Mourinho hints at a return to Chelsea but is cut off by ITV’s howler

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What was ITV thinking when it cut short its interview with Jose Mourinho just as he appeared to be on the verge of revealing he will be at Chelsea next season? Money, apparently.

Following Real Madrid’s exit from the Champions League semi-final against Borussia Dortmund, Mourinho spoke with ITV reporter Gabriel Clarke even though ‘The Special One’ was only contractually obligated to speak to TV channels from Spain and Germany.

In the surprise interview, which was landed with only two minutes left before the end of ITV’s coverage, Clarke asked, “Maybe next season with Real?”

Mourinho responded, “Maybe not… I want to be where people love me.” With the hook set all Clarke had to do was follow up with Mourinho as to where that meant he’d likely end up but instead responded with, “We’ll take that as England, we’ve got to go.”

With fans on the edge of their seats waiting to hear Mourinho confirm what had long been rumored – that he would be returning to Chelsea this summer – ITV’s decision to opt for an advertisement drew widespread criticism. ITV has since responded to that criticism by claiming that going on with the interview and cutting the pre-paid advert would have cost the network half a million pounds.

In response to the criticism an ITV spokesman had the following to say: “Our reporter, Gabriel Clarke, and the team managed to land an unexpected interview with Jose Mourinho with only two minutes or so left before the end of last night’s programme.

“Unfortunately, at that point it was too late to arrange an overrun of the broadcast beyond the allotted time. However, in a tight, live situation, we decided to show as much as we could of their exchange to viewers.” ITV also noted that their complex advertising structure would have cost them upwards of $778,500 (£500,000) if they decided to cut the adverts and run a longer Mourinho interview.

At a press conference held later in the evening Mourinho noted his admiration for Madrid’s fans but nevertheless stated:  “I know in England I’m loved. I’m loved by the fans, I’m loved by the media that treats me in a fair way, criticising me but giving me credit when I deserve it.

“I know I’m loved by some clubs, especially one, and in Spain, the situation is a bit different because some people hate me. Many of you are in this room.”

It wasn’t the first time ITV has dropped the ball on its coverage of the beautiful game. In June 2010 it was forced to apologize after their HD coverage cut off Steven Gerrard’s opening World Cup goal for England against the United States after the broadcast was unexpectedly switched to a Hyundai commercial. In February 2009, the network enraged fans when Dan Gosling’s dramatic winner for Everton in the Merseyside FA Cup derby was missed due to an unexplained cut to an advert.

The result leaves Chelsea supporters and unbiased lovers of ‘The Special One’ waiting for the announcement that will be sure to rock the Premier League this summer. And while ITV could easily have managed to continue the interview while cutting an extra minute off the news that followed, it nevertheless appears an inevitability that Mourinho will be returning to Stamford Bridge.

Heath, Smith sidelined with injuries for USWNT

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CHICAGO (AP) Forward Tobin Heath and defender Taylor Smith are sidelined with injuries that will keep them out of the U.S. women’s national team training camp in Louisiana ahead of two upcoming matches against South Korea.

Heath is nursing an ankle injury and Smith her shoulder. Both women were hurt in the NWSL championship match last Saturday, the U.S. Soccer Federation said Monday.

The Americans play Thursday at New Orleans and Sunday in Cary, North Carolina.

Neither player will be replaced on the roster and coach Jill Ellis will have 18 players dressed for each game.

Report: Sam Allardyce, Laurent Blanc want to be next USMNT boss

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Yep, this is true.

Sam Allardyce has thrown his hat into the ring with the U.S. national team searching for a new manager, and so has former Paris Saint-Germain and France boss Laurent Blanc.

[ MORE: Latest USMNT news ]

According to ESPN, sources close to Allardyce say he is up for the USMNT challenge which would “enable him to impose a long-term strategy and secure a legacy in a nation regarded as a growing force.”

A report from France Football states that Blanc is also interested in replacing Bruce Arena, who resigned last week following the USA’s shock defeat at Trinidad and Tobago which saw them miss the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Hmmm. After Jurgen Klinsmann’s time in charge of the USMNT, are the days of big name foreign managers over?

These are two relatively high-profile names with experience of managing national teams (in Allardyce’s case one game with England before The Telegraph sting scandal) but neither have experience of Major League Soccer or the unique challenges of CONCACAF.

Allardyce often talks fondly about his year spent with the Tampa Bay Rowdies in the NASL during his playing days and has used many techniques he picked up from the U.S. sporting realm in his lengthy coaching career which has spanned Premier League clubs Bolton, Newcastle, Blackburn, West Ham United, Sunderland and Crystal Palace.

Yet the scandal which cut his ill-fated time in charge of England short will likely raise eyebrows if he is to be considered for the U.S. job and his direct style of play is not to the taste of many purists out there.

When it comes to Blanc, his ultra-defensive style of play may turn off those in charge of U.S. Soccer too but there’s no doubting his record with a title win at Bordeaux in 2009 before he took France to the last eight of EURO 2012, and then led PSG to three-straight French titles from 2012-13, is impressive.

The fact that these two managers have reportedly thrown their hats into the ring suggests just how highly the job is regarded worldwide, even if U.S. Soccer fans believe the program is currently at an all-time low after the embarrassment of failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

In his conference call with reporters last week U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) president Sunil Gulati refused to rule out anybody for the USMNT job, stating that no specific profile (American, non-American coaches etc.) is preferred in their search for a new manager.

Many U.S. fans are hoping for a domestic manager to take charge with Peter Vermes, Ben Olsen and Jesse Marsch all mentioned with their vast knowledge of the U.S. national team and MLS setup.

Let’s wait and see what happens but after the Klinsmann era, one would suggest that USSF would be slightly hesitant to go overseas in their search for a new U.S. national team manager.

Champions League score predictions – Week 3

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We are entering the meaty part of the UEFA Champions League group stage with double headers coming up in the next two matchdays.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

The five Premier League teams in the UCL are so far unbeaten with Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham all winning both of their opening two group games. Liverpool has two draw so far but Jurgen Klopp‘s men are still looking likely to make the knockout stage.

Below is a look at the 16 matches across the UCL on Tuesday and Wednesday as we make our score predictions for each game.

[ MORE: Champions League standings

Don’t be afraid to let us know your score picks in the comments section below.


Tuesday’s UCL games

Group E
Spartak Moscow 1-2 Sevilla
Maribor 1-3 Liverpool

Group F
Man City 2-0 Napoli
Feyenoord 1-3 Shakthar Donetsk

Group G
RB Leipzig 2-0 FC Porto
Monaco 2-1 Besiktas

Group H
APOEL 1-3 Borussia Dortmund
Real Madrid 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur

Wednesday’s UCL games

Group A
Benfica 1-2 Manchester United
CSKA Moscow 1-2 Basel

Group B
Anderlecht 1-4 Paris Saint-Germain
Bayern Munich 2-2 Celtic

Group C
Chelsea 1-1 Roma
Qarabag 1-3 Atletico Madrid

Group D
Barcelona 3-1 Olympiacos
Juventus 2-1 Sporting Lisbon

Report: Leicester City fire manager Craig Shakespeare

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Leicester City have pulled the trigger much early than many expected.

Official confirmation has yet to come from the club but multiple reports state that Craig Shakespeare, who only took charge permanently of the Foxes over the summer, has been fired after eight games of the 2017-18 Premier League season.

Claudio Ranieri‘s former assistant coach has reportedly been fired by the ruthless Leicester owners with the Foxes for winning just one of their opening eight Premier League games of the season.

That form sees the Foxes sat third from bottom and only on six points. The last three times Leicester have gained six points or less in their opening eight games of a PL season they have been relegated.

Stats like that would have surely alarmed their Thai owners.

The last time Leicester went six PL games without a win Ranieri was fired but this is still a shock considering  Shakespeare, 53, had been in charge for only four months.

Shakespeare was in interim charge at the end of last season after Ranieri was fired in February and led Leicester to seven wins from their final 13 games which saved the then reigning champs from relegation.

However, he never seemed like the long-term man to lead the shock 2015-16 PL champions back to the upper echelons of the Premier League and he is now on his way out of the King Power Stadium.