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Inside Jose Mourinho’s mad Manchester United reign 



Manchester United's Portuguese manager Jose Mourinho reacts as he leaves at full time in the English Premier League football match between

Manchester United’s Portuguese manager Jose Mourinho reacts as he leaves at full time in the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Everton at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on October 28, 2018. – Manchester Utd won the game 2-1.

He fell out with everybody, was doused in milk and vilified for a whole season – yet, Jose Mourinho reportedly wants to do it all again at Manchester United.

The three-time Premier League winner has been linked with an audacious return to Old Trafford, after Erik ten Hag watched his sorry Red Devils lose 4-0 away to Crystal Palace. Ten Hag, 54, is hanging on to his job at Old Trafford, and new United minority owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe is believed to be considering other options.

One of those not on their list is ex-Chelsea and Real Madrid boss Mourinho, who has been linked with a return to the red side of Manchester six years after he was unceremoniously booted out by the club. Mourinho is currently a free agent and is believed to be keen at a second chance with United, having been dismissed by AS Roma at the start of the year.

Following the news he would relish a return to United, Mirror Sport looks back on some of the maddest moments of his tumultuous reign at Old Trafford.

Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola go head to head in the Manchester derby on Sunday locked in a battle for the Premier League title

After being thoroughly outclassed by Manchester City in a 2-1 home defeat to the Citizens in 2017, Mourinho was rather unhappy with opposition goalkeeper Ederson Moraes. Instead of stewing on whatever the Brazilian had said, the Portuguese boss decided to confront the ex-Benfica shot-stopper.

His only problem was the heavy door of the away dressing room blocked his path of destruction. It’s understood Mourinho forced his way into the Citizens’ changing room and shouted: “You f****** show respect. Who are you?”

City players responded by throwing water and ‘a one pint carton of milk’ at the manager, who was left drenched. Reports from The Guardian also claimed police had to ‘separate up to 20 players and staff members’ as Mourinho’s players came charging in to support him.

Mourinho throwing water bottles
Jose Mourinho slams a load of water bottles into the ground after Manchester United beat Young Boys in the Champions League.

Every now and then, there were signs the Manchester United job was getting a bit much for Mourinho. The Portuguese boss completely lost control of himself after Marouane Fellaini scored a late winner to gift United a 1-0 Champions League victory over Swiss side Young Boys – a fixture which was expected to be a routine victory for the Red Devils.

Considering the financial dearth between the sides, the result, on paper at least, should have been comfortable. Yet, United were tepid, lacklustre, slow and were close to losing to the European minnows.

When Fellaini scored, Mourinho took out all the pent up anger and frustration on the water bottles next to his technical area. He picked them up, lifted them over his head and slammed them into the Old Trafford turf as if he was holding a pickaxe. As well as amusing the football world, it was another perfect demonstration of how frustrating the role had become.

Awkward facetimes
Jose Mourinho films the action on his phone during day six of the Fever-Tree Championship at the Queen’s Club, London
Mourinho appears to be someone who spends a lot of time on the phone ( Image: PA)
If Mourinho is to replace Ten Hag; Bruno Fernandes, Rasmus Hojlund and Co will quickly realise their time with Mourinho does not end after training and matches. Ex-United star Jesse Lingard claimed the 61-year-old is always looking to keep in touch with his players.

So much so that he will start FaceTiming you, without warning, leading to a series of awkward exchanges. In an interview with the Players’ Tribune, Lingard said: “He also liked to have a personal connection with his players. Sometimes I’d look at my phone and I’d be getting a random FaceTime from him. Just out of nowhere — just to check in.

“I used to find it so strange at first. He’d call and be like, ‘Hey Jesse, what are you doing?’ And I’d be like, ‘Erm, just chilling, watching TV … (awkward silence) … what are you doing?’ I found it funny. And, to be fair, it showed how much he cared about us.”

‘Respect, respect, respect’
Mourinho often deployed his tried and tested defence mechanism when posed with awkward questions in press conferences – his three Premier League titles. Cracks began to form early on in his third season in charge at Old Trafford. After his side were soundly defeated 3-0 at home by Tottenham Hotspur, journalists were surprised to hear Mourinho serenade his team’s display.

When posed with some cutting questions about his team’s display, Mourinho held three fingers up and said: “Just to finish, do you know what was the result? 3-0, 3-0. Do you know what this is? 3-0. But it also means three Premierships and I won more Premierships alone than the other 19 managers together. Three for me and two for them two [Pep Guardiola and Manuel Pellegrini]. So respect man, respect, respect, respect.”

If he does takeover, he will not be able to deploy his tried and tested argument – if things in the Premier League continue as they are, then Guardiola will boast double the number of Premier League titles.

Mocking Conte’s hairline
Guardiola vs Mourinho was the rivalry everybody was excited for – until Antonio Conte and his 3-4-3 philosophy came and barraged both managers. In his debut season at Chelsea, Conte won the Premier League in dominant fashion. After the Blues overcame Mourinho’s Red Devils 4-0, Mourinho and Conte came to blows in a heated exchange after the match.

At the start of the following season, Conte launched a huge dig at his counterpart, saying Chelsea could not afford to have a “Mourinho season”. Conte was referring to the Portuguese manager’s dismal title defence in his second stint at the club, which saw him dismissed with the Blues languishing in 10th position.

In response, Mourinho smiled and said: “I could answer in many different ways but I am not going to lose my hair to speak about Antonio’s comments.” Conte has reportedly had some hair transplants over the last 20 years. Mourinho’s comments would have surely dug into the Italian.

Freezing out Schweinsteiger
When Paul Pogba arrived at United for a then world record £89m, a mouth watering partnership of the mercurial Frenchman and World Cup winning legend Bastian Schweinsteiger looked to be on the cards. Yet, the two talismen were seldom deployed with each other, as Mourinho decided he did not want the German in his side.

In an interview with BBC Radio 5Live, the Bayern Munich legend said: “I didn’t play a lot [under Mourinho] unfortunately, but I still respect him. He’s a great manager who has won a lot of trophies. It was a weird and difficult situation, he never really explained to me why [I didn’t play].

“It was maybe because I played under Pep Guardiola and had played Pep Guardiola football, which he doesn’t like so much, I think. Still, I also liked how Mourinho was, actually, coaching. Of course the game style is different – I think that is why Zlatan left. It was not so much football, sometimes it was more direct. But he had success with his teams. It was just a strange feeling.”

Taunting Juventus fans
Of course, there were many high points during Mourinho’s time with United. One of the most memorable moments was his masterful 2-1 away victory over Juventus in the Champions League. A wonderful free-kick from Juan Mata and an own goal from Leonardo Bonucci cancelled out Cristiano Ronaldo’s second half wonder-goal.

When the final whistle was blown, Mourinho cupped his ears to the furious Juventus fans, who he claimed were abusing him the whole match. It was a classic moment of Mourinho at his mischievous best.

Pogba battle
Finding the Paul Pogba who plays for France and sticking him into a Manchester United shirt was a conundrum that defeated Mourinho, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick. Mourinho had the first stab at making Pogba a United legend. Unfortunately for the ex-United manager, he was unable to get the best out of the ex-Juventus hitman, who won the World Cup while he was a United player.

Their relationship soured as time went on before it completely collapsed in Mourinho’s final few months. When pressed about Pogba’s ailing United form, Mourinho consistently shifted the burden onto the Frenchman, claiming it was the player’s job to deliver their best performances.

The ex-Juventus midfielder had also become a global superstar off the pitch and was being offered endorsements from all angles, including his very own emoji. This appeared to frustrate Mourinho who was always demanding more from Pogba. In their final weeks together, an uncomfortable looking exchange between the pair on the training ground was captured and sent to the press. It saw Pogba jog onto the training pitch and greet his team-mates, before Mourinho uttered something to the midfielder, who looked shocked and confused by what was said.



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European Leagues

Anfield awash with emotion as Klopp says farewell



Anfield awash with emotion as Klopp says farewell

Jurgen Klopp punctuated his opening-day mission statement as Liverpool manager by insisting it is not important what people think about you when you arrive, the true measure of achievement is what they think about you when you leave.

As a beaming Klopp disappeared down the tunnel for the final time as Liverpool manager in front of packed stands at 6.46pm on a glorious Merseyside Sunday night, the German was in no doubt about Anfield’s feelings.

Klopp, clad in a red T-shirt with ‘I’ll Never Walk Alone Again’ on the rear and ‘Thank You Luv’ – the phrase he closely associates with the city of Liverpool – on the front, was accompanied by roars of appreciation, smiles and plenty of tears.

It was the finale of a nine-year thrill ride summed up by a banner stretching across the full length of The Kop before kick-off that provided a neat three-word summary of Klopp’s reign from first day to last.

“Doubters. Believers. Conquerors.”

Liverpool ended a season that brought third place and a Carabao Cup with a 2-0 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers that gave Klopp his 299th victory in 491 games. Of 167 league games at Anfield, he lost only 12.

This was a football match that took place around Klopp, not in front of him.

Indeed, until the celebrations and tributes kicked into gear near the final whistle, the normally highly animated, often agitated, manager was a low-key figure.

Klopp did not stalk the technical area, instead sitting alongside his loyal, long-time lieutenant Peter Krawietz, seemingly content to just take in the closing 90 minutes at the place where he has built a legend.

This was the day when Liverpool and their supporters wanted nothing other than to pay homage to Klopp, his crowning achievements being winning the Champions League in 2019 – the club’s sixth win in the competition – then bringing the league title back to Anfield for the first time in 30 years the following year.

From the moment thousands of Liverpool fans basked in the sunshine on Anfield Road hours before kick-off waiting to greet Klopp one last time as he took his seat at the front of the team coach, this was an occasion that went through the full range of emotions he has brought to the club.

As soon as foot was set inside Anfield, the playlist set the tone with All Things Must Pass by George Harrison followed by The Monkees’ I’m A Believer – another reference to Klopp’s “we must turn doubters into believers” message in his opening address.

There was even a somewhat suspect German version of The Beatles’ I Feel Fine, the anthem adopted by Liverpool’s fans as I’m So Glad Jurgen Is A Red.

Klopp looked emotional as Anfield belted out You’ll Never Walk Alone, owner John W Henry flying in from Boston, impassive behind his sunglasses, to take a seat in the directors’ box shortly before kick-off, wanting to deliver his own personal thanks to the man who helped him fulfil the dreams he had for Liverpool.

Three sides of Anfield were transformed by mosaics – ‘Danke’ in the Anfield Road, ‘Jurgen’ stretching the expanse of the Sir Kenny Dalglish Stand, with ‘YNWA’ on The Kop.

Klopp stayed seated, head bowed, clad in a black baseball cap and black T-shirt. The final act of a dramatic sporting story had begun.

In reality, the game was little more than a pleasant backdrop to the Klopp farewell – first-half goals from Alex Mac Allister and Jarell Quansah giving Liverpool a deserved 2-0 win.

And then it was time for the finale all Anfield had been waiting for.

Seconds from the final whistle, Klopp stood up and went along his backroom team one by one, all grabbed in the familiar bearhug.

His only mis-step all afternoon was going slightly too early through a guard of honour formed by Liverpool’s players and officials, but no matter – he did another lap for good measure before approaching a platform of club dignitaries to thunderous roars and applause.

He made his way down a line including Henry, chief executive Billy Hogan, chairman Tom Werner and club legend Sir Kenny Dalglish before receiving a presentation recording the honours he has brought to Anfield.

Klopp delivered a pre-recorded message on giant screens to Borussia Dortmund’s supporters when he left the club, after breaking down in tears when he addressed fans on leaving Mainz.

No such worries this time.

Anfield has no screens but this was no problem for Klopp, who was in boisterous mood as he took the microphone.

He said “I’m so happy. I can’t believe it” before bursting into song as an instrument for passing the Liverpool torch from himself to soon-to-be-annointed successor Arne Slot.

Simply replacing his own name with Slot’s, Klopp told Anfield what they must do when the Dutchman arrives, singing: “Arne Slot, na na na na na” to the tune of Opus’ Live Is Life.

As with all Klopp’s demands, expect them to follow to the letter.

If Slot was watching, he may have felt daunted by the task of replacing a manager and personality plenty believe is irreplaceable but he would have been hugely grateful for such an endorsement from his predecessor, even if it was a musical one.

Preaching to the most converted fanbase in football, Klopp said: “We have you, the superpower of world football. We decide if we are worried or excited. We decide if we believe. We decide if we trust or don’t trust and since today I am one of you and I keep believing in you.”

And then it was time for one final round of Klopp fist pumps in front of The Kop, this time accompanied by his support staff, met with the usual staccato roars.

Anfield demanded one final encore of a scene acted out at the end of so many triumphs. Klopp obliged – six for The Kop and three for the surrounding stands.

“I love you to bits,” shouted Klopp, who delivering an optimistic parting shot as he said: “It doesn’t feel like an end. It just feels like a start. Today I saw a football team full of talent, youth, creativity, desire and greed.”

As Klopp pulled out of Anfield late on Sunday night and left Liverpool behind after his long farewell, the curtain closed on an era.

The murals adorning the sides of houses close to Anfield will remain as reminders of the seismic impact Jurgen Klopp had on Liverpool – but the man who made doubters believers was gone.

Culled from BBC 


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European Leagues

How Pep Guardiola turns Man City into PL’s great untouchables



Manchester City's domination of the domestic game is now so all-consuming that a historic fourth successive Premier League title

Manchester City’s domination of the domestic game is now so all-consuming that a historic fourth successive Premier League title is treated like an inevitable matter of routine.

City went into the final game of the season ahead for the sixth time in seven seasons needing only a win over West Ham United to lift the crown once more – and they duly delivered.

In doing so, Pep Guardiola’s all-conquering team once again proved they are the great untouchables of the Premier League.

They appear impervious to normal pressures – and the fact they have rewritten the record books will barely provoke excessive comment or deep-dive analysis. It was expected. The seismic shock would have been failure to complete their mission.

It is a stretch to say Manchester City have become so aligned with success that these unprecedented feats are met with a shrug of the shoulders, but the fact they have won 19 and drawn four of 23 league games since losing at Aston Villa in December has surprised very few.

This is where the elephant in the room must be mentioned because every City success will be accompanied by the narrative that they still face 115 Premier League charges for alleged financial irregularities – charges the club are at pains to stress they strenuously deny.

It is 15 months since those charges were levelled at the club. Unless and until there is clarity and a verdict, City will always be subjected to this outside noise and suspicion every time they win a trophy.

If the measure is football, however, there are no arguments.

Liverpool managed to overcome them in a 2019-20 season interrupted by the Covid pandemic, Jurgen Klopp’s outstanding side prevailing with a mammoth 18-point margin, taking the title back to Anfield for the first time in 30 years.

In those other years, Liverpool and, in the past two seasons, Arsenal have reached out but not quite been able to lay the decisive blow on this peerless, magnificent football machine.

Liverpool under Klopp have been outstanding but not outstanding enough. The same now applies to Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal.

City’s trademark end-of-season surge – the type of which broke Arsenal hearts as it did Liverpool’s before them – is now simply akin to muscle memory kicking in.

They denied Liverpool twice on the final day of the season, winning 4-1 at Brighton to win the title by one point in 2018-19 then, amid stunning drama and scenes of near hysteria, came from 2-0 down with 14 minutes left to beat Aston Villa in 2021-22 to pip Klopp’s side by a single point.

If this was a habit started by predecessors Roberto Mancini and Manuel Pellegrini in 2011-12 and 2013-14 respectively, Guardiola and his players have perfected it to something resembling normal service.

City’s team is sprinkled with world-class talent in all areas, from the lethal marksmanship of Erling Haaland to creator supreme Kevin de Bruyne, both now joined in that bracket by Phil Foden, with 27 goals from midfield this season.

De Bruyne and Haaland both suffered lengthy injury absences this season – in particular the Belgian, who required hamstring surgery after the first league game at Burnley – but if the big hitters needed assistance it was always there.

Josko Gvardiol was signed from RB Leipzig in a £77m deal with a reputation as a future great central defender after his performances for Croatia in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. He has since been deployed as a left-back and left wing-back with a goalscoring instinct, as shown with two in the 4-0 win at Fulham and another in the victory at Nottingham Forest.

And when Ederson has been missing in goal, Stefan Ortega has impressed to such an extent that his astonishing cameo in the 2-0 win at Tottenham that left City one win from glory will be reflected upon as a title-winning contribution.

Son Heung-min looked certain to score and perhaps give Arsenal the initiative in the title race as he closed in with only Ortega to beat. The keeper’s extended right leg saved City – the importance of the moment illustrated as Guardiola threw himself flat on his back in the technical area in relief, advancing on to the pitch at the final whistle to plant a kiss on Ortega’s cheek.

This was an all-for-one and one-for-all title win.

City’s summer 2023 recruitment has yet to bear full fruit – with Jeremy Doku a raw material and Matheus Nunes yet to flourish after a £53m move from Wolves – and there have been times when they have looked more vulnerable than usual over the course of the season – but look who are champions again, as the song belted out by their supporters says.

Above all, it is the manner in which Guardiola’s players have once again been able to cope with the finest margins of the title race without blinking while applying psychological pressure to rivals who know just one slip will prove costly.

In 2018-19, City put together a sequence of 14 straight wins to pip Liverpool. Klopp’s side got 97 points and only lost one game – to the eventual champions – but it was still not enough. It was a similar margin in 2021-22.

City’s roll this season took Arsenal down, even though the race went to the final game – Arsenal’s one slip in the run-in being a 2-0 home defeat by Aston Villa. Give this City side an inch, and a mile is the very least they will take.

Guardiola’s team are gloriously gifted and have a mental steel to withstand the pinch points from the season, capable of long runs to the finishing line that are simply beyond those wishing to unseat them.

The bad news for the likes of Arsenal – so close for the past two seasons – and Liverpool as they enter the Arne Slot era is City’s insatiable desire for trophies has not been satisfied by constant success. It is as sharp as ever, which could give them a third domestic league and FA Cup double if they beat Manchester United in a repeat of last season’s final at Wembley.

Manchester City may not have been able to repeat last season’s piece of history when they became only the second English club to win the Treble of Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup but this campaign has reaffirmed their status as the major power in the English game.

Credit: BBC


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European Leagues

Juventus fire Allegri after cup final antics



Juventus have sacked Massimiliano Allegri two days after he led the side to the Italian Cup. The Turin side beat Atalanta 1-0 in Rome,

Juventus have sacked Massimiliano Allegri two days after he led the side to the Italian Cup.

The Turin side beat Atalanta 1-0 in Rome, but Allegri was sent off late on for ranting at match officials and waving away sporting director during the celebrations.

The Italian Football Federation’s disciplinary tribunal has launched an investigation into Allegri.

And yesterday ,Juventus confirmed he was no longer their boss.

“The dismissal follows certain behaviors during and after the Italian Cup final which the club deemed incompatible with the values of

Juventus and with the behavior that those who represent it must adopt,” a statement read.

Juve’s 1-0 win over Atalanta, thanks to Dusan Vlahovic’s early goal, gave Allegri a record fifth Coppa Italia as a manager.

“If I am no longer the Juventus coach next year, I will leave a strong team. The club will make its evaluations,” he said in the post-match news conference.

Even before his antics at the Stadio Olimpico, the 56-year-old had been expected to lose his job and be replaced by Bologna coach Thiago Motta.

But now he will not be there for the final two Serie A games against Bologna and Monza.

“The company wishes Massimiliano Allegri good luck in his future projects,” ended the statement..

Allegri was in charge of Juventus from 2014 until 2019, winning the title in each of his five seasons, as well as four Italian Cups and reaching the Champions League final twice.

He left by mutual consent at the end of the 2018-19 season – and did not work again for two years, until he was re-appointed as Juventus manager at the start of 2021-22.

However his second spell failed to live up to the first and Wednesday’s Italian Cup was their only silverware in that time.

They finished fourth and seventh in his two full seasons – and currently sit fourth.


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