Records on the line in Hull, United match Man U meet Fener­bahce, Feyeno­ord

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport Starts Here -

THAT a Manchester United side boast­ing world-record sign­ing Paul Pogba have won their open­ing two games of the Premier League sea­son is no sur­prise — but that newly-pro­moted Hull City have done so cer­tainly is.

United, man­aged by Jose Mour­inho, who guided Chelsea to sev­eral English ti­tles, splashed out £89 mil­lion (105 mil­lion eu­ros, $116 mil­lion) to bring mid­fielder Pogba back from Ju­ven­tus and have since beaten both Bournemouth and Southamp­ton.

Hull, by con­trast, have no per­ma­nent man­ager, a squad of just 13 fit play­ers and no new sign­ings, while the own­ers of the north­ern club are con­tem­plat­ing a sale.

Yet de­spite all that, Hull, who only won pro­mo­tion via the play-offs, have beaten Premier League cham­pi­ons Le­ices­ter and Swansea to join United, along with fel­low heavy­weights Manchester City and Chelsea, as just one of four teams to make a per­fect start in English foot­ball’s top-flight this sea­son.

Some­thing, how­ever, will have to give in terms of a 100 per­cent league record when Hull, un­der the care­taker charge of Mike Phe­lan — a former United player who then moved onto the coach­ing staff to work along­side man­ager Alex Ferguson as the sil­ver­ware piled up at Old Traf­ford — meet Mour­inho’s men at the KCOM Sta­dium to­day.

United look re-vi­talised un­der their Por­tuguese coach, while pre-sea­son sign­ing Zla­tan Ibrahi­movic has not wasted any time in mak­ing his mark.

The 34-year-old su­per­star striker, MANCHESTER United will come up against their former striker Robin van Persie after be­ing drawn in a tough Europa League group yes­ter­day along­side Fener­bahce, Feyeno­ord and Zo­rya Luhansk.

Three-time Euro­pean cham­pi­ons United must ne­go­ti­ate a com­pet­i­tive group if they are to win one of the few ti­tles that has eluded them.

The Premier League side will face 19-times Turk­ish cham­pi­ons Fener­bahce, who missed out on the Cham­pi­ons League group stage after a 4-3 ag­gre­gate de­feat by AS Monaco in the third qual­i­fy­ing round.

They are man­aged by former Nether­lands coach Dick Ad­vo­caat and in­clude ex-United for­ward Van Persie who be­gan his ca­reer with Feyeno­ord.

The Dutch Cup hold­ers fin­ished third in

re­cruited on a free trans­fer after leav­ing Paris St Ger­main, has scored four times in his first three United games, in­clud­ing their Com­mu­nity Shield win over Le­ices­ter.

Should he ex­tend his run at Hull, former Swe­den in­ter­na­tional Ibrahi­movic will be­come the first United player in 91 years, and only the se­cond in all, to score in his first four matches for the club.

Mata warn­ing Al­ready United are look­ing as though they will chal­lenge for a first league ti­tle since 2013, with mid­fielder Juan Mata in­sist­ing there is bet­ter to come.

“It’s still Au­gust and that means we are still the Ere­di­visie last sea­son. Zo­rya qual­i­fied as Ukraine’s fourth-placed team.

Southamp­ton, the Premier League’s other rep­re­sen­ta­tives, have been drawn along­side In­ter Mi­lan, Sparta Prague and Hapoel Be’er Sheva.

Vil­lar­real, beaten semi-fi­nal­ists last sea­son, meet former Euro­pean cham­pi­ons Steaua Bucharest, FC Zurich and Os­man­lispor.

Group-stage first-timers Dun­dalk of Ire­land meet AZ Alk­maar, Mac­cabi Tel Aviv and Zenit St. Petersburg, who reached the Cham­pi­ons League round of 16 last sea­son.

The top two teams from each of the 12 groups ad­vance to the round of 32 where they will be joined by the eight third-placed teams from the Cham­pi­ons League group stage.

The fi­nal will be played in Stock­holm on May 24. — Reuters

work­ing on a few ad­just­ments,” said Mata. “We know there’s still room for im­prove­ment. We are lay­ing the foun­da­tions of the team for this sea­son.

“We have a tough game ahead at Hull City. It’s never easy and they are one of the four teams that have won the first two games this sea­son,” the Spa­niard added.

“They are back in the Premier League this year and are hav­ing a sur­pris­ing start. We will try to win and keep our good streak.”

Mid­fielder Jesse Lin­gaard will re­turn to the United squad fol­low­ing a ham­string prob­lem, with the out-of-favour Bas­tian Sch­we­in­steiger — who this week said he would not move to an­other club in Europe — the only se­nior player not un­der con­sid­er­a­tion.

Phe­lan, who took charge after the res­ig­na­tion of former Manchester United team­mate Steve Bruce last month, is on the verge of be­ing ap­pointed Hull’s man­ager full­time.

And the 53-year-old has cred­ited the two decades he spent as a player, coach and as­sis­tant man­ager un­der Ferguson as play­ing a ma­jor role in shap­ing his readi­ness to take the step into man­age­ment.

Phe­lan won the Cham­pi­ons League, six Premier Leagues and the FA Cup dur­ing his time work­ing with Ferguson, and he said: “I had a fan­tas­tic 20 years there.

“Sir Alex would give you an op­por­tu­nity to do the work which was good in terms of my de­vel­op­ment and it was a great place to learn about so many as­pects of coach­ing and man­age­ment.”

Hull, who are un­beaten at home in the league since Novem­ber, haven’t signed a se­nior out­field player on a per­ma­nent deal for al­most a year, but re­main hope­ful of bring­ing in reinforcements in the fi­nal week of the trans­fer win­dow.

Mean­while de­fender Josh Ty­mon and striker Greg Luer, who were both in­jured in Hull’s 3-1 EFL Cup win at fourth-tier Ex­eter in mid­week, face fit­ness tests ahead of to­day’s match. AFP/Su­perS­port

Paul Pogba and Zla­tan Ibrahi­movic

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