode header. Juan Mata’s even later reply was the pick of the goals, but proved scant consolation for the Old Trafford faithful at the final whistle. After the boost of a win at Stamford Bridge, it is clear Wilson is still to find his feet at the Theatre of Dreams.

Manchester United 1-2 Eintracht Frankfurt

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Don't worry Mark, it gets better - briefly...

October 27th

Premier League 11/38: Southampton (16th) vs Manchester United (9th)
De Gea; Dalot, Jones, Maguire, Kolarov; Lingard (Mata 61), Pogba, Fernandes, Townsend (James 61); Rashford, Martial (Greenwood 52)

A last-gasp winner from an unusual source earned three points for Manchester United at St Mary’s in a game that may suggest a change of luck for the Old Trafford side.

Once again Mark Wilson’s side made most of the running against a Saints side struggling at the wrong end of the table, but struggled to break down an organised home defence. However, where in previous games United have dropped crucial points, here they struck at the death, Paul Pogba crossing for right-back Diego Dalot to head in at the far post and spark joy on the visiting bench. If they can make a habit of this rather than their recent slip-ups, Wilson may yet be able to save their season.

Southampton 0-1 Manchester United

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October 29th
Carabao Cup Fourth Round: Manchester United (PL) vs Brighton and Hove Albion (PL)

Romero; Laird, Tuanzebe, Lindelof, Williams; Mata, McTominay, Garner (Fred 56), James (Lingard 73); Ighalo, Greenwood

A battle between two heavily-rotated sides saw Manchester United come out on top and cruise into the last eight of the League Cup.

Mark Wilson swapped out the entire team that had beaten Southampton just over 48 hours earlier, and his decision paid off after an early Jesse Lingard goal put them on their way into the quarters. Shane Duffy then pulled down Mason Greenwood for a penalty which Dan James coolly converted midway through the half, and Brighton’s faint threat was extinguished fully on the hour mark when Alex Cochrane saw red for a second bookable offence. United cruise into the business end of the competition, which has so far proved a welcome distraction from some mediocre league form for embattled boss Wilson .

Manchester United 2-0 Brighton and Hove Albion

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This is likely to be my last post on here until after the holidays, so a Merry Christmas to you all and thanks for reading! As a not-so-festive treat, here are two matches instead of the usual one...

November 1st
After their 2-0 win over Brighton, Manchester United will travel to Arsenal in the quarter-finals of this year’s Carabao Cup. Manchester City vs Leicester, Aston Villa vs Wolves and Sheffield United vs Burnley completes the line-up.

In other United news, Welsh winger Dan James was named the Premier League Young Player of the Month for October after starring in all three of his side’s league wins.

November 2nd
Premier League 12/38: Manchester United (7th) vs Arsenal (4th)

De Gea; Wan-Bissaka (Dalot 68), Tuanzebe, Maguire, Kolarov; James, Fred (Fernandes 55), Pogba, Lingard (Mata 55); Dzyuba, Greenwood

An inspired Manchester United performance saw them sweep aside rivals Arsenals and briefly take a place in the Premier League’s top four.

Mark Wilson gambled by bringing in Aaron Wan-Bissaka after a short injury lay-off and starting young Mason Greenwood up front ahead of Rashford or Martial, but his faith paid off in some style. Despite Martinelli cancelling out Dzyuba’s early flick, Dan James put United ahead before the break with a surging counter attack, before teenager Greenwood secured the win with two second half strikes. Arsenal were perhaps unlucky to lose by three, but their static and stodgy midfield had no answer to United’s creativity in the centre. After a dismal start, has Wilson finally found a winning formula?

Manchester United 4-1 Arsenal

November 7th

Europa League Group D 4/6: Eintracht Frankfurt (1st, GER) vs Manchester United (3rd, ENG)

Romero; Laird (Dalot 67), Tuanzebe (Lindelof 32), Jones, Williams; Townsend, McTominay, Gomes, Lingard (Rashford 58); Ighalo, Martial

Manchester United’s Europa League hopes are hanging by a thread after a second consecutive defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt.

Mark Wilson opted for a second string side in line with his previous selections in the competition, but two goals inside the first half hour from their German hosts leaves United with just four points from as many games, despite Andros Townsend’s set-piece reply. With Spartak Moscow defeating AC Wolfsberger in the group's other fixture, United now need to win both their remaining ties and hope Spartak drop points against Frankfurt if they are to make the knockout stages – surely the bare minimum for a side of their stature and standing.

Eintracht Frankfurt 2-1 Manchester United

Edited by EvilDave
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  • 3 weeks later...

November 17th

With most of his Manchester United team-mates off on international duty, England left-back Luke Shaw returned to full training at the club’s Carrington base today after a lengthy injury lay-off. The next game away at Spurs is expected to come too soon for the 24-year-old, but his return will be a big boost to United boss Mark Wilson.

Unfortunately, loan striker Odion Ighalo has picked up a hamstring strain, ruling him out for at least three weeks of action.

November 23rd
Premier League 13/38: Tottenham Hotspur (3rd) vs Manchester United (5th)

De Gea; Dalot, Jones, Maguire, Kolarov; Townsend (James 60), Fred (Pogba 45), Fernandes, Mata (Lingard 60); Dzyuba, Martial

Manchester United’s recent Premier League resurgence was brought to a shuddering halt in North London, with top four rivals Spurs claiming a resounding win.

Mark Wilson opted to play with a little more caution at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, but his counter-attacking plan was blown apart midway through the first half when first Kane and then Lucas Moura struck within two minutes of each other to give their side the lead, David de Gea making a key error for the second. As United chased the game in the second period Kane fired in the third after a rapid break, highlighting just how far Wilson’s men still have to come to cement themselves in the Champions League-chasing group. The upcoming transfer window may just be key.

Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 Manchester United

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Don't worry Mark, it's not all bad...

November 28th
Europa League Group D 5/6: Wolfsberger AC (4th, AUT) vs Manchester United (3rd, ENG)

De Gea; Laird, Lindelof, Jones, Shaw (Kolarov 45); Lingard, McTominay, Gomes (Fred 55), Mata (Rashford 70); Dzyuba, Greenwood

A convincing away win in Austria coupled with a favour from Frankfurt means that Manchester United head into their final Europa League group game with their fate in their own hands.

Group whipping boys Wolfsberger never threatened to cause an upset on home soil, and while they held their visitors scoreless in the first half, it always felt like a matter of if, when than when, United would score. When Mason Greenwood finally made the breakthrough on the hour, it sparked a flurry of goals – Fred headed in five minutes later, followed three later than Greenwood’s second – before a Dzyuba volley five minutes from time wrapped up a comfortable victory. A win over Spartak at home in December will see United progress with group winners Frankfurt - who beat the Russians in the group's other fixture - and see manager Wilson breathe a deep sigh of relief.

Wolfsberger AC 0-4 Manchester United

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December 1st
Premier League 14/38: Manchester United (6th) vs West Ham United (14th)

Romero; Wan-Bissaka, Tuanzebe, Maguire; Williams; Townsend, Pogba, Fernandes (Fred 65), Rashford (James 65); Martial, Greenwood (Dzyuba 49)

Manchester United brushed aside a lacklustre West Ham side to continue their pursuit of the Premier League top four.

David Moyes’ side did a fine job of containing their hosts in the first half without ever testing Sergio Romero – the Argentine preferred to David de Gea after errors against Spurs – but once Anthony Martial slid a shot beyond Lukas Fabianski shortly after the restart, they offered nothing in reply. A late tap-in from Dan James put the gloss on a comfortable victory for United, who now sit just two points off the Champions League places - hitting the top four would relieve a huge amount of pressure on manager Mark Wilson, whose time at Old Trafford got off to a rather indifferent start.

Manchester United 2-0 West Ham United

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December 2nd
Manchester United will play travel to either League One side Coventry City or National League outfit Ebbsfleet in the Third Round of the FA Cup. After a 1-1 draw in their initial match, the tie will be decided by a replay at Highbury.

Elsewhere, Midlands rivals Derby and Leicester go head-to-head, while Premier League leaders Manchester City travel to beleaguered League One side Bolton.

December 4th
Premier League 15/38: Manchester United (5th) vs Sheffield United (19th)

Romero; Laird (Wan-Bissaka 55), Tuanzebe (Jones 55), Maguire, Williams; Townsend, McTominay (Pogba 55), Fernandes, Lingard, Dzyuba, Greenwood

Andros Townsend saved Manchester United’s blushes after lowly Sheffield United almost stole a win at Old Trafford.

Just three days after beating West Ham, Mark Wilson put his faith in a number of younger players against the Blades, and looked foolish for it as Enda Stevens seized on a defensive blunder to open the scoring. Chris Wilder’s men stood firm in the face of considerable pressure from the home side, but had to settle for a draw in the end after summer signing Townsend bent a fine finish into the top corner from 20 yards out. It could have been a lot worse for Wilson's men, but it keeps United in 5th and still very much in touch with the Champions League contenders.

Manchester United 1-1 Sheffield United

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It's not all bad, Mark - although most of it is...

December 7th
Premier League 16/38: Aston Villa (9th) vs Manchester United (5th)

Romero; Wan-Bissaka, Jones (Maguire 67), Lindelof, Shaw; Townsend (James 67), Pogba, Mata, Lingard (Greenwood 72); Dzyuba, Rashford

A controversial late penalty condemned Manchester United to a surprise away defeat, proving Aston Villa’s credentials as an outside contender for the European places.

After an even first half which saw Sergio Romero come to the visitors’ rescue on a couple of occasions, Amin Younes’ deflected effort put the hosts ahead, only for Rashford to power in just three minutes later to restore parity on the hour. However, as United began to dominate proceedings there would be a twist in the tale – in the second minute of stoppage time, Dan James was adjudged to have brought down Jack Grealish despite replays showing minimal contact, and Mbwana Samatta made no mistake from the spot to give the Villans the decisive advantage. Only goal difference now separates the two sides, with the European race becoming more congested by the week.

Aston Villa 2-1 Manchester United

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December 10th
Reports coming out of Manchester United this evening have suggested something of a falling out between manager Mark Wilson and star goalkeeper David de Gea. Spanish international De Gea, who has seen Sergio Romero start ahead of him on several occasions this season, is said to be unhappy with his limited playing time – something his manager is believed to have put down to a number of high-profile errors. With neither side backing down, De Gea is not said to be taking further action at this stage, but with the transfer window soon to open this could well be one to watch in January.

December 12th
Europa League Group D 6/6: Manchester United (3rd, ENG) vs Spartak Moscow (2nd, RUS)

De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw (Williams 53); James (Townsend 60), Pogba, Fernandes, Martial (Dzyuba 68); Rashford, Greenwood

It may not have been pretty and Mark Wilson needed to call in his big hitters, but a narrow win over Spartak Moscow was enough to see Manchester United into the last 32 of the Europa League.

In a nervous, edgy game at Old Trafford, it was local hero Marcus Rashford who eventually got the all-important goal, converting a cross from Anthony Martial on the left wing 10 minutes before the break. In the return fixture in Moscow, the Russians had netted a late equaliser to grab a share of the points, but there was to be no such drama in Manchester this time round. After making hard work of the group stage, United now await their opponents in the knockout rounds – but the struggling giants will be a less intimidating draw than in previous years for whoever is pulled out against them.

Manchester United 1-0 Spartak Moscow

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December 15th
Premier League 17/38: Manchester United (8th) vs Liverpool (1st)

Romero; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Kolarov; Townsend (Mata 60), Fred, Pogba (Fernandes 60), James; Rashford (Ighalo 77), Martial

Manchester United suffered a narrow loss to arch-rivals Liverpool in game the visitors could have won by several goals.

When Joel Matip headed Liverpool in front from a corner after just 95 seconds, the Old Trafford faithful must have feared the worst, however some solid defending and excellent goalkeeping from Sergio Romero kept their side in the game, allowing Martial to pull them level against the run of play just before the break. Unfortunately for them, that was to be their team’s only shot on target as the league leaders dominated. In the 57th minute, Mo Salah shrugged off challenges from Fred and Lindelof before firing under Romero, and the points were won. Liverpool had enough chances to win three times over, but their two goals were more than sufficient against a United team thoroughly out of ideas. The Champions League suddenly looks like a big ask for Mark Wilson's side.

Manchester United 1-2 Liverpool

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I think I preferred this result...

December 16th
Manchester United will play German side VfL Wolfsburg in the last 32 of the Europa League, with the first leg to be played at Old Trafford. Wolfsberg are currently struggling in the Bundesliga, sitting 16th in the table.

Elsewhere, Lyon play Bayern Munich in the highest-profile clash of the round, while Celtic and Arsenal meet in a highly-anticipated all-British tie.

December 17th
Carabao Cup Quarter Final: Arsenal (PL) vs Manchester United (PL)

De Gea; Laird (Dalot 45), Tuanzebe, Jones, Williams; Mata (James 57), McTominay, Garner (Fernandes 45), Lingard; Ighalo, Greenwood

A much-changed Manchester United team were dumped unceremoniously out of the Carabao Cup at the Emirates after an early blitz from the Gunners.

Arsenal opened the scoring inside the first minute of the game with United only touching the ball twice before Aubameyang hit the back of the net, and it didn’t stop there. Dani Ceballos struck twice inside the first 10 minutes, and two minutes later a sweeping move ended with Ainsley Maitland-Niles slamming in at the back post. United got one back in the second half as Arsenal eased off, but while the Gunners clearly fielded a much stronger side, the manner in which their club was brushed aside will be a cause for concern for plenty of United fans who hate to see their side lose any match,

Arsenal 4-1 Manchester United

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December 21st
Premier League 18/38: Brighton and Hove Albion (11th) vs Manchester United (9th)

Romero; Dalot (Laird 80), Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw; James, Pogba, Fred, Townsend (Lingard 55); Dzyuba, Rashford (Martial 70)

Two more points went begging for Manchester United after a failure to finish allowed Brighton a late equaliser at the Amex.

After an even and largely uneventful first half, United looked to have made the decisive move when Dan James wormed his way into the box and beat Mat Ryan low at his near post. However, their inability to kill off the game – Marcus Rashford in particular guilty of missing two glorious opportunities – came back to haunt them as, with Diego Dalot forced off by injury, Aaron Mooy bundled his way past substitute Ethan Laird and shot past Sergio Romero with just two minutes to spare. United are now five points and as many places off the top four, and will need to find some form in the second half of the season if they have any hope of living up to their Champions League aspirations. Mark Wilson could be looking for a Christmas miracle to save his and his team's campaign.

Brighton and Hove Albion 1-1 Manchester United

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December 26th
Premier League 19/38: Leicester City (6th) vs Manchester United (9th)

Romero; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Kolarov; James (Townsend 50), Fernandes, McTominay (Pogba 66), Martial; Rashford (Ighalo 81), Greenwood

Manchester United conceded late again at the King Power Stadium as their winless streak in the Premier League extended to five games against a determined Leicester side.

With both teams making changes to cope with the hectic festive schedule, it was the visitors who struck earliest with Marcus Rashford firing home, but the lead was short-lived courtesy of a long-range curler from Maddison. The introduction of Paul Pogba from the bench led to an immediate United lead as the Frenchman teed up countryman Martial, but once again his side’s late-game frailties made an appearance, the visiting defence leaving Kelechi Iheanacho completely unmarked in the area for him convert Maddison’s cross. Leicester away is no easy fixture, but to have the win in his grasp and see it slip away again will be of huge frustration to Mark Wilson and the United staff.

Leicester City 2-2 Manchester United

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December 28th
Premier League 20/38: Manchester United (9th) vs Chelsea (5th)

Romero; Wan-Bissaka (Dalot 62); Tuanzebe, Maguire (Jones 86), Shaw; James, Pogba, Mata, Townsend; Dzyuba, Rashford (Greenwood 71)

An improved Manchester United were the stronger team at home to Chelsea, but could not force the winner in a hard-fought draw at Old Trafford.

With Mark Wilson making several changes to his line-up just 48 hours after a draw at Leicester, United were the dominant side in the opening stages, and deservedly took the lead when an Andros Townsend free-kick deflected off the Chelsea wall and beyond Kepa in goal. The Spaniard did well to deny Artem Dzyuba a second, and his save would prove crucial – a rare Chelsea attack in the second half earned a corner, from which Fikayo Tomori powered a header past Sergio Romero. United continued to push but to no avail, and the two sides settled for a draw which does neither team any favours.

Manchester United 1-1 Chelsea

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January 1st 2020

Premier League 21/38: Manchester United (8th) vs AFC Bournemouth (10th)

Romero; Laird (Wan-Bissaka 67), Jones, Maguire, Williams; Lingard (Townsend 67), Pogba, Fernandes, Townsend (Martial 75), Dzyuba, Martial

Manchester United rang in the New Year to a chorus of boos at Old Trafford, with Mark Wilson’s side drawing a blank against Bournemouth amidst news of discontent in the squad.

Bournemouth arrived in Manchester determined not to be beaten, and Eddie Howe’s side put in a dogged defensive performance to ensure they did precisely that, forcing a goalless stalemate to extend United’s winless run and live them mired in midtable. With a disappointing performance coming against rumours of both David de Gea and Fred demanding moves away from the club – neither featured – it seems Wilson has a great deal of work to do in the transfer window to try and placate the demands of the fans.

Manchester United 0-0 AFC Bournemouth

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January 4th 2020

Manchester United manager Mark Wilson has come out fighting in the media following rumours of a dressing revolt at the Old Trafford side, stating that no player is bigger than the club and that anyone not willing to stay committed to the team is welcome to leave – the latter apparently confirming that Fred and David de Gea, who has been vocal in his opposition to being dropped for Sergio Romero, are available for transfer.

In other United news, Wilson confirmed that Juventus’ Georgio Chiellini, 35, will be joining the club in the summer after his contract with the Italian giants runs out. Wilson stated that the veteran centre-back ‘remains a world class player who everybody at the club can learn from,’ and that he was delighted to secure his signature. With a rumoured war chest of around £70m available for him to spend, expect more moves from a club desperate to make positive news.

January 6th
FA Cup Third Round: Coventry City (L1) vs Manchester United (PL)

Grant; Laird, Bailly, Fosu-Mensah (Lindelof 52), Williams; Lingard, Garner, Mejbri (Mata 65), Gomes (Martial 65); Rashford, Greenwood

A youthful Manchester United side did just enough to avoid embarrassment and overcome Coventry in what was very nearly an FA Cup giant-killing.

Against a team featuring veteran goalkeeper Lee Grant, 16-year-old Hannibal Mejbri, and a centre-back pairing making their first starts after long injury lay-offs, the hosts seized on uncertainty in the United ranks and took advantage, Jordy Hiwula beating Grant with a strong header after just seven minutes. They held that lead for more than an hour, but substitute Anthony Martial restored parity with 20 minutes to play, earning and converting a penalty after a driving run into the box. Three minutes later Hiwula missed his shot at glory, firing wide from the spot after Eric Bailly’s handball, and it would cost Coventry dear – in the first minute of stoppage time and with a replay looming, Mason Greenwood stabbed in from close range to book United a trip to Bristol Rovers in the next round. They will have to be much better than this.

Coventry City 1-2 Manchester United

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January 10th
Manchester United are believed to have turned down an offer of £12m from Crystal Palace for Brazilian midfielder Fred, who is reportedly eager to leave Old Trafford. Given that the player cost United in excess of £40m just 18 months ago, it is understood that both Mark Wilson and the club’s board are eager to earn more of that fee back, with a loan move being mooted as an alternative if no buyer is forthcoming.

January 11th
Premier League 22/38: Burnley (15th) vs Manchester United (10th)

Romero; Wan-Bissaka, Jones (Lindelof 59), Maguire, Shaw (Kolarov 59); James, Pogba, Fernandes, Townsend; Dzyuba, Rashford (Martial 59)

Despite fielding what is arguably his first choice side against Burnley, Manchester United boss Mark Wilson could only watch helplessly as the Lancastrians tore his team apart at Turf Moor.

Dwight McNeil powered home a shot as early as the 13th minute to put the hosts in front, and they remained on top in one of United’s worst halves of football in what has been a poor season. Not long after the break McNeil danced through again to double the lead, and Wilson’s desperation triple substitution did little to stem the tide. Johann Berg Gudmundsson, who saw red in the fixture at Old Trafford earlier in the campaign, added a late third to rub salt into United wounds, and leave Wilson furious and powerless in equal measure. He will need to work miracles before the end of the transfer window, assuming the Glazers even give him that long.

Burnley 3-0 Manchester United

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January 15th
Premier League 23/38: Crystal Palace (12th) vs Manchester United (11th)

Romero; Lindelof, Jones, Maguire; Wan-Bissaka, Pogba, Fernandes, Shaw (Kolarov 81); James (Lingard 66), Dzyuba, Rashford (Townsend 66)

A new tactical set-up earned Manchester United their first league win of 2020 at Selhurst Park, and left fans wondering why Mark Wilson hadn’t changed things before now.

Lining up in a 3-4-3 system with wing-backs Wan-Bissaka and Shaw pushing into midfield, United were able to recover from Luka Milivojevic’s early penalty and take control of the game, grabbing a deserved equaliser on the stroke of half-time through Man of the Match Dan James, and then the winner five minutes after the break through Bruno Fernandes. Although the change in system may necessitate a change in personnel, the result does at least hope for the embattled manager, who is struggling to justify his position as his team of expensive stars sits mired in midtable.

Crystal Palace 1-2 Manchester United

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January 17th
Manchester United have placed themselves at the risk of ridicule after it emerged that, despite having an offer in excess of £90m accepted by Juventus for their 34-year-old star, Cristiano Ronaldo rejected the proposed return to Old Trafford out of hand.

Manager Mark Wilson and his negotiating team have been left with egg on their faces in a bid to make a statement signing, and with only two weeks left of the transfer window, they are under icreasing pressure to bolster a squad that has been struggling all season.

January 18th
Premier League 24/38: Manchester United (10th) vs Leicester City (6th)

Romero; Lindelof, Jones, Maguire; Wan-Bissaka, Pogba, Fernandes, Shaw; James, Dzyuba, Rashford

Mark Wilson named an unchanged side for the first time all season at home to Leicester City, and was rewarded as his side claimed a comfortable 2-0 win.

Playing with a new swagger in the new 3-4-3 formation, the central defensive trio of Jones, Maguire and Victor Lindelof repelled the visitors’ counter-attacks with ease, providing a solid base for their midfield to create from. Bruno Fernandes opened the scoring with a swerving effort after just four minutes, and midway through the half the Portuguese played in Marcus Rashford to double the lead. With the club rumoured to be looking at a number of transfer targets and with back-to-back wins under their belt, fans will be hoping that this is the start of a upsurge in form for Wilson’s side.

Manchester United 2-0 Leicester City

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January 19th
Manchester United’s Portuguese full-back Diego Dalot has joined Eredivisie side AZ on loan for the rest of the season. It is understood that the Dutch club will pay the whole of Dalot’s wages during the loan, but will pay no fee and have not agreed a future option for the player. Mark Wilson is believed to have been keen to see Dalot get the first-team football that the development of Ethan Laird has denied him at Old Trafford, with a view to increased competition next season.

January 21st
Premier League 25/38; Manchester United (10th) vs Everton (16th)

Romero; Lindelof, Jones (Tuanzebe 42), Maguire; Wan-Bissaka (Laird 65), Pogba, Fernandes, Shaw (Kolarov 65); James, Dzyuba, Rashford

Mark Wilson may have finally settled on a first choice line-up, but his new-found starters could not make it three wins in a row as Everton fought back to draw in a bad-tempered game at Old Trafford.

Marcus Rashford’s early strike looked to have set United on their way to another home win, but they have reckoned without the threat of Dominic Calvert-Lewin, whose looping second-half header earned his side a share of the points. The game was notable for the high number of fouls on both sides, with both Phil Jones and Dan James leaving the field injured and seven bookings shown over the 90 minutes. Wilson will have enjoyed seeing his team show a bit of passion, but will be disappointed that they couldn’t come away with all the points against a struggling side.

Manchester United 1-1 Everton

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January 22nd
Dan James will miss up to six weeks with an ankle injury after being on the receiving end of a tough tackle in the final minutes of Manchester United’s Premier League draw with Everton. Phil Jones, who was also taken off injured, will be available for selection after being substituted as a precaution.

January 23rd
Manchester United’s transfer plans could be thrown into chaos after goalkeeper Sergio Romero broke his ribs in training, leaving him out for at least six weeks. With David de Gea seemingly on his way of Old Trafford – although no bids have yet been made for the Spaniard – manager Mark Wilson now faces a clear choice of either bringing in another goalkeeper in the next eight days, or drawing a clearly disgruntled De Gea back into the fold.

January 25th
FA Cup Fourth Round: Bristol City (CH) vs Manchester United (PL)

De Gea; Fosu-Mensah (Maguire 70), Bailly, Tuanzebe; Laird, Garner (Fernandes 58), McTominay, Williams; Lingard, Greenwood, Gomes (Martial 63)

A youthful Manchester United had to weather the storm at times against Bristol City, but emerged from Ashton Gate victorious and into the Fifth Round of the FA Cup.

Korey Smith fired the hosts into the lead in just the second minute, leaving a hostile home crowd in fine voice, but Mason Greenwood soon equalised with a well-taken goal to bring the visitors back into things. The teenager then played in Brandon Williams for his first United goal, before City piled forward in search of a leveller. Despite having more of the ball and creating the better chances, it was United who sealed things with Greenwood’s second of the game 15 minutes from time, and with most of their star names rested, Mark Wilson will count this as a major win against tough opposition. As the FA Cup reaches the latter stages, expect to see some of those big names back in the line-up before long.

Bristol City 1-3 Manchester United

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