Valencia announces his retirement from football

The Ecuadorian powerhouse signed from Wigan Athletic in 2009 and won two Premier League titles, an FA Cup, two League Cups, three Community Shields and the Europa League.

Valencia memorably won the Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year, Goal of the Season and Players’ Player of the Year awards in the 2011/12 season. He also received the latter in 2016/17, reflecting his popularity.

Antonio was extremely proud to captain United in our victorious 2017 Europa League final over Ajax and became our official club captain when Wayne Rooney departed that summer. 

Tony V, as he was affectionately known, eventually left United on this day in 2019 with 339 appearances and 25 goals to his name, plus the love and respect of United fans around the world. He returned to Ecuador LDU Quito and has now ended his career with Mexican side Queretaro.

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Stoney steps down as Women’s Head Coach

Ed Woodward said: “Casey has been a driving force behind the success of our Women’s team since she joined the club in 2018. She has been an inspiration to her players and staff, to everyone at the club, and to the fans. Everyone at Manchester United thanks her for her unstinting hard work and dedication and pays tribute to her achievements. She will always be part of the Manchester United family.”

Casey Stoney said: “It has been an honour to lead the women’s team at this great club and this has been an incredibly tough decision. Having come on board to start the team from scratch, then winning the Women’s Championship in our first season, we have now successfully established the team as a force in the Women’s Super League.

“I have loved leading this group and I am proud of what we have achieved together. However, after a difficult season with disruption caused by the pandemic, I now feel the time is right to take some time away and for someone else to come in and lead the team on the next stage of its journey. I want to thank the club, all of the fantastic staff, the fans, and most of all the players, for the incredible experience we have shared over the past three years.”

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Match preview: United v Liverpool

TEAM NEWS

With Thursday’s game set to be United’s fourth outing in the space of eight days, Solskjaer is once again expected to make plenty of changes, having made 10 alterations to his starting XI against Leicester City earlier in the week. There could be returns for most of the players who started the victory at Aston Villa at the weekend, the majority of whom were named on the bench against the Foxes on Tuesday, while captain Harry Maguire is out, having picked up an ankle injury during that win at Villa Park. Daniel James has been missing from the last three matchday squads due to injury while Anthony Martial and Phil Jones have been longer-term absentees.

As for the visitors, Naby Keita, Ozan Kabak, Ben Davies and James Milner all missed the victory over Southampton last time out due to minor injury concerns, with Jurgen Klopp expecting none of his absentees to return. Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip, Joe Gomez and Jordan Henderson are all out for the season but Divock Origi is getting close to a comeback. 

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Solskjaer’s reaction to the Leicester defeat

NEMANJA THE LEADER
“Definitely, [I learn a lot about] everyone. You see the leadership of Nemanja [Matic] – he was absolutely top out there. The young kid Amad did really well, Mason [Greenwood] again he looked a seasoned professional out there. He’s only 19 but the way he has played tonight it was very, very good. He was fantastic leading the line next to an 18-year-old and a 19-year-old, he looks like a 29-year-old. I’m very pleased with him. Anthony [Elanga] was full of enthusiasm and positivity, with runs in behind and good defensive work.”

GREENWOOD’S GOAL
“Yeah, a very good goal, great pass by Juan [Mata], a fantastic run, good timing. You can see Amad all day with his timing, his deceiving runs. I thought he played really well, and Mason scored, as he always does.”

FIXTURE PILE-UP UNACCEPTABLE
“It can’t be like this again. You can’t play Thursday, Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday – it is impossible. So that’s the reason why we had to make these changes because it is unheard of. I say it again, if this game was tomorrow, no problem and if we have another game on Saturday. If you have two days in between, there is no problem but this is impossible for the players to perform at this level Thursday night, Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday. It is impossible.”

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Who was voted our Man of the Match?

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made 10 changes to his XI and the Reds went behind early on to a fantastic volley from 19-year-old Luke Thomas. Nice interplay between United’s own teenage pairing, Amad and Mason Greenwood, got the game level only minutes later, with the latter scoring his 12th goal of the campaign.

It continues a rich vein of form for Greenwood who has netted eight times in his last 11 appearances. On this occasion, the Academy graduate was playing as the central striker in a front three, having mainly contributed from the wing in previous fixtures.

Although Greenwood was the only Reds goalscorer, a couple of individuals stood out despite the defeat, with a few squad players getting an opportunity due to the jam-packed schedule.

We asked fans to vote for their Man of the Match in our official App. The result is below…

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