I was in Manchester earlier this week investigating United fans organising a mass anti-Glazer family protest for this weekend prior to the game against Norwich. The 1958 group is putting the demonstration together and they are meeting at a local location at 11am before marching to Old Trafford. Supporters have been asked not to enter the stadium for the match until 3.17pm which is one minute late for every year the Glazers have owned the club.
Fans are furious that the Glazers have reorganised club finances and also tried to take the United into the aborted Super League last year. The protest organisers said this week, “This isn’t another Liverpool (when protests turned violent last year) – this is the start of constant, relentless, legal and peaceful protests and actions against our owners…bring your colours, banners, flags and flares…this is a cause worth fighting for.”
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Players furious as Pogba negotiates super pay deal
From inside the Manchester United dressing room I can report that several players are furious after hearing rumours that Paul Pogba’s agent is in negotiations for him to sign a new contract worth an incredible £500k a week! The basic wage would be £400k with add-ons and bonus payments taking the figure to half a million pounds. United would not confirm the rumours and some staff say he will be allowed to walk away for nothing at the end of the season however the players are convinced negotiations are happening behind the scenes. They are upset that Pogba would be the highest paid player in the Premier League and earning twice as much as many at the club. They do not feel he is worthy of such special treatment given that he has started so few matches this season and constantly talks of leaving the club and publicly criticising United. Cristiano Ronaldo currently is the highest paid player on £450k a week followed by David De Gea who earns £375k a week.
Salah won’t confirm he will stay at Liverpool
Mo Salah was reluctant to confirm that he will stay at Liverpool when directly asked the question. He is out of contract in 2023 and I understand he feels he is worth £400k a week or £20million a year. Once again Liverpool’s leading goalscorer this season does not want to enter into conversation about his contract while the club is still fighting for an incredible four trophies. When asked if he and Liverpool would sort things out he said simply, “I can’t say yes and I can’t say no. There are many things people do not know about. I only want to be fair and think about the team and our important upcoming matches. I can’t go into the contract right now because it is a really sensitive situation.”
Vardy vows to return early
Injured Jamie Vardy visited the Leicester training ground this week and told his team-mates that he will return before the end of the season in May. That both pleased and surprised his manager Brendan Rodgers who told us last week that Jamie would be out for the rest of the season. Vardy, now 35-years-old, has made only one start from the bench in 2022 and admits to being very frustrated. Rodgers said, “It doesn’t look to me that he is close to being back.” Jamie was ending a series of injections this week after sustaining a knee injury at Leeds in March and before that he endured a hamstring injury. Rodgers added, “He’s got a final injection this week and we’ll see what the reaction is. He can do a lot of fitness work but he is not quite there on kicking a ball.”
Guardiola looks at extending his stay at City
Pep Guardiola is reviewing his decision to move on at the end of next season. He has spoken to the Manchester City hierarchy about possibly extending his contract. Despite rumours Pep dismissed the talk about him taking over the Brazil national team. He said this week, “I’m under contract here and I am happy here. There cannot be a better place to be.” Pep is out of contract at the end of next season but he and his family are enjoying life in Manchester. He has spent longer time at City than any other club he has managed and has a perfect working relationship with club chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak. Pep also spoke of his admiration for Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp who he describes as “the biggest rival I have ever had in my career. Jurgen makes world football a better place to live.” Much depends on City’s success in the Champions League this season and it is the one big trophy that has eluded Pep since he moved to the Etihad stadium.
Klopp says Haaland too expensive
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says the Reds will not enter the race for Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland this summer. Klopp is adamant Liverpool will not entertain paying around £30million in wages for any player and that looks to be Haaland’s signing on price. Klopp points out that he has four world class strikers in Mane, Salah, Firmino and Jota.
Norwich planning to beat United
With Manchester United losing games they should be winning, Norwich manager Dean Smith reckons his team can beat United this weekend. The Canaries are still bottom and seven points away from safety and despite all the odds being against their survival they still believe. Smith points out that he won at Old Trafford in September when he was in charge of Aston Villa and United only beat Norwich by a Ronaldo penalty at Carrow Road. He said, “I’ve already won there so why not go there and win again? It will be a tough ask but we will not shy away from it. We have just achieved two clean sheets which gives us confidence and we have to take that to Old Trafford.”
Hodgson has no answers
I felt very sorry for Watford manager Roy Hodgson this week. The 73-year-old has football in his blood and was lured back into management by Watford after quitting Crystal Palace at the end of last season. He was seen as the man to rescue Watford from relegation. Alas that has not happened and Roy looks completely lost as he tries to figure out what is wrong with his team. His record so far is eight points away but losing every single game at home. That is the record for his first eight games in charge. He shrugged his shoulders in front of journalists, looked down and said, “Why is it we don’t win at home? I don’t know! I understand the question you are asking and if I was in your position I would be asking the same thing but I don’t know there are any real words to explain it.” Relegation looks almost certain for the Hornets.
Fernandinho shocks Guardiola
One player who doesn’t share his manager’s desire to stay at City caught Pep Guardiola by surprise on Tuesday. When Guardiola attended a press conference he walked in and was asked to comment on the fact that one of his senior players wanted to leave. “Sorry?” said Guardiola with a questioning look on his face. He was told that Fernandinho was returning to Brazil at the end of the season to which Pep replied, “Oh, I didn’t know. You just gave me the news.” The 36-year-old has been a solid player at City for 9 years, specialising in breaking up opponents’ attacks in midfield but has been used sparingly as a back-up to Rodri this season and he said, “I want to play more and I want to go back to Brazil for sure.”