Here are the latest Premier League headlines for Tuesday, May 3.
Mitrovic confidence boost
Fulham boss Marco Silva backed former Newcastle United striker Aleksandar Mitrovic to be “more confident” in the Premier League next season after the Serbia forward took his Championship tally to 43 in a title-clinching 7-0 rout of Luton. The 27-year-old managed only three top-flight goals last term as the Cottagers were relegated, but Silva feels he will return a wiser player in 2022-23.
“He will be more confident next season – we need to be that as a club as well,” the Portuguese said. “All of us have to improve every single year. We cannot judge him just by the goals he scores next season – we have to analyse many other things from him.”
The 44-year-old added: “We have to prepare well ourselves. It’s not really different from this season. The challenge will be tougher, but it was tough this season. We’ve built and created something special this season. If I don’t have ambition at my age then something is wrong. I have to congratulate all of them, our full squad, the staff working behind the scenes.”
Varane excited by Ten Hag arrival
Raphael Varane is excited by the impending arrival of new manager Erik ten Hag and believes Manchester United can bounce back from a frustrating season by challenging for trophies next term. Having finished runners-up in last season’s Premier League and Europa League, a feeling of progress and hope was fuelled as stadiums returned to full capacities and new faces bolstered the squad.
Varane was paraded in front of Old Trafford’s first full house in 17 months ahead of the season opener against Leeds and watched his new club run amok 5-1 against their rivals. Former Real Madrid team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo’s arrival only heightened expectation but Man United soon ran aground, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer exiting and interim boss Ralf Rangnick struggling to turn things around.
The Old Trafford giants are set to end a poor campaign by missing out on Champions League qualification but Varane, who has won trophies aplenty with France and Madrid, is confident next season will be better. Ten Hag has impressed onlookers with his work in Amsterdam, where he is on course to win a third Eredivisie title and captured the imagination with their remarkable run to the Champions League semi-finals in 2019.
“I played against them in the Champions League and they played very well,” Varane said with a laugh, reflecting on Ajax’s shock last-16 win at Real Madrid that season. “I’m very excited to work with him. ‘m looking forward to working with him. I think he has good experience and he’s a good person to work in this club.”
Ten Hag has big some decisions to make and a dressing room culture to reshape when he takes the Old Trafford reins. Varane knows Man United’s defence is an area that requires improvement but believes in the quality of their central defenders and pointed to the wider consistency required to be successful.
“I think we have good players, players with experience,” he said when asked about his fellow centre-backs. “I think it’s not just about the defence but the whole team. I think we can improve, we can defend better. We can be more in control during games. Sometimes we’re able to play very well 20-30 minutes and then play bad 10 or 15 minutes. We lost a lot of points like this. I think if we are consistent, we can improve a lot, so I think it’s a collective work we have to do.”
Pep’s Madrid warning
Pep Guardiola feels Manchester City will probably have to improve on their first leg performance against Real Madrid to progress to the Champions League final. City are 4-3 up in the last-four clash with Real after a pulsating initial encounter at the Etihad Stadium last week.
Speaking at his press conference ahead of Wednesday’s semi-final second leg at the Bernabeu, City boss Guardiola said: “Yes, probably we will have to be better (than in leg one to go through). But at the same time I would like to tell you one thing – we could play much, much worse than we played and we could win, and not anyone can deny my assessment is right.
“So nobody knows, football is unpredictable. Sometimes you get something you don’t deserve, sometimes you don’t get something maybe you deserve, for the effort, for many things.”