Uncertainty surrounds Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after a woeful start to the season and he could find himself in danger of dismissal.

United have won only two of their first eight Premier League games of 2019-20 and head into Sunday's visit of Liverpool 15 points adrift of the pacesetters.

While Solskjaer insists he still has the board's backing, there have been suggestions the club has identified a replacement.

 

TOP STORY – ALLEGRI 'VERY CLOSE' TO UNITED

Former Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri is said to be a primary target for Manchester United.

Italian publication Tuttosport claims contact with Allegri – who left the Old Lady at the end of last season – has "intensified" in recent days.

They go as far as saying Allegri is "very close to United", with the contest against Liverpool seemingly crucial.

However, United are not the only club interested in Allegri. Tuttosport also believes Tottenham are keeping tabs on him.

Mauricio Pochettino is another man under pressure following a difficult few months, though the report suggests Spurs will have to make their minds up quickly if they are to gazump United.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Daily Mail believes Solskjaer is relatively safe despite Allegri's lurking, however. It says United are looking to bolster the squad with six major signings over the next two transfer windows. Among the targets are Mario Mandzukic, Saul Niguez, Moussa Dembele and James Maddison.

- Mandzukic's wage demands could prevent a move to Old Trafford, however. Despite being 33 and entering the twilight of his career, the Croatian wants to be the club's fourth highest-paid player, according to the Sun.

- Arsenal's plan for the future, according to AS, involves persuading Real Madrid to sell Dani Ceballos, a deal that would result in Mesut Ozil being sold.

- Meanwhile, the Daily Mail also claims the Gunners also want to sign highly-rated Athletic Bilbao centre-back Unai Nunez, 22, with Everton set to rival them for the £30million-rated defender.

- Paris Saint-Germain are hopeful of securing new deals for Juan Bernat and Marquinhos, L'Equipe believes.

- Roma are set to bid farewell to Javier Pastore in January, with the Serie A side telling him he is free to leave, as per Calciomercato. A move to China, Brazil or his native Argentina appears likely.

Wellington Phoenix have completed the signing of former Premier League striker Gary Hooper.

The 31-year-old joins on a one-year deal after being released by Sheffield Wednesday at the end of the 2018-19 season.

Phoenix will be hoping Hooper can fill the void left by last term's Golden Boot-winner Roy Krishna, who departed at the end of last season to join Indian Super League club ATK.

Hooper brings a wealth of experience from English football and the Scottish Premiership, where he arguably enjoyed his most impressive spell, scoring 82 goals over three seasons with Celtic.

"His CV on paper is arguably the most impressive of any Wellington Phoenix player to date and I have no doubt he will contribute," Wellington Phoenix general manager David Dome told the club's website.

"I'm sure that football fans across Australia and New Zealand will be thrilled to see a player like Gary in action for Wellington.

"It's been no secret that we've been searching incredibly hard for a striker this season and we're extremely pleased to sign someone of the highest calibre."

Hooper will not be ready to make his debut in time for the weekend's clash at Sydney FC but will be available for the Phoenix's home match against Perth Glory in round three.

Callum Hudson-Odoi has supported the idea of walking off the pitch as a team in response to racist abuse at football grounds.

The Chelsea winger suffered abuse on his first start for the Three Lions in Montenegro last May which he described as "evil" at the time.

The 18-year-old is hoping to force his way into the Gareth Southgate’s Euro 2020 squad as he makes his way back from an Achilles injury suffered last season.

Hudson-Odoi scored twice in a 5-1 win for England’s under-21s against Austria on Tuesday and said he was proud of the solidarity shown by the senior players and coaching staff when questioned about the unsavoury scenes in Bulgaria.

"It’s disgusting to hear or see players getting discriminated against," he told reporters.

"It’s not right. I say to myself whenever that happens you have to stick together as a team, which the boys did.

"I am really proud to see the boys stick together in those situations where they say they would walk off the pitch. It is right because no player should be treated differently.

"We’re all equal and it’s an equal game, so we have got to stay strong. Hopefully everything will be sorted out properly by UEFA."

Danilo has returned to full training with Juventus after recovering from a thigh injury

The 28-year-old, who joined from Manchester City in August, was forced off during the 2-1 win at Brescia on September 24.

However, the club announced Danilo took part in Wednesday's session at Juventus Training Centre. He may now be involved in Saturday's home league clash with Bologna.

Aaron Ramsey, who missed Wales' Euro 2020 qualifiers against Slovakia and Croatia because of a slight muscle injury, also took part in light training.

Right-back Mattia De Sciglio and winger Douglas Costa are on personalised training programmes, Juventus announced on their website, while Rodrigo Bentancur and Miralem Pjanic were granted an extra day off following their international exertions.

Juventus are top of Serie A after making a seven-game unbeaten start to the campaign.

Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Idrissa Gueye has been ruled out of action for 10 days with a hamstring injury.

Gueye, who joined PSG from Everton in July, is expected to miss their games against Nice and Club Brugge over the next week.

The Senegal international is also a major doubt for the league clash with Marseille on Sunday 27.

A statement on PSG's official website read: "Idrissa Gueye felt hamstring pain and today's exams confirmed a contracture. He will be away from training for the next 10 days."

Gueye has made eight appearances for PSG since his move, with the Ligue 1 champions winning each of those matches.

PSG discovered on Monday that star forward Neymar will miss around a month after also suffering a hamstring injury while on international duty with Brazil.

Thomas Tuchel's side are two points clear at the top of Ligue 1 after nine matches.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic vowed he would draw on his inner "viking" as he weighed up the prospect of playing in the snow at Minnesota United in the MLS play-offs.

Ibrahimovic has packed his career with bold claims, regularly referring to himself as a "lion", and he remains bullish despite the potentially tricky conditions at Allianz Field on Sunday.

LA Galaxy have returned to the post-season but face a tough trip to surprise package Minnesota, who have hosted snow games in the past in the colder months of the year.

Star Galaxy striker Ibrahimovic, born in Sweden, does not foresee any adverse weather being an issue for himself or LA.

"I'm from Sweden, I was born in the snow," the 38-year-old said in an interview posted on Galaxy's Twitter page.

"When it snows, I'm a viking. When it's warm, I'm a lion. We adjust for every condition there is."

Ibrahimovic scored 30 goals in 29 regular season games in 2019, leading LA back to the play-offs after missing out in his first MLS campaign following a remarkable final-day collapse by the team last year.

England have sold out Wembley for the first time for a women's match ahead of next month's friendly against Germany, the Football Association (FA) has announced.

A capacity crowd of 90,000 on November 9 would top the record attendance for a women's match in the United Kingdom, set at the 2012 Olympics as 80,203 spectators watched the United States defeat Japan to claim the gold medal at Wembley.

Meanwhile, the record attendance for a Lionesses home fixture stands at 45,619 for the previous meeting between England and Germany at the same venue in 2014.

England played in front of a crowd of 29,238 at the Riverside Stadium earlier this month - a record for a Lionesses match outside of Wembley - in their first game since reaching the Women's World Cup semi-finals.

The upcoming fixture is set to fall just short of the long-standing official record for a women's match - 90,125 watched the 1999 World Cup final between United States and China at the Rose Bowl in California.

Sue Campbell, FA director of women's football, said: "This is a magnificent show of support for the squad and staff after a tremendous year of progress for the England team.

"My thanks go to everyone who has bought a ticket as we never take such support for granted.

"We started the year with success at the SheBelieves Cup, had a wonderful World Cup including securing Olympic qualification and it is only fitting that we get to end 2019 on a high - and can also say our own thank you to those who have backed us all the way.

"What will make it even more special is to see everyone who has bought a ticket turn up on the day to help smash the all-time record."

Leicester City, West Ham and Valencia all tried to sign Mohamed Elneny from Arsenal during the transfer window, according to the midfielder's agent.

Elneny swapped Arsenal for Besiktas on a season-long loan in August after falling down the midfield pecking order at Emirates Stadium.

The Egypt international was also said to be wanted by other clubs, while reports in Italy this week suggested AC Milan may make an approach in the January window.

"He received a lot of offers last summer, led by Leicester City, West Ham and Valencia, but Besiktas managed to settle the deal with Arsenal," agent Alan Nazmy told Egyptian TV channel Time Sport.

"Milan and Roma previously tried to sign the player during the last winter transfer window, but the negotiations didn't work then, and he received more than one offer as well."

Asked about fresh rumoured interest from Milan, Nazmy said: "I can't talk about it."

Elneny made 89 appearances for Arsenal in all competitions after joining from Swiss side FC Basel in 2016, including 17 outings last season.

Arsenal boss Unai Emery allowed the 27-year-old to leave following the arrival of Dani Ceballos and emergence of academy product Joe Willock, but the door has not been closed on a return next year.

"Emery didn't ask for his departure from Arsenal because of his performance," Nazmy said. "He demanded that [Elneny] took a chance to develop his performance and return again.

"It is possible for him to play with Arsenal again. It still remains a strong possibility."

Bulgaria great Hristo Stoichkov fought back tears in a TV appearance as he demanded action over the racist abuse England players suffered in their Euro 2020 qualifier in Sofia.

The former Ballon d'Or winner suggested "heavier punishments" than stadium closures could be required in response to the shameful scenes that marred Monday's match.

A section of Bulgaria supporters aimed monkey chants at Raheem Sterling, Tyrone Mings and Marcus Rashford and were also seen performing Nazi salutes.

Bulgarian Football Union president Borislav Mihaylov stepped down amid the fallout and UEFA has opened disciplinary proceedings against the organisation.

The abuse witnessed at Vasil Levski National Stadium moved 53-year-old Stoichkov during an appearance on TUDN programme Futbol Central.

"People don't deserve to suffer," Stoichkov said, before becoming emotional and hanging his head.

Play was twice halted in the first half on Monday before a group of fans were ejected from the ground.

Asked about about a suitable sanction, former Barcelona forward Stoichkov said: "That fans are not allowed in the stadium, or even heavier punishments, like in England a few years ago."

Stoichkov did not specify a particular incident involving punishment in England. He may have meant the ban from European club competitions imposed after the 1985 Heysel Stadium disaster, when English clubs were barred from UEFA competitions for five years, and Liverpool excluded for a further year.

The Sofia stadium that hosted Monday's match had already been partially closed as a result of racist behaviour from fans during qualifiers against Kosovo and the Czech Republic in June.

Bulgaria head coach Krasimir Balakov issued an apology on Wednesday and condemned the racist abuse after initially stating he did not hear it occur during his team's 6-0 defeat.

"I would like to say very clearly: since there were cases of racial discrimination in Sofia, I would like to sincerely apologise to the English footballers and to all those who felt offended," Balakov said.

Inter forward Alexis Sanchez has undergone successful surgery on his injured left ankle, the Serie A club have confirmed.

Sanchez was substituted late in Chile's friendly win over Colombia on Saturday, with a dislocated joint causing damage to his peroneus longus tendon.

The 30-year-old travelled to Barcelona on Wednesday for a consultation with professor Ramon Cugat and it was decided the issue should be operated on.

A statement on Inter's official website read: "The visit [with Cugat] confirmed the diagnosis of the Inter medical staff and the decision was made to proceed with surgery on the left ankle.

"The operation was performed in the afternoon on the peroneus longus tendon and it went exactly as planned."

Sanchez, who joined Inter on a season-long loan from Manchester United in August, is expected to miss three months of action.

The ex-Arsenal star has made four appearances for Antonio Conte's side this term, scoring one goal in Serie A, though he was sent off later in the same match against Sampdoria.

On October 16, 2004, Lionel Messi got his first taste of competitive senior football for Barcelona, coming on as a substitute for Deco against city rivals Espanyol.

Few watching at the time could have imagined quite what was to come from the Argentinian maestro, who has gone on to become arguably the greatest player of all time.

Messi's influence at Barca has become unrivalled, scoring 604 times to become their all-time leading scorer.

Fittingly, the 15th anniversary of his Barca debut comes on the same day he was presented with the European Golden Shoe for last season, and we have looked back at 10 of his very best goals in action for Barcelona.

Albacete (H): May 1, 2005

Even at 17, Messi had the confidence of a veteran. Having already had one goal wrongly ruled out for offside - an audacious chip from the edge of the box - Messi's focus was far from knocked and just a minute later he latched onto Ronaldinho's scooped pass before lobbing the ball over Albacete stopper Raul Valbuena from 16 yards. Some way to open your account for one of Europe's great clubs.

Getafe (H): April 18, 2007

In the 14 years since Messi first got on the scoresheet, one strike stands out as the best: his Diego Maradona-esque solo goal against Getafe. Messi picked up the ball in his own half and danced around two players before turning on the pace, beating two more defenders and going around the goalkeeper, capping it with a right-footed finish.

Real Zaragoza (A): March 21, 2010

Described by some as 'a defining goal' in his career, Messi's strike against Real Zaragoza seemed to take him from 'very good' into another class entirely. Messi displayed all he had to offer in this goal, which began when he won the ball from a tackle on halfway. From there, he shrugged off one challenge, raced towards the box and turned a defender inside out before drilling the ball into the far corner, leaving coach Pep Guardiola speechless.

Athletic Bilbao (A): April 27, 2013

Barca were in the midst of a Champions League semi-final shellacking from Bayern Munich when they arrived at San Mames. A goal down in a match that would eventually finish 2-2, Messi received possession from Thiago Alcantara, twisted past Mikel San Jose, Carlos Gurpegui and Ander Herrera with minimal space in which to operate before nonchalantly sidefooting home from just inside the penalty area.

Cordoba (H): December 20, 2014

Messi rounded off a 5-0 procession at Camp Nou with a frankly absurd piece of technique. Cordoba defender Jose Angel Crespo made glancing headed contact with Jordi Alba's searching cross from the left that might ordinarily have averted danger. But Barca's star man pulled the ball down with his left foot, swivelled 180 degrees and crashed right footed past Juan Carlos at the goalkeeper's near post.

Bayern Munich (H): May 6, 2015

Having already opened the scoring three minutes earlier to give Barca a 1-0 advantage over Bayern Munich in the Champions League semi-final, Messi doubled his tally with a sumptuous effort. Ivan Rakitic's pass sent Messi on his way, before the little maestro's trickery put Jerome Boateng on his backside and allowed the Argentine to casually lift the ball over the onrushing Manuel Neuer.

Athletic Bilbao (N): May 30, 2015

The second part of a treble-winning season for Barca came in the form of the Copa del Rey against Athletic Bilbao. With 20 minutes gone and the score deadlocked, Messi set off on a marauding run down the right wing and soon found himself trapped among three defenders. Naturally, Messi was able to float past the trio as if they were not there, before cutting into the box and beating Iago Herrerin at his near post.

Real Madrid (A): April 23, 2017

El Clasico rarely disappoints for football fans around the globe, and this edition was no different. Anything but a win would essentially hand Real Madrid the title and it looked to be headed for a 2-2 draw until Sergi Roberto's swashbuckling run in the 92nd minute gave Jordi Alba the chance to square it to Messi, who finished with aplomb from the edge of the area for his 500th Barcelona goal.

Real Sociedad (A): January 18, 2018

Over the past few years, Messi has really mastered the art of free-kick taking, with the skill being one of few to elude him in his younger days. This strike in a 4-2 LaLiga triumph at La Real last January showed just how far he has come, as he lined up a set-piece about 35 yards from goal and coolly curled it into the top-left corner, wrapping up victory for Barca, who had fallen 2-0 behind. 

Real Betis – March 17, 2019

We have become so accustomed to Messi's brilliance that he makes the extraordinary seem normal, but his hat-trick clincher in March's 4-1 win at Real Betis was pure genius. After receiving a cut-back from Ivan Rakitic, he caressed a first-time chipped effort over Pau Lopez and in off the crossbar from about 18 yards when shooting through a crowded penalty area looked an impossibility.

Lionel Messi has been presented with the European Golden Shoe for the sixth time, extending his own record as another incredible LaLiga campaign was recognised on Wednesday.

Messi earned the award, which is given to the player who scores the most league goals across Europe's top divisions, by finding the net 36 times in 34 LaLiga appearances in 2018-19.

His efforts helped Barca to successfully defend the LaLiga title as he claimed the Golden Shoe for the third successive season. 

The Argentina superstar was presented with the Golden Shoe at a ceremony in Barcelona, where his sons Thiago and Mateo handed him the latest trophy in a career laden with them.

"It is the most important competition. If you are not good in this tournament, it will cost you the Champions League," Messi said on stage of LaLiga.

"Thank you all. My family, managers, colleagues, all who have helped me to be here today."

With six Golden Shoes to his name, Messi has two more than Cristiano Ronaldo, who has won the award four times, last doing so in 2014-15.

Messi has endured an injury-affected start to the 2019-20 campaign and has scored only once so far this term.

Mauro Icardi rejected criticism of Romelu Lukaku's performances since joining Inter and expects the Belgium striker to find form for the Nerazzuri.

Lukaku has replaced Icardi at the head of the Inter attack, signing a five-year contract with the Serie A club in a reported €80million transfer from Manchester United in August.

He has scored only three goals in eight appearances but Icardi, who last month left Inter for Paris Saint-Germain in a loan deal that can be made permanent, does not believe Lukaku has endured a poor start to life in Italian football.

"It doesn't seem to me that he's experiencing a moment of difficulty," Icardi told Gazzetta dello Sport. "In fact, I think he's started well, scoring a couple of goals immediately.

"It's not easy for anyone to play in Italy. Serie A is the most defensive championship in Europe.

"Maybe he needs a little more time to settle in, but he's already scored a lot of goals in his career. And he will do it again."

Icardi is not focused on what his future may hold, instead concentrating solely on his form for PSG. The Argentina international has scored two goals in four games for the defending Ligue 1 champions.

"This year, I'm at PSG and my goal is to give my best for this shirt," Icardi added,

"Then at the end of the season, around May or June, we'll see what happens. It's still too early to say anything."

LaLiga has proposed moving the Clasico between Real Madrid and Barcelona on October 26 from Camp Nou to the Santiago Bernabeu amid the political unrest in Catalonia.

Nine Catalan political leaders were given prison sentences ranging from nine to 13 years on Monday for their roles in the region's 2017 referendum and subsequent unilateral declaration of independence.

The ruling has sparked a huge backlash and clashes between police and protestors, with Barcelona's main airport briefly closed the following day due to the tension.

A city rally has been called by pro-independence politicians for October 26, the day Barca are due to host their bitter rivals at Camp Nou.

Omnisport understands LaLiga has asked the Competition Committee of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) to switch the match to Madrid for security reasons and to avoid disruption.

The committee is due to decide in the coming days.

Bulgaria coach Krasimir Balakov has apologised after initially saying he did not hear the racist abuse directed at England players during Monday's Euro 2020 qualifier in Sofia.

England claimed a 6-0 win but the match was marred by incidents in the stands, which were reported to officials and resulted in two delays to the action before half-time.

UEFA opted to charge the Bulgarian Football Union (BFU) for "racist behaviour (chants, Nazi salutes)", with local reports indicating four people have been arrested in connection.

BFU president Borislav Mihaylov resigned under pressure from Bulgarian prime minister Boyko Borissov in the wake of the furore.

Before the match, coach Balakov claimed England had a bigger problem with racism in football than his own country, then insisted after the game he had not heart the chanting.

But he has since issued an apology after accepting racist abuse did occur.

In a letter posted to his official Facebook page, Balakov wrote: "I condemn all forms of racism as an unacceptable behaviour that contradicts normal human relations.

"I think that this form of prejudice should be buried deep in our past, and no one should ever be subjected [to it].

"I have trained many Bulgarian teams with players of different origin and never anyone judging by the colour of their skin. In addition, I have always participated actively in all initiatives involving privileged people or those who need to be involved.

"My comments before the game against England that Bulgaria did not have problems with racism is based on the fact that the local championship did not see such a problem on a large scale.

"There may have been individual cases, but it's definitely not something you see at the stadium. The majority of football fans do not participate in this kind [of behaviour], and I believe that this has also been the case in the game against England.

"I would like to say very clearly: since there were cases of racial discrimination in Sofia, I would like to sincerely apologise to the English footballers and to all those who felt offended.

"At the same time, however, I would like to address everyone who uses hateful language on social media, that my words have been incorrectly removed from context - and if that does not stop, I will be forced to take legal action against it."

© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.