Manchester United v Chelsea - Premier League

José Mourinho gives Wayne Rooney Chelsea ultimatum

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MANCHESTER — Chelsea manager José Mourinho is tired of waiting around for Wayne Rooney to make his mind up.

And following the dazzling display from Manchester United’s striker against Mourinho’s Chelsea team during Monday’s 0-0 draw at Old Trafford, Mourinho is pleading with the player to make a decision on his future.

“The person that started the story has to finish the story,” Mourinho said after being asked whether or not Rooney would ask to leave United. Mourinho also wants a clear statement of intent from Rooney.

“A club like us, a manager like me, we are not silly to try and get a player from a big club that doesn’t want to sell, we are not silly to try and start something if somebody didn’t start it. I think it’s time for the good of everyone to finish the story. From one side, or from the other side.”

(MORE: Manchester United 0-0 Chelsea; Stalemate at Old Trafford)

While Mourinho also gave Rooney a time-frame to make his mind up on a move to Stamford Bridge, stating it needs to happen in the next “24 hours, 48 hours” or the deal will be off and the long-winded chase for the 27-year-old England international will end without the desired conclusion. That’s when Mourinho issued the final warning to Rooney as Chelsea reportedly line up Samuel Eto’o as plan B.

“We are going to close another player,” Mourinho said. “If he’s [Rooney] not coming we are going to closer another player.”

But above all the speculation before las night’s massive, Rooney put in a great display and came closest to scoring when his blistering 77th minute shot in front of the Stretford End was well saved by Per Cech to his right. Rooney was a menace, constantly wriggling free of Chelsea’s defense and trying to delicately set up his teammates. He worked hard, chased back and dug deep to help United seal a point.

Mourinho is certainly a fan.

“I think the most important thing is that he [Rooney] played very well,” Mourinho said. “He was a real professional. He played for the club that pays him, tried to win, tried to score. He was fantastic. After that, if he wants to leave he has to say, or he decides now that he doesn’t want to leave anymore, it’s a problem.”

(MORE: Wayne Rooney dazzles for Manchester United, is this the end of the saga?)

But with all this speculation, all this talk swirling around Rooney’s head, the fact that he managed to put in a man of the match performance against the team that has openly been chasing him all summer, in front of the home fans who know he wants to leave, it was quite sublime. Again, Mourinho was impressed.

“No. But independent of every think we have to say fantastic, because many players in this situation they can’t express themselves on the pitch. They don’t feel enough confidence. He was fantastic, he played very, very well.”

(MORE: José Mourinho praises Cheslea’s “kids” after defensive masterclass)

Throughout the 90 minutes at Old Trafford Rooney was cheered by both sets of supports, as Chelsea’s traveling fans chanted, “Wayne Rooney, we’ll see you next week” to try and get under the skin of the United faithful. But it had the opposite effect. A real buzz was generated inside the stadium whenever Rooney got on the ball and on several occasions the home fans showed their adulation to Rooney, something Mourinho appreciated.

“In other countries it wouldn’t be possible, probably in other clubs it wouldn’t be possible. In other countries, if people know you want to leave it doesn’t matter the player you are they don’t want you. But they gave him a fantastic support, it was very good, very nice, very English.”

Maybe the cheers from United fans will have helped Wayne Rooney to make his mind to remain at Old Trafford.

José Mourinho has laid down the gauntlet. Rooney has 24-48 hours to decide his future.

MLS Cup: Toronto FC all about the team

Toronto FC defender Nick Hagglund, center, celebrates his goal against the Montreal Impact with teammates Michael Bradley, right, and Steven Beitashour (33) during the second half of the second leg of MLS Eastern Conference championship series, in Toronto on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)
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Toronto, Ontario (AP) Team has been the theme for Toronto FC in the buildup to the MLS Cup final.

From boisterous practices to team-first media interviews, the All for One club motto has been plain to see ahead of the championship game Saturday against the visiting Seattle Sounders.

“You don’t get to this point by mistake or by accident. You get here because a group of special guys who have all bought into a philosophy, an identity,” said Toronto midfielder Will Johnson, an MLS Cup winner with Real Salt Lake and Portland.

“I say the same about Seattle. They’re bought into what they’re good at. We’re bought in, very motivated and want to sacrifice and put aside egos to get to a point as a team to compete for the big trophy.”

[ MORE: Designing the best UCL Round of 16 ]

Star striker Jozy Altidore, no fan of chatting with the media, was downright prickly when a reporter asked him if he had taken time to reflect on his personal journey to the championship game.

“No,” he said definitively. “This isn’t personal, this is a team game. We’re here to try to help Toronto to be a winning team. This has nothing to do with individuals. So it has nothing to do with what I’ve been through. This is what the city’s been through, what the fans have been through, what this club has been through. That’s far more important.”

Fullback Justin Morrow, a seven-year MLS veteran, has never played this deep into the season before.

“Each week we build on top of each other and we get closer as the year goes on. It really feels like it’s a culmination this week,” he said.

[ UCL: Who can Arsenal, Man City, Leicester draw? ]

Coach Greg Vanney has made a point of praising the entire squad, including reserves who function as the scout team in practice. While he has done soccer’s equivalent of shortening his bench for the playoffs, the squad has stayed on point. If anyone has beefs, they have been kept to themselves.

That’s no small feat considering the salaries on the squad range from $7.12 million for star striker Sebastian Giovinco to $51,500 for youngsters Mo Babouli and Tsubasa Endoh.

For Morrow, being part of a tight-knit group allows you to forget that it is your job.

“When teams aren’t doing well, players tend to focus on that – their job and not about the other people on the team,” Morrow said. “And I think when teams are doing well, it becomes about the relationships between the players.”

Report: Atlanta United to acquire Parkhurst; Guardado hopes fading

COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 12:  Michael Parkhurst #4 of the Columbus Crew SC controls the ball against against the Philadelphia Union on March 12, 2016 at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
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Atlanta United is adding MLS experience to its high-flying international acquisitions.

The expansion side is set to acquire Michael Parkhurst from the Columbus Crew, according to a report from The Sporting News.

[ MORE: Mourinho worried about Zorya pitch ]

Parkhurst, 32, has been a fixture for the Crew since returning to MLS after stints with Nordsjælland and FC Augsburg. The 25-times capped American defender would join a relatively loaded expansion unit that reportedly will also add veteran Chicago goalkeeper Sean Johnson.

Unfortunately for Atlanta, it seems the first-year club’s hopes of landing Mexican star Andres Guardado are fading.

From Ives Galarcep for The Sporting News:

The club has one remaining designated player slot it is expected to fill ahead of its inaugural 2017 season, but transfer target Andres Guardado appears less likely to be the player to fill that slot, sources have told Goal USA.

The Crew was a massive disappointment last season, failing to make the playoffs one season after making a run to the MLS Cup Final. Is Parkhurst a good gamble for Atlanta?

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Men in Blazers podcast: Conte v. Pep, Cherries comeback, Spurs-Swans

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Rog and Davo relive the tactical battle between Antonio Conte and Pep Guardiola, marvel at tiny Bournemouth’s comeback win over high-flying Liverpool and duck-and-cover while recapping Spurs 5-0 Swansea.

All of the MiB content — pods, videos and stories can be seen here, but to really stay in touch, follow, subscribe, click here:

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Mourinho accepts Zorya compliment, but says best coach “doesn’t exist”

Manchester United's coach Jose Mourinho, centre, attends a training session with his team at Chernomorets stadium in Odessa, Ukraine, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016, ahead of Thursday's Europa League group A soccer match against FC Zorya Luhansk. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
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On the eve of his side playing Manchester United in the UEFA Europa League, Zorya Luhansk boss Yuriy Vernydub called counterpart Jose Mourinho the best manager in the world.

And Mourinho disagreed.

Well, in principle.

[ MORE: Designing the best UCL Round of 16 ]

The Portuguese was flattered by Vernydub’s compliments and isn’t one to turn down praise. Yet at the same time, Mourinho thinks a coach’s success is year-to-year. There’s no clear best in the sport, according to Mou.

From ManUtd.com:

“He was nice by saying that but I don’t think he is right. I don’t think there is a best coach in the world. It doesn’t exist in my opinion. Every season one has to win the FIFA Gold Ball but I don’t think there is the best. You can say the best of the year and that I agree. Every year there is one with the most important result. So he is just being nice, no more than that.”

That’s almost meta, Mou.

Conceptually we understand, and Mourinho would feel he was the best in the world three seasons ago but not last year or this year (yet). Yet it’s difficult to say that the bodies of work from Pep Guardiola, Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti, Unai Emery, Antonio Conte, Luis Enrique, and Jurgen Klopp couldn’t be measured against each other, right?

[ MORE: United, Saints advancement scenarios ]

Onto the little picture Mourinho is worried about a potentially rock hard pitch at Zorya affecting the game. This, from the BBC:

“The pitch is very hard, the pitch is very icy,” said United boss Mourinho.

“They are putting warmth on the top of it, but the pitch is very difficult and people cannot make miracles. Let’s hope everything goes well.”

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