On This Day in Football History – 7 April: Man Utd’s Derby Comeback, Arjen Robben’s Volley & More

​You’re ready for a trip down memory lane.

We’re ready too.

So what else are we waiting for?

Let’s hop in the DeLorean and see what history has in store from 7 April over the years.

1974 – Johan Cruyff Wins His First La Liga Trophy

For Barcelona to go 14 years without a league title seems unimaginable these days, but once upon time the club weren’t at the same level they are today.

Eventually, that 14-year spell ended. And Barcelona have Johan Cruyff to thank. It was the Dutchman’s first season at the club after joining from Ajax, and that title in 1974 was the first of many which would cement his place in the club’s proud history.

2004 – Deportivo Stun AC Milan


Spanish side Deportivo de La Coruña had already squeezed past Juventus to book their place in the Champions League quarter finals, but after a 4-1 defeat to AC Milan in the first leg, all hope was lost.

After all, a three-goal lead had never been overturned in Europe’s elite competition. But records are only there to be broken, and that’s exactly what Dépor did.

This wasn’t just any Milan side either. Andriy Shevchenko, Kaka, Andrea Pirlo and Paolo Maldini all started. The Rossoneri were so good, in fact, that Rui Costa and Filippo Inzaghi could only make their impact from the bench.

It was the perfect start for Deportivo. Wálter Pandiani scored inside five minutes and by the time the referee’s whistle went for half time the game was all square, with Juan Carlos Valerón and Albert Luque scoring the goals.

It was advantage Dépor thanks to their away goal in the first leg, but substitute Fran made sure of the result with a late goal which knocked Carlo Ancelotti’s Milan out of the Champions League.

2007 – Arsenal Lose Their First League Match at the Emirates

Robert Green

Arsenal had already lost to West Ham at Upton Park during the 2006/07 season, but the Gunners were unbeaten at their new home, so Alan Curbishley’s side didn’t look like the toughest opposition when they journeyed to north London on matchday 32.

The visitors did need a stunning performance from Rob Green to make history on that day, but it was Bobby Zamora who stole the headlines thanks to his stunning chipped effort just before half time.

One-nil to the [opponents of] Arsenal, as they say.

2010 – Arjen Robben’s Volley at Old Trafford

Arjen Robben

Sometimes, you can re-watch a goal you saw years ago and instantly remember where you were when it happened.

Arjen Robben’s volley at Old Trafford was one of those goals.

The Dutchman was left completely unmarked on the edge of the penalty area, so it was no surprise Franck Ribéry picked him out from a corner. What was a surprise was the fact Robben’s volley flew into the bottom corner.

It was the goal that sent Bayern Munich through in the Champions League, and although the club eventually reached the final in Madrid, José Mourinho’s Inter had that little bit too much for Louis van Gaal’s side.

2018 – Chris Smalling Completes Manchester Derby Comeback

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The message for Manchester City was simple; win the game, and you win the league title.

And as far as title-deciding games go, Pep Guardiola couldn’t have asked for a better start. Vincent Kompany was left unmarked to nod in City’s opener and İlkay Gündoğan showed off some slick footwork to double their lead.

United were down, but they weren’t out.

Paul Pogba scored two in quick succession to silence the Manchester City party, but it was Chris Smalling who was United’s hero, meeting an Alexis Sanchez cross to score the winner with an outstanding right-footed volley.

The ultimate derby win.

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Erling Haaland Reveals Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Role in Improving Finishing

Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland has revealed some of the lessons that Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer taught him during their time together at Molde.

The 19-year-old has enjoyed a meteoric rise to the top of European football, putting in a number of standout performances this season for Salzburg and latterly Borussia Dortmund.

Erling Braut Haaland

The teenager opted to join ​BVB in January after months of speculation regarding his future – which included repeated links with a move to ​United – but he’s now spoken about the formative years of his development in an interview with Eurosport, recalling the faith that Solskjaer put him during a barren run of goalscoring form in 2018, when the pair were at Molde.

“I remember it was frustrating as a young striker, everything goes against you in training,” Haaland said. 

“I was alone with the keeper and the bar, got crosses from Ole Gunnar, but I missed on every opportunity. I remember Ole then said ‘I think you start this game, so just be ready.’”

Haaland would go on to score four times in 21 minutes in that game against Brann, and has never really looked back since. The quality of his finishing has been widely praised since he came to mainstream attention, which the Norwegian attributes to the work he put in with Solskjaer on the training pitch.

“Solskjaer and I did some practice on finishing. Not just crosses. I remember he taught me some easy rules,” Haaland continued.

“The first one was one-touch [finishes]. That I don’t use too much power and trying to destroy the goal or the goalie with ball. I think that I was thinking about doing that and it was something new that he told me. I trained a bit on that, but without scoring. But at least I had it in my head after that training session.

“He has taught me a lot to be calm, and also be on your toes and come to those situation where the ball is coming. It is then you have the chance to score. He deserves a lot of credit for teaching me that.”

Haaland currently sits on 40 goals in all competitions this season, but has seen his progress halted by the suspension of football because of the global coronavirus outbreak.


Man Utd Appear to Complete First Summer Signing as Czech Wonderkid Reveals ‘Dream’ Transfer

​Manchester United appear to have completed their first signing of the summer transfer window, snapping up highly-rated Czech goalkeeper Radek Vítek.

The 16-year-old had agreed a deal to move to Old Trafford from SK Sigma Olomouc back in January, but Vítek’s move has only now been completed – with the goalkeeper set to join United’s Under-18 squad once football returns.

Vítek, who spent time training at Southampton before deciding on his future, has admitted that he thought Manchester United’s interest in him was a joke before completing the move to the north-west.

It’s a really great feeling, moving to Manchester United is the dream of many guys who start playing football,” Vítek said, quoted by the Daily Star.

“I am looking forward to it so much. I admit that I didn’t believe it when I learned about the club’s interest, but now it’s definitely a reality.”

Vítek has spent this season as part of SK Sigma Olomouc’s Under-19 side, while he’s also got experience with the Czech Republic Under-17s.

Already standing at 6ft 5in tall, the Star’s report says Vítek is represented by the Sport Invest agency, although it’s worth noting information about a player’s representatives aren’t usually known until they turn 18.

The Sport Invest group have a lot of Czech stars on their books, including Manchester United’s current Under-23 goalkeeper Matej Kovar, while they also represent Petr Cech, Pavel Kaderabek and Tomas Kalas.

Petr Cech

Vítek is the latest in a long line of additions to United’s Under-18 squad over the last few seasons, which most recently include Swedish goalkeeper Johan Guadagno, centre back Björn Hardley, ex-Monaco star Hannibal Mejbri and Dutch forward Dillon Hoogewerf. 

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Manchester United Email Staff to Confirm That Club Won’t Use Furlough Scheme

Manchester United have confirmed to staff they will not use the government’s coronavirus job retention scheme during the crisis and will continue to pay all 900 full-time staff members in full. 

Tottenham, Newcastle, Bournemouth and Norwich have all taken advantage of the scheme, whereby the state pays 80% of employees’ wages. 

Liverpool had also intended to do so, but faced widespread criticism given that the scheme is intended for vulnerable businesses during a time of financial uncertainty, and Liverpool are one of the wealthiest clubs in world football. Following the backlash, the Premier League leaders have since ​reversed their decision. 

Ed Woodward

As reported by the ​Manchester Evening News, ​United have confirmed they will continue to pay all 900 full-time staff members in full, as if they were working as usual. 

Ed Woodward contacted all employees via email on Monday to assure them that they would not be going to the government for financial assistance.

He also encouraged all staff not able to work from home to volunteer for the NHS or within their local communities. 

Workers have been informed that they have the flexibility to fit work around any care responsibilities they have for family members or friends during the lockdown and will still receive full pay.

Matchday staff have also been told that they will continue to receive goodwill payments until 1 June, covering their average weekly wage between December and February.

Manchester United v Norwich City - Premier League

These payments to around 950 staff had been due to stop in April, but have been extended for a further two months.

Payments will also continue to their causal match day workers – of whom there are around 3,000 – for the remaining scheduled Premier League matches.

Tottenham have been heavily criticised for using the government scheme to pay workers, but unlike Liverpool, have opted to plough on with it.

While Norwich and Bournemouth intend to top up the wages that workers will now receive from the government with the addition 20%, Spurs have opted not to do so, and are also cutting the wages of staff that they have not furloughed. 


Paul Pogba Ready for Transfer ‘War’ With Manchester United to Secure Summer Move

Despite all the uncertainty triggered by coronavirus, one thing that remains a constant is the ambiguity of Paul Pogba’s Manchester United future. 

The midfielder still wants out of Old Trafford in the summer​, and could go to ‘war’ with the club to get his desired move, according to reports in France. 

The 27-year-old had been heavily linked with a move away from Manchester in the summer, but the January arrival of Bruno Fernandes had seen him warming to the idea of remaining with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side.

Paul Pogba

According to French news outlet ​L’Equipe, Pogba is still determined to leave United, with the prospect of joining Real Madrid – who were linked with a move last summer – an attractive prospect for the 27-year-old.

L’Equipe state that Pogba is prepared to go to ‘war’ with ​United in order to secure the move that he craves.

On Wednesday, 90min exclusively revealed that Pogba’s favoured destination was ​Real Madrid, due to his ambition to work with his hero Zinedine Zidane.

Pogba will have two years left to run on his contract at Old Trafford at the end of the season, and having already completed three years at the club, he would be able to buy out his contract, in line with Article 17 of the Fifa transfer regulations.

This is a controversial loophole in the transfer system that is rarely exploited. Article 17 states players can leave their contracts without just cause once the three-year protection period ends.

Andy Webster’s transfer from Hearts to Wigan in 2006 is one of the few examples of clubs successfully using Article 17. 

Webster moved on a free to Wigan, despite still having a year to run on his Hearts deal. The Court of Arbitration for Sport eventually ordered the Latics to pay Hearts £150,000 – his final year salary at Tynecastle Park.

Paul Pogba

However, ​Pogba is on a slightly more lucrative deal at Manchester United than Andy Wesbter was at Hearts 14 years ago.

If he was to attempt to follow in the footsteps of the Scottish centre half, it would cost him £43-53m to buy out his United contract.

Although he is determined to secure a move to Real, this is not currently Pogba’s intention.

United may not be averse to allowing Pogba to leave the club in the summer if the price is right, in order to raise funds for transfer targets Jack Grealish and Jadon Sancho and refresh the squad.