Manchester United's plans for next season remain "up in the air", according to manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The delayed end to the 2019-20 season caused by coronavirus has meant a lot of the customary off-season planning has had to be shelved while United's pursuit of a top-four finish and Champions League qualification has exacerbated the problem at Old Trafford.

United's blistering form post-lockdown means wins in their four remaining games will see them secure a place among Europe's elite next term, although fifth may yet be enough depending on how the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) views Manchester City's appeal against a two-season European ban.

With so many variables, Solskjaer concedes there is only so much forward-thinking possible at present.

Speaking ahead of Monday's game against Southampton, he said: "You can't really decide on the training programme, there are so many small decisions and, of course, transfers sometimes are out of our hands as well.

"If the team is going well, what do we need? What don't we need? Do we get injuries? That's just the way we're working in this job and you've always got to plan for different scenarios.

"The uncertainty of dates, how much holiday can you give them, what will next season look like, it's still a little bit up in the air.

"I don't think it's like dramatic decisions, I don't think the club would either panic or suddenly go crazy with plans that we've already talked about for years to come.

"You do have to have a long-term plan but some short-term, maybe some decisions will be easier to make if you get [into] the Champions League."

United have received plenty of plaudits for their attack-minded approach since the Premier League resumed but Solskjaer was also keen to talk up the importance of a defence that has conceded just three goals in the past five games in all competitions.

He said: "It's about winning, of course it is, but it's also about our fans and the way we approach the game, how we approach football.

"You play with pace, power, you play with no fear, you take risks and you've got players who have got quality. That's just the DNA of the football club.

"Of course, I'm happy when you don't concede but it's always been built on a strong foundation.

"When we had [Jaap] Stam and [Ronny] Johnsen, [Gary] Pallister and [Steve] Bruce, fantastic keepers behind them, the engine room with Roy Keane and Bryan Robson laid down foundations for forwards to show their skills. We just need to take it one game at a time.

"Now it's time to keep our feet on the ground, keep working, and don't believe all the hype and praise. Same as not believing in all the criticism when you don't do well: the end is not too far away, so the goal is getting closer."

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer does not believe teenage star Mason Greenwood will suffer burnout after emerging as a key man at Old Trafford.

The 18-year-old striker has netted four times in United's past three Premier League games, including a wonderful effort in the 3-0 victory at Aston Villa on Thursday.

Greenwood has formed a formidable attacking trident with Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial with the threesome set to start again as United continue their challenge to finish in the top four when they host Southampton on Monday.

Such is Greenwood's form, it seems unlikely he will be afforded any rest with United also challenging for silverware in the Europa League and FA Cup.

Solskjaer has no concerns that burnout will become a factor, though.

He told reporters at his news conference: "At that age, you've got so much energy, no fear, you just want to go and play football.

"If we had a day off, he'd go and play football with his mates. I'm not worried about Mason this season; we just need to look after him in his whole career.

"He's a fantastic boy, he loves football and gets the result and rewards for his hard work."

Greenwood has long been tipped for stardom and Solskjaer was not surprised by his emergence, adding: "Not really, we know what he's capable of and always trusted him to be a part of this squad and chip in with performances and goals.

"We've seen it every day, I've seen it since I came to the club, he's just a natural footballer and when you put natural good footballers with better footballers that gives him more opportunities to show his qualities.

"The club know what they're doing when they’re educating players."

With Greenwood taking centre stage, Rashford has been able to focus fully on his game after a lockdown period in which his charity work rightly earned him many plaudits.

Solskjaer has been encouraged with the recent progress made by the England international.

"I am very happy with him," he said. "Physically he's coping well with the games, mixing up his game and making defenders think.

"Marcus has got all the attributes to be a top forward, you can see with our players he suddenly pops up on the right, left, and you want that rotation between them but also the discipline to stick out wide and create the space for others.

"Sometimes you get an assist in my head when you're creating space and making runs for others."

Manchester City are reportedly ready to give up two players in a deal for Napoli star Kalidou Koulibaly.

Koulibaly, 29, has regularly been linked with a move from Naples, with several of Europe's biggest clubs apparently keen to land the centre-back.

And City may know who they are ready to offer up as part of a deal.

 

TOP STORY – MAN CITY PREPARED TO GIVE UP TWO PLAYERS FOR KOULIBALY

Manchester City could use Nicolas Otamendi and Oleksandr Zinchenko in a deal for Napoli star Koulibaly, according to The Sun.

The report says the Serie A club have already contacted City about Otamendi and Zinchenko.

Napoli are said to want €100million for Koulibaly, who has also been linked to Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal.

ROUND-UP

- Liverpool have been repeatedly linked with a move for Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago Alcantara over recent weeks. However, ESPN reports the Premier League champions will not pursue a deal for the former Barcelona star.

- Speculation around Eric Garcia's future continues. According to Mundo Deportivo, the Manchester City defender is motivated to return to Barcelona, but the Premier League club have offered the 19-year-old a bumper contract, with his current deal expiring in 2022.

- Jonathan Ikone is seemingly attracting some interest. Le 10 Sport reports Chelsea and Inter are interested in the Lille forward. Ikone scored three goals and provided six assists in 28 Ligue 1 games in 2019-20.

- Will Roma get a deal done for Chris Smalling? Gianluca Di Marzio says Roma are in negotiations with Manchester United to make the defender's move permanent. The report says Roma's offer of €3m (£2.7m) to extend the loan for a season before a €15m (£13.4m) offer to make the move permanent has been deemed too low.

- Mesut Ozil wants to see out his contract at Arsenal, with his deal expiring in 2021. The Sun reports the attacker has told friends he will only consider playing in MLS or the Turkish Super Lig after he leaves Arsenal.

- Paris Saint-Germain could be looking to strengthen while weakening one of their Ligue 1 rivals. Foot Mercato reports PSG are interested in Lyon and France defender Leo Dubois.

Jose Mourinho is ready to tolerate three more years without a trophy at Tottenham if his reign lays the foundations for future success.

The Portuguese has built his career and his reputation on being a man who delivers silverware to clubs, but he sees a huge task ahead with Spurs.

After breathtaking successes with Porto, Chelsea, Inter and Real Madrid, Mourinho found it altogether more challenging at Manchester United, but he nonetheless coaxed Europa League and EFL Cup triumphs out of his Old Trafford side.

Mourinho admitted Tottenham are a club gripped by unhappiness ahead of Sunday's north London derby, with hopes of earning a Champions League place for next season having long since hit the rocks. The club's last major trophy was an EFL Cup success in the 2007-08 season.

As Arsenal also strive for consistency under Mikel Arteta, the derby is a rarity in being a clash of mid-table neighbours in a state of transition, the Mauricio Pochettino and Unai Emery eras having expired late last year.

Mourinho pointed to Jurgen Klopp struggling to bring instant success to Liverpool but making a longer-term plan work, and he appears to see Tottenham in a similar state to the Reds side inherited by the charismatic German in 2015.

"How long did it take Jurgen?" asked Mourinho, whose contract runs to the end of the 2022-23 campaign. "Four years, buying one of the best goalkeepers, centre-backs in the world and so on.

"I'm focused on my three-year contract. I believe that in my three years we can win trophies and if we don't but the club does in a new era I will be happy with that."

Even if Tottenham improve exponentially in future seasons, Mourinho warned titles are not guaranteed, given Liverpool missed out on Premier League glory in 2018-19 despite losing just one match.

Mourinho believes the club are still suffering a hangover from the defeat to Liverpool in last season's Champions League final, while the verdict on the head coach from fans has been mixed since chairman Daniel Levy brought him to the club.

"Nobody in this club is happy," Mourinho said.

"If the fans are unhappy, [and] I am happy, Mr Levy is happy, then I think there would be a huge problem. Then our ambitions wouldn't fit with the desire of the fans. We all want the same, and that's the best message we can give.

"I want to say many, many big clubs pass through difficult periods. Sometimes long, sometimes short. But many times, big clubs have moments of transition, replacing players, players getting older and that's very obvious in so many clubs with so many rich histories.

"This is a process. My message to our fans that are of course not happy, is that the thing that keeps me strong and optimistic and 200 per cent loyal to the club, is to know that the club wants to improve. Next season is going to be different."

Pep Guardiola has urged his Manchester City players to fight for the Champions League "until the last effort they have in their bodies" after Friday's draw mapped out a devilishly tough route to glory.

The deposed Premier League champions hold a 2-1 last-16 advantage over Real Madrid ahead of the August 7 return at the Etihad Stadium.

The winners of that tie will take on the victors of Lyon versus Juventus – the Ligue 1 outfit 1-0 to the good at the midway point – at UEFA's mini-tournament to decide the coronavirus-impacted Champions League in Lisbon on August 15.

Whichever team progresses from that quarter-final will meet the team remaining from Barcelona or Napoli and Bayern Munich or Chelsea.

"All of us want to try, to be ourselves in the game against Real Madrid, to try to defend really well and suffer the bad moments," Guardiola said ahead of Saturday's Premier League trip to Brighton and Hove Albion.

"Try to impose our game and our football, try to score our goals and defend the game against Real Madrid. It is incredible what [Madrid] have done in this competition, nobody has done it."

If City finally claim the prize Madrid have lifted on a record 13 occasions, they will do so in unique circumstances heightened by the reality of a trying season on and off the field.

Guardiola's team could be facing up to their final European game for two years next month, if the Court of Arbitration for Sport decides to uphold a two-season ban for contravening UEFA's Financial Fair Play rules. A verdict in the case is due on Monday.

The Champions League, along with the FA Cup, offers the chance to triumphantly salvage a campaign where they meekly surrendered the Premier League title to Liverpool.

This crescendo of events is something Guardiola believes has got through to his players.

"I feel the motivation," he said. "I have the feeling from my players and the club that we have, in the next four weeks, something that is not coming back again.

"Of course, we have the chance to fight but the situation that we have is not coming back again.

"I think the big clubs don't miss these chances to try until the last effort they have in their bodies."

The situation will certainly not come back for club great David Silva.

City's veteran playmaker is set to leave at the end of his contract and, as a World Cup and two-time European Championship winner with Spain, he is seeking the biggest honour to have eluded him over the course of a decorated career.

"David has won everything," Guardiola said. "The World Cup, European Championships with Spain, the Premier League and all the titles you can achieve except the Champions League.

"All of the players want to try but the younger ones, maybe they think they have more chances.

"Maybe David might go back to Europe with another top club and have another chance. But I'm pretty sure after one decade in this club, he will try."

With a top-four place in the Premier League now guaranteed – whatever that comes to mean – Guardiola's main challenge for the rest of the campaign is getting Silva and the rest to next weekend's FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal and the Madrid match in prime condition.

He concedes this is a balancing act but will not shirk from giving Premier League minutes to the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, even if sight of the star midfielder receiving a heavy knock during the closing stages of Wednesday's 5-0 win over Newcastle United caused understandable disquiet among the City faithful.

"That's part of football. The important thing is they are fit," he added.

"We cannot say one or two games, don't play and then come back. Sometimes the players who play regularly are in better condition for the important games.

"Arsenal is an important point but it's important to keep momentum and rhythm to the way we play."

Chelsea boss Frank Lampard would not want to see his players engage in heated arguments on the pitch in the manner of Tottenham's Hugo Lloris and Son Heung-min.

In the 1-0 win over Everton on Monday, the duo were involved in a flare-up at half-time and had to be separated by team-mates.

Lloris later explained he had been frustrated with Son's failure to track the run of Richarlison, who came close to scoring for the Toffees, but insisted they had put it behind them quickly.

Head coach Jose Mourinho was encouraged by such a show of fighting spirit from his players and Lampard was asked whether he would like to see the same thing from his Chelsea stars, with Tammy Abraham having lost the ball and failed to track back in the closing seconds of the 3-2 win over Crystal Palace, which resulted in Scott Dann hitting the post.

Lampard admits there are certain qualities his young players must improve, but he believes any such disagreements between team-mates should be confined to the dressing room.

"Tammy gave the ball away and has to react better and yes, of course, I speak with the players when these things happen," Lampard said ahead of Chelsea's Premier League clash with Sheffield United on Saturday.

"It's part of the development but they can only go so far. Some things in football are basic and they need to do better. Tammy gets us the goal that wins the game, I know his intentions are good, all the players want to see out the game. It's a mistake that can happen to anybody.

"Reactions and work-ethic areas are where I would really come down hard, and I think generally with the players, we don't have that issue. But we do make mistakes maybe sometimes with the youthfulness and that's something we'll work on and get better at.

"In terms of issues on the pitch, I'm not mad on seeing players fight like that. I think those things should at least be held for the dressing room. It can happen on the training ground, in the dressing room. I'm not an advocate of saying, 'That's positive, it means they care'. Every situation is different and sometimes I feel with players pointing fingers at other players... they better make sure their game is right as well and that they're doing the right things.

"I think a good squad of individuals will push each other and it's more of an unspoken rule - you don't let each other down. I'm not mad on things being on show in front of everybody else like that, but we're all humans and sometimes it happens and how you deal with it after that is probably the important thing."

Chelsea are under pressure for a result against Sheffield United, with Leicester City just a point behind in the table and Manchester United only two adrift after their 3-0 win over Aston Villa on Thursday.

That game saw a controversial penalty awarded to Bruno Fernandes following a collision with Ezri Konsa, with referee Jon Moss awarding the spot-kick and VAR backing up his decision.

Lampard was surprised by the speed with which the penalty was given and allowed to be taken and wants more open dialogue with lawmakers to iron out VAR's problems.

"I only saw the Manchester United one and I was surprised how quickly it was dealt with and not looked over again," he said. "We had one at West Ham a couple of weeks ago when [Michail] Antonio was offside and pretty clearly interfering, and it took them a few minutes but they came to the right decision. [At Villa Park] it seemed to be that, by the time it came back, the penalty was being taken.

"So, I think there are probably issues to deal with, but I also sympathise with the referees then, the grey area of 'clear and obvious', because I've already heard a few different observations on the decisions of last night. But we need to open dialogue, we need to talk more, we need to try to get it as good as it can be. We may never be absolutely happy with this. I actually think that VAR, for the clarity it gives when it's gotten right and makes the right decision and helps the referee, then it works very well at times. What the referee needed with the Manchester United one, in my opinion, was help. In real time, I think it looked like it might have been a penalty; pretty clearly, when we had all the advantage of replays, it didn't look so."

Jurgen Klopp championed Jordan Henderson as an "inspiration" to future Liverpool captains after taking over the armband following Reds great Steven Gerrard's departure and leading the club to an historic Premier League title.

When Brendan Rodgers appointed Henderson as his skipper in 2015, it appeared a daunting task for the former Sunderland midfielder because of who he was replacing.

Gerrard had been club captain for 12 years and became a homegrown hero having joined the Reds' academy as a nine-year-old, but he opted to spend the final year of his career in MLS with LA Galaxy.

Many felt it was a significant step down for Liverpool, with Henderson a player who has often polarised opinion in terms of his abilities.

But he remained an important player even following Rodgers' departure, which came shortly after handing Henderson the armband, with Klopp retaining him as the team's leader.

Although a knee injury will prevent Henderson from seeing out the final weeks of the 2019-20 season, he has still led the club to a maiden Premier League title and first top-flight crown in 30 years, and Klopp feels it highlights he has been a success in replacing Gerrard.

When asked if the Premier League triumph makes Henderson one of the club's all-time great captains, Klopp said: "He is, absolutely, but you know all the other captains of this football club.

"So, he's the only captain I've had here, so I'm overly happy this decision was made before I came in, so it's cool.

"How it always is in life, you have to grow in new roles, he had to do that. It was the most difficult job you can have, to enhance, because honestly, in whatever manner, the person doing the job after Steven was always going to be difficult, but he grew into the role and now I think he's an inspiration for the next generation of Liverpool skippers.

"And it's nice to be part of this development as well, because he became a man age-wise and then a real, proper captain and that's how it should be, and on top of that he improved as a player.

"He was always a good player but he made big steps in his game as well, and that's why you are massively under pressure from outside, expectations and stuff like this, it's a pretty interesting achievement I have to say, it's not easy to do, and he did it, so he should - after his career, when he looks back – have lots of reasons to be proud."

With Liverpool already champions, there is little left for the Reds to play for as a collective, but some players are still in with a chance of claiming individual prizes.

Alisson is in the hunt for the Golden Glove, while Mohamed Salah – and, to a lesser extent, Sadio Mane – are outside bets for the Golden Boots.

While Klopp would not want too much emphasis to be put on such accolades, he does acknowledge their importance and he feels they would reflect the success of the team.

Liverpool face Burnley at Anfield on Saturday.

"If Ali wins the Golden Glove, that means we have obviously - I don't know how many games - have a [lot of] clean sheets, which would really help us," Klopp said. "And if we provide the winner of the Golden Boot, it means we have a lot of goals, and that helps, absolutely.

"I'm not in doubt of that. My players don't need individual targets to be highly motivated, but they [the awards] don't disturb, they're absolutely helpful rather than anything else, but in the end it's all about winning a football match, that's what the boys really want.

"If it was different, I would tell them it's not okay. Personal accolades are important, really important, but it's always first and foremost about winning matches, not about the other stuff, but it's nice when you can win both."

The north London derby cannot be the same game without fans, according to Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta.

Arsenal travel to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday, aiming to extend a four-match unbeaten run in the Premier League.

Arteta is a veteran of nine north London derbies from his playing days at Emirates Stadium and remembers the encounters with a particular fondness.

"You could sense days before the game that the energy was rising, the expectations – how much it means for the people to defend the badge and the shirt that we are wearing and representing," he said.

"It's a rivalry but a very respectful rivalry and that created a very special atmosphere at the grounds. There wasn't big collisions and hate, but respect and will to win, which is a beautiful thing in sport.

"I was involved in some really good ones, there were a lot of goals and a lot of excitement. The players need to understand how much it means to people. If we win, we are going to make a lot of people happy."

As such, even though he has enjoyed the Premier League's emergence from lockdown, Arteta feels he and Jose Mourinho will tackle an altogether different encounter this weekend.

"It's going to be a completely different game," he said. "We are delighted we are back playing football but it's not the same experience, it's not the same memory and it cannot be the same game.

"The conditions, the context and the feeling that the players are going to have on that pitch is another story."

Arsenal are eighth in the Premier League table, a point and a place above Spurs, who have struggled for convincing form under Mourinho.

Arteta declared his opposite number to still be a "world class" coach and reflected fondly upon their time together at Barcelona in his youth, when Mourinho took charge of B team training sessions.

"He was great. He used to coach us with Barcelona B," he said.

"He had an incredible energy with young players. He was always very supportive and they all liked him."

Shkodran Mustafi appears to have responded with similar enthusiasm to Arteta's methods.

The Germany international was increasingly confined to the margins after a string of error-strewn displays under Unai Emery but he has featured in every Gunners match since the resumption – raising the prospect of a contract extension beyond the end of his current terms in June 2021.

"I'm really happy with him, as you clearly can see. The way he is playing, how committed he is with what we're trying to do, the level that he is showing in his performance every three or four days," Arteta added.

"That [a new contract] is something that the club has to address, but he knows my opinion on that."

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has confirmed it will announce a decision on Manchester City and their appeal against a Champions League ban on July 13.

The Switzerland-based body will confirm the verdict at 10:30 local time (08:30 GMT) on Monday, it said in a statement on Friday.

City's hearing at CAS began on June 8 and concluded two days later, with proceedings having been conducted by video call.

The Premier League club are seeking to overturn UEFA's decision to ban them from European competition for the next two seasons and fine them €30million (£27.2m) after finding them guilty of "serious breaches" of Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations.

City have persistently denied wrongdoing in relation to the matter, which stemmed from a series of articles published by Der Spiegel in November 2018, drawing on information purportedly obtained by the whistleblower Football Leaks.

"The club has always anticipated the ultimate need to seek out an independent body and process to impartially consider the comprehensive body of irrefutable evidence in support of its position," read a statement at the time from City, who UEFA said had "failed to cooperate" with the investigation.

Speaking on Friday, City manager Pep Guardiola said he had faith in the club's chances of success in their appeal.

"I'm so confident because I saw the arguments of the club that next season we will be there [in Champions League]," he said.

In an interview with HLN, star midfielder Kevin De Bruyne suggested he might be happy to stay at City in the event of a reduction to a one-year ban, although a two-year Champions League absence would force him to consider his options.

"I'm just waiting," he said. "The club told us they are going to appeal, and they are almost 100 per cent sure they are right. That's why I'm waiting to see what will happen. I trust my team.

"Once the decision is made, I will review everything. Two years would be long, but in the case of one year I might see."

Frank Lampard is not prepared to look ahead to next season and the possible signing of Kai Havertz - or the departure of Jorginho - just yet.

Chelsea are reportedly the favourites to sign Bayer Leverkusen star Havertz, although a rumoured price tag of over €90million is unlikely to be met by any suitor.

However, speaking ahead of his side's Premier League clash with Sheffield United on Saturday, head coach Lampard made it clear he is not interested in anything beyond the final matches of 2019-20.

Asked about Havertz, he said: "Unfortunately, it's another answer from me that that is not something I want to broach at this moment in time. My focus is completely on the games that we've got. I don't want to give you ifs, buts or maybes on any potential [deal] for the summer. My focus has to be on the here and now."

Lampard also dismissed a question about whether Jorginho will still be at the club in 2020-21, insisting: "It's irrelevant to me what happens next season."

Jorginho has slipped down the midfield pecking order at Stamford Bridge but an injury to Billy Gilmour, which is set to keep the teenager out for up to four months, means the Italy international is likely to be involved in the final games of the season.

Lampard would not say whether Jorginho will be straight back in the team to face Chris Wilder's side, but he insists the player does not have to prove he is worthy of a place at Chelsea.

"We'll see in terms of selection. I don't want to start talking about the team yet, but I don't think there's a point to prove," Lampard said.

"I spoke about him before the last game: there is no point to prove for Jorginho. He proves it in training, when he plays for me, and simply these things are [about] selection. I just want to see the usual Jorginho.

"I'm very pleased [with his attitude] and it's what I expect from players and what I want at the club because there is no way you go through a season without moments possibly out of the team, without moments that are slightly difficult individually or whatever, and you have to have a toughness to you as a squad, individually and collectively, hence why I made him vice-captain when I came in, because I saw that in his personality.

"I thought he did well when he came on the other day – it was exactly what I wanted in the game at that moment, to take control, to drive it with his voice and his quality of pass, which he's done for a huge part of this season for us. I was very pleased with him."

Lampard also plans to speak with N'Golo Kante, who will miss Saturday's game, and the Chelsea medical staff about the player's injury problems this season.

The France star has struggled with a succession of fitness concerns this term, something his coach puts down to the fact his pre-season was curtailed by a knee issue.

"The big issue this year was he came to pre-season injured and missed a massive part of pre-season," he said. "We tried to get him quickly fit for the [UEFA] Super Cup, in which he was incredible with his performance, but he was still struggling, and it's been a real domino effect for him.

"It's time maybe to take stock. The injury he's got now isn't really related to the serious nature of the knee injury he had coming into the season, it's just a small injury, which I think is probably more down to the games played and the lack of pre-season now.

"I'm happy to manage a player like him with the levels he's reached over recent years in his career and where he's at. I'm very happy to manage him as we see fit, so that will be a very open conversation between myself, N'Golo, our strength and conditioning coach and the medical team."

Bruno Fernandes has become only the seventh player to win two successive Premier League Player of the Month awards.

Mohamed Salah, Jamie Vardy, Harry Kane, Cristiano Ronaldo, Dennis Bergkamp and Robbie Fowler are the only other players to have achieved the feat.

The Manchester United midfielder, who joined from Sporting CP in January, has made a remarkable start to life in the Premier League, winning both of the Player of the Month awards that he was eligible for.

Fernandes claimed the gong for February after an impressive first month at Old Trafford, before continuing that sparkling form into March.

He picked up where he left off when the Premier League resumed last month following the coronavirus-enforced suspension, with his performances across March and June taken into account for the latest award.

In United's five matches across those two months, Fernandes scored four goals and set up one more.

The Portugal international has helped transform United's fortunes since arriving from Sporting, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men unbeaten in 15 matches since his debut.

Fernandes beat Conor Coady, Danny Ings, Raul Jimenez, Allan Saint-Maximin and his United team-mate Anthony Martial to the June prize, while he also took home the Goal of the Month award.

The goal in question was his second in the 3-0 win at Brighton and Hove Albion on June 30, as he volleyed home from Mason Greenwood's pinpoint cross at the end of a rapid counter-attack.

While it was not a double success for United with the Manager of the Month award, it is the first time the two prizes have gone to Portuguese candidates in the same month.

Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo won the manager's accolade for a second time, as he presided over a five-match unbeaten streak either side of the coronavirus hiatus.

He left Steve Bruce, Frank Lampard and Solskjaer in his wake, though Wolves have lost both of their matches in July, denting their hopes of a top-four finish as they trail fourth-placed Leicester City by seven points with four games to go.

Pep Guardiola still feels Bernardo Silva is one of the most special footballers he has ever coached despite the midfielder's dip in form this season – something for which the Manchester City boss takes his share of responsibility. 

Silva was voted City's player of the season as he and his team-mates swept to a domestic treble in 2018-19, but his performances this time around have been indicative of a general malaise, with Liverpool storming clear of their rivals to claim the Premier League title. 

The Portugal international has featured infrequently in the right-sided attacking midfield position he occupied for a chunk of last term, with Kevin De Bruyne back to full fitness and in prime form. 

Similarly adept on the right-hand side of attack, Silva has found his path blocked by Riyad Mahrez and, more recently, Phil Foden. 

The previous campaign concluded with the former Monaco man being named player of the tournament as Portugal claimed the inaugural Nations League title, and fatigue has not been difficult to spot in his work at times. 

A Football Association ban for tweeting a racially insensitive cartoon to team-mate Benjamin Mendy placed Silva in hot water off the field and, speaking ahead of Saturday's trip to Brighton and Hove Albion, Guardiola conceded a downturn from the playmaker has been obvious. 

"That's true maybe he didn't play as much as last season," he said. 

"This season, maybe it was my fault or maybe Phil was more involved and Riyad maintained his level and the other players played good too. 

"They know the competition they have with each other, but my admiration, respect, especially my opinion about him, nothing has changed. 

"He's a special player for me. One of the most special players I had in my career as a manager, the relationship I have with him." 

Guardiola is particularly impressed by Silva's acceptance of his situation – a stark contrast to when his manager said the City team last season was "Bernardo plus 10" – and is confident the 25-year-old knows what he must do to turn things around.

"He's a guy who doesn’t change his mood whether he plays or doesn't play," he said. "There are players that just are happy when they play and they smile at me and smile at the backroom staff when they play. 

"When they don't play, they make you feel they are not happy and they behave like a little, little child. 

"Bernardo is completely opposite. He's a mature man. He's a man who knows exactly what has happened, how this moment is and always he's the same person. 

"That's why he is an incredible person for me to work with and always I will be grateful. 

"In the time we spend together, the only thing I want is to help him to come back at his best level. If there is one player in this team who I would give help and support, it's Bernardo Silva. He's the first on the list." 

Mahrez scored his 10th Premier League goal of the season during Wednesday's 5-0 thrashing of Newcastle United and Friday marked the two-year anniversary of his £60million arrival from Leicester City. 

Guardiola is impressed by the Algeria international's performances but suggested he could sometimes use some of Silva's good grace. 

"He's an incredible player, fantastic self-confidence," he added. "He is a guy who always creates something special, in assists and goals. 

"We are delighted to have him and hopefully he can help us when he plays and when he doesn't play. Hopefully I can help him to improve this detail." 

Jordan Henderson will not let his injury setback spoil what he described as an "incredible campaign" for himself and Liverpool. 

Henderson suffered a knee injury in Wednesday's 3-1 Premier League win over Brighton and Hove Albion, with Jurgen Klopp confirming on Friday that it will force the midfielder to miss the remainder of the season. 

The Reds captain has featured 30 times for Liverpool in the competition, helping them to a maiden Premier League title and a first top-flight crown in 30 years. 

Klopp is optimistic the England international will be fit in time for the start of the 2020-21 season as he does not require surgery, and the player will now focus on his rehabilitation. 

Nevertheless, the injury will not prevent Henderson from lifting the Premier League trophy later this month.

"Unfortunately, following the knee injury I picked up against Brighton on Wednesday, I will now miss the last two weeks of the season," he wrote on his official social media accounts. 

"However, my rehabilitation will start immediately and I'll be working hard to be back to full fitness in just a matter of weeks in order to be fully ready for the start of the new season. 

"Of course, it's not the way I'd have preferred to finish the season on a personal level, but it's been an incredible campaign for us so far as a team and as a club, and I'll be doing everything I can to support the boys for the final games from the sidelines. I'm sure the lads will ensure we finish the season off on a high. 

"Thanks to everyone for the messages of support and I look forward to being back out there as soon as possible." 

Henderson will miss matches against Burnley, Arsenal, Chelsea and Newcastle United, bitter rivals of his boyhood club Sunderland, as Liverpool aim to reach a century of points. 

Chelsea midfielder Billy Gilmour will be out for up to four months after undergoing knee surgery, head coach Frank Lampard has confirmed.

The 19-year-old was hurt after a collision with Luka Milivojevic during the Blues' 3-2 Premier League win over Crystal Palace on Tuesday.

"Billy Gilmour's had an operation on his knee this morning, unfortunately, so he'll be out, we estimate, for somewhere between three and four months," Lampard said on Friday.

Gilmour had been flourishing this season under Lampard, making 11 appearances in all competitions, and had recently moved above Italy international Jorginho in the pecking order at Stamford Bridge.

Lampard says there is a stroke of fortune about the timing of the injury, with much of Gilmour's recovery likely to be taking place during the off-season between this term and the start of 2020-21, but he accepts the news was a blow to the player.

"I'm obviously very disappointed, we all are and Billy is himself," Lampard said. "I spoke with him yesterday [Thursday] at length and just gave him support, really.

"He's a tough boy. It hit him hard – I get that as well, particularly as a younger player who's just made his breakthrough in recent times and was doing so well – but it's part of football and I tried to explain he can be very pleased with the impact he's had this season. Part of our job as players is to get on with these things and learn our lesson quickly and his attitude will get him back as quick as he possibly can.

"His character is fantastic. Particularly with his age, the personality he has shown in getting in and around the first-team squad, getting himself into the team, I'm very sure he'll show the same character and do everything right with the rehab and tackle it.

"He's got a close-knit family around him who'll be there for him and we're his family too, we'll be there for him and the small bonus is it will hopefully cover a period that's off-season and pre-season, so he's maybe not missing as many games as he might have done."

Chelsea, who sit third in the Premier League table with four matches remaining, face Sheffield United at Bramall Lane on Saturday.

Jurgen Klopp is overjoyed with the consistency Mohamed Salah has shown since joining Liverpool, though he does not believe his team-mates are deliberately trying to set the Egyptian up to help his Golden Boot chances. 

Salah, 28, arrived at Anfield from Roma in 2017 for a reported initial fee of £37million, and he has since made that figure look like a real steal, such has been his impact. 

In 104 Premier League matches for Liverpool, Salah has scored 73 times, with 32 of those coming in 2017-18 as he set a new record for the most goals in a single 38-match campaign. 

While his haul of 19 this campaign may not be on the same level, he is the champions' top-scorer and remains in the hunt for the Premier League's Golden Boot, with only Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (20) and Jamie Vardy (22) netting more frequently than him. 

But, given Salah often plays off the flank, his record is an impressive one and that is not lost on Klopp. 

"It's incredible," Klopp told reporters on Friday ahead of Saturday's visit of Burnley. "We wouldn't be where we are if these boys [Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino] didn't perform at such a consistently high level. 

"And Mo, of course, his numbers are crazy. I don't know his exact numbers since he's been here, but they're just outstanding numbers, world class numbers. 

"No one should be surprised anymore because, the boys show that week in, week out for a while already, we know it's special but there's a lot of work in it, and we can only score if you're invested in each game, if you're in the right positions, do the right things. 

"If the boys are ready to do what they have to do, it will continue, and long may it continue." 

Salah's most recent goals – two of them – came in Wednesday's 3-1 win over Brighton and Hove Albion, but his record has not protected him from criticism. 

Graeme Souness, a former Red who is now a television pundit, called Salah "super selfish" after the Brighton game for attempting eight shots, while some suggested other Liverpool players are passing up scoring opportunities of their own in attempt to help the former Chelsea forward.

But Klopp doubts his players have that approach, convinced the front three want to score all the time. 

"I hope the boys were not in that mood," Klopp said when asked about whether he felt Firmino passed on a chance just so Salah could boost his Golden Boot bid. 

"When I saw the situation back it was just because of Bobby's [Firmino] football intelligence, he wasn't in the best position. 

"If he'd shot it would be a completely different finish, Mo came around was in a much better place - it's just Bobby. 

"I don't think he left the ball because he thinks Mo should win the Golden Boot or whatever. You cannot have this mindset, football is too quick for you to do that. 

"We all help each other. Mane is another contender [for the Golden Boot], with 16 it's not too close but it's not impossible, so they all want to score goals. Bobby wants to score goals, they all want that. 

"That's the mindset they need, that they want to be decisive, they want to decide football games and that's the mindset a striker needs." 

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