Sports Strength

Meet Ralf Ragnick, Godfather of Gegenpressing

Ralf Ragnick has been widely-respected throughout the Bundesliga and Germany’s top divisions for decades, but now the former RB Leipzig and Schalke guru will take on a new challenge in the Premier League.

The 63-year-old former Head of Sport and Development at Lokomotiv Moscow will likely finalize a deal at Manchester United next week making him the interim manager at Old Trafford until May, when the club will decide his long-term fate.

In addition to his role as the club’s newest manager, Ragnick has agreed to stay on for two years as a club advisor even if he doesn’t continue as United’s head coach.

To really know Ragnick, it’s important to know his background and some of the managers that will forever be linked with the former holding midfielder.

Several of the Premier League’s top managers have come from Ragnick’s coaching tree, including Chelsea’s Thomas Tuchel and Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp. They’re both UEFA Champions League-winning coaches at their respective clubs.

Meanwhile, Southampton’s ​​Ralph Hasenhüttl, Leipzig’s Jesse Marsch and Bayern Munich’s Julian Nagelsmann are also disciples of Ragnick from their days spent together at Leipzig when he was the RB Global’s Director of Football.

History of Ragnick

The German began his coaching career in his native country back in the 1980s with local side Viktoria Backnang before moving on to Stuttgart as an academy coach.

After a series of stops at lower-level sides, Ragnick began to take on bigger roles in the Bundesliga with Stuttgart’s senior side followed by Hannover, Schalke, Hoffenheim and RB Leipzig.

Most recently, Ragnick has served at Lokomotiv Moscow as Head of Sport and Development, a position that he only took in July 2021.

Ragnick is best-known for his role at Red Bull Global as the director of football. He oversaw all things Red Bull for various clubs within their umbrella, including Leipzig, Salzburg and other Red Bull clubs around the world.


He brought the club from the fourth division in Germany all the way up to the Bundesliga, as well as playing a guiding role in helping Leipzig reach the UEFA Champions League for the first time in club history.

As a manager, Ragnick boasts a win percentage of 47 percent combined during his tenure at various clubs throughout Germany.

Style of Play

Ragnick is credited with the creation of “gegenpressing,” the constant pressuring of opponents after the attacking side loses possession through counterpressing. 

The German has always been involved in high-tempo settings, and brought this style to RB Leipzig and Red Bull’s other clubs. 

Back in 1998, Ragnick made a television appearance where he first laid out his ideals about football and how he wants his sides to play. Since then, he hasn’t strayed from the concept.

In fact, during his time at Leipzig, Ragnick would use a clock that was designed to apply pressure to his players. It would give his side eight seconds to win the ball back after losing possession and then another 10 seconds to get a shot on goal.

Everything about Ragnick’s system is about tempo and maximizing the quantity of chances his teams can get each match.

What the Future Holds

Ragnick certainly has his work cut out at Man United regardless of what his role is in the future. 

The club is currently undergoing one of its roughest stretches since Sir Alex Ferguson left United over a decade ago, so Ragnick is tasked with not only restoring order but finding consistency as the club marches forward.

Ragnick historically prefers young players that fit his gegenpressing system, which will make United interesting to watch after signing Cristiano Ronaldo back from Juventus this summer.

United are currently one of the worst pressing sides in the Premier League, with a success rate of just over 28 percent.

For Ragnick to succeed in Manchester, he’ll need to get young players like Jadon Sancho, Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford to buy into his up-tempo system that relies heavily on strong work rate when his teams don’t have the ball.

With the January transfer window quickly approaching, United could be serious players in the market as they look to bolster their defense, which has conceded the third-most goals in the Premier League.

Sports Strength

Meet Felix Afena-Gyan, Roma’s Newest Revelation

AS Roma may just have a new star on its hands, and the wild part is Felix Afena-Gyan hasn’t even been at the Serie A club for over a year.

When the Ghanian joined the club in early 2021, he had never played competitively outside of his native country.

Afena-Gyan signed on at Roma in January and has quickly made a name for himself at the club after recently receiving several appearances for the club.

That attention has only been magnified after his performance over the weekend against Genoa, which saw Afena-Gyan score a brace in a substitute role. 

Jose Mourinho’s connection with the attacker has also made for an intriguing storyline as Roma looks to build on several young players at the Portuguese manager’s disposal, including striker Tammy Abraham.

Mourinho told reporters Sunday of how Afena-Gyan begged him for a pair of boots he wanted, and naturally Mourinho said he’d oblige after the tremendous performance he just put in.

“I had promised to buy Felix the boots he really likes, which are really expensive, they cost €800, so he ran over and told me not to forget! Tomorrow morning, the first thing I do is buy him the boots,” Mourinho said.

Style of Play

It’s early to say where Afena-Gyan will be best-utilized, but given his speed and natural scoring abilities it’s very likely that Mourinho and Roma will position the 18-year-old on the wing or as a false 9 as another attacking outlet along with Abraham.

The duo of Afena-Gyan and Abraham could certainly light a much-needed spark for the club, who currently sit fifth in Serie A, 10 points off the pace set by Napoli and AC Milan.

His second goal against Genoa was particularly impressive because of Afena-Gyan’s willingness to shoot from distance. After picking up a loose ball on the left wing, the Ghanian quickly cut inside on his preferred right foot and found the far corner from beyond 30 yards.

What the Future Holds

Given how quickly the youngster is finding minutes at Roma, it’s conceivable that Italian fans will be hearing Afena-Gyan’s name more frequently moving forward.

The 18-year-old recently earned a call up to Ghana for their World Cup qualifying match against Ethiopia, and given Ghana’s rich history over the past two decades on the international stage Afena-Gyan’s stardom will continue to rise.

Afena-Gyan became the first player born in 2003 to score a goal in Serie A, marking the territory for other young players looking to put their stamp on Italian football.

“Mourinho is a great person, a great manager and a great coach,” Afena-Gyan said following the Genoa match. “He gives you the motivation to learn every day. I am very happy he is here.

“Tonight is a dream come true. It was my first goal, I was hoping for a very long time. I want to continue my performance, prove myself and do more in future.”

Afena-Gyan’s career is already off to a bright start and he’s yet another reason why so much attention is being drawn to Serie A.

Sports Strength

What are the UEFA World Cup Qualifying Playoffs?

Portugal is in a precarious situation after losing its final UEFA World Cup qualifying match on Sunday against Serbia.

The stakes for Cristiano Ronaldo and company were quite simple. Win or draw the match and they would’ve qualified for Qatar next November. A loss for the Portuguese means they’ll have to fight through the UEFA playoffs in order to have a shot at securing its place at the World Cup.

Meanwhile, the same can be said for the defending Euro 2020 champions, Italy. The Azzurri fell short in their group finale against Northern Ireland with a 0-0 draw and they will now join Portugal and 10 other teams.

With UEFA having the largest representation at the World Cup — with 13 nations being sent — the European confederation will have 10 automatically qualified countries finalized by Tuesday afternoon.

Germany, Denmark, France, Belgium, Croatia, Serbia, Spain, England and Switzerland have all earned their place at the 2022 World Cup, while one spot will be claimed on Tuesday.

Here’s a look at how the UEFA playoffs are set up and some important information about the last-ditch effort of 12 nations to qualify for next winter’s World Cup.

Where is the draw available for viewing?

The UEFA playoffs draw will be streamed live on FIFA’s website, Certain regions will also have the draw on network television as well. 

When is the draw for the playoffs?

The UEFA playoffs draw will be held on November 26 at 11 a.m. ET in Zurich, Switzerland.

How does the draw work?

While the UEFA playoffs typically consist of just one round, this World Cup qualifying cycle marks the first time there will be two rounds for nations to earn their spot.

The field will consist of one-off matches involving the 10 teams that didn’t win their groups during World Cup qualifying, as well as the two highest-placed finishers from the 2020/21 UEFA Nations League that didn’t finish first or second in their respective groups.

Six seeded teams will be assigned to the semifinals as home sides, while the six unseeded teams will be the away teams.

The 12 teams will be drawn in three paths of four nations, with each group having a “semifinal” and “final.”

The seedings for the draw are based on qualifying-round points, with the six best runners-up seeded, while the two Nations League teams are unseeded.

Those semifinal and final rounds will yield three nations that will book their places at the World Cup.

Here are the 12 teams competing in the playoffs.

Pot 1

Portugal – Group A

Sweden – Group B

Italy – Group C

Wales – Group E

Scotland – Group F

Russia – Group H

Pot 2

Ukraine – Group D

Turkey – Group G

Poland – Group I

North Macedonia – Group J

Austria – Nations League

Czech Republic – Nations League

When will the playoffs occur?

The playoffs will commence in March 2022, with the match dates tentatively set for the semifinals on March 24/25 and then the finals on March 28/29. 

The three nations that emerge victorious will earn their places in Qatar along with the rest of the 32-team World Cup field.

Sports Strength

Futera’s NFT Launch Includes Founding a Proper Football Club

For over 32 years, Futera has become a leader in the proper football cards space, holding official licenses to some of the sport’s biggest clubs around the world.

Futera’s official licenses include Premier League clubs Liverpool, Arsenal & Manchester City, plus European giants Paris Saint-Germain and FC Barcelona.

With the ever-growing presence of sports cards and NFTs, the crossover between the two products have never been more synonymous with one another than right now.

That’s why Futera’s next endeavor is a creative spin on not only breaking into the NFT space, but doing so with an incredibly unique experience for its consumers and genuine football lovers.

When the company launches its first NFT project, it will include a utility after full sell out that should get supporters buzzing; founding a football club, Futera United.

Futera’s project, scheduled to launch in December, will include a release of 11,000 NFTs that will appear in the form of digital player trading cards, which goes back to Futera’s roots. 


From there, Futera NFT holders will be given the opportunity to essentially run Futera United, a club that will be based in Asia. Supporters will ultimately be given the chance to help shape the squad and potentially build other facets of the club, including choice of logo, kit designs and other unique creative opportunities.

“We spent the last 12 months really diving into the NFT space and we’re so excited to integrate our Futera community with a group so passionate about this up-and-coming technology,” Head of Marketing Adam Partington told ONE37pm.

This isn’t the first time Futera has enabled this type of creative access to its brand though.

In 2013, the company unveiled Futera FC, a similar concept that saw fans vote on a variety of club decisions including the team’s playing style, formation and tactics as the game played out live. 

However, this time around – supercharged with the capability of NFTs and improved streaming technology, they’re taking it to another level, and have already made progress – securing the new home where Futera United will play.  

“The community will make key decisions about the players and the Club’s development as it embarks on a real-time journey enjoying real-life experiences. FUTERA UNITED will be next-generation Football,”  Futera’s Creative Director Mark Watson said.

Futera will also be working with a group of celebrities, known as Famous Fans, in order to help push their launch process.

FIFA streamer Bateson87 (1.46m YouTube subscribers) has been named as the first of several Famous Fans, with various others set to be announced in the near future.

One37pm will follow the team’s progress and update readers on the journey. 

The company plans to roll out exclusive content with Bateson and others as a chance to offer creative insight into the NFT project.

For more information on Futera and their launch plans, please visit:



The home of Futera United:

Sports Strength

Top 5 Coaching Candidates for Manchester United

The Manchester Derby didn’t go according to plan for Manchester United or Ole Gunnar Solskjær, but the good news for the Red Devils manager is that his job appears to be safe; at least for now.

Supporters have been clamoring for the former Norway international to be relieved of his duties, however, the United board doesn’t appear to share the same opinion. Or at least, not at this current time.

Solskjær, now in his fourth season as manager, is running on borrowed time, especially given Man United’s recent form. 

Defeats to Man City, Liverpool and Leicester City have all put a huge damper on the Red Devils’ recent endeavors, putting Untied nine points behind Premier League leaders Chelsea and it’s only early November.

Normally, the international break would be the ideal time to make a managerial switch, but it appears United has its own agenda in mind and they aren’t budging from it at this given time despite links to Brendan Rodgers, Zinedine Zidane and previously Antonio Conte — before he accepted the Tottenham gig.

It’s still feasible to think that OGS won’t be the long-term solution at Old Trafford, so ONE37pm is taking a look at five top candidates that United could replace Solskjær with in the future.

Zinedine Zidane
Current Club: Free Agent
Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

The Frenchman would likely be atop many club’s wishlists, and with Zidane hanging back and waiting for his next gig it’s more of a “when” than “if” he coaches again.

There’s been heavy links between Zidane and high-profile gigs in France, including his native country’s national team job, but a reunion with Cristiano Ronaldo would be quite enticing as well.

The pair won several Champions League titles together at Real Madrid, and there’s no doubting this United team’s talent, which includes Bruno Fernandes, Mason Greenwood, Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford.

Brendan Rodgers
Current Job: Leicester City
Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images

Rodgers isn’t a sexy pick from the group of managers on this list, but he commands the respect of a dressing room and knows English football as well as most managers. 

Unfortunately for Rodgers, his record in the Premier League isn’t the greatest, only winning roughly 50 percent of his matches at both Leicester and Liverpool after struggling with Watford, Reading and Swansea City.

Mauricio Pochettino
Current Job: Paris Saint-Germain
John Berry/Getty Images

Pochettino appears to be heavily in the mix for United if he were to leave PSG this season, and going from coaching Lionel Messi to Cristiano Ronaldo would be quite the storyline.

Pochettino’s time in England had its share of ups and downs at Tottenham, but ultimately he got the most out of his Spurs squad, even reaching a Champions League final during his tenure.

PSG’s next few months of fixtures could dictate if the club moves on to yet another manager, which would given Pochettino the chance to move back to England.

Erik Ten Hag
Current Job: Ajax
Marcel ter Bals/BSR Agency/Getty Images

As i’ve stated in the past few months, Ajax is one of the most exciting clubs to watch in European football this season and it’s directly due to the style that Erik Ten Hag wants to play.

Ajax have lost just once this season in all competitions, including boasting a perfect Champions League record through four matches. 

Ten Hag would need to adapt to life outside of the Eredivisie, but the former Twente defender appears poised for a bigger gig in the near future.

Julian Nagelsmann
Current Job: Bayern Munich
Roland Krivec/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

The chances of Nagelsmann leaving Bayern at this stage are pretty slim, but that doesn’t mean the German manager isn’t qualified.

And if one thing has rung true recently in the Premier League it’s that German managers are very capable of not only succeeding, but winning major trophies.

Look at Thomas Tuchel at Chelsea and Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool as the two biggest examples. 

Nagelsmann is young and has a lot of vision when it comes to how he wants his sides to play stylistically, and would certainly demand that United’s players conform to his identity.

Sports Strength

Cristiano Ronaldo Masks Manchester United’s Major Flaws

When Cristiano Ronaldo moved back to Manchester United late in the summer transfer window it came as a surprise to many given the direction of the Premier League side.

Ronaldo is clearly still one of the top players on the planet, despite being 36 years old, but United is littered with youth in their attack with starlets like Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood and Jadon Sancho.

Three months into the season though, Ronaldo is carrying this Red Devils side and single handedly ensuring Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s job as manager. 

Tuesday was yet another perfect display of the Portuguese attacker’s greatness. There may be long portions of the match where Ronaldo is darting around the pitch the way he did in his 20s, but ultimately everyone knows he’s out there and lurking.

United trailed not just once, but twice against Atalanta. The common theme on both occasions? Ronaldo was able to rescue United from an uncomfortable position.

The discussions around the Old Trafford side have been dominated by the team’s manager, and supporters are largely desperate for a change in that department, however, those talks only gloss over the major issues that linger in the squad.

Harry Maguire has underwhelmed greatly since returning from injury last month and is now a huge liability at the heart of the United defense. 

The club also struggles mightily in the midfield as Solskjær regularly struggles to find consistency with players like Fred, Scott McTominay and Paul Pogba when it comes to providing cover for the back line.

These issues aren’t hidden very well, and in fact, they’re on display almost every match at one point or another.

United’s greatest blessing, and perhaps curse though, remains Ronaldo. When the team was thrashed in a 5-0 beatdown at the hands of Liverpool recently, it appeared there was no coming back for Solskjær.

That wasn’t the case. The Norwegian was quickly able to turn the tide with a convincing 3-0 win over Tottenham, followed by Ronaldo’s heroics against Atalanta a day ago.

With the Manchester Derby looming on a date with Pep Guardiola and City, Solskjær and his boys could be right back under the microscope if the team underperforms. 

That’s the life of being a top club in the European landscape. It’s a challenge. Never forgiving and always begging the question; what have you done for me lately?

Although that question may be a bleak one for United to address at this time, Ronaldo is certainly doing his part and that means the attention is on the Portuguese superstar.

Sports Strength

Which Premier League Managers Are on the Hot Seat?

The Premier League is nearly a quarter of the way through the season and some of the league’s most-notable managers are already on the hot seat,

The drama at Manchester United has seen Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s name tossed around almost daily on the front page of English newspapers, and with a difficult stretch of matches ahead it may not be long until the Norwegian is looking for new opportunities.

United secured a significant 3-0 win over Tottenham over the weekend following their beatdown at the hands of Liverpool, but Solskjær isn’t out of the woods given the Red Devils’ challenging fixture list.

Spurs manager Nuno Espirito Santo wasn’t as fortunate as Solskjær though, and the Portuguese coach was sacked on Monday after picking up just five wins in his first 10 matches in charge of Tottenham.

Here’s a look at which Premier League managers are on the hot seat and how likely they are to be sacked this season.

Nuno Espirito Santo – Tottenham Hotspur
Hot Seat Rating: Sacked on Nov. 1
Visionhaus/Getty Images

Espirito Santo wasn’t on the hot seat for very long, but sometimes it takes a big match to magnify a coach’s shortcomings.

Following Tottenham’s defeat to Man United, where the London side was thoroughly outplayed by Cristiano Ronaldo and Co., Spurs supporters called for Espirito Santo’s job and they got exactly what they wanted.

The Portuguese man’s 124 days in charge is the fewest at the club in the Premier League era, surpassing Tim Sherwood’s 148 days in 2013/14.

Ole Gunnar Solskjær – Manchester United
Hot Seat Rating: 50%
Visionhaus/Getty Images

The Red Devils may have a new manager very soon, but there’s something about OGS in big matches that makes the United squad come alive. 

With his back against the wall against Spurs, United convincingly came away with three points and they can now turn their attention to Champions League and another huge encounter at the weekend against rivals Manchester City.

With names like Antonio Conte, Brendan Rodgers and Zinedine Zidane floating around, there’s no guarantee OGS will remain at the club beyond this week, but if United can replicate its form from Saturday the club could have to hold on to the Norwegian manager for a bit longer.

Daniel Farke – Norwich City
Hot Seat Rating: 90%
Julian Finney/Getty Images

Out of every Premier League manager this season, nobody has had a campaign like Farke and his Norwich side.

With no wins to date, Norwich is on pace to be the least successful side in English top flight history, and that doesn’t bode well for Farke’s future.

The club sold Emi Buendia before the campaign started and they severely miss his creativity. The Canaries have scored just three goals in 10 matches and boast a -22 goal difference, which is the worst in any of Europe’s top five leagues.

There’s no promise that any other manager is capable of guiding this Norwich side to safety this season, but the club is likely running out of chances to give Farke.

Dean Smith – Aston Villa
Hot Seat Rating: 75%
Neville Williams/Aston Villa FC via Getty Images

Just a season ago, Smith was seen as untouchable at Aston Villa. With the departure of Jack Grealish this summer, the Villans surely had to lower their expectations, but the team was still seen as competitive given some of their other signings.

Villa sits 15th now after the first 10 matches – three points off the bottom three – and that could mean a change in the works at Villa Park.

The club has conceded the third-most goals in England’s top flight this season, which may be surprising to some when considering world class Emi Martinez in net and recognizable talents Ezri Konsa and Tyrone Mings at center back.

Steve Bruce – Newcastle United
Hot Seat Rating: Sacked on Oct. 20
Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

For a club in the midst of a major financial takeover, Newcastle doesn’t look like a club that is improving just yet.

When PIF’s Saudi-led takeover occurred last month, the excitement around the Magpies was significant. That said, with the club unable to upgrade its roster until January at the earliest, Newcastle is in for a tough time over the next two months.

Similar to Norwich, the Magpies don’t have a capable scorer and they remain winless to this point through the season. With the club eyeing big signings both on the player and manager front, Newcastle will have to stave off relegation in order to return to relevance for the first time in years.

Sports Strength

Xavi’s Return to Barcelona Should Restore Emphasis on Youth

Ronald Koeman’s sacking at Barcelona was inevitable, but his replacement was equally unsurprising considering his roots.

Xavi Hernandez returns to Barcelona after nearly six years away from the club during his time as a player and manager at Al Sadd. During that time, Lionel Messi left the Blaugrana to embark on a new journey at Paris Saint-Germain and the club has gone through four managers. 

Everything hasn’t been going according to plan at the club since club greats like Xavi and Andres Iniesta left the club nearly a half-decade ago, and a lot of that can be attributed to Barcelona’s unwillingness to completely move into the future by embracing their youth.

By now, everyone knows about Pedri, Gavi and Ansu Fati given their star qualities, but the club’s hesitation to remove older players that have clearly lost a step is what’s holding Barcelona back.

Take Barca’s recent loss to Rayo Vallecano as an example. It was Barca’s first loss to Rayo since 2002 and the lone goal that won the match for the Spanish side came directly off of a mistake from past-prime players Sergio Busquets and Gerard Pique.

This isn’t to say that young players don’t make mistakes because they certainly do. Sergino Dest missed a clear chance in front of goal against Rayo, but the American is still acclimating to life as a right winger after typically being deployed as a wing back.

Xavi won’t have the luxury of going out and building his squad based on stars from other clubs. Reports suggest that he and the club are interested in Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling, but given Barcelona’s financial troubles most moves will be difficult to make until they offload expensive players.

That’s why La Masia is so important. Barcelona’s famed academy produced the likes of Messi, Xavi and Iniesta, as well as their current crop of next-generation stars, the youth system will be even more vital moving forward as the Blaugrana aim to climb out of their financial despair.

While rivals Real Madrid potentially eye up a move for Kylian Mbappe next summer to pair with Karim Benzema and Vinicius Jr., Xavi needs to focus on what he has at his disposal.

What made Barcelona’s teams of the past so dominant were the relationships built in the middle of the pitch, and that clearly starts with Pedri and Gavi.

It’s way too early to call them Xavi and Iniesta, but the comparisons are natural. Both sets of players have innate senses of positioning as well as dribbling skills that make it very difficult for opponents to take the ball off their feet.

This may not be the Barcelona team of old, but if anyone is capable of getting the best out of the current group and building towards a ‘Tiki Taka’ team of the past it’s certainly Xavi.

Sports Strength

Mohamed Salah Won’t Win Ballon d’Or, But He’s the Best Right Now

The 2021 Ballon d’Or winner will be named next month after being left vacant last calendar year due to the stoppage of play during the height of COVID-19.

As things stand, Lionel Messi and Robert Lewandowski are heavy betting favorites to capture this year’s award, with Jorginho, Mohamed Salah and N’Golo Kante rounding out the top five.

Michael Regan/Getty Images

With many expecting Messi to secure his record seventh Ballon d’Or, you’d probably think all the attention in Europe would be on the Argentinian after the incredible 2021 he’s put on display.

After all, Messi did secure his first Copa America trophy with Argentina over the summer after a crucial win over Brazil in the final.

But what about Mohamed Salah?

The Liverpool star has been on an absolute tear to start the new Premier League season, and it’s without exaggeration that he’s the best player in the league and the world at this very moment.

That’s not a slight on Karim Benzema – who has Real Madrid in a very good position in La Liga – or Robert Lewandowski at Bayern Munich.

Salah has simply been that good for the Reds. In fact, his latest feat came at the weekend during Liverpool’s 5-0 thrashing of Manchester United at Old Trafford.

The main takeaway from the game may have been United’s poor defensive showing or Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s looming departure from United, but Salah also had himself an afternoon after not only bagging a hat trick but doing so by scoring in his 10th consecutive match.

“I’m just trying my best to help the team to win games, to win trophies,” Salah said. “I like to win things with the club. I like the club here a lot, I love the club. 

“I hate the word that we are underdogs or something, who can’t win something because of that or that. I’m always saying that we have to win something because we play for Liverpool.”

Salah now has 10 goals and five assists in just nine PL matches, which is a wild concept when put into perspective. Last season, Salah had five assists the entire season, while finishing with 22 goals.

This season, Salah has scored goals against some of Europe’s best sides, including Chelsea, Manchester City, United, Atletico Madrid and AC Milan.

Yes, the Egyptian is capable of incredible feats. We’ve seen this before. His 2017/18 debut season for Liverpool resulted in an all-time achievement when Salah scored 32 goals that season — a Premier League record over the course of a 38-match season.

At this rate though, Salah is on pace for over 40 goals, which would not only shatter his personal record but would arguably make him one of the greatest scorers ever in English football history.

Salah is one goal away from cracking the PL’s top 25 in terms of goals scored with his 107 scores combined between stints at Chelsea and Liverpool. 

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp spoke recently about where Salah fits in the discussion of the game’s biggest stars.

“Come on, who is better than him?” Klopp said. “We don’t have to talk about what Messi and Ronaldo have done for world football and their dominance but, right now, he is the best.

“His performance was massive. The pass for the first goal was great and the second goal was special. He is top, we all see it.”

The Reds’ star winger may not win the Ballon d’Or this season, but for now, he’s the best player in all of football.

Sports Strength

Manchester United Are Products Of ‘The Fixed Mindset’

Without a doubt, Manchester United is the biggest club in football.

They’re the only English club to achieve a continental treble, sweeping the league title, league cup and Champions League in 1999. They’ve won the Premier League a record 20 times, and have countless trophies. Point being, they’ve set a standard of excellence that’s nearly unmatched by any team in any sport in any country.

Getty Images
MAY 22: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ronny Johnson of Manchester United celebrate in the dressing room with the FA Cup after the FA Cup Final between Manchester United v Newcastle at Wembley Stadium on May 22, 1999 in London. Manchester United 2 Newcastle United 0. (Photo by John Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)

Since legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013, though, United has struggled to reach those same lofty heights. If the shame of their longest title drought in the modern Premier League era hasn’t been misery enough, their 5-0 thrashing at the hands of rival Liverpool on Sunday is proof of the club’s diminished standing.

No matter how brutal this loss to Liverpool was, it hardly dooms Manchester United’s title aspirations on its own. Similarly, it’s unfair to say that manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is responsible for the debacle; it’s not like he could’ve laced up a pair of boots, bolstered United’s flimsy defense and stopped Mo Salah himself.

Still, it’s evident that Manchester United is plagued by an institutional malaise that stems from their fixed mindset; Solskjaer and the current players are hardly blameless, but the club’s issues have persisted for years despite bolstering talented teams year after year. The club is beset by deep-rooted issues that go beyond their place on the league table or their manager’s job security.

Coined by Stanford psychology professor Carol Dweck, a fixed mindset is when a person believes that traits like intelligence or talent are static and unchanging. Accordingly, this causes a person to constantly try to validate their status in every moment. Although Dweck primarily focused on students in her research, Manchester United offers an equally suitable subject for observation.

Watch Bruno Fernandes after he misplaces a pass, and you’d think his world just came to an end. Or Marcus Rashford looking like he’s had the life sucked out of him after missing a goal scoring chance.

Granted, these sort of reactions from footballers are nothing out of the ordinary. However, Manchester United are already the most talked about team in the world; they’re subject to a unique kind of scrutiny, every misstep or poor touch serving as ammunition for pundits and fans to label them as overrated and undertalented.

So when the likes of Fernandes and Rashford react the way that they sometimes do, you can’t help but wonder if they’re pressing too hard to change the narrative around them with one shot, or one pass. In a sport as instinctive and fluid as soccer, this kind of pressure-induced overthinking is almost certain to result in failure.

As a result of this fixed mindset, Manchester United is seemingly incapable of learning from their experiences. For clubs with “growth mindsets” (the opposite of a fixed one), a match is an opportunity to actualize their potential and develop their skills; the results are certainly important, but the true purpose is found in the process.

In contrast, at Manchester United, each match is a referendum on the club’s collective standing and quality. Under the immense weight of the club’s history, the players are stuck in a feedback loop of unmet expectations—they try so hard to prove their worthiness within the context of United’s decorated past that they play anxiously and sloppily, which in turn causes fans and media to label them as undeserving of a spot at such a storied club.

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MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 24: Mohamed Salah of Liverpool celebrates after scoring their side’s third goal during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Liverpool at Old Trafford on October 24, 2021 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

After the massive defeat on Sunday, Solskjaer inadvertently demonstrated how this fixed mindset has undermined the cohesiveness and morale of his team.

“There were spaces for both teams going forward,” the Norweigan told the media after the match, “and when you give spaces to good players, they score.”

A jab at the quality of United players? A sign of the fixed mindset in believing the players aren’t good enough after one bad result? Yes.

The truth is, Manchester United are talented enough to be the team that they want to be, but they must change their mindset as a club. Avoid letting a bad result or negative moment define you, instead, use it to cultivate your skills and grow.