Manchester United News: Marcus Rashford, Axel Tuanzebe, Club Finances

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There is a whole lot going on with Manchester United right now, both on and off the pitch. Tuesday night saw United hand Paris Saint-Germain their first UEFA Champions League group stage home defeat in 16 years! Wednesday saw the club release their quarterly financial report, and it was bad news to say the least.

Finally, United are in the headliner fixture of the Premier League weekend, when they host Chelsea on Saturday night. With a lot to get into, let’s just dive right in.

Marcus Rashford seems to love the French capital as much as Gil, the main character in the Woody Allen film “Midnight in Paris.” About 18 months and 600 days later, he did it again, scoring the game winning goal late, and making himself the hero on a field where there was certainly a lot more high priced talent around.

The win saw United run their undefeated on the road streak to 18, with their last set back away from Old Trafford coming was back in mid-January, and that was at Premier League champions Liverpool. After their first Euro match of this season, United are already in tremendous shape towards advancing into the knockout round.

They took all three points from their hardest, at least on paper, group stage match.

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“Of course it’s a nice feeling,” Rashford told BT Sport postmatch.

“More importantly, we won the game. We’re in a strong position now in the group but it’s the first game. The concentration levels we showed today we have to take forward into the next game. For me, they were both opportunities to win the game. As a striker, in the game late on, that’s the mentality. You might only get one chance. It gets us the three points.

“It’s a good performance but also one where we have a lot to build on. I always believe in the team. As players it’s important to believe in the system that the manager chooses to play. We did that fantastically. It was tough but we kept the intensity high.”

“We had to defend very deep at times. They have some amazing players. In the low block it can be tough but the guys on the sides — the full-backs — they defended unbelievably. When we defend like that man-to-man, we can do really well.”

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“Every game requires different tactics and a different performance but what has to stay the same is the intensity. The intensity was key for us tonight. We kept going for 90 minutes. We are very happy today.”

Rashford is the hero, but the unsung hero is definitely Axel Tuanzebe, who went up against Neymar and Kylian Mbappe in his first match in nearly a year! After only just two weeks of training, he filled in for massively struggling team captain Harry Maguire, and helped the back line keep PSG’s high-powered, well paid attack out of the score sheet (their only goal came via an Anthony Martial OG off a wayward header).

Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was full of praise for Axel, and you can read that all in this piece from The Independent. Maybe Tuanzebe has won himself a starting place in United’s dismal central defense.

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Speakling of dismal, with economics often referred to as “the dismal science,” the club’s latest financial results are pretty brutal. The coronavirus pandemic is hitting everyone hard, and even a financial powerhouse like MUFC are not immune. The latest quarterly report shows a net increase of debt by 133% to £474.1 million.

The financial ledger is as red as the shirt, and well, maybe the Glazers need to rethink this idea of using the club as a debt instrument/means for extracting cash.

The club’s fourth quarter and full fiscal year results showed a revenue drop of 19% to £509m and a loss of £23.2m compared to a £18.9m profit made last year, and the club says COVID-19 is the main culprit.

“Our focus remains on protecting the health of our colleagues, fans and community while adapting to the significant economic ramifications of the pandemic,” the much maligned club CEO Ed Woodward said.

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“Within that context, our top priority is to get fans back into the stadium safely and as soon as possible.” 

“We are also committed to playing a constructive role in helping the wider football pyramid through this period of adversity, while exploring options for making the English game stronger and more sustainable in the long-term.”

“This requires strategic vision and leadership from all stakeholders, and we look forward to helping drive forward that process in a timely manner.”

“On the pitch, we have strengthened the team over the summer and we remain committed to our objective of winning trophies, playing entertaining, attacking football with a blend of academy graduates and high-quality recruits, while carefully managing our resources to protect the long-term resilience of the club.”

That’s a whole lot of corporatespeak, and boring buzzwords there to try and spin some really awful news, on a topic that’s less than interesting to begin with.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank, partnered with News NowBanks, the author of “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” has regularly appeared in WGNSports Illustrated, Chicago Tribune and SB Nation. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

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