Antonio Conte drew the best out of Romelu Lukaku at Inter after showing him support that felt lacking at Manchester United, the striker's agent has claimed.

As Conte emerges as a possible candidate to become the next United manager, should Ole Gunnar Solskjaer continue to struggle, his credentials as a coach who helps players to achieve their potential have been underlined by remarks from Lukaku's representative Federico Pastorello.

When Lukaku joined Inter from United in August 2019, it was on the back of a disappointing second year at Old Trafford in which he scored 15 goals in 45 games – 32 were starts – at a rate of one every 201 minutes.

That was the fewest goals he had managed in a full season since establishing himself in the Premier League during a loan spell at West Brom in 2012-13. Lukaku was owned by Chelsea during his time with the Baggies. He saw little action for the Blues first time around, but his Premier League career has come full circle this year after he returned to Stamford Bridge following two prolific years with Inter in Italy.

Four strong seasons at Everton were followed by a 27-goal first campaign with United, before the team's fortunes nosedived in the final months of Jose Mourinho's tenure, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer taking over midway through the 2018-19 campaign.

His goals under Mourinho in that season came at one every 273 minutes, improving to one every 151 minutes once Solskjaer took the reins for the Red Devils.

But Pastorello said Lukaku still needed the assurance he was central to a manager's plans, and he found that at San Siro under Conte, a former Chelsea boss who wanted to sign the striker during his stint in west London.

"Two years of work with Mr Conte helped him. He can score left, right, head. He has completed himself as a striker working with Mr Conte. He also had the opportunity to improve himself personally," Pastorello told Sky Sports News.

"He felt wanted. This is what he was not able to feel at Man United. That happens."

Across two years in Italy, Lukaku hit 64 goals in 95 games, at one every 121 minutes. He bettered his expected goals tally of 57.73 and created 133 chances, having carved out just 82 in 96 games for United.

According to Pastorello, Thomas Tuchel showed a compelling desire to make Lukaku a prize asset at Chelsea, making "a fantastic speech" that convinced the Belgian striker a second spell at Stamford Bridge was the right switch.

"He gave him the feeling that he really wanted him, that he was the perfect last piece in the puzzle," Pastorello said, recalling Tuchel's words to Lukaku before the reported £97.5million transfer. "It's very crucial for a player to decide to go in a team with a coach that really wants him."

After making a fast start at Chelsea, with four goals in his first four games across all competitions, Lukaku finds himself on a seven-goal barren run, with Tuchel saying the striker is mentally fatigued. He is also currently injured, with no clear indication yet of when he might return.

Despite the brouhaha surrounding his early impressive performances, Lukaku's goals in this spell for Chelsea have now come at an average of one every 208 minutes, albeit these are just the early stages of the campaign. The fact Chelsea sit top of the Premier League has eased the pressure on Lukaku to hit another scoring streak.

"Rom's brain and his mind is very focused with Chelsea," Pastorello said. "He will rest a little bit, but he'll be back with more will to win trophies."

Lukaku has missed Chelsea's last two games due to a minor injury sustained in last week's Champions League win over Malmo.

The list of candidates to replace Ronald Koeman at Barcelona is already forming.

Koeman was dismissed after Wednesday's 1-0 defeat to Rayo Vallecano which left them ninth in LaLiga.

Barcelona are battling financial challenges and have struggled since Lionel Messi's exit in August.

TOP STORY – XAVI OFFERED BARCELONA JOB

Barcelona have offered their vacant head coaching role to club legend Xavi, reports Goal.

The Catalans have acted fast with Koeman sacked late on Wednesday.

Xavi is currently coaching Qatari outfit Al Sadd but has an exit clause in his contract, although Barca are prepared to pay any fee required.

The 41-year-old long-time Barcelona midfielder retired from playing in 2019, with his final on-field stint at Al Sadd before moving into coaching.

 

ROUND-UP

- Liverpool are in the box seat to sign Leeds United's England international midfielder Kalvin Phillips, according to the Daily Star. Phillips, who is contracted with Leeds until 2024, has been linked with Manchester United too, but the report claims Liverpool are his first choice and the deal would be worth around £60million.

- Manchester United have conceded that agreeing a new deal with Paul Pogba is impossible and are prepared to lose the France international on a free transfer when his contract expires at the end of the season, reports ESPN. Pogba has been linked with Paris Saint-Germain , Juventus and Real Madrid .

- Manchester United's Amad Diallo is interested in going out on loan to Dutch club Feyenoord, according to Feyenoord TM. The 19-year-old Ivorian winger has not played this season.

- TEAMtalk claims that PSG have joined the pursuit of Leeds United's Brazil international Raphinha. PSG is the current home of Raphinha's Brazilian team-mates Neymar and Marquinhos.

- Chelsea are preparing for Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen's exit by lining up moves for Sevilla's Jules Kounde and Juventus' Matthijs de Ligt, reports Eurosport.

Marcus Rashford revealed his "embarrassment" as he vowed Manchester United will redeem themselves after their 5-0 thrashing against Liverpool.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side suffered their heaviest ever defeat at home to the Reds, while losing to-nil by five-plus goals at home for the first time since February 1955.

Indeed, United found themselves four goals behind at half-time for the first time ever in the Premier League in an abject first-half showing against Jurgen Klopp's in-form team on Sunday.

Rashford lasted until the 62nd minute at Old Trafford before being removed for Diogo Dalot and the England international has subsequently expressed regret over his side's performance.

"I can’t lie you haven't heard from me on here because as a United fan I didn't really know what to say after Sunday," Rashford wrote on Twitter on Wednesday.

"I was embarrassed. I am embarrassed. Our fans are everything and you didn't deserve that. We're working hard to try and fix this. We have to redeem ourselves."

United have won just three of their last nine games, despite bringing in the likes of Jadon Sancho, Raphael Varane and Cristiano Ronaldo in the close season.

The under-fire Solskjaer remains at the helm ahead of a decisive period as United next face Tottenham and Manchester City, along with a Champions League clash against Atalanta.

Manchester United star Paul Pogba has denied claims that he snubbed his manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer following Sunday’s 5-0 hammering at the hands of Liverpool at Old Trafford.

It was a day that went from bad to worse for the Frenchman after being left out of the starting line-up for a second game running, only to see his team-mates fall four goals behind by the break, which led to his introduction in the second half.

Pogba lasted only 15 minutes as he was sent off by referee Anthony Taylor following a VAR review following a heavy challenge on Naby Keita.

The former Juventus man has experienced highs and lows since coming back to United from Italy in 2016, and rumours about his future persist as he gets closer to the end of his deal in Manchester, which expires at the end of this season.

There have also been questions raised about the relationship between Solskjaer and his players, especially following recent games in which the Red Devils have lost four and drawn one of their last five domestic fixtures.

However, Pogba took to Twitter on Wednesday to address a story published by The Sun which claimed that he had snubbed his manager in the dressing room following Sunday's defeat, and had also "shelved" contract talks.

The 28-year-old simply stated "Big lies to make headlines", and posted a screenshot of the story with a banner over the top saying "Fake news".

Big lies to make headlines pic.twitter.com/VBQiBxSuNO

— Paul Pogba (@paulpogba) October 27, 2021

 

Pogba's agent Mino Raiola recently told The Times in an interview that there was "no update" on his client's future.

Before falling out of favour in recent games, the World Cup winner made a promising start to the season, and still sits at the top of the Premier League assist chart with seven, two ahead of Gabriel Jesus, Mateo Kovacic and Mohamed Salah.

He will be unable to add to those numbers for a while as he now misses games against Tottenham, Manchester City and Watford through suspension, with the trip to Chelsea on 28 November set to be the next match he will be available for.

 

Any hopes of Paul Pogba remaining at Old Trafford appear to be fading. 

The Manchester United stalwart has halted contract talks with the club. 

Multiple European clubs are said to be interested in the 28-year-old. 

 

TOP STORY – POGBA ENDS MAN UTD TALKS

Paul Pogba has ended talks over a potential new contract at Manchester United amid an apparent row with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, The Sun reports. 

The France international will be out of contract in June and appears likely to move on. 

The Sun reports he apologised to his team-mates but did not speak to Solskjaer after being sent off 15 minutes after coming on as a substitute in Sunday's 5-0 thrashing by Liverpool. 

His former club Juventus could be an option, while Paris Saint-GermainReal Madrid and Barcelona are also said to have shown interest. 

 

ROUND-UP

- Barcelona would prefer to have Jurgen Klopp take over whenever they sack Ronald Koeman, says Sport. Klopp is under contract with Liverpool through 2024. 

- Newcastle United are prepared to offer Alex Ten Hag £6million a year after taxes if he leaves Ajax for St. James' Park, reports the Mail. 

- Arsenal and Manchester City are interested in Barcelona's Spain international Sergi Roberto, says Fichajes. 

- Inter have had talks with Sampdoria midfielder Morten Thorsby's agent over a potential move, claims Calciomercato. 

- River Plate forward Julian Alvarez is drawing interest from Milan, Bayer Leverkusen and Aston Villa, says Calciomercato. 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took training at Manchester United on Tuesday as the under-pressure manager looked set to avoid losing his job for now.

A 5-0 defeat at home to Liverpool on Sunday was the lowest point of the Norwegian's time in charge, with a third loss of the Premier League season leaving United eight points behind early leaders Chelsea.

His first-team squad reassembled at the club's Carrington training base two days on from that debacle, with Solskjaer still at the helm. He reportedly arrived early in the morning to put his players through their paces.

Senior United officials are said to have held a meeting on Monday, with executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward joined by managing director Richard Arnold and co-chairman Joel Glazer.

United have repeatedly backed the Norwegian, who took over from Jose Mourinho in December 2018, initially as an interim appointment. They consider the former United striker an ideal figurehead, and Solskjaer remains a popular figure among supporters, even with those who want a change of manager.

The Guardian reported on Tuesday that Solskjaer still retains the support of Woodward, Arnold and United's influential former manager Alex Ferguson, with Joel Glazer set to have the final say. Similarly, The Telegraph said Solskjaer has been given three games to show he should be retained.

United would be wary of removing Solskjaer if there is no suitable candidate available to replace the 48-year-old, and early signs point to him likely remaining in charge for the Premier League clash with Tottenham on Saturday. That is followed by games against Atalanta and Manchester City.

Former Chelsea, Inter, Juventus and Italy boss Antonio Conte has been linked as a possible successor and is said to be open to the idea; however, Zinedine Zidane would not be interested in the job, according to reports in Spain, where he had two spells in charge of Real Madrid.

Solskjaer's disappointment after the Old Trafford defeat was plain, as he said: "I have never felt any worse than this. This is the lowest I have been. I accept the responsibility. That is mine today and it is mine going forward.

"I do believe in myself and I am getting close to what we want at the club. The results lately haven't been good enough. Hands up. Next week is Tottenham away. Then Atalanta. Then Man City. We have to go into this with the right frame of mind."

In July, Solskjaer signed a new three-year contract at United, and the club backed him as Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane joined during the transfer window.

He has an average points-per-game record of 1.83, which is the third highest in United's Premier League history. In that respect he only trails his predecessor Mourinho (1.89) and the long-serving Ferguson (2.16).

Solskjaer has a 51.89 per cent win record from his 106 Premier League games in charge of the Red Devils to date.

Liverpool must stay grounded on the back of their "historical" 5-0 thrashing of Manchester United, according to forward Diogo Jota.

The Reds recorded their biggest ever margin of victory against fierce rivals United at Old Trafford thanks to a Mohamed Salah hat-trick and goals from Naby Keita and Jota.

It marked the first time United have lost by five or more goals without scoring since February 1955, when they suffered a 5-0 loss to Manchester City, while only once before – a 7-1 victory at Anfield in October 1895 – have Liverpool won by more goals in this fixture.

Jota, who played a key part in the victory with a tap-in and an assist for the second of Salah's goals, admitted not even he expected Liverpool to dismantle their opponents with such ease.

"It's hard to dream [about such a win], which is a good thing, to be honest," he told Liverpool's official website. "We always expect a tight game, at least in terms of the result, but I think we were outstanding, especially until 2-0.

"Sometimes things just happen naturally. I think we were of course on our toes, everyone was searching for the space and I think in the end with the two goals coming soon, that helps as well. We were very dangerous and we did a fantastic game.

"In the first 15 minutes we were almost perfect. After that, we conceded a little bit counter-attacks and started losing the ball, but in the end it's a historical result and one for the fans to remember for a while.

"It's historical but we as players, we can't think over our heads. I think it's important that we keep our feet on the floor. It's just three more points; there is a long way to go."

Liverpool were four goals up by half-time and added a fifth five minutes into the second half, with Salah's hat-trick strike followed by a red card for United midfielder Paul Pogba.

Jurgen Klopp's side have scored 19 goals in their opening five Premier League away matches this term, a tally that has been bettered by only Manchester City (20 in 2011-12) and United (20 in 1907-08) in English top-flight history at this stage.

Jota was just as pleased with the clean sheet kept by his side at Old Trafford – Liverpool's sixth of the campaign, a joint-league high alongside Manchester City and Chelsea, the latter of whom have a one-point lead at the summit.

"A clean sheet is always important because if you do that it allows for you just to score one goal and win the game," he said. "I think that's what we need to fight for because with the quality that we have up front, if we keep that clean sheet then I'm pretty sure we will win the game."

Salah extended his club-record run of scoring to 10 straight games in all competitions and has now netted 106 times in the Premier League, seeing the Egypt forward surpass Didier Drogba (104) as the top African goalscorer in the competition's history.

Jota added: "It is one of those times when every time he touches the ball it seems to end in the back of the net! That is unbelievable for us and I hope that can continue for a while."

Former Rangers and Scotland manager Walter Smith has died at the age of 73.

Smith holds legendary status at Ibrox, having won 21 trophies during two spells as boss of the Scottish champions.

He also masterminded the Glasgow giants' run to the UEFA Cup final in 2008 and managed his country from 2004 to 2007.

Smith was also in charge at Everton for almost four years and spent time as Alex Ferguson's assistant at Manchester United.

Rangers chairman Douglas Park said in a statement on Tuesday: "On behalf of the Rangers board of directors, staff and players, I convey my deep condolences to the Smith family. Walter leaves behind a wife, children and grandchildren, all of whom are in our thoughts and prayers at this difficult time.

"It is almost impossible to encapsulate what Walter meant to every one of us at Rangers. He embodied everything that a Ranger should be. His character and leadership was second to none, and will live long in the memory of everyone he worked with during his two terms as first team manager.

"I spoke with Walter as recently as last weekend. Even when he was battling illness, he was still able to provide advice and support. For that, I am personally grateful. I know that he continued also to maintain dialogue with senior members of staff, including our manager, Steven Gerrard.

"Walter will be sorely missed by all of us at Rangers.

"Winning 10 top-flight titles as manager, five Scottish Cups and six League Cups, as well as leading his club to the UEFA Cup final in 2008, he will be remembered by the football community across the world. His spells as Scotland manager as well as managing in the English Premier League underlined his credentials as one of the great modern day football managers.

"However, for Rangers supporters, he was much more than just a football manager. Walter was a friend to many, a leader, an ambassador and most of all -a legend."

Former Rangers manager Mark Warburton expressed his sorrow, writing on Twitter: "Devastating news to hear of the sad passing of Walter Smith. A man who was always on hand to help with advice and support. My thoughts and condolences are with his family at this most difficult time."

Manchester City had a relatively quiet off-season in the transfer market.

City landed Jack Grealish from Aston Villa in a big-money move but failed in their efforts to sign Tottenham star Harry Kane following Sergio Aguero's exit.

But the Premier League champions could be more active in the January transfer window.

 

TOP STORY – CITY PLAN FOR DE JONG SWOOP

Manchester City are plotting a move for Barcelona star midfielder Frenkie de Jong, according to Calciomercato.

De Jong, who also has interest from Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich, signed a five-year deal with Barcelona effective from July 2019, tying him down to 2024.

The 24-year-old Netherlands international has made 11 appearances in all competitions this season and is yet to score.

 

ROUND-UP

- Fabrizio Romano claims Manchester United have made no official proposal for former Chelsea and Inter boss Antonio Conte yet amid doubts over the future of Red Devils manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer following Sunday's 5-0 rout at the hands of Liverpool. Zinedine Zidane and Ajax's Erik ten Hag are also possible options.

- Manchester United's wantaway Dutch midfielder Donny van de Beek is preparing to make a January move with Voetbal International claiming he has swapped agents. EvertonNewcastle United and Juventus are all interested in Van de Beek, per Metro.

Paris Saint-Germain will switch their attention to Bayern midfielder Corentin Tolisso if they cannot secure a move for Manchester United's Paul Pogba, reports Calciomercato. Pogba has also been linked with Juve and Real Madrid.

Newcastle and Juve are contending to sign Barca forward Ousmane Dembele, according to Sport. Dembele is set to exit Barca at the end of this season and his agent has reportedly been in touch with both clubs about a move, while Liverpool and United are also possible destinations.

 

Manchester United's 5-0 mauling at the hands of Liverpool could prove to be the beginning of the end, or indeed the final straw, for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The team have performed poorly this season, failing to win any of their last five domestic games (losing four) and requiring last-minute winners from Cristiano Ronaldo to beat Villarreal and Atalanta in the Champions League following an embarrassing 2-1 loss to Young Boys.

Sunday's embarrassing scoreline set a number of unwanted records, including United's largest margin of defeat against Liverpool at home and the first time the Red Devils had trailed by four goals at half-time in the Premier League.

Solskjaer only signed a new three-year deal with an option for an additional year in July, but disappointing results have sparked speculation about the Norwegian's future.

If Solskjaer is indeed replaced, who might take his spot and be charged with guiding United back to the top? Stats Perform takes a look at some of the favourites.

 

Antonio Conte

Conte seems, in many ways, to be an ideal appointment for United. For starters, the Italian is a free agent, having left Inter after winning Serie A last season – breaking Juventus' nine-year grip in the process and ending the Nerazzurri’s long wait for a league title.

The first three of those nine consecutive league titles for Juventus were won by Conte himself, who took a Bianconeri side that had not won the Scudetto since their revoked success in 2005 and established an era of dominance, going undefeated in the league in his first season (2011-12) and setting the Serie A points record (102) in his third.

His achievements in Italy are coupled with experience and success in England, winning the Premier League with Chelsea in 2017 (racking up an impressive 93 points) and claiming an FA Cup the year after.

Conte does have a reputation for being a volatile coach, but his track record of titles will surely be tempting for United, who have not won the Premier League since Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement in 2013.

However, former United defender Gary Neville does not think the ex-Italy coach is a good fit for the club, telling Sky Sports: "Conte's available but I wouldn't bring him to Manchester United. I wouldn't bring him here now. I don't think Antonio Conte is a fit for Manchester United."

Zinedine Zidane

Another free agent – and a particularly glamorous option – is Zinedine Zidane. The Frenchman's second stint as Real Madrid boss came to an end in May and he remains available.

Zidane won the Champions League three times in a row in his first spell as Los Blancos head coach and also claimed two LaLiga titles over his five years in the role.

The 49-year-old is the record holder for most consecutive LaLiga away wins (13) and the longest unbeaten run in Spanish football (40 games) and United would surely see him as an upgrade on Solskjaer.

He has also previously coached Cristiano Ronaldo, to great success, and might be the perfect candidate to get United's stars working together cohesively. 

 

Brendan Rodgers

Brendan Rodgers is less decorated than the previous two names on this list, but has a wealth of experience in the English game and has done an admirable job in his current post as Leicester City head coach, guiding the Foxes to their first-ever FA Cup last season as well as successive fifth-placed Premier League finishes.

He also claimed back-to-back domestic trebles in his two-and-a-half seasons with Celtic, but his association with United's rivals Liverpool may prove to be an obstacle, having come within two points of winning the Premier League in his second season on Merseyside.

Mauricio Pochettino

Pochettino has reportedly long been admired by United, being regularly linked with a move to Old Trafford in his five-year spell in north London, having taken Tottenham to a Champions League final in that time.

However, the Argentine only joined Paris Saint-Germain in January and signed a contract extension until 2023 in July, and is coaching a team that includes Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, not to mention the rest of PSG's star-studded squad.

Never say never, but this deal would certainly be a difficult one for United to pull off given the timing.

 

Erik ten Hag

Ten Hag has impressed in his time in the Netherlands, winning two Eredivisie titles with Ajax and embarking on a memorable run to the Champions League semi-finals in 2018-19, knocking Madrid and Juventus out before falling going out on away goals to Pochettino's Spurs.

Ajax have been entertaining and effective under Ten Hag and are four points clear at the top of the league once more this season, beating title rivals PSV 5-0 on Sunday.

However, it remains to be seen if the Dutchman – who has also been linked with Newcastle United – would be willing to leave mid-season.

Sunday must have felt like a horror film for Manchester United fans as their team endured perhaps their most humiliating defeat of the Premier League era.

Still, ghoulish goings-on are not uncommon for the Red Devils during the month of October.

Elsewhere, Chelsea's demolition of Norwich City came largely thanks to their English contingent and the in-form Ben Chilwell, who is on the kind of goalscoring run that struggling Spurs could really use.

Read on for more of the stranger Opta facts to emerge from the Premier League weekend...

 

United's Oktober(goal)fest

Plenty of fans would think there must be something spooky going on at Old Trafford if the manager is not under threat of losing his job after the biggest loss to Liverpool in 126 years.

If the Glazers do indeed continue to back Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, perhaps it's because they have embraced as the norm United's history of some truly terrifying results during the Hallowe'en season.

The debacle against Liverpool was the fifth time United have lost a Premier League game by a margin of five goals. All of those matches have come in October: 5-0 defeats to Newcastle United (1996) and Chelsea (1999), the 6-1 thrashing by Manchester City in 2011, and last season's 6-1 loss to Tottenham.

Given their next two league games are against Spurs and City, Solskjaer must wonder whether he will still be in a nightmare after October 31.

Four England!

Battering another team 7-0 is a decent opportunity to rack up some goalscoring stats, which is exactly what Chelsea did against Norwich City.

While Mason Mount took the plaudits for his hat-trick, he was one of four English players to score in the game, the others being Callum Hudson-Odoi, Reece James and Ben Chilwell. Never before have the Blues had so many Englishman find the net for them in a single Premier League match. Indeed, the last side to do so (excluding own goals) was Bournemouth against Hull City in October 2016.

Chilwell has now scored in four league games in a row for Chelsea, having only managed two goals in his previous 26 appearances in the competition. The previous English player to score in as many consecutive matches for the club was Frank Lampard in February 2013.

If that form continues, the left-back will match Lampard's club-record 177 Premier League goals for Chelsea at some point in the 2026-27 season...

Royal rumble

Watford's 5-2 win at Everton on Saturday was... well, it was just a bit weird, wasn't it? After all, it made Watford the first Premier League team to concede five and then score five the next week since 2018, while no side in the competition's history had ever trailed by two or more goals after 75 minutes and won by a margin of at least three.

Emmanuel Dennis, a 64th-minute substitute, was directly involved in three of Watford's goals, scoring one and assisting two. That's the same return managed all season by Raul Jimenez, Jarrod Bowen and £100million man Jack Grealish. Indeed, only Paul Pogba, Gabriel Jesus, Jamie Vardy, Michail Antonio and Mohamed Salah have had more direct goal involvements than Dennis (six) in 2021-22.

And what a regal performance it was for former Toffee Joshua King. A visiting hat-trick would be a tough one to swallow for the Goodison Park faithful at the best of times, but King scored as many goals on Saturday as he attempted shots for Everton in his 11 league appearances for them.

Fifteen minutes of infamy

Paul Pogba became the first United player since Luke Chadwick in December 2000, also against Liverpool, to be sent off in a Premier League game after coming on as a substitute.

The red card changed the game only inasmuch as it prompted Jurgen Klopp's men to take pity on their opponents – only five of their 19 shots overall came in that final half-hour.

Between his introduction at half-time and his dismissal 15 minutes later, Pogba certainly tried to make an impact on more than just the shin of Naby Keita. He completed eight passes in Liverpool territory, more than half the number Cristiano Ronaldo managed in the whole game, while also losing possession five times (one of which led to the fifth goal). Scale those numbers up for a full 90 minutes, and Pogba would have ended the game with 56 opposition-half passes, by far the most of any United player, but he would have lost the ball 35 times. Only once this season has a Premier League player lost possession more often in a single match: that was Matt Lowton for Burnley against Norwich City (37 times).

Pogba, dropped from the starting line-up against Liverpool and Atalanta after proclaiming something had to change following the Leicester City defeat, presumably wanted to make a point to his manager in his time on the pitch. You'd imagine this wasn't it.

Kane unable

Tottenham didn't manage a single shot in the second half of their 1-0 loss to West Ham. That shouldn't come as a great surprise given they have only attempted 94 all season, the lowest tally in the division apart from Norwich (89).

At their current rate, Spurs will finish 2021-22 with roughly 302 attempted shots, which would represent their worst such return for a single season since... well, last season (443). In seven of the past 12 Premier League campaigns, they have managed at least double that number.

It's not all about Harry Kane, of course, but the England striker's numbers are a good yardstick. His average of 0.26 non-penalty expected goals per 90 minutes in 2021-22 is his lowest rate ever in a Premier League season, and his 2021-22 tally stands at one goal in 648 minutes across eight league appearances.

Luke Shaw admitted there is something "going wrong" at Manchester United following their 5-0 home Premier League defeat to Liverpool on Sunday.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side suffered the biggest defeat to their fierce rivals since 1895 as they lost a league match at Old Trafford by five or more goals without scoring for the first time in 66 years.

Naby Keita, Diogo Jota and two goals from Mohamed Salah meant United trailed by four goals at half-time of a Premier League game for the first time, before Liverpool's Egyptian star  completed his hat-trick in the second period – the first treble scored by a visiting player at Old Trafford since Ronaldo for Real Madrid in 2003.

Paul Pogba was sent off just 15 minutes after being introduced as a substitute to compound a truly miserable day for United fans, some of whom booed their side off at half-time and did not stay for the second period.

Solskjaer described it as his "darkest day" as United manager and there is now significant pressure on the shoulders of the Norwegian, who has overseen five defeats and just three wins in their most recent nine matches.

Shaw, United's players' player of the year last season, is one of several players to have endured a poor run of form and the England left-back believes now is the time for everyone at the club to reflect and take action.

 "We are extremely disappointed, it is not good enough, and it hurts a lot," he told MUTV. "I think football is obviously a team sport, we are in it together and we are all together. But I think, as individuals, we need to take responsibility for some of the actions tonight.

"Personally, that is of course why I am here, I am not hiding inside. I know I was not at my best tonight, I know I was not good enough, and of course, I will take some responsibility for that. 

"It is something that we shouldn't allow. We are at one of the best clubs in the world, one of the biggest clubs in the world, playing at our home stadium in front of all these fans. It shouldn't happen. 

"We should be much better in these games and especially in key moments. We had a big chance in the first minute or so. If that goes in, maybe we could be looking at a different game, but that is not to blame anyone. I am not here to blame individuals. It is a team game.

"I just want to thank the fans because 5-0 down is never easy for them and, of course, it is not easy for us, but they stuck with us, they carried on singing and they could have easily left the stadium. We would have totally understood that with the way we performed and the scoreline, but they stuck with us, they kept on singing and we really appreciate that. I can only apologise for the performance.

"I know we can better, I know we have to be better. I think it is not just us as players. The whole club needs to have a look at ourselves to see what went wrong and what is going wrong. We need to reflect on that and we need to do something about it.

"It is not good enough for the standards this club sets. We should be challenging for leagues and for trophies. We haven't been doing that for a while now. It is not what this club expects. We all want to be doing that but with performances like that, there is no way we can be doing that. We have to be honest, we have to be honest with ourselves in the changing room, speak about it."

Shaw felt the Liverpool defeat had been on the cards given the standards of United's recent performances, saying his side have become far too easy to play against.

"It's ourselves we need to look at first and foremost in the mirror. Are we doing everything right and preparing right for the games in ourselves?" he said to Stadium Astro.

"We have the tactics and how the manager wants us to play. At times, we're too easy to play through against. You look at the first goal, it can't be possible that they can have three running through in the first five minutes. We need to be more compact, we need to be better.

"This result was coming. In past games where we've won, we haven't been at our best. We felt that inside the dressing room and today we have to reflect and we have to move on from this because it hurts.

"I think we all know when we're at our best we're capable of playing well. It's not just a team, it's individuals who are not at their best. Me, myself, I'm not. I need to look at myself, see what I'm doing wrong and focus on that.

"At times in the game, we're far too easy to play through against, not just today but it's been a number of games now where it's been happening bit by bit and we can feel that in each game. 

"It happened today and, against a great team like Liverpool, they're going to punish us and they did."

What does the future hold for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer?

His position as Manchester United manager is becoming more uncertain after an embarrassing loss to Liverpool.

A former Premier League-winning boss, Antonio Conte, is believed to be waiting in the wings.

 

TOP STORY – CONTE EYEING UNITED ROLE?

The Manchester United job would be a priority for Antonio Conte should the Red Devils part with embattled manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, according to Sportitalia journalist Gianluigi Longari.

Solskjaer is facing fierce criticism following Sunday's humiliating 5-0 defeat to Premier League rivals Liverpool at Old Trafford.

Former Inter and Chelsea boss Conte has been linked with Newcastle United following talk of a pre-season move to Tottenham, while the likes of Zinedine Zidane, Ajax head coach Erik ten Hag and Paris Saint-Germain's Mauricio Pochettino could reportedly be considered for the United role.

 

ROUND-UP

- Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger is in talks with Manchester City, Tottenham and Juventus, per Gianluca Di Marzio. The Germany international is available on a free transfer at season's end amid reported interest from Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain.

- Marcelo wants to leave Madrid for Fluminense in 2022, claims El Nacional. Marcelo is out of contract at the end of the season.

- El Nacional says Barcelona have decided to sell United States international Sergino Dest. The 20-year-old has struggled for form at Camp Nou and he has been linked with Bayern.

Inter and Juve both identified Fiorentina star Dusan Vlahovic and Sampdoria's Mikkel Damsgaard, per Calciomercato. Vlahovic has also been linked with City, Atletico Madrid, Tottenham and Arsenal.

- Calciomercato claims Serie A high-flyers Milan are eyeing Brest midfielder Romain Faivre.

 

Cristiano Ronaldo said Manchester United fans "deserve better" after Sunday's humiliating 5-0 rout at the hands of Premier League rivals Liverpool.

It was a day to forget for Ronaldo and United, who were embarrassed by Liverpool at Old Trafford, where the Red Devils trailed by four goals at half-time for the first time in a Premier League fixture before substitute Paul Pogba was sent off.

Mohamed Salah scored a hat-trick as United lost by a margin of five or more goals at home without scoring themselves for the first time since a 5-0 defeat to Manchester City in 1955.

United have only lost by a larger margin against Liverpool in October 1895 when the Reds beat them 7-1 at Anfield, while it was the largest margin of defeat in this fixture when playing on home soil.

Ronaldo, who was frustrated throughout, used social media to react to the miserable outing in Manchester.

"Sometimes the result is not the one we fight for. Sometimes the score is not the one we want," five-time Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo wrote via Instagram.

"And this is on us, only on us, because there’s no one else to blame.

"Our fans were, once again, amazing in their constant support. They deserve better than this, much better, and it's up to us to deliver.

"The time is now!"

Sunday was only the second time in 617 top-flight league appearances Ronaldo ended on the losing side by five-plus goals in a match, with the other defeat a 5-0 loss as a Real Madrid player against Barcelona in November 2010.

United are seventh in the standings, seven points behind second-placed Liverpool and eight adrift of leaders Chelsea through nine rounds.

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