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Manchester United condemn ‘criminal activity’ of minority of fans at Old Trafford protest and threaten stadium bans

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Manchester United have condemned the ‘criminal activity’ of a minority of fans protesting against the Glazers at Old Trafford on Sunday and say they will sanction any season ticket holders involved.

The club had to postpone yesterday’s Premier League clash with Liverpool after supporters managed to get inside the stadium and onto the pitch, while tensions threatened to escalate outside following a handful of clashes between protestors and police.

While United have acknowledged fans’ right to protest and show their dissatisfaction towards the Glazers, they believe some fans crossed a line and will be reprimanded.

A statement read: ‘Following events yesterday, while many fans wanted to exercise their right to protest and express their opinion peacefully, some were intent on disrupting the team’s preparation and the game itself, as evidenced by activity at the Lowry Hotel and at the stadium.

‘Reports in mainstream and social media that protesters were able to access the stadium and pitch via a gate opened by club staff are completely incorrect.

‘After breaking through barriers and security on the forecourt, some protestors climbed the gates at the end of the Munich tunnel, then forced access to a side door in the stand, before opening an external door that let others through to the concourse area and the pitch.

‘A second breach occurred when a protestor smashed the door of a disability access lift, enabling a group to enter the stand. ‘The majority of our fans have and will condemn criminal damage, along with any violence towards club staff, police or other fans, and these now become a police matter.

‘The club has no desire to see peaceful protestors punished, but will work with the police to identify those involved in criminal activity, and will also issue its own sanctions to any season ticket holder or member identified, per the published sanctions policy.

‘Information on the rescheduling of the game and any possible implication on other fixtures will be announced after discussion and agreement with the Premier League. ‘We remain committed to dialogue and engagement with our fans through the Fans Forum and other appropriate channels.’

 

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Former Manchester United captain Antonio Valencia announces retirement

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Former Manchester United captain Antonio Valencia has announced his retirement at the age of 35.

 

Valencia spent 10 years at Old Trafford before returning to his home country with LDU Quito, where he played for one season prior to joining Mexican side Queretaro in November.

 

The ex-Ecuador international also represented El Nacional, Villarreal, Recreativo and Wigan Athletic during an 18-year career that will be best remembered for his time with United.

 

He amassed 277 starts for the Red Devils in all competitions and a further 61 outings as substitute, scoring 25 goals.

 

Valencia, who won two Premier League titles, an FA Cup, two EFL Cups, three Community Shields and the Europa League, took to Twitter on Wednesday to thank United

At the age of 14, as a child, I left my village and my first team to travel to the capital of my country. I travelled with a lot of nostalgia bug full of hope,” he said.

 

“A few years later I was able to travel to Europe, something I had never dreamed of. I played in Spain, and then came to my second home: England.

 

“Wigan was a unique experience, and then God gave me the opportunity to join Manchester United. I will never forget everything I experienced at Old Trafford.

 

“I will never forget every goal, every trophy and the wonderful fans.

 

“I did not think this moment would come so soon, but my body has asked me to make this decision. I am announcing my retirement from football.

 

“I want to thank everyone who has been part of my career and life. God in the first place, for always blessing me. Zoila and my daughter Domenik who have been my pillars.

 

“My parents for giving me so much. To fans of all the countries where I have played, I always tried to give my best. Thank you for your affection and support.”

 

Valencia was voted United’s Player of the Year in 2011-12 and won the Players’ Player of the Year in that same campaign and again five seasons later.

 

The 2011-12 season was a particularly memorable one for the versatile right-sided player as he assisted 13 goals in 27 Premier League appearances.

 

Only Nani (14 in 33 appearances) and David Beckham (15 in 31) have assisted more Premier League goals in a single season for the club.

 

Valencia also holds the record for the most appearances of any South American player in the competition with 325, followed by Pablo Zabaleta (303) and Nolberto Solano (302).

 

The El Nacional academy product scored 23 Premier League goals for United and was not on the losing side in any of those matches, the Red Devils winning 95.7 per cent of them.

 

Only two players to have scored in at least 20 matches have a better such win percentage – Chelsea pair Pedro (96.3 per cent) and Florent Malouda (96.7 per cent).

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer sends strong message to Man United board about summer signings

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has warned Manchester United’s board that the Red Devils will need to significantly strengthen their squad this summer if they are to challenge for the title next season.

Solskjaer’s side suffered a 2-1 home defeat by Leicester City in the Premier League on Tuesday night, a result which handed Manchester City the Premier League title with three games to spare.

 

Manchester United have shown signs of improvement under Solskjaer this season and they are currently second in the table and 10 points behind their bitter local rivals.

 

However, Solskjaer feels that the Red Devils will have to invest heavily in their squad this summer if they want to be able to challenge Manchester City for the title next term.

 

Speaking to BT Sport after Manchester United’s defeat by Leicester on Tuesday night, Solskjaer said: “If you want to take up the challenge with them we need to strengthen our squad.

Congratulations to them. They have had a fantastic season.

 

“I am very pleased with my boys that have made it to the last 10 days with a Manchester City side ahead of us that are lauded as the best in Europe.

 

“We want to take the next step and it might be that we need a couple more to strengthen the squad.”

 

Manchester United can still end this season with a trophy when they take on Villarreal in the Europa League final at the end of the month.

 

The Red Devils are back in Premier League action on Thursday night when they host Liverpool FC at Old Trafford in their rearranged fixture.

 

 

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Current West Ham player highly likely to return to Man Utd

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Jesse Lingard is allegedly set to return to Manchester United next term, as West Ham United can’t afford to sign the midfielder outright.

The 28-year-old star has managed to get his career back on track since signing for the Hammers on loan in January and has even caught the eye of England head coach Gareth Southgate, who has reintegrated the player into his first team squad ahead of this summer’s UEFA Euro 2020 tournament.

David Moyes is keen for Jesse to stay beyond this term, but according to the Daily Mail, the Irons cannot afford his £100,000 per week wages, as they have suffered financial losses over the past year caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Hammers recorded losses of £65 million last season and a greater financial hit is set to follow for this season.

The West Ham United hierarchy are unwilling to negotiate new big-money contracts with current stars or new signings at present until they receive more clarification from the Government of the United Kingdom about the return of fans to stadiums.

Lingard has made 13 top-flight appearances during his loan spell with the London Stadium outfit, scoring nine goals and providing four assists.

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