Pogba snub backed by Giggs as Man Utd star struggles to deliver on expectation

Ryan Giggs is not surprised by Jose Mourinho’s decision to drop Paul Pogba, with the France international still struggling for consistency at Manchester United.

The World Cup-winning midfielder was benched in midweek for a crunch Premier League clash with Arsenal.

Romelu Lukaku was also named among the substitutes after failing to deliver an attacking spark.

Giggs did not expect the Belgian striker to slip out of the United side, but he admits much more is expected of £89 million man Pogba during another testing campaign.

The Red Devils legend told Sky Sports: “Lukaku scored at Southampton, and usually when a centre-forward scores they want to play next game so I was a bit surprised he was on the bench.

“Jose went with the speed of Anthony Martial, Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford, which you can understand as well.

“Pogba just didn’t play well at Southampton so I can understand that one. He could come back in quite easily and make an impact on Saturday [against Fulham].

“He needs to really because he’s taking a lot of criticism, which I think comes because of what he is capable of. Especially as a midfielder at United, you need to be consistently good and he has just shown glimpses really.

“We all know what he’s capable of because we’ve seen it, he just has to do it regularly.

“It’s down to Paul – every United fan was excited when we signed him because of what he is capable of and what he achieved at Juventus and with France, but he’s just not done it on that consistent basis and you can see why Jose left him out.”

Jose Mourinho Man Utd 2018

Mourinho will be hoping to find a winning formula against Fulham, after four league games without success, and Giggs believes a top-four finish can still be achieved by an out-of-sorts side despite United sitting eight points off that pace at present.

The Welshman added: “The top four at the moment looks a long way away, but there’s a long way to go in the season and that’s the plus.

“They’ve got to start winning if they have any ambitions of finishing in the top four and they are stuttering at the moment results-wise.

“It would be good to beat Fulham at home because we’ve seen that in the bigger games, okay we got beat by Tottenham, who played pretty well, and against City too, but at Chelsea we played really well, so we are going to be up for the big games. It’s just these sides outside the top six where we’ve stuttered.

“It is not going to be easy against Fulham because Claudio Ranieri’s just taken over there, but they are bottom and if you have any top four aspirations you’ve got to win these games.”

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Dortmund to keep Sancho amid Man City links

Jadon Sancho will continue to play at Borussia Dortmund next season, according to the club’s sporting director Michael Zorc.

Sancho has enjoyed a breakthrough in Germany this season, scoring five goals and providing nine assists in all competitions already this season.

The winger has also won three caps for England, becoming another great hope within Gareth Southgate’s reign.

And his performances have reportedly drawn admiring glances from the likes of Manchester City, who hold first refusal on their former youth player, and Barcelona.

Zorc, though, says that the club will retain the 18-year-old.

Asked, wether he could guarantee that Sancho will play for Dortmund next season, he told Bild: “Yes.

“Because he is still a very young player and there are absolutely no signs for a transfer.

“Jadon knows very well which club led him to the English national team. And he said himself numerous times how comfortable he feels with us.”

Sancho has helped Dortmund enjoy an unbeaten start to the Bundesliga season, with the club top of the table.

They have won 10 and drawn three of their first 13 games, and sit seven points clear of second-placed Borussia Monchengladbach, while they are nine clear of Bayern Munich.

Sancho began his career with Manchester City but failed to make a single first-team appearance for the club.

Instead, he played 22 times for the Under-18s, and seven times for the Under-23s.

He has been fast-tracked to the England senior squad, however, having only played for the Under-16s, the Under-17s and the Under-19s.

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Milner becomes second youngest player ever to reach 500 Premier League appearance

James Milner has made what is his 500th Premier League appearance in Saturday’s meeting with Bournemouth, becoming the second youngest player to reach the milestone.

Over the course of his 16-year career to date, Milner has played in England’s top flight for Leeds United, Newcastle, Aston Villa, Manchester City and Liverpool.

He becomes the 13th player in total to reach the 500-mark, with Gareth Barry currently the youngest to have got to the fifth century at 32 years and 219 days.

Milner made his most Premier League appearances for City, where he was selected 147 times in England’s top flight.

He is, however, closing on that total at Liverpool, who he joined back in 2015, and has now made a total of 111 league appearances for the Reds.

The last player to reach 500 in the Premier League was, ironically, former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard back in 2015.

Milner’s total of 15 league goals for Liverpool is the most he has scored for any of the clubs he has represented, while he managed 13 for Manchester City, 12 for Villa, six for Newcastle and five for Leeds.

His 80 top-flight assists over his career matches the tally of David Beckham in the Premier League, all of which were, of course, achieved while playing for Manchester United.

The midfielder remains the second-youngest scorer in Premier League history, behind former Everton striker James Vaughan, as he found the net aged just 16 years and 357 days for Leeds against Sunderland in 2002.

Demonstrating his versatility, the 32-year-old was stationed at right-back for the game against Bournemouth, with Trent Alexander-Arnold benched, likely with an eye on the crunch Champions League clash with Napoli on Tuesday.

Regarding his decision to start Milner at right-back, Klopp explained: “It’s no problem. I thought it could be a problem, but obviously he would have even played goalkeeper in game number 500!”

Klopp’s side can move to the top of the table should they claim all three points against Bournemouth.

City, though, will have the chance to react to whatever result Liverpool achieve at the Vitality Stadium later in the day as they face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

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Klopp reveals reason for Milner position change

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp had no hesitation selecting James Milner at right-back for his 500th Premier League appearance.

With Joe Gomez ruled out for six weeks with a broken leg and Trent Alexander-Arnold on the bench, Klopp has gone for experience for the key game at the Vitality Stadium.

Though the 32-year-old has spent much of the last two campaigns in midfield, he made 37 appearances at left-back during the 2016-17 campaign and enjoyed much success.

“It’s no problem,” Klopp told Sky Sports. “I thought it could be a problem, but obviously he would have even played goalkeeper in game number 500!

“We need to be flexible, all of us, in the period – different positions, different jobs to do in the games. 

“But it’s only slightly different and Millie knows it from his time at left-back.

“We are a very offensive-orientated team, which means he is very often in a comfortable area. 

“With his experience, and especially against Bournemouth with the counter-attack, you need all the defensive skills as well. 

“Fraser, Brooks, Stanislas or whoever are all nice and speedy, King as well.

“It’s a job to do, but it’s nice to be part of the 500th Premier League game of Millie.”

The prospect of going top of the Premier League for a few hours at least has seen Klopp make five changes, with Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino restored to the starting XI after being rested against Burnley.

Andy Robertson, Fabinho and Georginio Wijnaldum are also recalled and Klopp hopes the result will reflect the depth of quality at his disposal.

“I don’t think any of the boys have to show they are ready for a test or whatever,” the German coach added.

“It was clear when we built the squad for the season that we wanted to have opportunities like that.

“It’s never easy because for football, rhythm is a very important thing and if you have no rhythm, like you saw in the first half against Burnley, it makes life a bit uncomfortable, but that’s normal. 

“Having that game was very, very important and then the second half showed everything is fine.

“Now we have to do the same again because it’s only three days since Burnley, and we play our next game in three days. 

“We don’t think about Napoli in the moment, but we cannot ignore it from an intensity point of view.”

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Ben Chilwell, Leicester’s NxGn full-back shining for club and country

Following England’s very encouraging World Cup performance, Gareth Southgate has wasted little time in evolving the Three Lions further. The 3-4-2-1 that worked so well in Russia has been parked for the time being, in favour of a vertical 4-3-3 which accommodates Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling.

The change in system has brought a change in personnel at full-back, too. Kyle Walker has been shifted from his makeshift role at centre-half to his preferred position of right-back, while Ashley Young – another makeshift defender who performed admirably in the summer – has been dislodged by Ben Chilwell, who has gone from strength to strength with Leicester this year.

The 21-year-old has been on the radar for many clubs since being integrated into the Leicester first-team set-up by Claudio Ranieri during the famous title-winning season but has only become a regular fixture in the Foxes’ starting line-up under Claude Puel, who has brought a number of English starlets to the fore during his tenure at the King Power Stadium. 

After catching the eye when afforded a handful of opportunities by Ranieri, Chilwell was subject of heavy interest from Liverpool in the summer of 2016 but a move never materialised due to the Reds’ reluctance to meet Leicester’s £10m asking price – a paltry fee in retrospect. 

Ben Chilwell England

A typical modern left-back, Chilwell’s attacking verve provides Leicester with another dimension to their already impressive forwardline – he has executed 1.2 key passes and completed 1.6 dribbles per game this season.

His marauding nature doesn’t make way for defensive steel, though – the Milton Keynes-born star has made 3.1 clearances per game this season, along with one tackle and one interception on average.

“At 21 he can continue to improve,” Puel said. “Perhaps to find clinical crosses, for example, and to bring support to his team-mates in offensive play, but he has all the ability. He has fantastic pace, endurance, good engine, to repeat efforts, he is comfortable on the ball, without panic.

Chilwell’s recent development has drawn a wealth of admirers and has led him to seemingly nail down the left-back spot for England – the pinnacle of his burgeoning national career surely coming in the Three Lions’ momentous 3-2 win away at Spain – but he knows more than anyone that he can’t afford to rest on his laurels.

NxGn Chilwell GFX

“You feel more confident but I still go into games feeling like I need to prove myself,” Chilwell said. 

“I actually had a chat with the manager [Puel] a week and a half ago and he said the same thing to me, that I have started the season well and had three or four good games but come the end of the season those games will mean nothing.

“It is how you play for the rest of the season, for 38 games. If you want to be a top player you have to play well for the whole season and then ten more seasons, not just three or four games.”

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