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Football Extras: Beckham backs Solskjaer extension at United

Last updated on: March 17, 2019 21:40 IST

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'As a manager he’s done it in a mature way, a way that is respected by not just younger people but older ones. Having the support of The Boss (Ferguson) has also helped him and given him confidence. When you get results like he’s had, that’s great'

IMAGE: 'As a manager he’s done it in a mature way, a way that is respected by not just younger people but older ones. Having the support of The Boss (Ferguson) has also helped him and given him confidence. When you get results like he’s had, that’s great'. Photograph: Michael Regan/Getty Images

David Beckham has hailed Manchester United caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for his transformation of the club and says it is clear that the team's supporters want him to become the permanent coach.

 

Solskjaer took over from the sacked Jose Mourinho in December and has led the club into the quarter-finals of the Champions League. His overall record is 14 wins from 18 games ahead of Saturday's FA Cup quarter-final against Wolverhampton Wanderers.

"He’s just brought the players together -- and the players have responded in the right way, the way the fans had hoped.

"It’s just nice to see Ole do so well," Beckham told a small group of reporters.

United initially appointed Solskjaer while they began a search for a new full-time boss but his results and the team's massively improved performances have put him in pole position for the job.

"It's not down to me to decide," said Beckham, "But look at the fans. They’ve loved all the time he has been the manager so far. They want that to continue."

Beckham played with Solskjaer under Alex Ferguson during some of United's most successful years and has no doubt his links to the club's past have been crucial.

"Ole has just come in. He gains that respect from the players because he had done it. He’d been there on the biggest stage and won, he’s been successful," the former England captain said.

"As a manager he’s done it in a mature way, a way that is respected by not just younger people but older ones. Having the support of The Boss (Ferguson) has also helped him and given him confidence. When you get results like he’s had, that’s great."

"To see someone that knows the club, that understands the club, come in and do as well as he has done has been great... what he’s done, makes us as ex-team mates very proud. It’s exciting," he added.

Wolves loss is 'step backwards' for United, says Solskjaer

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer described his side's 2-1 FA Cup quarter-final loss to Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday as the worst performance of his four months in charge.

Wolves produced a hugely impressive display in both halves at a rocking Molineux, reaching the last four of the FA Cup for the first time since 1998 with second-half strikes from Raul Jimenez and Diogo Jota.

Marcus Rashford pulled a goal back deep in added time but there was barely a minute left for United to find an equaliser and they fell to a second consecutive defeat after losing 2-0 at Arsenal in the Premier League.

"Quite a lot was missing today, it was the poorest performance we've had, it was a big step backwards " Solskjaer told a news conference.

"We never had the urgency and quality on the ball even though without the ball in the first half we did ok.

"We felt too comfy in possession, we never managed to put their keeper or defenders under pressure. We had a couple of balls in behind for Rashford but not enough quality."

There was little sign of the fighting spirit United had shown in their miraculous 3-1 win over Paris St Germain in the Champions League or the attacking flair of most of their performances since the former striker succeeded Jose Mourinho in December.

But Solskjaer dismissed suggestions United had lost momentum, praising Wolves, who picked up another prize scalp in a memorable season in which they have also dumped Liverpool out of the FA Cup and beat Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea in the Premier League.

"I think it's something natural, you cannot perform to the top of your level every single time," he said.

"It's still against a good team, they've done really well against top teams, don't take anything away from them even though we under-performed, so I don't think that's part of it at all."

United have two weeks off for the international break before resuming their push for a top-four finish with a home game against Watford and they also have a Champions League quarter-final with Barcelona to look forward to.

"You can't sit down and sulk too long, we're disappointed, everybody is disappointed but we've got to look forward and put the result today behind us," Solskjaer added.

"We know we've played well against Arsenal last week and didn't get what we deserved, but today we got what we deserved because we never deserved to win this game."

Roma top-four hopes dented by defeat at SPAL

Claudio Ranieri's AS Roma side suffered a blow to their top-four hopes in Serie A as Andrea Petagna's penalty gave struggling SPAL a surprise 2-1 victory on Saturday.

Mohamed Fares gave SPAL a 22nd-minute lead with a towering header from Thiago Cionek's cross.

Ranieri, put in charge until the end of the season after the departure of Eusebio Di Francesco, shook things up at halftime, bringing on Nicolo Zaniolo and Diego Perotti for Stephan El Shaarawy and Justin Kluivert.

The change paid off as Perotti converted a spot-kick in the 53rd minute after Edin Dzeko was brought down in the box.

SPAL, battling to stay clear of the drop zone, were not finished though and when Petanga was brought down in the box by Juan Jesus six minutes later he got up to fire home his penalty.

Dzeko was denied an equaliser by a goalline block but SPAL hung on for a precious three points.

Ranieri has been and began his tenure with a 2-1 win over Empoli. Roma stayed in fifth place, three points behind Inter who are in action in the Milan derby on Sunday.

Sampdoria beat Sassuolo 5-3 away in the earlier kickoff.

Late Reus goal puts Dortmund back on top in Bundesliga

Borussia Dortmund's Dan-Axel Zagadou scores their second goal against Hertha Berlin in their Bundesliga match at Olympiastadion in Berlin on Saturday

IMAGE: Borussia Dortmund's Dan-Axel Zagadou scores their second goal against Hertha Berlin in their Bundesliga match at Olympiastadion in Berlin on Saturday. Photograph: Annegret Hilse/Reuters

Borussia Dortmund captain Marco Reus scored a stoppage-time winner to complete a 3-2 comeback victory at Hertha Berlin on Saturday and reclaim top spot in the Bundesliga, three points ahead of champions Bayern Munich.

Dortmund scored through Thomas Delaney in the 14th minute and Dan-Axel Zagadou two minutes after the restart to cancel out Salomon Kalou's first-half double.

Yet despite laying siege to the Hertha box for much of the second half and with the hosts down to 10 men in the 85th minute following the dismissal of Jordan Torunarigha, they had to wait until deep into stoppage time for Reus to find space in the box and fire home his 15th goal of the campaign.

"Such a win in the 93rd minute will give us an enormous push," Reus told reporters.

"We kept believing in ourselves and fighting. It was a deserved win at the end.

"Now we have to keep showing this mentality in the coming weeks," the German international added.

The win was crucial for coach Lucien Favre's team, who are chasing one trophy this season after they were eliminated last week from the Champions League by Tottenham Hotspur following their German Cup exit last month.

Hertha captain Vedad Ibisevic lost his nerve late in the game and was sent off at the end of the game after throwing the ball at the head of Dortmund keeper Roman Buerki.

Dortmund's Delaney had rattled the crossbar with a powerful shot in the 88th after Hertha also hit the woodwork.

The Ruhr valley club are on 60 points, three ahead of Bayern, who travel to Mainz 05 on Sunday.

RB Leipzig tightened their hold on third place with a 1-0 victory over embattled Schalke 04 with Germany international Timo Werner scoring a 14th-minute winner.

Schalke, who sacked coach Domenico Tedesco after their 7-0 demolition by Manchester City in the Champions League this week, have appointed former coach Huub Stevens as caretaker manager until the end of the season.

The Royal Blues put the ball in the net after two minutes, only for Mark Uth's effort to be ruled offside and they had several fine long-range shots on goal late in the second half in a desperate attempt to find an equaliser.

The win lifted Leipzig to 49 points, two ahead of Borussia Moenchengladbach, who were held to a 1-1 draw by Freiburg on Friday.

Schalke, last season's runners-up who crashed out of the Champions League Round of 16 after a 10-2 aggregate loss to City, are stuck on 23 points in 15th place, three above the relegation playoff spot.

Brazil's Pato announces Tianjin departure

Brazil international striker Alexandre Pato has left Chinese Super League side Tianjin Tianhai, the former AC Milan forward announced on social media.

Pato, who joined the club two years ago from Villarreal, released a statement on Instagram declaring his stint in China was over.

"I'd like to inform you that my adventure in China has come to an end," the 29-year-old said.

"These two years in China were full of happy moments and new experiences. I am quite sure that China made me grow up as a man, I learnt (a) different culture and habits of this great country.

"I'm proud for sharing my love for football, for giving my contribution to Chinese football and for helping the team with my goals to reach the Asian Champions League for the first time ... and to win against many strong opponents.

"I would like to thank my club, my team mates, coaches, all the working people in the club, my fans who always supported me with love and all the nice Chinese people I met during these two years in China."

The cancellation of his contract with Tianjin means Pato is now a free agent and expected to return to his native Brazil after a successful two-year spell in the CSL.

Pato joined Tianjin Quanjian following the club's promotion to the top flight of Chinese football at the end of the 2016 season and his 15 goals in his debut campaign were vital to the club securing a top three finish at the end of their first year.

That got Tianjin into the Asian Champions League for the first time in the club's history, where they reached the quarter-finals before losing to eventual champions Kashima Antlers from Japan.

Despite their run to the last eight in the continental championship, however, Tianjin's form faltered in the league in his second season and, having flirted with relegation, they finished the domestic campaign in ninth.

Worse was to follow in December when owner Shu Yuhui was arrested due to alleged irregularities within his Quanjian Group, forcing him to relinquish ownership of the club.

Without Shu's backing the club struggled and the Tianjin Football Association was forced to step in and take over, changing the name to Tianjin Tianhai and imposing significant budgetary restrictions.

As a result, speculation had been rife that Pato would leave the club and he did not feature in either of the team's opening games of the 2019 Chinese Super League season.

Argentine FA announce women's league to start in June

The Argentine Football Association (AFA) announced the start of a professional league for women on Saturday and promised it would give women's football more attention, with the creation of a high performance centre in Buenos Aires.

The new league will begin in June with funding from the association, AFA president Claudio Tapia said.

"This association has one promise, to improve football," Tapia told reporters. "We are going to keep working to develop women's football in all provinces.

"We are going to create a federal cup that will be called Football in Evolution that is going to be similar to the Argentine Cup...

"I hope that the coming tournament is the kick off for continued growth."

Tapia said the AFA would provide pitches for teams that do not have their own facilities and that it intends on creating a high performance centre in Buenos Aires.

It has given teams 60 days to register at least eight players on professional contracts. The current semi-professional competition has 16 teams taking part. The AFA did not say how many teams would play in the new league.

The announcement comes after a week of controversy for women's football in the Americas.

Colombian players accused officials of a series of discriminatory actions and of not arranging enough matches. At the same time, on International Women's Day, 28 members of the United States squad filed suit against the US Soccer Federation for better treatment and equal pay.

Women's football in Argentine has gained considerable exposure this year, with Boca Juniors' female team playing at the Bombonera stadium for the first time last week. The match was also televised, becoming the first female football match to be shown live in the South American nation.

Argentina are one of three Latin American sides, along with Brazil and Chile, to qualify for this year's World Cup in France.

FIFA made the growth of the women's game one of their main priorities last year, obliging all member nations to have female football strategies in place by 2022 and to double the number of female players to 60 million by 2026.

Indian women storm into SAFF semis with 5-0 win over Sri Lanka

The Indian women's football team sealed its place in the semifinals of the SAFF Championship with a resounding 5-0 win over Sri Lanka at the Sahid Rangashala Stadium in Biratnagar, Nepal, on Sunday.

This result has extended India's unbeaten run in the competition's history to 21 games and secured the top spot in Group B.

In the semi-finals, India will take on Group A runners-up Bangladesh on Wednesday while hosts Nepal will face Sri Lanka in the other fixture.

Indian women storm into SAFF semis with 5-0 win over Sri Lanka

The Indian women's football team sealed its place in the semifinals of the SAFF Championship with a resounding 5-0 win over Sri Lanka at the Sahid Rangashala Stadium in Biratnagar, Nepal, on Sunday.

This result has extended India's unbeaten run in the competition's history to 21 games and secured the top spot in Group B.

In the semi-finals, India will take on Group A runners-up Bangladesh on Wednesday while hosts Nepal will face Sri Lanka in the other fixture.

Barca legend Puyol attends PSL final, to play exhibition matches in Pakistan

Legendary Spanish and Barcelona footballer Carles Puyol was the star attraction during the final of the Pakistan Super League at the National Stadium in Karachi on Sunday.

"I thought Pakistanis only liked cricket but I have seen they like football a lot also and it made me happy," Puyol said in Spanish while addressing the packed enclosures around him from the centre of the ground.

Puyol, who has retired from international football, is widely regarded as one of the best central defenders of his generation following his sterling performances for Spain and Barcelona.

Puyol, who is in Karachi to promote World Soccer Star matches and the next World Cup, was greeted by loud cheers when he came on stage at the PSL closing ceremony dressed in black.

With the help of an interpreter, Puyol said: "Salam Pakistan. I am very happy to be here. It's my first time here and I am enjoying it a lot."

Puyol said from what he knew football is the next emerging sport in Pakistan.

"I am happy to know I have so many fans in Pakistan," he said.

The Spanish footballer is also due to appear in two exhibition matches in Karachi on April 27 and 28 April to promote the beautiful game in Pakistan.

The organisers, who have brought Puyol to the country, have succeeded in bringing world famous footballers like Brazil's Kaka, Portugal's Luis Figo and Frenchman Nicolas Anelka to Pakistan in recent months.

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