Manchester United have donated medical equipment, food and gifts to local medical centres, with Alex Ferguson leading the praise of the NHS and the response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Premier League club's foundation have delivered protective equipment, other medical supplies and over 3,500 United gifts to staff at NHS Foundation Trusts in Salford and Manchester.

United also said they would be willing to allow the NHS to use Old Trafford's facilities and 16 vehicles belonging to their foundation, while 30,000 items of food and drink stored at the stadium have been sent to food banks, hospitals and charities.

Former United manager Alex Ferguson, who had emergency surgery after suffering a brain haemorrhage two years ago, expressed his appreciation for the health service.

"I'm delighted we are now recognising the importance of our NHS - as I experienced two years ago after they saved my life," Ferguson said on United's official website.

"The response to this pandemic has been magnificent and has made me proud of the way the club and the British people have rallied round to help. Well done."

Those words were echoed by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, one of Ferguson's successors and the current incumbent of the United job.

"The NHS staff and the volunteers fighting the virus are putting themselves at risk to keep everybody safe and doing a truly amazing job," Solskjaer added.

"They deserve thanks and praise from everybody for their work and their efforts every single day."

On Wednesday, Premier League players announced the creation of a fund to help health services, with United captain Harry Maguire coordinating the effort from Solskjaer's squad.

"On behalf of all the players, our thoughts are with all those that have been affected by this terrible virus," the England international said.

"It has been heart-warming to see the nation come together to show their appreciation to the NHS and other critical workers."

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says it is unfair to call out footballers during the global crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Last week, United Kingdom health secretary Matt Hancock called on Premier League footballers to "take a pay cut and play their part" amid suggestions elite and well-paid players were not offering enough support to ease the financial problems caused by the outbreak.

Hancock's comments came amid growing criticism of clubs such as Tottenham, Newcastle United and Liverpool, who put staff on the government's furlough scheme despite boasting healthy financial positions compared to many other businesses. Liverpool later changed course and apologised for coming to the "wrong conclusion".

However, captains of Premier League clubs are said to have already started discussions over how players can help during the UK's lockdown phase before Hancock spoke out.

Solskjaer thinks footballers are something of an "easy target" and insists players need time to come to an agreement over the best way forward.

"For me, it's unfair to call on any individual or footballers as a group because I already know players do a great amount of work in the community, and players are doing a lot to help this situation," he told Sky Sports.

"Discussions are taking place between players and clubs, what kind of contribution they'll make. It's not easy for anyone, and to be called out is not fair for me.

"Mistakes are being made and have been made by loads of people and that's how we learn as well. Now it's about making better decisions, good decisions. I think we all want to help the NHS, the communities, and I think it's important every single club do what they think is right.

"We're all good people, and I'm sure we all want this to be over with as soon as possible. For me, it's about following the guidelines from the government as well.

"We are role models. Sometimes we're heroes in football; at the moment we have to take a back step. The real heroes are the workers on the front line. I think everyone appreciates and admires what they're doing."

David Beckham scooped a Premier League record when Manchester United made April fools of West Ham 20 years ago this week - but he was still overshadowed by 'Class of 92' colleague Paul Scholes.

Beckham set up two goals in a 7-1 savaging to become the youngest player to achieve 50 Premier League assists, and he scored a stunning free-kick too, but Scholes' hat-trick grabbed the headlines.

Substitute Ole Gunnar Solskjaer got in on the act by finishing off the scoring in a resounding win for Alex Ferguson's champions-elect over Harry Redknapp's hangdog Hammers.

United's match on April 1, 2000, stood out on a number of counts, not least for the fact Paulo Wanchope gave West Ham an early lead. The Costa Rican's strike was not quite in the same league as his solo effort for Derby at Old Trafford three years earlier, with United goalkeeper Mark Bosnich caught out this time.

A super Scholes strike and a Denis Irwin tap-in, after the defender's penalty was saved, nudged United in front, before Beckham brought up his 49th assist with an on-brand cross from the right that was perfect for Andy Cole to head home.

Beckham played a thrilling role in the United onslaught, and his 50th career helping hand in the top flight was a fine low pass that was trumped by Scholes' delicious backheel.

The 50-assist landmark, confirmed by Opta statisics, was achieved by Beckham at the age of 24 years and 335 days, and it earned him the record until Cesc Fabregas got to 50 for Arsenal in September 2009 when just 22 years old.

Scholes lashed home a penalty to complete his hat-trick, before Beckham produced a personal speciality when he curled in a 25-yard free-kick.

Solskjaer, the man who now manages the Red Devils, came on to drill the seventh past Craig Forrest, on a rough day for West Ham.

Beckham went on to reach 80 assists in the English top flight before leaving for Real Madrid in 2003, and he sits ninth on the Premier League all-time list.

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants his Manchester United forwards to work on their finishing or movement – with help from their partners.

United were fifth in the Premier League table when the season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Solskjaer hopes to see his team use their extra time to work on certain parts of their games, including finishing.

"The players have got individual programmes and they've got their own diets, of course, and this period could be used to work on something special, something specific for them and their roles and tasks," the United manager told the club's website on Tuesday.

"I've been in the garden, with the kids, working on finishing and the strikers should be working on finishing or their movement. Most of the players have got good facilities and decent gardens so, hopefully, their wives and girlfriends will be able to put some passes and crosses in.

"So I'm in the garden, of course, as we've had time with the kids now. So I have to keep on top of it, you know."

Solskjaer has been spending his time with his family while remaining in touch with his players and staff.

The Norwegian said it was tough to plan for a return as it remains unknown when, and if, the season will resume.

"For the actual job, I keep in touch and communicate with the staff and the players. Of course, I'm used to seeing them every day for hours and hours, so it's different," Solskjaer said.

"I just keep in touch with them on WhatsApp groups and messages, and we plan for whenever we get back and what kind of sessions for when we do start. But it's such an unknown and we don't really have an idea and are not 100 per cent about when we'll start.

"That's the good thing now with technology and we're lucky in that sense. We can keep in touch and see each other. We can send messages and get a reply quickly, and we can do the old-fashioned phone call sometimes and speak just on the phone. So we keep in touch regularly."

With the Premier League season on hold until April 30 at the earliest, the English top-flight's big names still managed to get their message across on Saturday.

The Premier League, along with the majority of sporting tournaments and events across the globe, is currently suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Many nations are in total or near-total lockdown, with people only allowed to leave their homes for essential trips and exercise.

Though there is no sport to keep people entertained, some of the biggest names – both players and managers – from the Premier League came together on Saturday at 1500 GMT to spread the message: "stay at home, save lives."

 

Using his official Twitter and Instagram accounts, Manchester City and England forward Raheem Sterling shared a video.

"We need to stay at home, let's help our NHS by staying home, only leave if you need food, medicine or exercise," Sterling said. "The NHS have been doing a fantastic job so let's help them continue doing their wonderful work."

He was also joined by his City team-mates Aymeric Laporte and Benjamin Mendy, as well as the club's ladies captain Steph Houghton.

Across the city, Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer also offered his support to the campaign.

"Stay home, protect the NHS, save lives," the Norwegian said in a video posted to United's Twitter feed.

Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta tested positive for coronavirus on March 12 and, having now recovered, he also shared the message.

"I encourage everybody, please be responsible and stay at home as much as possible," the Spaniard said.

Meanwhile, Chelsea head coach Frank Lampard said: "To help save lives, you must stay home. Only leave home to buy essential food, medicine or for individual exercise and always stay two metres apart. This is an urgent message. Stay home, protect the NHS, save lives."

Premier League leaders Liverpool shared a graphic which read: "Stay home, protect the NHS, save lives."

Tottenham striker and England captain Harry Kane did not share a video, but wrote in a post on Twitter: "Saturday 3pm normally means football. But at the moment it's far more important everyone stays home. Do your bit. Protect the NHS, save lives."

It is easy to lose track of time in these strange days of lockdowns and isolations caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Right now it seems an eternity ago, yet it was only a year to the day – March 28, 2019 – that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was appointed as Manchester United's full-time manager.

The Red Devils had won 14 of their 19 games in all competitions during Solskjaer's temporary stint, including a famous Champions League last-16 second-leg comeback at Paris Saint-Germain.

Rio Ferdinand had demanded United hand his fellow club icon a blank contract to sign and the good times were, it seemed, on their way back to Old Trafford.

And yet after all that early promise, it has been a year largely of stagnation. Twelve months of two steps forward, then a couple back. Those early successes seem like halcyon days, although there were encouraging signs prior to the suspension of the Premier League as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Below, we have taken a look at how Solskjaer's United compare to the other "big six" (Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal) over the past 12 months in the Premier League with the help of Opta data.

ONLY HALF AS GOOD AS SIZZLING REDS

If Manchester United knocked Liverpool off their (insert naughty word here) perch, then Jurgen Klopp's Reds have conquered all in front of them in their bid to return to it.

Liverpool's wait for a Premier League title may have been frustratingly held up but over the past year they have accumulated an astonishing 103 points from 36 top-flight matches.

That is 22 more than Manchester City, second in our table for this span, have accumulated.

United are a whopping 50 points adrift of Liverpool's accumulation having played a game more. Indeed, their tally of 53 is only the seventh best and is fewer than Wolves (56) and Crystal Palace (55).

Chelsea have managed 63 and are fourth behind Leicester City (64), but United have amassed more points than both Tottenham (51) and Arsenal (50).

 

LAGGING BEHIND IN WINS AND GOALS

A slight concern for United fans is the fact they have won just 14 of the 37 league games played during Solskjaer's permanent stewardship thus far.

Of the so-called "big six", only Arsenal (12) have triumphed in fewer outings, with Tottenham on the same number and Chelsea (18), City (26) and Liverpool (34) all ahead.

In the same period, only Spurs – now managed by the man Solskjaer replaced, Jose Mourinho – have lost more games, with 14 to United's 12.

The January signing of Bruno Fernandes has gone some way to helping United's creativity void in midfield, though their return of 51 goals is significantly lower than Liverpool (85) and City (84).

Only the Gunners (50) have managed fewer, with Chelsea (64) and Spurs (57) both ahead of Solskjaer's side in this bracket.

It comes as little surprise that United also struggle in terms of shot conversion (9 per cent). Chelsea (10 per cent), Spurs, City, Arsenal (all 12 per cent) and Liverpool (15 per cent) all perform better.

It is not necessarily for a lack of efforts, either. United have registered more shots (544) and shots on target (203) than both Arsenal (411 and 141) and Spurs (486 and 169).

 

FEWER CLEAN SHEETS THAN A HOTEL LAUNDRY ROOM

Defensively, United stand up reasonably well against their five major rivals. They have conceded fewer goals (44) than each of Arsenal (48), Spurs (47) and Chelsea (45). Liverpool (25) and City (33), unsurprisingly, lead in that department too.

But United have not been able to keep too many clean sheets. Indeed, they have denied opposition sides from scoring on just eight occasions. Only Tottenham - with seven - have a worse record.

United have faced 142 shots on target, which is less than Spurs (180) and Arsenal (185).

March 28 was the day when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer went from the interim manager to Manchester United's permanent boss.

It was also the date that the Colts upped sticks and made the stunning move from Baltimore to relocate to Indianapolis.

March 28 remains a day of one of cricket's most significant milestones as well.

We take a closer look at what happened on this day in sports.

 

1955 - New Zealand all out for 26

The lowest Test score in history - recorded by the home side in Auckland - may never be broken.

New Zealand, who, at that point had not won a match in the longest format in the 24 years since they were granted Test status, were skittled out inside 27 overs against England.

Four batsmen were dismissed without scoring, another three having made only a single.

New Zealand's innings lasted just one hour, 40 minutes and they fell to an innnings-and-20-run loss to the tourists.

1984 - The Colts head to Indy

It is one of the most famous, and shocking, stories in NFL history.

Fifteen trucks turned up at the Baltimore Colts' Owing Mills facility under the cover of darkness, packed up the team's belongings and headed for Indianapolis.

Baltimore city officials had already passed legislation that would allow them to seize control of the Colts but, once the trucks left the state of Maryland, that did not matter.

The Colts remain Indianapolis' team today while Baltimore had to wait until 1996 before being awarded another NFL franchise - the Ravens.

2019 - Solskjaer appointed on a permanent basis

Exactly one year ago, United responded to their first back-to-back losses under interim boss Solskjaer by making the Norwegian's arrangement permanent and handing him a three-year contract.

United had previously won their first eight games in a row under Solskjaer and beat Paris Saint-Germain in France in March to advance in the Champions League.

"This is the job that I always dreamed of doing and I'm beyond excited to have the chance to lead the club long term," Solskjaer said of his appointment.

Roy Keane believes the brilliance and unselfishness of striking quartet Andy Cole, Teddy Sheringham, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Dwight Yorke made Manchester United "really lucky" to have them.

Reflecting on United's treble success in 1999 and the three consecutive Premier League titles secured up to 2001, Keane and former team-mate Gary Neville hailed the club's strikeforce.

Current manager Solskjaer and Sheringham, who both scored in the Champions League final win over Bayern Munich, were integral rotation pieces who complemented the famed Yorke and Cole partnership.

Keane felt the personalities of that group were crucial in making it work at a time when, despite their quality, none of the four players were starting every week.

"We were really lucky with the four strikers we had at that time, Yorkie, Coley, Ole and Teddy - brilliant players," Keane said to Sky Sports.

"I always try make the point to remind people they were very good lads in the dressing room. People talk about strikers being selfish, they have to be, but I found all of these lads to be decent lads.

"They looked at the bigger picture, they had to bide their time as the manager rotated the squad.

"We were one of the first to rotate the squad throughout the competitions. The players made it work, they were professionals and when they got the opportunity they went out and did the business."

Asked who the best combination was, Keane added: "I don't like these conversations, I really don't, it's really unfair."

Neville, meanwhile, felt the partnership between Yorke and Cole could not have been replicated by other world-class strikers.

He said: "The thing about that partnership is that neither minded who scored.

"That is something you wouldn't have seen with partnerships involving Ruud van Nistelrooy and Michael Owen, who had to score to be happy.

"Yorke and Cole didn't hit it off from the start, it took 10 to 15 games from memory.

"Leicester away sticks in my mind, something just happened that day and after that they started socialising together, getting on off the pitch and a respect between each other developed.

"We knew Yorke was a good player from Aston Villa, but I don't think anybody realised how good a player he was, he surprised us when he came into the team."

Romelu Lukaku was "really close" to joining Juventus last year, but the chance to work with Antonio Conte proved pivotal in his decision to sign for Inter.

The Belgium international ended a mixed two-year spell with Manchester United by joining Inter for a reported €80million (£74m) fee in August 2019.

Lukaku has excelled in his debut campaign in Italy, scoring 23 goals in 35 outings in all competitions.

However, the 26-year-old has revealed he almost joined one of Inter's fiercest rivals.

"I was close, really close [to joining Juve], but my mind was always set on Inter and the manager," Lukaku said in an interview on Ian Wright's YouTube channel.

"As a kid I looked up to Adriano, Ronaldo and [Christian] Vieri. 

"Obviously when Inter came – and the manager Conte wanted me at Chelsea and Juve as well – I wanted to go there and see what it was like, keep my head down and work."

Lukaku has already bettered his goals tally from the whole of his final season at United, where he fell out of favour under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

"One bad year can happen to everybody, and I was done [at United]," Lukaku, who believes he made the right decision in leaving Old Trafford, added. "It was a difficult situation.

"I had to make a decision over going somewhere where I can learn other aspects of my game and work with somebody that wanted me as well.

"Ole wanted me to stay but I told him it was over. I didn't have the energy. All credit to him because he's been a man and he helped me make the move away."

United have steadily improved in Solskjaer's first full campaign in charge following the January signings of Bruno Fernandes and Odion Ighalo, the latter arriving on an initial loan.

"They are going the right way because they are bringing in the right players," Lukaku said. "Ole is doing a good job and the results are good. 

"I wish them nothing but the best. As a club they gave me a platform that I had never seen in my life."

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has paid tribute to "incredible human being" Peter Whittingham following the former Cardiff City midfielder's death at the age of 35.

Cardiff confirmed on Thursday that Whittingham had passed away after reportedly suffering head injuries in an accidental fall last week.

Whittingham represented Aston Villa, Burnley, Derby County and Blackburn Rovers during a 15-year playing career but was best associated for his decade at Cardiff.

Solskjaer, who spent nearly nine months working with the Villa academy product in south Wales, told United's official website: "I was deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Peter Whittingham.

"Peter was a fantastic footballer and an incredible human being. I thoroughly enjoyed working with him during my time at Cardiff City.

"It's hard to believe that he has been taken from us at such a young age. Peter will be deeply missed and our thoughts are with his family at this very sad time."

Whittingham was twice Cardiff's Player of the Year and was named in the Football League Team of the Decade for 2005-2015.

Juventus star Aaron Ramsey started his career with the Welsh club and paid a touching tribute of his own to his former team-mate on Instagram.

"I will forever be grateful for you taking me under your wing," he said, accompanied by a picture of the pair playing together in their Cardiff days.

"You were one of the most technical and gifted players I've played with and that left foot of yours was like a wand.

"I'm proud to have played alongside you and will always remember the young vs old games and you just running the show.

"My thoughts and prayers go out to your family, rest in peace Whitts, was too young."

Nemanja Matic neatly sums up Manchester United's upturn in form in recent weeks.

The midfielder was considering his future in December but has now earned a one-year extension to his contract and talks have started over a longer-term deal.

The 31-year-old started only three Premier League games this season before the turn of the year but has become a key part of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side during an 11-game unbeaten run in all competitions.

Using Opta data, we look at how Matic has turned around his United career - with a little help from a certain midfield partner...

Adding substance to style

Matic has always been regarded as a solid technician – his abilities on the ball and when distributing have never really been in doubt.

Even when it looked like his days at Old Trafford were numbered, one could still rely on Matic to be neat in possession.

But towards the end of last season, and when he featured in the earlier stages of this term, it was his effectiveness off the ball that raised concerns, appearing sluggish, slow and perhaps generally lacking fitness.

He is on the right track again now, however. Over United's unbeaten run, he has averaged three tackles per match, a figure only Fred and Andreas Pereira can match – though the latter has played significantly fewer minutes.

Matic is also averaging two interceptions per match. Scott McTominay (three) is the solitary United midfielder to have a better record in comparison – but again, the Scotland international has not played as regularly as the Serbian.

Recoveries are another area Matic is proving effective in, with eight per game, the second-highest among United's midfielders.


Fred finds his feet

But undoubtedly a key element of Matic's renaissance has been the overall improvement among United's midfield options, particularly with respect to Fred.

Even with Paul Pogba in the team last season, United's midfield was a real problem area. They rarely lacked control, teams often sliced straight through them and not enough creativity was coming from the middle.

The same cannot be said now. While Bruno Fernandes' introduction has obviously had an impact, a lot of it is down to Fred's adaptation. The Brazilian's well-rounded abilities have him excelling in many areas.

In 2020, Fred (546) is second only to Rodri (670) for successful passes, while his defensive side of the game has also seen him stand out.

The former Shakhtar Donetsk star has made 25 tackles, a figure bettered by only five other midfielders this season, 16 interceptions – behind just six other central players – and 92 recoveries, one shy of the leading figured posted by Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.

Matic certainly deserves praise for seemingly saving his United career, but on the face of it, he is being helped by the fact he is now playing in a significantly more effective and cohesive midfield.

Bruno Fernandes is happy to have aided Manchester United's upturn in form but believes the team could have been equally successful without him.

Portugal international Fernandes signed from Sporting CP in an initial £46.5million (€55m) deal in January following months of speculation.

The midfielder has adjusted seamlessly to life in the Premier League, contributing three goals and four assists in his first nine appearances for United in all competitions.

Indeed, the Red Devils are now unbeaten in 11 matches since losing to Burnley shortly before Fernandes' arrival.

This run of results left Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side just three points shy of the top four in the Premier League, into the last eight of the FA Cup and 5-0 up after their Europa League last-16 first leg against LASK as the season was paused this week amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Fernandes insists this is the "same team" as it was prior to his move, though, and claims he is not the sole cause of United's improved fortunes.

"I see the same team from one month ago," he told Sky Sports. "I think we are the same and have a lot of hunger to win, to give a lot, to do better and better in every game.

"In the last month, we've had a lot of really good games and I think we can talk about a new start after Bruno, but it's not about Bruno, it's about the team.

"The team needs the right focus, the right decisions at the time, and I think, also, if Bruno doesn't come, Man United would win the same because one player doesn't change a team.

"A team changes when everyone pushes together for the same side. When I arrived, I saw the team pushing for the same side and to win games, get better and I'm another player to help."

Fernandes has been impressed by Solskjaer, too, highlighting the former striker's man management in a world where "every coach is really good".

"He was a footballer, so he knows when he needs to talk to players, when he needs to give a good word or sometimes come and push you to give more," Fernandes said.

"I think when you have a past in football, you understand these things more than when you don't have [a past].

"But sometimes, you have coaches who never play football and they also know this, too, so it depends from coach to coach.

"I think Ole is really careful with these kinds of points. He wants perfection, which is impossible, but he tries to ask more and more from us."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says "a lot needed to be changed" at Manchester United after Jose Mourinho left the club as he hit back at previous comments made by his predecessor.

Mourinho was sacked by United in December 2018 and replaced by Solskjaer, who impressed during a caretaker stint and landed the job on a permanent basis three months later.

The Portuguese, now at Spurs, claimed in September while working as a TV pundit that United were worse off than when he left the club.

Boosted by the January arrivals of Bruno Fernandes and Odion Ighalo, United have hit form by stringing together an 11-match unbeaten run, including eight victories.

Solskjaer was reminded of Mourinho's remarks ahead of Sunday's planned clash with Tottenham, which has now been called off amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"I felt a lot needed to be changed," he said, quoted by several British newspapers. "We've signed four players and lost quite a few and promoted from within, lots of youngsters.

"I don't know how dramatic those changes have been. I don't think it feels dramatic for the squad and the ones that were here. 

"We needed certain pieces in the puzzle and they've worked. It's not just about tactics, it's about the players. I've got great staff. I've got a philosophy I think is worthy of this club."

United are fifth in the Premier League, into the quarter-finals of the FA Cup and on the brink of reaching the last eight of the Europa League.

"I'm a red and I think I know what this club needs. I believe we're going places," Solskjaer said. "I believe that we're on the track that Man Utd need to be on. 

"There are different cultures at different clubs and different ways of doing things, and I believe in the way we do things at Man United now.

"I don't necessarily believe in everything we've done before, but at the moment I believe in what we're doing. 

"I think I'm the right man but I'm not going to sit here and talk about that. The proof is in the pudding at the end of the day."

United's form has been in stark contrast to that of Mourinho's Tottenham, who have lost five and drawn one of their last six matches.

Mourinho has complained about injuries to key men, but Solskjaer has taken a swipe at the man he succeeded at United.

Reminded that he has been without Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford, Solskjaer said: "Yeah, but I don't talk about those two, do I? 

"I want to focus on the ones who are fit and the ones I have got. There's a chance for new players to challenge for a place in the team. 

"It's part and parcel of this game that you do have injuries. We've managed well without some of our top players this season."

Page 1 of 19
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.