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LIST: The worst moments of David Moyes’ tenure at Manchester United

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David Moyes is out at Manchester United after less than a year. How did we get here?

There were plenty of off-field issues, as the Red Devils brass absolutely bungled the summer transfer window in landing just Marouane Fellaini before striking a strong note in January with Juan Mata. United looked dreadful in defense all year, a mix of subpar players and men unfit to contend with top attacks.

And the injuries were plentiful! Many wondered how Sir Alex Ferguson was able to win the league with essentially the same roster, but a simple look at the Premier League statistics says a lot about the why and how. From weeks 17-22, United was missing Robin van Persie, Nani and Fellaini. For two of those matches, they didn’t have Wayne Rooney either.

Plus:
Robin van Persie — 38 games last season, 18 this season
Michael Carrick — 36 games last season, 25 this season

But how about the matches themselves? Here are our top five contests that turned #MoyesOut from a hashtag to a happening:

Sep. 22 – @Manchester City 4, Manchester United 1 — Yes, the Citizens were humming early, but on the heels of a 1-0 loss to Liverpool and 0-0 draw with Chelsea, this is the one that started to turn the doubters into haters. It was United’s worst defeat at the Etihad Stadium in nearly a decade, and Rooney only rescued a goal with mere minutes to spare. They were outplayed dramatically, and the city was blue.

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Sep. 28 – West Bromwich Albion 2, @Manchester United 1 —
This one took Moyes believers and gave them serious doubts. The Baggies posted their first win at Old Trafford since 1978 in a match that foreshadowed several other historical happenings at home… and not the good kind.source: Getty Images

Dec. 4 – Everton 1, @Manchester United 0
Dec. 7 – Newcastle United 1, @Manchester United 0
Twice blanked at home by clubs that had known Old Trafford as a house of horrors. The fortress walls were down, and Everton burst through for the first time since 1992 behind Bryan Oviedo’s 86th minute tally. Making it worse was knowing that Moyes had left this Everton team to come to Manchester, while his replacement cued the dismissal of the ghosts. A few days later, it was Yohan Cabaye’s turn to run roughshod over the Red Devils. Newcastle carried possession and the day as it ended a 41-year wait for a win at Old Trafford. Forty-one years. No joke.

source:  Jan. 22 – @Manchester United 2, Sunderland 1 (3-3 on aggregate; Sunderland advances on penalties, 2-1)
Again at Old Trafford, but this time it was an embarrassing exit from the League Cup semifinals with a simply brutal bout of penalties. Three days after a loss at Chelsea, Moyes’ charges could not redeem themselves to set up an all-Manchester Cup final. Phil Bardsley had looked to have sprung a 119th-minute trap for United, but Chicharito came to the rescue in ultra “Fergie Time” fashion… only for Moyes! The Mexican striker scored at 120+1′ to move the event to kicks, where the Red Devils and Black Cats both looked like they were penning a childrens book entitled “Our First Penalties.” Darren Fletcher was the only Manchester United player to convert as Danny Welbeck, Adnan Januzaj, Phil Jones (!!) and Rafael all missed.

Worth noting: this was in the stretch where the club was missing Rooney, van Persie, Fellaini and Nani.

VIDEO: Where David Moyes went wrong at Manchester United

March 16 – Liverpool 3, @Manchester United 0
March 25 – Manchester City 3, @Manchester United 0
Losing at home is one thing. Getting absolutely hammered by your biggest rivals during a crucial time for European qualification is another. The wheels were off, and it couldn’t get worse.

Only it did.

April 20 – @Everton 2, Manchester United 0 — Moyes had 11 days to prepare his charges for their first game since being run out of Europe by Bayern Munich, and there was nothing there. The Red Devils hierarchy could only watch and listen as the Goodison Park faithful booed their former boss while cheering his replacement to a resounding victory. One fan seated behind the dugout took a turn as the Grim Reaper in a monumentally-brutal form of former team torture. The writing was on the wall, sheets, banners and sky: Moyes’ time was running out.

And Tuesday morning, it was gone.

Antonio Conte on Chelsea’s struggles: “We haven’t got a magic wand”

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 24:  Antonio Conte, Manager of Chelsea looks on during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium on September 24, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
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Antonio Conte knows turning things around at Chelsea will not be easy.

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Especially since, well, waving a magic wand around will do absolutely nothing to solve their defensive frailties.

Chelsea’s Italian manager was seething following their 3-0 drubbing at Arsenal last weekend as his team looked all over the place defensively and they’ve now conceded nine times in their last four games.

For a manager of Conte’s ilk who prides himself on setting up his teams to be tough to beat and stingy at the back, it hurt him. Big time.

Speaking to the press ahead of Chelsea’s game at Hull City on Saturday (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET online via NBC Sports) Conte knows the size of the task facing him.

“It is never good when you lose, but I think also in these two games we saw and learnt a lot of important things. We must work very hard to recover,” Conte said. “We finished 10th last season – when you finish 10th it means you have problems. Now we are trying to solve this situation, but we haven’t got a magic wand.

“We faced two teams who were very strong (Liverpool and Arsenal) and for me, these two teams are now at the top. We have a lot to improve, but this is the hope we must have. I see the present and the opportunity to improve, it’s not easy. But we know this.”

The Italian also revealed that captain John Terry will not return for this game so he may well have to continue with the likes of Gary Cahill and Branislav Ivanovic in defense, despite both of those long-time Chelsea defenders going through a tough time in terms of their form.

It will be intriguing to see if Conte switches to a 3-5-2 formation this week at Hull. The Tigers usually only play with one man up front, Abel Hernandez, so it would seem unlikely Conte will add an extra man in the center of his defense.

That said, such has been the shocking nature of Chelsea’s defending in recent weeks, the Italian will try anything — expect from magic — to turn this slump around and get back on track after three-straight wins to start the PL campaign had many people touting them as title contenders.

What is Arsenal’s best XI from Arsene Wenger’s 20 years in charge?

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Wow. This was tough.

With Arsene Wenger celebrating 20 years in charge at Arsenal on October 1, tomorrow, now seems like a good time to look back at all the players he’s managed and pick the best XI during his two decades at the helm of the Gunners.

[ MORE: Wenger to England? ]

Of course his early teams dominated the Premier League, winning three PL titles in his first eight seasons in charge which included the “Invincibles” and going 49 games unbeaten in the Premier League. Arsenal fans won’t need reminding that they haven’t won a title for 12 years but that doesn’t mean plenty more fine players haven’t played for the Gunners in that time period.

Below is my selection of the best XI to play for Arsenal under Wenger, and I urge you to tell us yours in the comments section below.

Remember: At 12:30 p.m. ET, this Saturday, Oct. 1, NBCSN presents a new Premier League Download: Inside the Mind of Arsene Wenger, hosted by The Men in Blazers’ Roger Bennett to celebrate 20 years at Arsenal. Promo video is above.


JPW’s best Arsenal XI under Arsene Wenger

—– Seaman —–

— Dixon — Adams — Campbell — Cole —

—- Pires — Vieira — Fabregas — Sanchez —-

—– Henry — Bergkamp —– 

Iniesta in, Fabregas out as Spain seeks to avenge loss to Italy

TOULOUSE, FRANCE - JUNE 13: Andres Iniesta of Spain shoots at goal during the UEFA EURO 2016 Group D match between Spain and Czech Republic at Stadium Municipal on June 13, 2016 in Toulouse, France.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
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MADRID (AP) Andres Iniesta will lead Spain in its World Cup qualifying matches against Italy and Albania after returning from injury.

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Spain will be seeking to avenge a loss to Italy at the European Championship that ended the team’s bid for a third consecutive continental title.

Spain coach Julen Lopetegui named Iniesta to his squad on Friday for the upcoming away qualifiers Oct. 6 and 9.

“The return of Andres is very good news for us,” Lopetegui said. “He has played consistently for the past month. We are happy he is here, above all given the rivals we have to face.”

Chelsea’s Cesc Fabregas was not included in Lopetegui’s squad after losing his place in Antonio Conte‘s starting lineup for most of this season.

The most notable inclusion was Napoli forward Jose Callejon in place of new Barcelona striker Paco Alcacer, who was dropped. He will join an attack consisting of Diego Costa, Alvaro Morata, Manuel “Nolito” Agudo and Victor “Vitolo” Machin.

Midfielder Francisco “Isco” Alarcon returned to the squad in detriment of Real Madrid teammate Marco Asensio. Madrid defender Nacho Fernandez and Sevilla goalkeeper Sergio Rico were also back after missing Lopetegui’s first list.

The 2-0 loss to Italy in the round-of-16 of Euro 2016 marked the end of Vicente del Bosque’s long and successful stint as Spain’s manager. Lopetegui has since been tasked with rejuvenating a team that won the 2010 World Cup and 2008 and 2012 European Championships.

Under Lopetegui, Spain beat Lichtenstein 8-0 its first qualifier for the 2018 World Cup after beating Belgium in a friendly in his debut. Iniesta missed those two matches with a knee injury.

Both Italy and Albania won their opening qualifiers in Group G.

While Italy is clearly Spain’s main rival for the group, Albania is riding high after winning its first match at a major tournament at Euro 2016.

“These are two important matches, but they are not definitive,” Lopetegui said. “We know how tough they will be and we are motivated to meet the challenge. We will not settle for draws.”

Spain:

Goalkeepers: David De Gea (Manchester United), Pepe Reina (Napoli), Sergio Rico (Sevilla).

Defenders: Nacho Fernandez (Real Madrid), Jordi Alba (Barcelona), Dani Carvajal (Real Madrid), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Gerard Pique (Barcelona), Javi Martinez (Bayern Munich).

Midfielders: Jorge “Koke” Resurreccion (Atletico Madrid), Sergi Roberto (Barcelona), Saul Niguez (Atletico Madrid), Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), David Silva (Manchester City), Lucas Vazquez (Real Madrid), Thiago Alcantara (Bayern Munich), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), Francisco “Isco” Alarcon (Real Madrid).

Forwards: Jose Callejon (Napoli), Victor “Vitolo” Machin (Sevilla), Alvaro Morata (Real Madrid), Diego Costa (Chelsea), Manuel “Nolito” Agudo (Manchester City).

Why is Jose Mourinho upset with his Man United coaching staff?

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 29:  Jose Mourinho, Manager of Manchester United looks on prior to kickoff during the UEFA Europa League group A match between Manchester United FC and FC Zorya Luhansk at Old Trafford on September 29, 2016 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
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Jose Mourinho was visibly upset during Manchester United’s 1-0 Europa League win against Zorya Luhansk on Thursday.

Why, I hear you ask?

[ MORE: Wenger to coach England? ]

Well, it all centers around his coaching staff as Zorya’s lineup surprised Mourinho and his players, most notably Paul Pogba, were incredible confused.

At the beginning of the game Mourinho yelled towards his coaches and looked bemused alongside Pogba. After the game, which Zlatan Ibrahimovic‘s lone goal decided, Mourinho explained what the problem was all about.

“It was set pieces, organisation, they changed their team before the game,” Mourinho said. “Paul Pogba was a bit confused with the changes and obviously I want my assistants to take care of all the details.”

Mourinho was in discussions with assistant manager Rui Faria and Pogba but he was seen staring moodily at analyst Giovanni Cerra and then he took his frustration out on the bench.

The former FC Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid manager is a stickler for details and after spending many years as an assistant manager himself, he expects every meticulous detail to be spot on from his assistants.

Turns out there is a small margin for error when Mourinho is your boss.

With United winning three games on the spin after losing three in a row, Mourinho isn’t getting ahead of himself but anything other than a convincing win over Stoke City this Sunday (Watch live, 7 a.m ET online via NBC Sports) will not be greeted warmly.

One final note: it’s worth remembering that Mourinho has turned on his staff at other clubs before when things weren’t going so well…