Red Rants Archives for January 2013

Footballers That Play Poker

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Pro-footballers are a special breed. They dedicate their lives to the sport. Every day ensuring they're in peak physical condition, training every day and focussing on beating their next opponents, so come the weekend, they are ready for the thrill of delivering in front of thousands and thousands of adoring fans.

Zaha’s first step towards the future

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From the moment David Moyes replaced Sir Alex Ferguson in July, United fans have been told to lower their expectations, a mantra which has been repeated through the summer and during the first three months of the campaign.

And yet, despite the cries for a toned-down and humble approach, there have been a few moments in which we have begrudgingly allowed ourselves to get carried away with excitement.

Young United enjoy a Peautiful night

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It's the cup no one cares about, and the trophy nobody dreams to win at the start of the season. It's also the tournament in which, until a few years ago, Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic would have been rested, rather than summoned for a mundane fourth round. It might also be the trophy that provides David Moyes with a much-needed confidence boost.

Jonny Evans and his rise to prominence

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A clean sheet in Europe after ages. Jonny Evans and Phil Jones again showed the fans that they are the future of this great football club. More noticeably, the former is a Manchester United academy product one that we can gloat about. Every club has a player that surpasses or finally lives up to the expectations.

RVP hails Januzaj’s impact

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Robin Van Persie has claimed Adnan Januzaj is one of the finest talents he's ever seen and believes the young Belgian could develop into one of the best players in the world.

So far, Januzaj has been one of the few shining lights of United's first post-Ferguson season, scoring twice on his first start for the club against Sunderland and making an impact after coming off the bench against Stoke last Saturday.

United to move for Serie A star?

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Having spectacularly failed to strengthen the squad adequately over the summer, David Moyes must now try to address United's shortcomings in the January transfer window and reports suggest the club might be eyeing a surprise for move for Roma's midfielder Miralem Pjanic.

The 23-year-old Bosnian, who was on Spurs' radar earlier this summer, has been an integral part of Roma's incredible start to the domestic campaign, as new coach Rudi Garcia has so steered the Giallorossi to nine wins in the first nine games, scoring 23 goals and conceding only one.

Moyes against boos

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David Moyes has rushed to defend Nani after the Portuguese was booed off the pitch by sections of United fans during Saturday's 3-2 win against Stoke City.

Nani, who had been at his frustrating best throughout the afternoon, was substituted by Adnan Januzaj after 58 minutes and the Portuguese was targeted by boos as he left the pitch, after some fans had allowed their frustration to spill over and directed their anger to the Portuguese.

United manager keen to make things easier for his team

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David Moyes has refused to get carried away after United snatched victory from the jaws of the defeat in customary fashion against Stoke on Saturday afternoon to claim a crucial three points.

Dramatic and welcomed though it might have been, the win barely masquerade one of United's worst performance of the season, as the Reds looked incredibly pedestrian for the first 70 minutes and could have and perhaps should have been more than one goal down at halftime and had to thank David De Gea for keeping the scoreline acceptable.

Time to support another club?

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In many ways, yesterday's was arguably United's worst performance of the David Moyes era, perhaps with the exception of the 4-1 shellacking the Reds suffered at the Etihad earlier last month.

Granted, United showed the fighting spirit of old in 10 spirited minutes and managed to turn a game on its head with two late goals but however welcome the win was, it was yet again a case of papering over the cracks.

Vulnerable United seek confidence boost

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Having dropped two points against Southampton last week, Europe provided David Moyes with a much-needed boost as United overcame Real Sociedad on Wednesday night, moving join-top of Group A alongside Bayer Leverkusen, while their performance was arguably the more encouraging of the season yet.

United host Stoke today, entering October's final league fixture in eight place, eight points adrift of league leaders Arsenal, something that was definitely not on Moyes' mind when he replaced Sir Alex Ferguson, but United can have little complaints about their league position, having failed to produce a convincing performance since beating Swansea on the opening day of the season.

Improved service key to United success

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I've started this series of weekly articles to illustrate my opinion on the team, manager, tactics and formations. I can only tweet 140 characters and this blog gives me a platform to release my frustration, and give my opinion on the club. We have recently seen some awful United displays, and something needs to change.

United star buries the hatchet

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Wayne Rooney has expressed his delight after Sir Alex Ferguson has put the record straight in his biography, backtracking on comments that had caused months of speculations as the striker seemed on the verge of leaving United for Chelsea in the summer.

Rooney was benched for Fergie's final game at Old Trafford and the United manager revealed the striker had submitted a transfer request, while Rooney and his agent Paul Stretford firmly denied any such request, with the striker claiming he had been left "angry" and "confused" by the club's treatment.

United on song against Real Sociedad

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For once, rather than on football, all the pre-match focus had been on books and music.

The books, or rather the book,was obviously Sir Alex Ferguson's biography, whose revelations have grabbed all the headlines since yesterday's press conference, while the music was supposed to be provided by Old Trafford's brand new singing section, the first of hopefully many attempts to revive the stadium's atmosphere.

Beckham missed a chance at United, claims Fergie

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One of the most interesting chapters of Sir Alex Ferguson's biography lifts the lid on the relationship between Fergie and David Beckham who, according to the former United manager, thought he was more important to the club than his manager.

The constant media attention and the number of agents that quickly turned Beckham into "Brand Beckham" were the cause for the former England captain's downfall at Manchester United, explained Fergie at the launch of his biography, My Autobiography, yesterday in London in an explosive press conference.

Fergie lifts lid on Rooney saga

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One of the most eagerly anticipated chapters of Sir Alex Ferguson's biography was the one focusing on Wayne Rooney and on the Scotsman's turbulent relationship with the United striker.

As expected Fergie pulled no punches, claiming that Rooney's qualities can be undermined by a lack of fitness and that the United striker did ask to leave at the end of last season, despite the denials the club has since issued to protect one of his prized assets.

“Beckham thought he was bigger than me”

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One of the most interesting chapters of Sir Alex Ferguson's biography lifts the lid on the relationship between Fergie and David Beckham who, according to the former United manager, thought he was more important to the club than his manager.

The constant media attention and the number of agents that quickly turned Beckham into "Brand Beckham" were the cause for the former England captain's downfall at Manchester United, explained Fergie at the launch of his biography, My Autobiography, yesterday in London in an explosive press conference.

Keane responds to Fergie

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Sir Alex Ferguson's biography won't be released for another two days but less than 12 hours since the book was unveiled at a packed press conference in London, the first murmurs of discontent and that's putting it mildly have begun to emerge.

Earlier tonight, Roy Keane told ITV that Sir Alex Ferguson ignores the meaning of the word "loyal" and that he won't lose any sleep over the chapter Fergie dedicated to Keane's departure from Manchester United

"I remember having conversations with Ferguson about loyalty.

Fergie’s book > Fergie’s hairdryer?

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Today is the day. Five months after announcing his retirement and some 13 years since publishing his first book, Sir Alex Ferguson's biography, My Autobiography, is released to the public.

There's hardly ever been a more eagerly awaited football-related book, for Fergie being Fergie the book is likely to pull no punches and it must have more than a few people sweating.

Evra nears United exit

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Patrice Evra has told a French television channel that he might leave Manchester United when his contract expires next summer.

The Frenchman's contract runs out at the end of the season and after seven years at Old Trafford, during which he has won five Premier League titles, a Champions League and two League Cups, the 32-year-old could leave Old Trafford at the end of the campaign.

Moyes admits United struggle

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David Moyes has admitted that Manchester United's slow start this season has left him disappointed, despite the club's tradition for being notoriously slow off the blocks.

United conceded a late equaliser on Saturday as Southampton grabbed a deserved 1-1 draw at Old Trafford, which means that David Moyes has now won only once in four league games on home turf, with many suggesting that the Reds have lost their fear factor and that teams are no longer scared to travel to Old Trafford.

Saints make life a hell for United

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There were plenty of reasons to be optimistic about today. United, for a start, were back after a two-week absence forced upon us by the international break and they were back having just renewed Adnan Januzaj's contract, as the talented teenager put pen to paper on a five-year deal just when most Reds had begun to expect a repeat of the fiasco that surrounded Paul Pogba's departure.

United looking to make life a hell for the Saints

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Manchester United host Southampton today hoping to continue where they left off before the international break, when Adnan Januzaj's brace rescued three points for David Moyes' men away at Sunderland.

Southampton, however, are a much harder task than many would have imagined when the fixtures list were released last summer, as the Saints arrive at Old Trafford sitting in fourth place of the table, four points ahead of United and, crucially, boasting the league's best defensive record, having conceded twice in seven games Europe's second best defensive record after Roma's.

United receive Januzaj boost

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Manchester United are a step closer to tie Adnan Januzaj to a long-term contract, after the 18-year-old has hinted he sees his future at Manchester United.

Januzaj grabbed the headlines two weeks, scoring twice on his first start for the club as United came from behind to beat Sundeland 2-1 at the Stadium of Light, while the teenager was immediately linked with a move away from Old Trafford, as Europe's top clubs began to showed their interest.

Moyes hails Rooney’s impact

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David Moyeshailed Wayne Rooney as the main man for Manchester United and England during today's press conference, during which he emphasised the impact the United striker has had for club and country.

Speaking to the press at Carrington, Moyes claimed that Rooney's remarkable turnaround in form and performances is due to a new-found maturity, and both United and England have been reaping the benefits of a more settled, happier, Rooney.

I see the Stretford End arising…soon, maybe

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Ed Woodward endured a torrid time this summer, his lack of experience in the transfer window transforming him into a pantomime villain for United fans, who criticised Woodward's choice to prioritise commercial deals over signing players.

However, the much maligned club's chief executive could regain some respect among the supporters after he agreed to investigate the viability of reintroducing standing areas at Old Trafford, as United looked set to back the Football Supporters Federation's campaign for safe standing inside football grounds across Britain.

Improvements needed, admits United midfielder

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Shinji Kagawa has claimed his lack of games at Manchester United is influencing his performance with his national side, and the Japanese playmaker has vowed to get more playing time under his belt at United to be able to have a bigger impact on his national team's fortunes at the World Cup.

Japan lost to Serbia and Belarus during the international break and although they were already qualified for this summer's showdown in Brazil, the former Dortmund playmaker has claimed that a lack of regular football at club level could affect his performances with the national side.

United winger set for Turkish delight?

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The January transfer window might still be two and half months away, but the rumour mill is in full swing and Manchester United seem to have yet again being caught in the thick of it.

Today's backpages claim that Galatasaray are set offer £13m for Nani in January, as Roberto Mancini, who replaced Fatih Terim at the helm of the Istanbul club less than a month ago, begins to seek a replacement for Wesley Sneijder, who could be reunited with Jose Mourinho at Chelsea.

Nowhere to hide for United

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The last international break of the year marks the moment when the gloves well and truly come off and clubs knuckle down and get down to business knowing that, as winter approaches and days get shorter and colder, the World Cup draw will be the only distraction to disrupt club football for the next six months.

“New Xavi” on United’s radar?

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As England woke up wrapped in World Cup fever after last night's 2-0 win against Poland, we can finally put international football aside and concentrate on club football which, whether the FA likes it or not, the bread and butter for the overwhelming majority of fans.

However, whether it's a matter of clubs or internationals, one things remains certain: the rumour mill is constantly, relentlessly in action and Manchester United, who have seen Michael Carrick excel in an England shirt yesterday, have now been linked with yet another midfielder.

Title race wider open than ever before

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The international break might be the sort of week United fans would love to do without, but the England games offer the opportunity to deliver a first, early doors, verdict on this Premier League season.

Those who predicted a two-horse race between Manchester City and Chelsea have so far been left disappointed, but with less than a third of the season gone, there's still plenty of time to place your bet on who will lift the Premier League trophy this season and if you fancy a bit of a cheeky punt, why not head to freebets.

Fergie’s advice to Moyes

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Sir Alex Ferguson insists that harmony is the key success and that David Moyes must ensure his staff are singing from the same hymn sheet, regardless of how rough the sea might get during the season.

Moyes has endured a difficult start to his managerial career at United, losing three of his first seven league games, which means United lie in ninth place, six points adrift of leaders Arsenal, with the former Everton manager coming under scrutiny for his cautious approach as well as for a summer during which he failed to strengthen his squad as required.

The Sir Alex Ferguson Way

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Having won 13 Premier League titles, two European Cups and having had one of the Old Trafford's stands renamed after him, with a statue on display outside the ground, Sir Alex Ferguson has now received another tribute, following in the steps of the great Sir Matt Busby.

Sir Alex today received theHonorary Freedom of the Borough of Trafford and had a street named after him by the local council, who renamed one of the roads leading to Old Trafford from Water's reach to Sir Alex Ferguson way.

Moyes turned down target

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One of Manchester United's targets this summer revealed that he was set to join the club, but the appointment of David Moyes scuppered a deal that was as good as done.

Benfica's centre-back Ezequiel Garay claimed that he was set to join United for a fee believed to be around the £18m mark this summer, until David Moyes refused to match the Portuguese club's asking price, deeming the Argentinian defender as too expensive.

Reds shine in World Cup qualifiers

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Yesterday's World Cup qualifiers were a mixed bag for United players, with Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie on the scoresheet, while Jonny Evans was sent off for Northern Ireland.

At Wembley, Rooney scored England's first goal as Roy Hodgson's men thumped Montenegro 4-1, with Rooney and Danny Welbeck putting in a good performance, while Michael Carrick came off the bench in the second half.

United keen on promising midfielder

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Manchester United might sign a midfielder this January! However, those among of us who still dream of a classy continental schemer or of a tough-as-nails enforcer are set to be partly disappointed for the man on David Moyes' radar is only 18 and, however promising he might be, he isn't likely to solve United's problems immediately, were he to join United.

Misfiring winger on his way?

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Antonio Valencia could be heading for the Old Trafford exit door this January, according to reports in the Turkish press that have linked Galatasaray with a possible move for one of United's misfiring wingers.

Former Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini remember him? Used to have a scarf constantly wrapped around his neck replaced Fatih Terim as Galatasaray manager last week and he's thought to be keen to revamp his squad in January, with Valencia being one of the Italian's main targets.

Roo are not fooling anyone

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When it comes to Wayne Rooney, my opinion is highly unpopular among many Reds. I do not like the man, the nonchalance with which, in 2010, he was ready to dump the club that had made him what he is now disgusted me and while I appreciate that a multi-millionaire footballer could not care less about the fans' feelings, his behaviour at the time left a sour taste in my mouth.

Rooney lifts the lid on Fergie’s row

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It was the soap opera of the summer, the saga that divided United fans like few others had done in the past. After Sir Alex Ferguson suggested Wayne Rooney had handed in a transfer request, many fans decided they had had enough of the 27-year-old and wanted him out of the club, before quickly backtracking as Rooney decided to remain at Old Trafford.

Life on the bench isn’t Peautiful

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He's one of the most-liked players in the United, his reputation for scoring crucial goals when his team needs them the most comparable to the great Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. He was a pivotal figure in the last two title winning campaigns when his knack for popping up in the right place at the right time often saved the bacon for United.

United’s January Transfer Targets

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Can anything thing else go wrong for Manchester United?

After a devastating, wait, there has to be a better word to describe the disgrace dealings suffered during the summer transfer window. Horrendous, no, horrendous is the best word used to describe their start to the season. Appalling, yes, appalling is just the word I was looking for.

In defence of David Moyes…

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As the international break descends upon us all as implacable as an invite to attend a reunion dinner with people we would rather not see, let alone share a meal with, we can sit back and make a first, still very premature, judgment on David Moyes' first months in charge of Manchester United.

The last couple of months have not been easy for the former Everton manager.

Barca and United set to lock horns in the transfer market

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Yesterday Adnan Januzaj seemed poised to sign a new contract with Manchester United, today the Belgian appears to be on Barcelona's radar, as his stock continues to rise, much to the delight of his agent.

Barcelona have monitored the 18-year-old since he was still at Anderlecht, the club from which he joined United in 2011, and appear convinced that Januzaj will swap Old Trafford for the Nou Camp when his contract runs out at the end of the season, or so claim some of today's backpages.

United set to tie starlet down

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Manchester United are set to offer Adnan Januzaj a new contract, thus preventing the Belgian from walking away from the club for free in the same way Paul Pogba did two seasons ago.

Januzaj scored twice in his first start for the club as United came back from behind to win 2-1 at Sunderland and his performance turned many heads not just in the Premier League, but among European clubs as well.

United in cash plus player deal for England international?

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David Moyes might have denied United will embark on a shopping spree in January, but today's back pages think otherwise and single out Leighton Baines as the United's manager main target for this winter's transfer window.

The England international was on United's radar all summer, with Moyes submitting a combined £36m bid for Baines and Marouane Fellaini, which was rejected by Everton, prompting the United manager to return with a fresh bid for the Belgian midfielder, who joined United on deadline day for £27m.

Premier League, meet Adnan.

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We've been here before, haven't we? A youngster scoring a crucial goal on his first start Manchester United, thus making it impossible to avoid the hype and hysteria and the words "star" and "born". However, while hoping that Adnan Januzaj won't become another Federico Macheda or, worse even, Paul Pogba Part 2, when one cuts through the fanfare that will surround the Belgian after today's performance, it's easy to realise that United have a wonderful, wonderful talent on their hands.

United look to add to Sunderland’s woes

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Manchester United travel to bottom of the table Sunderland today, hoping to get their league campaign back on track after back-t0-back defeats against Manchester City and West Bromwich Albion.

Wayne Rooney, however, might miss the reunion with former Red John O'Shea, as the United striker will face a late fitness test ahead of the game with the shin injury that kept him out of Wednesday's trip to Donetsk still troubling the 27-year-old.

Ibrahimovic wants United star in Paris

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As if agents and clubs weren't enough to unsettle footballers, now we also have players keen to act as career advisors for their colleagues, and when said player has changed six clubs in the last decade, fellow footballers should take note. Or maybe not.

Sweden captain Zlatan Ibrahimovic has urged Wayne Rooney to resurrect his plans to leave Manchester United and cross the channel to play for PSG, a club with which the England international had been linked during the summer, as his future seemed to lie away from Old Trafford.

“Blame the players, not the manager” says United legend

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Ryan Giggs has come out in defence of David Moyes, claiming that the club's poor start to the season is down to the players, rather than the manager and rejected the thought that Sir Alex Ferguson's departure might have influenced the club.

United have lost three of their first six league games, with back-to-back defeats against Manchester City and West Bromwich Albion following a 1-0 loss at Anfield earlier in September leaving United in 12th place as the club endured its worse start since the 1988-89 season.

“True grit” approach is the Moyes’ way

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David Moyes was pleased with his team's performance against Shakthar Donetsk last night, as the Reds earned what could prove to be an important point in their bid to reach the knockout stages of the Champions League.

Having gone ahead through a Danny Welbeck's goal, United defended well for much of the game before conceding an equaliser 15 minutes from time, but for the United manager it was a case of a point earned rather than two lost, particularly considering Shakthar's qualities.

Taison’s punch fails to floor United

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If ever a team has suffered from bipolar disfunction, David Moyes' Manchester United are that team. An hymn to ineptitude, slackness and disorganisation on Saturday, an almost perfectly oiled unit tonight, the Reds return from a complicated trip to Eastern Ukraine with a very valuable point.

Granted, it could have been even better had United not conceded 15 minutes from time, but how romantic that a man whose name rhymes with that of a disgraced boxer was the one to deliver a sucker punch to Moyes' men?

Fergie: “Chelsea? No, thanks”

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Wayne Rooney might have spent the summer trying to engineer a move to Chelsea, but the West Londoner tried to pounce on one of United's biggest assets way before the 27-year-old arrived at Old Trafford.

Speaking on the American network PBS,Sir Alex Ferguson revealed that Roman Abramovich tried to lure him to Stamford Bridge in 2003, soon after Fergie had lifted his eight league title with United and the Russian empire at Chelsea was still in its infancy.

Brazilians of Ukraine a danger for United

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Having endured a torrid start to their domestic campaign, Manchester United turn to Europe to try and find some solace and, hopefully, a return to winning ways.

However, a trip to Donetsk to face the current Ukrainian champions is hardly the sort of fixture that could fill Reds with confidence ahead of kick-off, particularly considering the Mircea Lucescu's team are everything United are not at the moment a club who are happy to spend in the transfer window and who like to play a quick, crisp, passing game on the pitch.

United manager pleads for calm

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David Moyes has asked United fans to be patient and promised that he'll turn things around after the club suffered their worst start in 24 years, losing three of the opening six Premier League games.

Having openly claimed that the current squad is not good enough to win in Europe, and that he spent the summer looking for a couple of world class players who could walk straight into the side, Moyes, who also warned fans that days like the 4-1 thrashing at Manchester City could happen again this season, was defiant ahead of United's trip to Donetsk, where they face Shakthar tonight.

United midfielder fears for his future

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Shinji Kagawa has admitted he needs to improve to convince David Moyes he's worth a regular spot in the starting XI, or his career at Manchester United might soon be over.

The Japanese international has endured a tough start under Moyes, as he's struggled to cement a place in the starting XI, with the former Everton manager preferring Ashley Young to the Japanese international, who has failed to replicate the form he enjoyed at Borussia Dortmund.

£50m to rescue United’s season

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David Moyes' career at Old Trafford might off to a rather underwhelming start and the new manager might have made his feelings about the squad all too clear, but he will, nonetheless, be handed a£50m transfer kitty ahead of the January transfer window as United are well aware that strengthening the squad is an absolute priority.