Getty Images

Who will win Mourinho v Pogba standoff?

4 Comments

Many of the national outlets in the UK are suggesting that the standoff between Jose Mourinho and Paul Pogba is intensifying with neither willing to step down.

After Mourinho benched Pogba last month it is believed a rift has developed between the Manchester United manager and his star midfielder with the duo barely interacting and tension in the air on the training ground.

With Pogba, 25, struggling to find his early season form following two injuries and time on the sidelines, Mourinho seems to have made an example of the most-expensive signing in club history. Mourinho has been playing youngster Scott McTominay ahead of Pogba in central midfield and lavishing praise on the academy product whenever he can.

As for Pogba, not so much.

With reports suggesting that Mourinho is ready to offload the French international this summer to fuel a spending spree, is there any doubt as to who will win this battle?

Given he was just handed a new long-term contract at United, it will probably be Mourinho. Yet it will be far from easy for him to offload Pogba and this power struggle may well be the defining moment of Mourinho’s United tenure.

His aim is to keep rebuilding the squad to try and get over the disappointment of a UEFA Champions League exit in the Round of 16 and coming up way short of Manchester City in the title race this season. His talk of “heritage” at Manchester City and singling out several United players for their sloppy displays smacks of a massive rebuild coming up once again this summer.

Michael Carrick is retiring, Zlatan Ibrahimovic has already moved on to the LA Galaxy and the likes of Matteo Darmian, Ander Herrera, Luke Shaw and Daley Blind all seem to be on the way out, plus Chris Smalling, Anthony Martial and Juan Mata have been linked with moves away.

Alongside all of this talk about a monumental shift in playing personnel, there has been progress under Mourinho at United this season. Reaching the knockout stages of the UCL and likely to finish in second place in the table (after a sixth-place finish last season) says as much. Yet with the team struggling for form and Mourinho’s tactics of setting his team up not to lose in the big games it appears he now has to turn the tide of negative which is building against him.

Getting rid of Pogba — who is said to be interesting Real Madrid — would be a huge statement from Mourinho and also a huge one by executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward and the hierarchy of the club as to the level of their support of their manager over the players.

After arriving from Juventus in the summer of 2016 for $120 million amid much fanfare with his own emoji, flashy hairstyles, a commercial superpower and dubbed a match made in heaven for United, Pogba’s second spell at Old Trafford just isn’t working out. Mourinho has tried him in holding midfield, as a No. 10 and out wide in a three-man midfield but something isn’t clicking despite flashes of his brilliance, especially early in the season.

Mourinho and Pogba don’t appear to be a good fit either on or off the pitch and there is likely to be only one winner as their feud intensifies.

Unperturbed by being ousted twice at Chelsea due to losing power struggles with players, plus the same being said during his time at Real Madrid, Mourinho is steaming ahead and Pogba’s future at United beyond this season seems in serious doubt.

Less than two years into his much-lauded return to Old Trafford, Pogba’s clash with Mourinho appears to be the beginning of the end of his time at United.

Top Premier League storylines – Week 35

Getty Images
Leave a comment

It’s a short Premier League weekend with the FA Cup taking place, but all eyes will be on the Emirates Stadium after Friday’s stunning news.

Arsene Wenger begins his farewell tour at Arsenal this Sunday as the Gunners host a London derby against West Ham United.

[MORE: Arsene Wenger’s legacy

Arsenal aims to finish season on a high
Arsenal vs. West Ham —  8:30 a.m. ET Sunday on NBCSN

The decision to step down has taken attention away from Arsenal’s defeat last Sunday when Newcastle came back from a one-goal deficit to defeat the Gunners, 2-1. Perhaps with the manager on his way out, Arsenal’s players will be extra motivated to end the season on a high note. If Arsenal continue to slip up, it could be out of Europe entirely, as the club sits just two points above seventh place.

For West Ham, a win would all but ensure the club’s place in the Premier League next season, but the club currently sit just six points above the relegation zone, and with the team going through a rough past few months, every point gained at home or away counts.

Does a guard of honor await Manchester City?
Manchester City vs. Swansea City —  11:30 a.m. ET Sunday on NBCSN

By virtue of Manchester United’s defeat last Sunday, Manchester City became officially Premier League champions-elect.

The club will get to raise the trophy officially at the end of the season, but for now, it appears Swansea City will be the first club to show its respect to Man City’s dominance throughout the season with a guard of honor. Man City is still chasing more Premier League records, but Swansea City, just four points above the drop zone, needs this win more.

Relegation scrap on tap
Watford vs. Crystal Palace —  10:00 a.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN

It’s a proverbial six-pointer as Watford, about as far north you can go in the London area, takes on Crystal Palace in south London in a key relegation battle.

Just three points separate the two sides, but a win for Watford would push the club up to 40 points while a win for Palace would put the Eagles even on points with the Hornets at 37 each. Interestingly, via the Premier League, “Watford are winless in their last six home meetings with Crystal Palace in all competitions (D3 L3), since a 2-0 victory in the Championship in February 2009.”

Stats behind Wenger’s time at Arsenal

Arsene Wenger
Leave a comment

When you manage for nearly 22 years, you’re sure to accumulate numerous statistical milestones.

Arsene Wenger holds the record for most Premier League games managed (823), FA Cups won (7) and of course, his incredible run of 49 games without defeat with the 2003/2004 Arsenal invincibles team.

[MORE: ALL COVERAGE OF ARSENE WENGER’S DEPARTURE]

Our friends at Opta have put together some statistics together on Wenger’s achievements over his time at the club that spans three decades.

Arsene Wenger’s Career (as of April 20, 2018)

Titles

Premier League 🏆🏆🏆

FA Cup 🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆

Community Shield 🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆


Games Managed

Premier League – 823 games, 473 wins, 199 draws, 151 losses, 57.5% winning percentage

UEFA Champions League – 177 games, 83 wins, 41 draws, 53 losses

FA Cup – 109 games, 73 wins, 22 draws, 14 losses

League Cup – 73 games, 42 wins, 9 draws, 22 losses

UEFA Cup/Europa League – 23 games, 14 wins, 5 draws, 4 losses

UEFA Champions League qualifying – 14 games, 13 wins, 1 draw, 0 losses

Community Shield – 9 games, 6 wins, 2 draws, 1 loss

(more…)

Bocanegra, Hucles to chair USSF technical development group

Getty Images
Leave a comment

CHICAGO (AP) Former U.S. men’s captain Carlos Bocanegra and retired women’s midfielder Angela Hucles will chair a new technical development committee established by the U.S. Soccer Federation.

The organization also appointed eight chief officers who will report to chief executive officer Dan Flynn, but the final two direct reports remain to be hired: general managers for the men’s and women’s national teams.

Bocanegra currently works as the vice president and technical director for Atlanta United while Hucles is a former CEO and has spoken at sports leadership summits. Both Bocanegra and Hucles are members of the U.S. Soccer board. Bocanegra in particular has been floated for the position of U.S. Men’s National Team general manager, and this appointment could be the first step. And with more than 100 caps for the U.S. Women’s National Team and time spent as an executive, Hucles could also be angling for the USWNT general manager position.

The USSF said its board also established a new commercial committee, raising the board’s committee total to six under new president Carlos Cordeiro, who succeeded Sunil Gulati in February.

Nico Romeijn was promoted to chief sport development officer from head of coaching education, Ryan Mooney to chief soccer officer from director of sport development and Brian Remedi to chief stakeholders officer from chief administrative officer. Tonya Wallach was appointed chief talent and inclusion officer

Department heads continuing senior roles who are direct reports to Flynn include Jay Berhalter (chief commercial and strategy officer), Neil Buethe (chief communications officer), Eric Gleason (chief financial officer) and Lydia Wahlke (chief legal counsel).

Kroenke’s statement on Wenger

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Stan Kroenke has been a mostly hands-off owner for Arsenal over the past 10 years, preferring to put his trust in Arsene Wenger.

But today, with Wenger’s public announcement that he will step away at the end of the season, Kroenke released a poignant statement, calling on the club’s fans around the globe to back the side as it looks to hold on to a place in next season’s Europa League.

[MORE: Reaction to Arsene Wenger’s decision]

“This is one of the most difficult days we have ever had in all our years in sport,” Kroenke said. “One of the main reasons we got involved with Arsenal was because of what Arsène has brought to the club on and off the pitch. His longevity and consistency over such a sustained period at the highest level of the game will never be matched.

“Arsène has unparalleled class and we will always be grateful to him. Everyone who loves Arsenal and everyone who loves football owes him a debt of gratitude. Three Premier League titles, including an entire season unbeaten, seven FA Cup triumphs and 20 successive years in the Champions League is an exceptional record. He has also transformed the identity of our club and of English football with his vision for how the game can be played.

“We have high ambitions to build on Arsène’s remarkable tenure and to honour his vision by ensuring that Arsenal competes for and wins the biggest and most important prizes in the game.

“We must now focus on making a strong finish to the season and ask our millions of fans around the world to join us in paying appropriate tribute to one of the greats of Arsenal’s history and one of the greats of the game.”

Kroenke has drawn the ire of many Arsenal fans who had been calling for Wenger to be sacked for years, as the Arsenal board year after year continued to offer Wenger a new contract. It appeared that as long as the club was stable financially, with UEFA Champions League television revenues coming in and the team competing for a top-four Premier League position, the board was content.

However, the last two seasons have seen Arsenal slip, with a record amount of defeats during Wenger’s tenure and a second-consecutive season outside of the Champions League, leading to more lost revenue.