Jose Mourinho Aims Dig at Paul Pogba & Man Utd in First TV Appearance Since Man Utd Exit

Jose Mourinho discussed the ​dynamics of player power which led to his downfall at Manchester United, as he made his first television appearance since leaving Old Trafford.

Mourinho was sacked last month after a defeat to Liverpool which left United sixth in the Premier League, with only one win from their last six Premier League matches.

Throughout his time at the club, Mourinho had fractious relationships with many of his players, most notably ​Paul Pogba, and it was at the Frenchman that his comments seemed to be aimed as he spoke on Thursday.

Paul Pogba,Jose Mourinho

“I remember when ​Manchester United sold David Beckham to Real Madrid, Sir Alex Ferguson said: ‘the day a player is more important than the club, goodbye,'” Mourinho told ​beIN SPORTS.

“Not any more. Because there are so many things behind that it is difficult to create a situation so linear as this one. I think the way to do it is for the players to find a certain balance, and the balance has to be created in the relationship between the players and the manager.

“The manager is there to coach them. The manager is not there to keep discipline at any cost. “

“The structure must be there to protect the manager, and for the players to feel that everything is in place and they are not going to arrive into a situation where they feel more powerful than they used to be.”

A r​eported confidentiality clause in Mournho’s £15m severance deal apparently prevents him from discussing the specifics of his Old Trafford exit during TV appearances. 

Mourinho will pocket £120,000 for featuring as a pundit on beIN Sports for two games – Saudi Arabia’s Asian Cup clash with Qatar and Chelsea’s trip to the Emirates to face Arsenal on Saturday evening.

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Since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer replaced Mourinho, United have won five consecutive Premier League matches, with Pogba contributing to more goals in those matches than during the first 17 games of the campaign combined.

Mourinho has vowed to return to top-level management, claiming that he is too young to consider retirement.

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Transfer Rumours: Bowen to Tottenham, McTominay to Celtic, Bailey to Chelsea & More

The invasion of Germany is set to continue in earnest according to today’s transfer rumours, with British prospects at Fulham and Manchester City being watched by some of the Bundesliga’s top clubs.

Elsewhere, Tottenham have been linked with one of the Championship’s breakout stars (despite Mauricio Pochettino explicitly denying it earlier this month) and Chelsea are finally set to bid for Leon Bailey, no really this time.

Here are six of today’s rumours that you may have missed.

6. Bundesliga Trio Monitoring Fulham Prospect

Matt O'Riley,George Evans

Fulham’s highly-rated midfielder Matt O’Riley could be the latest Englishman to make the move to the Bundesliga, with three German clubs keeping a close eye on the 18-year-old.

Sky Sports News understands that scouts from Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig and Stuttgart were all in attendance as O’Riley starred in Fulham Under-23’s 3-1 win over their Manchester United counterparts last week.

Celtic, Rangers, Leeds and Norwich have also been linked with O’Riley, but the progress which Jadon Sancho and Reiss Nelson have made in Germany may convince him that a move abroad would be best for his burgeoning career.

5. In-Form Hull Forward Linked With £12m Spurs Switch

Jarrod Bowen

Rumours linking Jarrod Bowen with Tottenham refuse to go away, with the latest reports suggesting that Mauricio Pochettino is considering a £12m bid for the Hull winger.

The Mirror mentions Spurs as one of four Premier League clubs – along with Burnley, Crystal Palace and Leicester – who have been tracking the 22-year-old, despite Pochettino saying two weeks ago that he had never heard of Bowen before. Promising.

Bowen took his tally to six goals in his last five matches as Hull racked up a sixth consecutive Championship win against Sheffield Wednesday last week, with scouts from the aforementioned quartet reportedly watching on.

4. Scott McTominay Loan Move Awaits Sanction

Scott McTominay

Celtic are keen on signing Scott McTominay on loan from Manchester United, but the move is dependent on clarification of Marouane Fellaini’s future.

A cameo appearance off the bench against Tottenham was McTominay’s first Premier League involvement under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, and it appears that first team opportunities will be limited for the Scot if he stays at Old Trafford.

The Daily Mail claims that McTominay’s prospective loan move to Parkhead will be sanctioned unless Fellaini, who has also fallen out of favour under Solskjaer, decides to move on this month.

3. New Brighton Signing Set for Boca Loan Move

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Boca Juniors are targeting a six-month loan move for 20-year-old midfielder Alexis Mac Allister, with work permit complications set to delay his debut for Brighton.

El Tribuno claims that Brighton have already signed Mac Allister from Argentinos Juniors for £10m (though this has not been confirmed by the club), but his work permit will not be granted until June so he will not be able to play in England until next season.

Hoping to keep Mac Allister match fit until then, Brighton have turned to the player’s father, Carlos Mac Allister. A former player for Boca and Argentina, he may be able to use his connections to negotiate a loan move to La Bombonera.

2. European Giants Including Chelsea Pursue Leon Bailey

Leon Bailey

Chelsea are one of several major European clubs which are interested in a move for Bayer Leverkusen star Leon Bailey, according to the Jamaican star’s agent.

“Top clubs have come forward: Real and Atletico Madrid, Chelsea, Roma,” Craig Butler, who is also Bailey’s step-father, told SportBild (via the Mirror). “In recent months they have been surprised that Leon plays so seldom, wondering why a top league player like him is suddenly sitting on the bench.” 

Bailey has started less than half of Leverkusen’s Bundesliga games this season, although Butler did express his hope that this might change following the sacking of Heiko Herrlich before the winter break.

1. City Hopeful of Matondo Deal Despite Bundesliga Interest

Manchester City v FC Barcelona - UEFA Youth League Semi Final

Manchester City still hold out hope that Rabbi Matondo will sign a new contract at the Etihad Stadium, despite the Welsh international rejecting their latest offer this week.

Matondo, who joined Manchester City from Cardiff in 2016, turned down a contract offer from the Premier League champions to search for first team opportunities elsewhere, and the top four teams in the Bundesliga are all said to be interested.

However, Goal claims that City are not going to give up without a fight and will continue with their efforts to get Matondo on a long-term deal. His current contract expires in 2020, so City may be forced to sell him in the summer if he continues to refuse their offers.

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How Victor Lindelof Shook Off a Difficult Debut Season to Flourish as Man Utd’s Best Centre-Back

Manchester United may be close to striking out with Eric Bailly. The Ivorian, signed for £30m in 2016, has just completed a three-game suspension for a reckless and rather needless challenge in his first chance to impress interim manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer against Bournemouth and remains heavily linked with a move out of Old Trafford before the start of next season.

Bailly arrived from Villarreal as an unpolished gem. He showed much early promise and his aggressive style of play looked as though it would be well suited to the bruising world of Premier League football, so long as his rough edges could be smoothed out.

Eric Bailly

Two-and-a-half seasons on, Bailly appears arguably less polished than when he arrived. At nearly 25 years of age, he also no longer has the ‘developing talent’ label to hide behind.

If anything, his rash tendencies are evidence that he is trying too hard to impress, to stake his claim for a regular place and prove that he can be a United player. But all too often when he has been given a chance this season, Bailly has been more of a liability than an asset.

It has been a different story for United with Victor Lindelof, signed 12 months after Bailly for a similar fee. Unlike his fellow centre-back, the Swede started slowly in England and has taken his time to develop and improve, now reaching a point where he is the best defender at the club.

Following his high profile arrival from Benfica, Lindelof had relatively quickly been labelled a ‘flop’ by a bloodthirsty media. Previous manager Jose Mourinho initially only trusted him in the more technical setting of the Champions League and against lower league opposition in the EFL Cup, away from the nitty gritty cutthroat world of the Premier League.

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In fact, Lindelof wasn’t even named on the bench by Mourinho for six of the opening seven league fixtures of last season. He eventually made his Premier League debut as a last minute substitute against Liverpool in mid-October, soon followed by a complete nightmare at Huddersfield, where injury to Phil Jones saw him thrown into the game during the first half.

Lindelof was culpable for both Huddersfield goals as United lost, turned inside out by Tom Ince in the build up to the first and misjudging a high ball to let Laurent Depoitre in for the second. Mourinho was keen to avoid pointing the finger, but the press viewed the game as ‘evidence’ of why the boss had been so unwilling to use his expensive new signing.

Unsurprisingly, Lindelof was immediately ejected from the squad for the next two Premier League games, either side of also being dropped to the bench in Europe. He continued to be in and out of the team for the remainder of the season, although there were flashes of potential, on his return to action for a 4-1 win against Newcastle that November, for example.

But if a difficult club season had been a test of his mentality, Lindelof couldn’t have wished for a better summer. Chosen for the World Cup, he helped Sweden top their group ahead of holders Germany and perennial knockout team Mexico, and go as far as the quarter finals for the country’s best performance on the global stage in 24 years and in his lifetime – as chance would have it he was born the day after Sweden’s third/fourth place playoff game at USA ’94.

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And when it recently came to handing out the 2018 Guldbollen to Sweden’s player of the year, a prize won 11 times by Zlatan Ibrahimovic and previously by the likes of Henrik Larsson and Gunnar Nordahl, the gong went to Lindelof ahead of any of his colleagues.

High on confidence after the World Cup, combined with the important experiences of his debut season with United, and after a full 12 months of also settling off the pitch, Lindelof, now 24 years of age, was ready to make good on his potential when the 2018/19 campaign kicked off. And that is exactly what has happened, even more so in the last few weeks alone.

There were up and down moments earlier in the season – he was even dropped briefly in early December and perhaps no United player can be fairly judged on the final few months of Mourinho’s reign. But, right now, Lindelof is one of the first names on the teamsheet and seems likely to stay there, probably for years, if he continues his current form and develops further as expected.

Fans perhaps don’t always see what Lindelof does because of his more subtle style, and when he plays well it doesn’t command the same attention that a more high octane defender like Bailly would. What the ‘Ice Man’ is brilliant at his reading danger and positioning himself accordingly.

He is what one might describe as a ‘clean shorts’ defender, where the anticipation is higher and the need to make heroic slide tackles and blocks is less. But that isn’t to say the physical is beyond him – an article published on United’s official website after the Tottenham game even spoke of déjà vu for Nemanja Vidic when Lindelof strongly tackled Harry Winks.

There was a short passage of play against Newcastle recently in which he won a header, made a good pass and won a tackle, all in a short burst, perfectly encapsulating what a modern centre-back needs to be.

Salomon Rondon,Victor Lindelof

Lindelof isn’t the finished product yet by any means – he is only now the same age as Vidic was when he arrived at Old Trafford this month 13 years ago – and still also needs a world class partner, or at least someone other than Phil Jones, to take things to the next level. Whether that could be Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly, as argued here, remains to be seen. But what appears increasingly more certain with each passing game is that United were right to buy Lindelof, right to keep faith when things got tough, and will now reap the rewards for a long time yet to come.

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Manchester United Join Arsenal & Tottenham in Race to Sign Roma Winger Cengiz Under

​Manchester United have added their name to the list of clubs who are interested in signing Cengiz Under from Roma at the end of the season.

Arsenal, Tottenham and Bayern Munich have all been linked with a move for the Turkish international, who was in fine form for Roma prior to the winter break.

Cengiz Under

According to ​ESPN, Under will not be allowed to leave this month, but his representatives are preparing for an end-of-season departure amid a breakdown in contract talks.

​Manchester United’s transfer movements are difficult to predict, with uncertainty over who will be manager come the start of the 2019/20 season. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is the interim incumbent but Mauricio Pochettino is the favourite to take over next summer.

Roma have slapped a price tag of 50m on Under and they are unlikely to compromise, as 25% of the fee will go to Istanbul Basaksehir, the club from which Roma signed him in 2017.

Under is happy at Roma and committed to the club for the immediate future, but his yearly salary of €1m is among the lowest in Eusebio Di Francesco’s squad.

Negotiations on a new contract are at an impasse, with Roma surprisingly reluctant to increase Under’s earnings. Cashing in for a significant profit now appears the most likely outcome.

Cengiz Under

Roma fans will not be happy to see another of their star players leave, following the sales of ​Mohamed Salah, Radja Nainggolan, Kevin Strootman and Alisson in the last two summers.

Under scored eight goals for Roma in his debut season and already has six at the midway stage of this campaign: three in Serie A and three in the Champions League.

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Angel Di Maria Blames ‘Complications’ With Louis Van Gaal for His Poor Form With Man Utd

​Angel Di Maria has blamed former manager Louis van Gaal for his disappointing form during his time with Manchester United.

After making a £60m move to Old Trafford from Real Madrid in 2014, many hoped that Di Maria would be able to restore the Red Devils to their former glory. However, that is certainly not how his solitary season in the Premier League panned out, as the Argentine netted just four goals in 32 appearances before being sold by Van Gaal to Paris Saint-German in 2015.

Angel Di Maria

Speaking to ​France Bleu in anticipation of the Champions League meeting between ​United and PSG in February, Di Maria reflected on his time in Manchester.

He said: “I only stayed for one year. It was not the best time of my career, or rather I was not allowed to spend my best time thereThere were complications with the coach at the time. But thank God, I was able to come to PSG and demonstrate again who I was.”

With a huge 13-point lead at the top of the Ligue 1 table, PSG will turn their attention to the Champions League when they travel to Old Trafford in early February. After emerging from a tough group which featured the likes of ​Liverpool and ​Napoli, fans are hoping that ​Neymar and ​Kylian Mbappe will be able to guide them to that elusive Champions League glory.

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They will face a United side who are yet to taste defeat since hiring Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as their interim manager, and Di Maria recognised that they cannot afford to underestimate the Red Devils.

He added: “We still have matches before facing Manchester. They have changed with their new coach and they have not lost a match. But we must think of ourselves and nothing but ourselves! If we do things well, everything will be fine.

“I think we started the year not so well in the Champions League, but we put the situation right and we finished top of the group.

Angel Di Maria

“It was complicated. Ever since the draw it was said that it would be difficult to reach the round of 16 and we were almost eliminated, but we played a big home game against Liverpool and also against Red Star Belgrade – two big, decisive matches to qualify.

“Now, we must think of ourselves and nothing but ourselves. If we do things well, everything will be fine.”

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