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Best night of my life says Evans after helping Man Utd end slump

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Premier League - Burnley v Manchester United - Turf Moor, Burnley, Britain - September 23, 2023 Manchester United's Jonny Evans scores their first goal Action Images via Reuters/Lee Smith Acquire Licensing Rights

Jonny Evans thought his Manchester United days were long gone but on Saturday the 35-year-old Northern Irishman played a huge role in helping them emerge from a worrying slump.

Central defender Evans, who was released by Leicester City at the end of last season after their top flight relegation, marked his first start for United since 2015 by setting up Bruno Fernandes for the only goal in a 1-0 victory at Burnley.

His 200th appearance for the Old Trafford club, with whom he won three Premier League titles, could have been even better had his first-half headed goal not been ruled out for offside.

Evans added some calmness to United’s defence as they kept their first clean sheet since the opening day of the season.

And he showed superb vision with a peach of a pass for Fernandes to volley United’s winner.

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No wonder he looked a happy man afterwards.

“I loved every minute of it. Before the game you get a feeling, I couldn’t wait, just pure excitement,” Evans, who joined West Bromwich Albion in 2015 and then moved to Leicester City in 2018, told TNT Sports.

“Coming up here on the bus I was buzzing. That was my 200th game for Man Utd, I never thought I would ever reach that figure — the best night of my life.”

UNLIKELY STARTER

Evans came on as a substitute in United’s 3-1 defeat at Arsenal and played an inadvertent role in the Gunners’ second goal scored by Declan Rice, deflecting the shot in.

He admitted that returning to Old Trafford had not really been in his thoughts and that the prospect of being in the starting lineup had seemed unlikely.

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“I got the call and didn’t have another option, so I just took it and tried to do my best in training and take my chance. You then just hope your body sees you through,” he said.

After Saturday’s display he may have given manager Erik ten Hag something to consider, especially with injuries impacting United’s squad and a busy fixture schedule ahead.

“He (Evans) showed personality. He was calm, composed, did everything right. Very good performance,” Ten Hag said.

While United moved up to eighth place, Burnley dropped to the bottom with one point from five games, although their football offered encouragement.

“The start is difficult in terms of results but I’m hopeful. I don’t see any reason to think this team lacks character or margin to grow,” manager Vincent Kompany said.

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“We’ve seen improvements today, hopefully more in the weeks to come. Every game we’ve been dangerous.”

-Reuters

 

 

 

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Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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Sancho back in training with Man United after positive meeting with Ten Hag

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Jadon Sancho was back training with Manchester United for the first time in 10 months, with a club source confirming the winger and manager Erik ten Hag have resolved their differences following their public fallout last year.

Sancho and Ten Hag had a positive meeting at Carrington Training Centre and the two have decided to draw a line under last season’s drawn-out argument, the club source said.

The 24-year-old Sancho made just three appearances for United last season, spending the second half of the campaign on loan to Borussia Dortmund after his relationship with Ten Hag soured in September.

Ten Hag had left the winger out of his squad for United’s 3-1 loss to Arsenal, saying Sancho’s performances in training had not warranted a place in his team. Sancho immediately lashed out on social media, accusing Ten Hag of making him a “scapegoat.”

He was banished from the first team and trained with United’s youth squad before returning to his former club Dortmund in January, where he shone during their Champions League semi-final victory against Paris St Germain, earning praise from Ten Hag. Dortmund were beaten by Real Madrid in the final.

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“(Sancho) is a very good player… he showed why Manchester United bought him and he showed he represents a high value for Manchester United, which is good,” Ten Hag told reporters following Dortmund’s 1-0 win over PSG in the first leg.

“I’m happy for Jadon, for the performance, and we’ll see what is going to happen in the future.”

Sancho will not travel with the team to Norway for their pre-season opener against Rosenborg since he began training later than the other players but the club source said he would be available for selection after that.

-Reuters

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Another Nigerian blood replaces Ndidi at Leicester

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Wilfred Ndidi who has just left Leicester City will have another Nigerian blood replacing him.

Leicester has never been without a Nigerian since Ahmed Musa joined in 2016. Ndidi and Kelechi Iheanacho joined in 2017.

Another Nigerian blood, Caleb Okoli, a centre back, has just been signed from Italian  Serie A side Atalanta on a five-year contract. Born in Itali, Caleb Okoli is Igbo and Yoruba by descent.

The 22-year-old, who spent the last season on loan at Frosinone Calcio, represented Italy at the European Under-21 Championship last year.

“I think now is the right moment (for me) to make a step forward and a very big one. I’m very happy with the choice I made, so I’m very excited to start in the Premier League,” Okoli said in a statement. The clubs did not disclose financial details of the deal.

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Ruud van Nistelrooy returns to Man United

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United legend Van Nistelrooy is expected to be announced as one of Erik ten Hag's assistants

Manchester United legend, Ruud van Nistelrooy has been spotted being driven into Carrington, the training ground of Manchester United.

Ruud van Nistelrooy (left) and Rene Hake arrived at Manchester United’s training ground

Reports have it that the Dutchman is set to be appointed as one of Erik ten Hag’s new assistant coaches.

He played for Manchester United from 2001 to 2006.

Now  48, he reportedly turned down job offer from Burnley to return to his old club, having previously led PSV Eindhoven to second place in the Eredivisie and victory in the Dutch Cup.

He is being joined by Rene Hake, 52, who was persuaded to give up his job as Go Ahead Eagles manager despite leading the Deventer-based club into Europe for only the third time in their history.

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