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Supercomputer predicts Manchester United’s final Premier League finish after Chelsea win

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Man United are locked in a competitive battle to secure Champions League qualification for next season.

Manchester United have been given a 5.2 per cent chance of clinching fourth place in the Premier League this season as the race for European football intensifies.

After an action-packed midweek, just six points now separate Manchester City in third and West Ham United in ninth. The Reds are currently sixth in the table, just three points behind City, who were beaten 1-0 by Aston Villa on Wednesday night.

Though United’s start to the season has been underwhelming, their position remains both competitive and encouraging. A win against Bournemouth at Old Trafford on Saturday would move them level on points with City, who don’t play until Sunday this weekend.

Despite Erik ten Hag’s side winning four of their last five Premier League outings, however, data provided by statistical specialists Opta does not give them an overwhelmingly positive chance of finishing inside the top four and securing Champions League football for next season via that method. Their data claims they have just a 5.2 per chance of grabbing fourth.

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Furthermore, their data has given them a 1.3 per cent of clinching third, a 0.2 per cent chance of finishing in second and a 0.1 per cent chance of winning the title. United are nine points behind current leaders Arsenal.

According to Opta’s data, the position United are most likely to finish in is seventh – one place beneath their current position. They have given the Reds a 19.1 per cent chance of taking that spot, which would be four places lower than they finished last term.

United had ambitions of kicking-on this season after finishing third in Ten Hag’s debut campaign at the club last term. Following the end of the 2022/23 Premier League campaign, the Dutchman set a target of building on their achievement of taking third and challenging for second this time around.

Speaking at the club’s end-of-season awards ceremony in May, he said: “My hope is that we have to do better. We always have to do better.

“We have a foundation, we have a good base and we have to do better. We still have one game to go this season and it is a great opportunity to make a next step.

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“After that we then have the summer and we have to increase our standards to do even better. The competition is tough and our competitors also reach higher levels, so we have to do at least the same.

“But I don’t think it is good enough. We don’t want to stay here; we want to go higher up, we want to increase our levels and compete for the top two.

“We have to demand more and increase our levels.”

To paint an overall picture of Opta’s data, they have given United a stronger chance of finishing in 11th than third, claiming that an 11th-placed finish is four per cent possible. Percentage likelihoods significantly decrease from 12th downwards.

-MEN

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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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