manchester united Category
“What wrong at Old Trafford,” asks the Sun’s Neil Curtis? Nothing. Manchester United are in great shape. This we know because on 6th September 2016 Neil Curtis told us about the “RED-OLUTION” at Old Trafford. “Jose Mourinho has turned Manchester United around to become the force of old in just three months,” said Curtis. Mourinho has “lifted the clouds” at United. “Mourinho is trusting the players abilities, letting them breathe.”
Today Curtis tells us that Manchester United have had their “worst start to a season in 27 years”. Why? Well, it’s not because Jose Mourinho is failing. It’s about him “unpicking Louis Van Gaal’s philosophy”. That would be Van Gaal who unpicked David Moyes’ philosophy. (You can read more about Jose’s philosophy here.)
Curtis adds that United have “NO TOP-CLASS STRIKER”. Really. Because Curtis wrote:
In his £250m splurge, LVG made two that excited but could not get the best out of either in Angel Di Maria and Memphis Depay. Mourinho has made four and so far Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paul Pogba and Eric Bailly have been immediate hits.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has got his Manchester United career off to a blistering start
Another reasons: “NEW SIGNINGS STRUGGLING.” So much for Mourinho’s “immediate hits”.
And finally, lest you think Curtis will blame Mourinho, he asks himself: “Have they got the right manager?” “In my opinion,” says Curtis, “most definitely they have.”
Next question is one of ours: Would Manchester United fans prefer to have signed Jurgen Klopp or Pep Guardiola instead of the chippy Mourinho?
Over in the Mail, you can read: “Inside the troubled World of Mourinho – An obsessive man at odds with himself and his players.” So much for the RED-VOLUTION.
Media Balls: Was it right that Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho was red carded as his side fought back to secure a 1-1 draw with West Ham United? Can we know what’s what from reading the experts?
The BBC: “Off to the stands! He aims an almighty kick at a drinks bottle down on the touchline in anger at a booking for Paul Pogba – who looked to be jumping to avoiding getting clattered – and is directed from the touchline by Jonathan Moss.”
Pogba was avoiding a clattering and jumped. It was self-preservation. The referee got it wrong. Jose just reacted to the poor decision.
Manchester United assistant manager Rui Faria: “I think there was frustration from Jose after the yellow card for Pogba. It should be a foul for us but the referee understood it in another way.”
United were robbed.
Saj Choudry (BBC): “The Portuguese boss kicked a water bottle in reaction to referee Jon Moss showing Paul Pogba a yellow card for diving. Replays showed West Ham’s Mark Noble did not make contact with the France midfielder.”
Pogba dived. The referee was correct – he did fool for the player’s cheating. Jose Mourinho did make contact with the water bottle.
The West Ham website: “The Frenchman, falling after going past Mark Noble, was correctly booked for diving, prompting the explosive bottle-kicking moment from his boss.
The Manchester United website: “Mourinho was then sent to the stands after he reacted furiously to referee Jonathon Moss’ decision to book Pogba for an apparent dive.”
An apparent dive?
Manchester Evening News: “He [Pogba] appeared to dive over Mark Noble’s challenge and was booked by Jonathan Moss. Mourinho… kicked a water bottle in frustration and was sent to the stands.”
He appeared to dive. Jose was not poorly behaved and wrong. He was frustrated.
The paper does find lots of room for the thoughts of journalist Duncan Castles:
Picking that apart. The slight on Louis Van Gaal is odd given that the hammer-headed Dutchman was pretty animated:
And as for any other manager not being sent off for kicking a water bottle, well, the Arsenal manager was:
For Jose Mourinho, well, it wouldn’t be so bad were it not for the fact that his old club Chelsea – the one he left spent and in mid-table – are top of the league under their new manager.
PS: Manchester United have failed to win four league games in a row at Old Trafford for the first time since February 1990. And they have drawn four consecutive league games at their place for the first time since December 1980. Yeah. it’s time for Fergie all over again. Oh for a manager who intimidates referees, fails to talk to the BBC and fosters a siege mentality. On second thoughts, as you were Jose…
Who more than Manchester United’s Jose Mourinho sets the news agenda? The Times leads with Mourinho’s words on Anthony Martial. “You have one opportunity, you have two, you have three,” said the Portuguese to media. “If you don’t bite then somebody comes and takes the bait.”
The Times says, “how Martial reacts to the coded message from Mourinho will define the next stage of his career.”
Of course, this is Mourinho who no sooner comments in pubic on one of his team’s players than he moves to ensure the dialogue is all about him. His then issues a dig at Louis Van Gaal, his predecessor:
“First of all the teams are very different. The way the team played last season — I’m not saying better or worse, just different – was probably more adaptive to Anthony. He was probably more comfortable playing that way, at that intensity, at that rate of ball possession and ball circulation.”
He’s not saying it’s better or course to be less intense – which of course he is. “Anthony Martial struggling with Manchester United pace, says Mourinho,” declares the Guardian’s headline.
He then picks up his trumpet and blows hard:
“When I won the last title [with Chelsea] 18 years ago – sorry, 18 months ago – I had ten points advantage and then, in one month, I had the same points as Man City. We lost 10 points in one month. I think it was the end of December or the beginning of January and we’d lost 10 points. Then we recovered and won that title 18 years ago – sorry, 18 months ago. You can recover points. Others can lose points.”
When you lose, it’s you. When you win, it’s him.
In the Indy, we get an angle that maybe Martial’s dip in form is down to Mourinho’s love for Zlatan:
Martial’s form is believed to be down to a number of circumstances, including problems in his personal life and having a lack of a summer break after his efforts with France at Euro 2016.
He is also believed to be disappointed with United moving him from the No 9 shirt to the No 11 shirt in the wake of Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s arrival just as he launched the trademark ‘Martial9’.
At United, it’s so much about the marketing. Brand Jose always wins. It says so on the label:
Manchester United balls: Jose Mourinho adapts the Chelsea philosophy to be more and less like Van Gaal
How are things going for Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho? “From the moment he arrived, the message has been positive, about winning the title. Nothing on philosophies or things taking time,” said the Sun’s Neil Curtis on 6th September 2016. Philosophy is for losers, like Louis Van Gaal, Jose’s predecessor at United, whose “attempts to reprogramme everyone with his much-vaunted ‘philosophy’ succeeded only in inhibiting all their natural instincts”.
Philosophy is balls.
Unless it isn’t. On November 15 the Sun thought philosophy and football were a good blend. “Johan Cruyff’s debut 52 years ago today: Inventor of Total Football whose philosophy influenced Arsene Wenger and Pep Guardiola,” chimed the headline.
On November 22, the Manchester Evening News agreed, reporting: “Daley Blind’s view on Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho’s philosophy.” Said Blind of Mourinho: “He is pretty similar to Van Gaal when it comes to their commitment to the team. They used to work together so I reckon that is no coincidence.” He adds: “…his philosophy is slightly different to that of Van Gaal. He is very direct, it is all about winning.”
And as Jose Mourinho put it in 2013: “You need stability in methods, in philosophy within the club. With FFP [Financial Fair Play], and Chelsea wants to go in that direction, you also need stability. You cannot change manager and philosophy every few years.”
So much for much-vaunted philosophy.
Media Balls: a look at reporting on Manchester Untied v Arsenal in the Premier League. In the first half ManchesterUnited had a shout for a penalty. It wasn’t given. Was that the right decision? Let’s see what the not-at-all-biased experts in the media say:
Mark Lawrenson – the former Liverpool defender was talking on BBC Radio 5 live: “I think it’s good refereeing from Andre Marriner with the penalty appeal – it’s borderline and he’s reffed the game trying to let the teams play.”
Phil McNulty – BBC Sport chief football writer at Old Trafford: “Jose Mourinho had every right to be aggrieved at that penalty refusal. Clumsy from Nacho Monreal in a very dangerous position.”
Phil Neville – ex Man United player on twitter: “It’s a rugby tackle”
Gary Nevill – ex Man United: “I don’t think it’s a penalty, I wouldn’t be comfortable with it”
The Arsenal website: “Valencia had a big shout for a penalty turned down after getting in a tangle with Monreal”
The Manchester Untied website: “Then came the big talking point of the first half as Valencia, who was making his first appearance since braking his arm in the EFL Cup win over Manchester City, seemed to be clearly pulled down by Nacho Monreal in the penalty area, but referee Marriner said waved his arms in disapproval of United’s claims. ”
The Guardian: “And although Jose Mourinho jigs around on the touchline, holding his head in theatrical exasperation, it’s probably a good decision having seen the replay.”
Manchester Evening News: “Andre Marriner was booed as he headed down the tunnel and it was deserved. United have suffered some terrible non-decisions against them this season: Bravo on Rooney, the foul on Martial at Watford in the build-up to their goal, Luiz’s challenge on Fellaini, the non-penalty after Flanagan clipped Darmian and now today’s. Mourinho might be talking about another ‘campaign’ later.”
London Evening Standard: “Penalty surely? Valencia goes down under contract from Monreal, Mourinho is livid as Marriner gives nothing! Replays suggest the referee may just have got that spot on, the attacker was already on his way down when he connected with Arsenal’s left-back.”
Mark Lawrenson (again):”No, I have to say in that position, it’s quite natural. No penalty.”
And one other decision – one not mentioned by the Manchester Evening News at all:
BBC live blog: “Matteo Darmian was unlucky to be booked earlier but he’s perhaps even luckier now to still be on the field. He catches Carl Jenkinson high and late and should get a second yellow. Referee Andre Marriner has let him off the hook there.”
Such are the facts.
How the Sun will miss Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney when he’s gone. This week the Sun spotted the England captain enjoying a drink at a Watford hotel as a wedding party made merry. It was “ROO’S BIG FAT TIPSY WEDDING”.
Lest anyone think that mere pun on the film My Big Fat Greek Wedding, which spawned TV’s My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, we refer you to past comments made by the Sun’s on Wayne Rooney’s girth and looks.
As for the news of Rooney’s drinking, the report shares the best eye-witness quote of the week, “He was shit-faced”. Wedding guest said – get this – “Wayne was “not a petty sight”.
How they’ll miss Rooney when he’s gone.
Transfer balls: Antoine Griezmann wants to join Paul Pogba at Manchester United, PSG, Atletico Madrid or somewhere else
Transfer balls: France and Atletico Madrid striker Antoine Griezmann, 25, says he “would like to play alongside Manchester United midfielder and France team-mate Paul Pogba, 23, at club level”. So says the BBC.
Which club, Griezmann doesn’t day. But the media klaxon has been sounded. The Daily Star has Griezmann playing at Manchester United.
The Indy says, “Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann has talked up a potential move to Manchester United.”
Over on Sky Sports, we hear what Griezmann said in reply to a journalist asking him about Man United:
“I always ask Paul Pogba about Manchester United. I think they are a huge club with a really good infrastructure. I ask Paul about some of the players, and if they’re really that good, or if Jose Mourinho is really that good.
“You hear a lot of things [speculation] about Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain but right now I don’t see me moving to a new club. But it would be awesome to play alongside Paul one day.”
Adding via the Star:
“A future transfer depends on how I feel. Right now, I’m a father and moving to another city would the right thing. I’ll see If want to do something else in the future, but right now I’m very happy with Atletico Madrid and I still want to win trophies with this club.”
Pogba to Atletico Madrid it is, then.
In today’s episode of Jose Mourinho’s life, the Sun has an exclusive on the Manchester United manager:
Jose Mourinho: Manchester United stars backing boss over incredible bust-up with Luke Shaw and Chris Smalling
Mourinho picked out the England players for his “slurs”, as the Times calls them. They are “bewildered” by his attack on their professionalism.
As it his style, Mourinho builds a siege mentality and invites players to prove their loyalty to him through unstinting effort. After a couple of seasons of believing and running til empty for Mourinho, the team is covered in glory but spent, and Jose moves on.
Neil Ashton writes: “Senior players have accepted that the only way to succeed under the Special One is to accept his ruthless regime. Incredibly, they supported his public attack on Shaw and Smalling, who insisted they were not fit to play in Sunday’s 3-1 win at Swansea.”
Were they fit? “Both have played with pain-killing injections this season but boss Mourinho claims that is common practice for a top-level footballer.”
You run and run and run for Jose. And then you collapse.
The Special One said they refused to be in the match-day squad and had betrayed United’s “culture”.
United culture, or Jose’s way?
In other news the Sun notes:
Manchester United transfer news: Jose Mourinho to axe Chris Smalling and Luke Shaw after bust-up
Mourinho said of the duo: “I have a friend who is a big tennis player and he tells me when he remembered more the times he plays with pain than the times he plays without pain. To compete you have to go to the limit. It is cultural for some – and that is not my culture. More than me, it is Man United. We have players with ‘problems’. At every sport – and I know because I have friends in others sports and they play at the highest level in their sport, and how many times they play when you are not 100 per cent.”
And so it is, as ever it was, that Jose Mourinho divides to conquer. Do you believe in Jose? Is he the one, as the United banner declared on his first day as manager? If you don’t believe utterly in his, it’ll be your fault when it fails.
PS: Shaw and Smalling have been left out of Gareth Southgate’s England squad.
When asked whether he thought Smalling and Shaw were “flaky”, Southgate said: “That wouldn’t be my impression, having worked with Chris, and I know Luke well. He’s had a really tough injury.”
Is Luke Shaw Mourinho’s scapegoat, or the guinea pig on whom the manager can test out his abrasive style of man management?
Is Robin Van Persie blind? Has the former Arsenal captain and Manchester United striker succumbed to a dreadful eye injury? The Sun suggests there are “fears he will never see again”.
A click on the story and we’re told:
There were fears that the Dutchman could have lost his sight in the clash.
Well, yes. Fears not exactly discouraged by the Sun’s reporting:
Inverted commas (just like question marks – see pretty much every transfer news story in the Mirror) don’t show up in Google News. So what is complete balls can be presented as fact.
Will Van Persie see again? Yes. First up, he damaged one eye – a ripped eyelid. Van Persie has two eyes. His being blinded was never likely.
The Sun reports: “Fenerbahce doctor Burak Kunduracıoğl seemed to quash fears…”. He seemed to quash fears? Not quite. He quashed them flat. He said: “After the investigations we learned that nothing important happened… His condition is good.”
Says Van Persie: “My eye is not damaged.”
Robin Van Persie is not blind – but the Sun’s reporting is a tad monocular.
Is Manchester United’s Jose Mourinho being indulged at Old Trafford? Yesterday’s 3-1 win over Swansea eased some of the pressure on the Portuguese. But Under his guidance, his sides are averaging just 1.15 points per game. The BBC looks at Jose’s average points haul since the start of 2015-16. Let’s compared the Man United boss’s record to other managers who have taken charge of 10 or more Premier League matches in that time.
Francesco Guidolin – Swansea: 1.26 points (sacked)
Sam Allardyce – Sunderland: 1.20 (given England job)
Roberto Martinez – Everton: 1.19 (sacked)
Quique Sanchez Flores – Watford: 1.18 (sacked)
Jose Mourinho – Chelsea/ Man United: 1.15
Compare the lavish resources at those managers’ disposal and Mourinho looks a dud.
Of course, the Manchester United supremo is new to his role. But, then, look at the man who took over the failing and spent Chelsea team Jose left behind:
Antonio Conte – Chelsea: 2.27
And another new boy:
Pep Guardiola – Man City: 2.18
And if you want real value for money:
Claudio Ranieri – Leicester: 1.94
But it’s not him at fault. It never is, according to Jose. It’s them. Says Mourinho:
“There is a difference between the brave that will be there at any cost and the ones that a little pain can make a difference.
“Great football people – great sportspeople – many, many times play without being 100 per cent. For the team you have to do anything – that’s my way of saying. If one day I meet the big ones [players] of this club who have had great success – for sure, they are going to tell me that many times they put their bodies on the line even with pains everywhere.
“It’s not just the players but it’s the people that surround the players. It will take time to change [the mentality] but with the help of players like Phil Jones, Michael Carrick and Wayne Rooney, it will be a possible mission.”
Is abrasive Mourinho a man who guarantees success, as United hope he does? Frank Lampard, who Mourinho managed at Chelsea, says he is “creating storms to protect” his team. It’s so much about fomenting a siege mentality, imparting his own burning anger and sense of injustice in his players.
Rory Smith notes:
In his autobiography, Zlatan Ibrahimovic recounted Mourinho’s showing his Inter team videos of poor displays, suggesting the players on the screen “must be your brothers,” angering them so much they went out and played “like rabid animals” to prove him wrong.
This time Jose is talking of creating a legacy at United. But he so often leaves toxicity behind. If you believe in Jose’s way – the world is against him and thus against his loyal team – you will fight for him. When the players and fans start to question his methods, and the barbs hurt more than inspire, the anger and with it the momentum dies.
Transfer balls: the BBC is reporting that Manchester United “will trigger Atletico Madrid defender Diego Godin’s £30m release clause in January”.
The Beeb says Man United manager Jose Mourinho has earmarked the 30-year-old Uruguayan “to provide his team with leadership”.
The Sun says United will throw loads cash at Godin, topping his current £70,000-a-week wages “by a distance”
Can money lure Godin from the superb Atletico to pressurised and underwhelming Man United? In 2013, Godin opted to extend his Madrid contract. “This is my home,” he said. “They make me feel great despite being away from my country, my home, my friends. What better than to be here with people who love you and make you feel like one of them.”
In 2015, he signed another contract extension.
In 2014, the Express reported: “MANCHESTER UNITED may have to abandon their plans to sign Diego Godin in January.” Said the player:
“I would like to stay for many years here [at Atletico Madrid]. But it is true that I also have an attraction from my country and at some point in the future I would like to return to Uruguay.”
In the summer of 2015, the Mail reported: “Manchester City have identified Atletico Madrid’s Diego Godin as the man who can help alleviate their pre-season malaise.”
The Indy added:
According to Marca, Manchester City were willing to trigger the 29-year-old’s €40million (£28m) release clause to bring the Uruguayan to the Etihad, but he turned down the chance to move. The paper reports that City offered the centre-back around £4.5m (£90,000-a-week) to join.
As Godin ages and considers United’s pension package, and Untied grow ever more desperate for a quality centre-half, the Guardian says the club are ready to offload Memphis Depay, who cost Manchester United a mere £31m in May 2015. The 22-year-old, we learn, is open to a loan move to Fenerbahce in January.
And United forward Anthony Martial was “surprised and disappointed” to lose his No 9 shirt to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, says his agent. Martial was number 9 during his first season at United but he now wears the No 11 after Ibrahimovic took over the No 9.
“I am not going to lie to you,” says M. 15%. “Yes, this has affected him, yes this surprised him, yes it disappointed him… for a few days. But he is a professional. He then got back into the swing of things. Personally, I have not accepted this decision that I deemed uncalled for and disrespectful towards my player. This feeling, I have directed this towards Manchester United’s directors. We turn the page and move on but it’s hard to digest it….
“They have a very professional relationship. I am sure that Jose Mourinho will know how to bring the best out of Anthony like Louis van Gaal did before him.”
Ah, yes, Louis Van Gaal. Anyone miss the hammer-headed Dutchman?
Footballers, eh. News is that Manchester United are, says the BBC, “prepared to release 32-year-old midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger” with a £10m severance deal.
You read that right. Manchester United are so desperate to rid themselves of the German they will pay him £10m to go.
The Sun adds a caveat: United will pay the £10m “if they can find someone to take him in January”.
United have all but resigned themselves to the fact they will have to give 32-year-old the staggering payoff – despite the fact he’s been allowed to train with the first-team again.
Now the maths:
The ex-Bayern Munich star is on £180,000-a-week and is owed around £18m in wages with two years left on his Old Trafford deal.
This is how desperate Manchester United are to spunk cash on anyone they think might build the brand.
Schweinsteiger will pocket a staggering £4m or so between January and the end of the season, which the Red Devils are reluctant to pay him.
That’s about £120,000-a-week less than Wayne Rooney gets at United; £70,000 less than Zlatan Ibrahimovich; and £130,000 less than Jose Mourinho.
United are happy for him to leave Old Trafford on a free, having written his £6m fee from Bayern Munich off their books. If another club come in for him in January, they’ll have to give him around £10m and save themselves a fortune. Currently, nobody wants him, but a move to America or China could be on the cards as clubs can afford his huge wages.
Um, no. Lots of clubs would like to pick Schweinsteiger. It’s just that every few clubs can match the absurd wages United pay.
PHEW! The Sun hears news that Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho says he will remain at Old Trafford “for many years”.
The Sun says Mourinho is “determined to take Manchester United back to the top.”. Good to know. Manchester United are currently eighth in the Premier League.
“I am at the club I want to be at and I am so happy to be here,” Mourinho tells media. “I want to stay here until the end of my contract and then who knows?”
His contract runs for three years with an option for a further year.
“But I will be here for many years. I am a football man and I am still young,” Jose continues. “Sometimes people think I am 75 but I am 53 and I have passion for the game.”
Can he make United improve? Having lobbed tons of cash at the squad, United are playing less than thrilling football. Getting thrashed 4-0 by Chelsea answered the question, ‘What’s Jose’s best team?’ Answer: Chelsea.
But the Press have been a tad hasty to damn Jose. The Sun has accused Jose of “entering David Moyes territory”. And the Mail placed him bottom in a table of United managers in the post-Ferguson era:
Officially worse? No. Because in this first season in charge, Jose’s United have 15 points from 10 PL matches. At the same stage in his predecessors’ first seasons at Old Trafford, Moyes’ United had 17 points and Van Gaal’s side 13 points; the following season Van Gaal’s team picked up 20 points.
Mourinho is not the worst. He’s better that David Moyes, whose Sunderland have two points from 10 played – a Premier League record low. High praise, indeed.
The only way is up for Jose.
How does Arsenal’s Santi Cazorla prepare for the Gunners Premier League clash with Spurs? By showing off his new boots. Puma have given Cazorla a pair of ‘Derby Fever’ custom boots to wear in the upcoming North London derby.
The boots – as the blurb says – “celebrate the epic meetings between local football foes”.
Given the ferocity of past encounters, we’re a tad disappointed that the studs are not on the toe.
“Arsenal midfielder Santi Cazorla will wear specially-made PUMA boots in Sunday’s north London showdown,” says the Mirror.
In other news: Cazorla has an achilles injury and will, er, most likely not be playing in the match. Still, they could go well with his suit as she watches from the stands.
Read all about it. The BBC has news of non-transfers. Shanghai SIPG manager Sven-Goran Eriksson (who he?) says he will not be signing Manchester United’s 31-year-old England forward Wayne Rooney.
The Sun has more on the no-news story.
WHERE’S LEFT? Wayne Rooney’s future takes bleak twist with Sven Goran Eriksson ruling out a mega-money move to take him to Chinese Super League
Bleak? Rooney earns over £300,000 a week on his current Manchester United deal, which has two years to run. He won’t be ending his playing days in China. It’s not the kind of stuff a modern day Charles Dickens would have written on, is it?
Simon Austin writes:
SVEN-GORAN ERIKSSON has told long-time favourite Wayne Rooney: I don’t want you in China.
Is that when Sven said? Not exactly, no:
“Everyone knows how much I admire Rooney. That’s one thing. To make out we are going to sign him is something else. There is absolutely nothing in it, zero. It is not something we have ever even spoken about at the club — and we have been discussing our options for next season a lot.”
Sven hasn’t rejected Rooney. Sven has rejected the story that Rooney is off to join him in China. Stories like:
Wayne Rooney in talks for huge China deal to quit Man Utd – The Sun
Jose Mourinho says he will never sell Wayne Rooney as captain emerges as Chinese Super League target – The Sun
Such are the facts.
Being a football pundit is easy. The Sun’s Neil Curtis knows lots about Manchester United. “Juan Mata has emerged as the answer to one of Jose Mourinho’s big Manchester United questions,” he writes. The question is ‘What is United’s best side?’, not ‘When will Mata leave the club”. Because Mata was leaving United. We read it in the Sun (via):
Juan Mata linked with Barcelona move as Jose Mourinho likely to axe Spaniard again – The Sun
Jose Mourinho to axe Juan Mata and Daley Blind as Special One attempts to reshape Manchester United squad – The Sun
Jose Mourinho set to flog Mata again as Toffees launch £20m bid for Manchester United playmaker – The Sun
Manchester United’s Paul Pogba transfer hinges on offering Juan Mata to Juventus as bait – with Villarreal also keen on Spaniard – The Sun
Juan Mata could be sold by Jose Mourinho to free up funds for either Leonardo Bonucci or Raphael Varane – The Sun
As we wonder if the Sun’s editorial meetings are all about covering all bases, we look to Sky Sports’ Paul Merson, who has a few words on Manchester United’s Zlatan Ibrahimovich.
Says Merson: “Zlatan Ibrahimovic was a world-class striker but he’s not anymore. He is 35 and playing in the hardest league in the world so as the season goes on, I can’t see him getting better.”
Just eight weeks ago, Merson had a different view. “Jose Mourinho knew what he wanted and got it,” he wrote. “He’s come in and got a big midfielder in Paul Pogba, a dressing room leader and goalscorer in Zlatan Ibrahimovic and at the moment Eric Bailly looks very good. Henrikh Mkhitaryan will be an absolute star for United as well. He will get in the team soon and when he does, he’ll rip it up. He is different gravy.”
And let’s not forget Robbie Savage, the BBC expert who opined, “I wouldn’t pay to watch Kevin De Bruyne.”
No. You get the tickets for free.
“Henrikh Mkhitaryan: Manchester United outcast trains alone after Burnley draw,” reports the Daily Express.
“Henrikh Mkhitaryan was made to train alone on Sunday,” states the Independent.
The Armenian is an “outcast”. He was “made” to train on his own. The impression is clear: Mkhitaryan has been ostracised.
But it’s total balls. Manchester Evening News has a different version:
United players were given Sunday off by Jose Mourinho but Mkhitaryan chose to enhance his fitness at the club’s training complex, contrary to reports claiming he was made to train alone.
M.E.N. Sport understands Mkhitaryan has always done additional training sessions dating back to his stint at Shakhtar Donetsk and a source described him as a ‘perfectionist and a hard worker’.
He wasn’t made to do anything. He wanted to get fitter and do his best to get back in the team.
The media has much to say on Manchester United and their petulant manager Jose Mourinho. Having been sent off during United’s 0-0 draw with Burnley, Mourinho failed to attended the post-match press conference. Unwilling to explain himself, he instead sent assistant Rui Faria to address the Press.
Paul Wilson says Mourinho might have been cowed from appearing in public by the realisation that he was wrong to claim a penalty for Matteo Darmian going to “ground dramatically under very slight contact from Jon Flanagan”. Says Wilson, “Mark Clattenburg’s decision was justified and Mourinho might have felt a bit foolish having to explain why he had reacted so angrily.”
Of course, in not appearing Mourinho makes the game all about him. He stars. John Cruyff opined. “He’s controversial. What I like about him is he’s always capable of creating good ambience within the players and what I don’t like is that he always puts himself on the first row,” said the great Dutch footballer. “He should be on the second row. It’s probably because of his background, where he’s never been cheered by 100,000 people, or whistled at by 100,000 people. Maybe it’s because of that, maybe because of the interest from the press, but I don’t think he is educating children to play football or educating for life. He should behave better because he will be in the press all over the world.”
Cruyff said that over a year ago. Mourinho is playing to form.
As for the game, well, Mourinho’s legend is waning. His Man United are behind clubs managed by other managers in charge of new clubs this season: Pep Guardiola (Man City), Antonio Conte (Chelsea), Ronald Koeman (Everton) and Walter Mazzarri (Watford).
This was Burnley’s first away point of the season and, with 11 points from 10 games, they look a more solid mid-table proposition this time round. They are, in fact, only four points behind United, who also look destined for mid-table. The difference is that Mourinho is not working with cast-offs. After his lavish spending in the summer he has some explaining to do, and not just about his latest dismissal.
And of those big names, here’s a fact: Zlatan Ibrahimovich has not scored in his past six Premier League matches, his worst run in the league since his time with Inter Milan in 2007. The BBC notes:
Since his most recent top-flight goal, against Manchester City on 10 September, Ibrahimovic has had 42 attempts at goal – more than any other player has even attempted during the whole Premier League season.
James Gheerbrant tells Times readers:
It has been a recurring feature of Mourinho’s career that after two seasons of success and harmony, all that he has built implodes under the weight of his own siege mentality in a blur of acrimony and apathy, from Chelsea to Inter Milan to Real Madrid. But this time, like a serial divorcé embarking on his worst marriage yet, he has skipped the honeymoon period…
He looks sulky, disinterested, disengaged. It does not portend well. He is not sitting comfortably.
How many of us would be delighted if Mourinho lost and went? And how many United fans wish they’d have gone for Jurgen Klopp?
Manchester United’s manager Jose Mourinho was sent to the stands as his hugely expensive side eked out a 0-0 home draw with the mighty Burnley. For the second half, Mourinho got to see what the fans see as he was escorted to a seat in the stands. He then moved to the directors’ box. This was the 13th touchline punishment of Mourinho’s career.
Poor old Jose, eh. Only last week he was moaning about grim life in the Presidential Suite of the city’s five-star Lowry Hotel. “For me it’s a bit of a disaster because I want sometimes to walk a bit and I can’t,” he said in words any regent will surely sympathise with. “I just want to cross the bridge and go to a restaurant. I can’t, so it’s really bad.”
Why was he sent off? Did he just fancy a walk, an early jacuzzi bath and with it an untroubled walk over a bridge and on to eat anything other than room service at a time when he was unlikely to meet many United of City fans, what with them watching their teams play?
“I think the events of recent weeks have got to him,” opines Match Of The Day pundit Danny Murphy.
Moutinho’s assistant Rui Faria adds “I don’t know what happened. It is not important what Jose said. What is important is what the referee writes in his report.”
David Walsh (Sunday Times) thinks Jose was upset by the referee (plus ca change):
Mourinho had stood in the technical area through the first half, not that far from an incident involving his Italian full-back Matteo Darmian and Burnley’s Jon Flanagan. Attempting to get past the Burnley defender, Darmian fell to the ground. Some United players appealed for a penalty but Mark Clattenburg reacted with indifference and replays of the incident supported the referee’s decision.
Mourinho made his feelings known and in terms that Clattenburg deemed unacceptable.
BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan:
…it is pretty safe to presume that Mourinho’s half-time comments towards the officials that earned him his dismissal were connected to Matteo Darmian’s failed penalty appeal just before the break, because the United boss was visibly incensed by that decision while the game continued.
His mood was probably not helped by having to move seats and go into the directors’ box in the second half, because he was initially sitting too close to the dugout.
The Daily Mail sees a problem with Jose at United:
He complained last week about the quality of his life living in a Manchester hotel and there will be those associated with United who will be alarmed that Mourinho’s behaviour will reflect badly on the club. Mourinho refused to speak to media outlets about the incident with Mr Clattenburg, which United say was a verbal altercation.
This is what happens when you live alone, of course. You seek out others to talk with. In the end anyone will do. Having had his fill of trying to strike up conversation with touring businessmen in the hotel bar, couples on romantic mini-breaks and Hen parties in the spa, Jose simply reached out to the nearest person, who just happened to be Mark Clattenburg. Stripped of everyday human contact and now versed only in the language of hotel exchanges, Mourinho most likely asked the ref to turn down his bed for the night and join him for a humble repast of asparagus mouse, almond bon bon and salsa allemande followed by native lobster, fennel & apple, pea mousseline and pepper sabayon topped off by Coconut Malibu Souffle with pineapple sorbet and coffee on the terrace.
Clattenburg probably misconstrued that as some sort of bribe, when it was, of course, a cry for help.
Now let’s take a look around Jose’s digs and wonder if there is one simple solution to all the man’s woes: get a dog.
Manchester United’s fading star Wayne Rooney could be on his way to the MSL Retirement Village. Steven Gerrard is soon to be leaving US soccerfoot’s LA Galaxy, meaning the club will have a spare slot for an English player past his prime, one of their so-called “designated players” who can break the league’s wage cap.
Will the lure of burgers, Botox and the latest hair restorative techniques lure Rooney to California? Can the Galaxians pay the £300,000 per week Rooney earns at Old Trafford? The England captain has two years left to run on that deal. Although the Sun wrongly says, “Rooney still has four years left on his massive £300,000-a-week contract but United are reluctant to increase the wages of the ageing England international who turns 31 in October.”
A pay rise? No chance. He could just sit tight and become a free agent in two years time.
The Sun refers to Rooney’s situation as the “Manchester United outcast’s misery”. Poor Wayne wants to stay at United until he gets the four goals to break Sir Bobby Charlton’s club scoring record of 249. That’s not an easy thing ton do when you don’t play.
One day earlier, the Sun told us that Rooney was not miserable just “out of favour”, and Inter Milan wanted him.
In 2015, the Mail said the Chinese Super League were all set to offer Wayne Rooney “an eye-watering £75million deal” to join them. The Express upped that and said Rooney was the subject of a “£100million bid from the Chinese Super League”.
One thing is certain: Rooney holds the cards and the cash.
Much talk of football returning to the 1980s. As West Ham and Chelsea fans clashed last night – aggro that included a nasty twist on donating to good causes by throwing coins with malice at disabled children – up in Manchester fans of Manchester City reacted badly to defeat in the League Cup at Manchester United by breaking sinks.
The Sun reminds us that earlier this season Rangers fans broke toilets after defeat to Celtic.
— Football Away Days (@footyawayday) October 27, 2016
Smashing up toilets and sinks used by your own fans is a bit odd, no? How else will fans be able to wash their hands after going? Football is now so sanitised it’s not far-fetched to think of stewards checking hands for germs before allowing fans inside the ground.
And tempting, perhaps, for United to leave the away fans’ Old Trafford bogs like that and pass the destruction off as an oversight. In May 2016, United managed to miss a fake bomb tied to a toilet door.
If all this argy-bargy marks a return to the 1980s, fans unable to find a toilet or sink to urinate in will doubtless be using the old method of wazzing in the pocket of the fan in front.
So here is its. Just two months into the new Premier League season and there’s the first talk of Manchester United sacking Jose Mourinho. Days after we all learned that Mourinho’s best team is Chelsea – the Blues thrashed United 4-0; and that Paul Pogba, the world’s costliest player, has all the abilities of a solid £25m buy – the BBC alludes to Jose’s defenestration.
The Beeb says “former Paris St-Germain manager Laurent Blanc is stalling on signing an agreement to replace Frank de Boer at Inter, because he believes he could replace Jose Mourinho at Manchester United”.
The Sun has more on what Blanc apparently believes.
“LAUR NEXT, ” puns the paper. “Ex-Paris Saint-Germain boss Laurent Blanc holds off Inter Milan talks as he waits to Jose Mourinho’s Old Trafford tenure to unravel.”
The story runs:
The Serie A giants are eyeing the Frenchman to replace under-fire manager Frank De Boer who is on the verge of the sack at the San Siro club.
Two says ago, the Sun told its readers: “Inter close to sacking Frank de Boer with Diego Simeone and even Francesco Guidolin all in the frame.” No mention of Blanc then. But today it’s all about Blanc because, well, doing so enables the paper to engage in the thing it loves most: talking about Mourinho.
The Sun adds:
Blanc is in no rush for a new role after spending three years at PSG and following United’s stuttering start to the season, he wants to see how Mourinho’s tenure at Old Trafford pans out.
It’s panning out like this:
The Portuguese boss is under increasing pressure after matching David Moyes’ record after nine matches. Mourinho shares exactly the same point tally but Moyes’ side had scored one goal more.
Lest anyone think that United under Mourinho are dull – they are – Sir Alex Ferguson takes time out from blathering about management techniques to tell everyone: “The rivalry and the experience of Guardiola and Mourinho makes for an exciting competition.”
In short: Don’t watch United; keep your eye on Mourinho. It’s the way he likes it.
Manchester United fans can read in the Mirror that their team’s defender Eric Bailly is injured and will not play again in 2016. Readers are told: “MANCHESTER UNITED are on red alert with the fear of Eric Bailly being out for the rest of the year.”
It’s an “exclusive” story.
It should not be confused with the non-exclusive story reported by the Mail, Evening Standard, the BBC and more that Bailly will miss the next two months. The Guardian notes: “Manchester United’s Eric Bailly out until Christmas with knee injury.”
Having added another week onto Bailly’s estimated rehabilitation schedule and presented it as an “exclusive”, the Mirror goes for the bonus balls by thundering: “Eric Bailly hopes to play for Manchester United before year’s end despite knee ligament injury.” Hope if swiftly followed by pragmatism: “Manchester United are preparing to be without their star centre-back for the rest of 2016 following his second-half injury against Chelsea.”
That comes after Bailly tweeted: “I hope to be able to play again for United and The Elephants before 2 months, God willing. Thanks for always being there!”
Look out for the Mirror’s next big news story: “EXCLUSIVE: BAILLY says only god can save his 2016.”
Transfer balls: the saw Rodrigo Bentancur, 19, is not heading to Manchester United. The Uruguayan is off to Juventus, who bought half his rights for £6.7m.
The Sun says the Italians got fist dibs on the “Argentine player” when they sold Carlos Tevez to Boca Juniors in 2015. The paper says Juventus are “at the front of the queue for Boca players until April 2017”.
Juventus wanted Bentancur included in a swap deal for Tevez. But Juve settled on first-refusal.
Boca president Daniel Angelici told TyC Sports: “It is already signed. When I was in Switzerland recently Juventus informed me that they were going to activate the option so I will travel to Turin soon in order to complete the deal. I think it’s very good business for Boca. Juventus will pay £6.7m for 50 per cent of his rights… He must have something because there were a lot of clubs interested. Real Madrid made a proposal, Manchester [United] also came and Milan made a €14m formal offer to sign him.”
In January, the Mail told its readers Bentacur was off to Real Madrid. He never did go.
Interestingly, 442 magazine reported: “Jorge Mendes is interested in buying his [Bentacur’s] economic rights before loaning him to a European club.” That’s the same Jorge Mendes who manages Jose Mourinho, the Manchester United manger.
Football transfers really are very peculiar business.
Manchester United’s Anthony Martial says he didn’t refer to ‘Anthony Martial’ in ‘fake’ Daily Mirror interview
Did you see the Anthony Martial interview in the Daily Mirror? The Manchester United player did, tweeting:
In “Anthony Martial insists Manchester United fans haven’t seen him at his best yet”, the Mirror’s Chris Hatherall shares Martial’s words. No sources are cited. As for the player’s comments, well the highlight is when he talks of himself in the third person: “I don’t think you have seen the true Martial at Man United yet. I know I can perform better, I know I can do more.”
That line is repeated in the Sun:
Martial told the Mirror: “It’s a big season for me and I want to be better than last year. I don’t think you have seen the true Martial at Man United yet. I know I can perform better, I know I can do more.
“But I’m convinced this season can be my year. It’s a feeling I have.”
Maybe another Anthony Martial spoke to the Mirror?