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Owen Coyle fired as Wigan Athletic manager, sacking season in full flow

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After less than six months in the job, Owen Coyle left Wigan Athletic by ‘mutual agreement’on Monday as the Championship club struggle to mount a promotion charge back to the Premier League at the first time of asking.

Coyle took charge of just 23 games for Wigan since replacing Roberto Martinez in the summer and becomes the seventh manager in the last eight days to lost his job in the English leagues, as owners and chairman display their ruthless streaks.

According to a statement on their website, Wigan said that the agreement to terminate Coyle’s deal was mutual and that both parties felt things weren’t working out. Coyle was particularly disappointed that the FA Cup holders were struggling with life in England’s second-tier after being relegated from the PL last season.

“It is with great sadness that we have made this decision,” Coyle said. “I would like to thank all my football staff and the staff at the club, who have been very supportive of me in my time here. I am confident that with this set of players, the team can keep moving in the right direction.”

What next for the Latics? Well, they have a strong squad that still has a chance or progressing to the knockout stages of the Europa League, sit six points off the playoffs in the Championship with a game in hand and have a solid financial grounding thanks to Dave Whelan’s shrewd business model.

Coyle wasn’t doing a bad job but it wasn’t that great either. Whoever comes in at Wigan next will likely reap the benefits of a rejuvenated squad ready to prove they can make it back to the PL. Replacing Martinez was always going to be a tough task and Coyle couldn’t live up to the expectations.

Who will the new boss be?

Ian Holloway is the 5/4 favorite to be the next Wigan manager, Sir Alex Ferguson’s former assistant Mike Phelan is at 3/1, former Wigan manager Paul Jewell 10-1, while some interesting names such as Roberto Di Matteo, 14-1, and Paolo Di Canio, 25-1, suggest the race to become the Latics new managers is wide open.

This trend of firing managers has heated up in the last week or so, as seven managers have lost their job in the last eight days.

With the intense festive period coming up and teams eager to give themselves a change of staying up, going up or consolidating, directors across the English Football League are getting trigger happy and have cut the chords with plenty of managers.

Fulham got rid of Martin Jol on Sunday after the Cottagers were hammered 3-0 by West Ham, Sheffield Wednesday fired Dave Jones after a poor run of form in the Championship, David Flitcroft was fired by Championship strugglers Barnsley on Saturday, Sean O’Driscoll left League One Bristol City and Guy Whittingham was fired by League Two Portsmouth.

Most of these clubs have gone through plenty of managers in an extremely short space of time, when will they learn that good results will likely come from continuity? Too often, especially in English soccer, the need to ‘freshen things up’ stunts the growth of teams and throws them backwards as they aim to move forward.

The ruthless and cold world of soccer management is not for the faint-hearted. Job security, especially at this time of year, is at a premium.

So, who is next on the chopping block?

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)
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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