Michael Carrick

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Barry joins Manchester United legend Giggs in history books

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Gareth Barry‘s fourth appearance for West Bromwich Albion is a big one.

The Hawthorns is just about the only place where Barry is the new guy, as the 36-year-old midfielder is making his 632nd Premier League appearance with a start versus West Ham United on Saturday.

[ MORE: Palace loses again ]

Oddly enough, Barry’s played more matches against Giggs (27) then he had against any other player besides Wayne Rooney (28). Frank Lampard, Jermain Defoe, and Michael Carrick have also played 27 times against Barry.

Those are mostly unhappy times for Barry, whose teams lost 21 of those encounters, only winning four times.

Some other stats:

— Giggs drops down the list when it’s limited to PL-only matches (22). In this case, Defoe’s 27 tops the chart.

— The first came with Aston Villa on May 2, 1998, a 41-minute run-out in a 3-1 win at Sheffield Wednesday.

— The next one was a start, and 365 of the 632 came for Villa. He scored 41 goals in that 11-year senior tenure.

— In 2009, Barry moved to Man City. He’d make his next 132 PL matches there, scoring six times.

— Barry left City on loan in 2013-14, heading to Everton. Thirty-two PL appearances came during the loan, with another 99 after he permanently joined the Toffees.

West Brom bought Barry for an undisclosed fee in August, after the midfielder had pitched in during a pair of Europa League qualifiers for Everton.


Mourinho: Rooney deserves “legend’s” welcome at Old Trafford

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Wayne Rooney should — and almost certainly will — be given the warm welcome “he deserves” when he makes his return to Old Trafford on Sunday, according to Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho.

[ MORE: All eyes on Rooney as he makes his Old Trafford return ]

After 13 years (not to mention 253 goals and 11 major trophies) at Man United, Rooney left for Everton, his boyhood club, in the summer. In Mourinho’s mind, Rooney is a “real legend” of the club, in every sense of the word — quotes from the Guardian:

“I think he’ll get the welcome that he deserves. Sometimes the word legend comes too easily, [but] he’s a real legend of the club. The number of appearances, goals, trophies – clearly he’s one of the most important players in the history of Manchester United. I think the stadium will show him the respect he deserves. I hope before the match and after but not during it.

As for Mourinho’s current crop of players, Paul Pogba is expected to miss a month after suffering a hamstring injury early on in United’s UEFA Champions League victory over Basel on Tuesday. It won’t be a problem for Mourinho, though, as central midfield is arguably his squad’s deepest area:

“We have players waiting for an opportunity. He started the season really well, we’ve had one match per week we’ve been going with the same players. But there are good players more than ready to play. Honestly we miss Pogba and we need him but we have good players. Ander Herrera, Marouane Fellani, Michael Carrick — they’re waiting for a chance and they are ready.

“We lost important players last season and we were not crying or making excuses. That’s football. Squads are there to try to cope with this kind of situations.”

Paul Pogba’s recovery from injury longer than expected

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It seems like Manchester United will be without Paul Pogba longer than initially expected.

[ MORE: Can United cope without Pogba? ]

Pogba, 24, went off injured less than 20 minutes into United’s 3-0 UEFA Champions League win against Basel at Old Trafford on Tuesday as the French midfielder suffered a hamstring injury.

Speaking after the game Jose Mourinho thought Pogba could be out for a few weeks: “In my experience, muscular injury stops you from playing for a few weeks, I think.”

But multiple reports suggest the central midfielder, who has been a star for United in the opening weeks of the season, could be out until the end of October.

Such has been Pogba’s influence in the early weeks of the season he was handed the captains armband by Mourinho for United’s return to the Champions League in midweek but he hobbled off early on with an untimely injury.

He could now miss the Premier League games against Everton, Southampton, Crystal Palace and Liverpool, plus a key Champions League group stage match against CSKA Moscow as well as a League Cup clash with Burton Albion. France will also be without Pogba for their key World Cup qualifiers against Bulgaria and Belarus which they need to win to guarantee qualification to Russia 2018.

Luckily Mourinho has other options in central midfield with Nemanja Matic, Michael Carrick, Maroune Fellaini (who came on for Pogba on Tuesday and put in a Man of the Match display) and Ander Herrera all around to soften the blow.

Still, Pogba has been influential early on this season and an extended period on the sidelines is not what Mourinho or United needed after a strong start to the campaign.

How will Man United deal with Paul Pogba’s injury?

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12 months ago Manchester United would have coped just fine when losing Paul Pogba.

Now, not so much.

[ MORE: 3 key battles in Spurs vs. Dortmund ]

Pogba, 24, went off injured just 19 minutes into United’s 3-0 UEFA Champions League win over FC Basel on Tuesday night at Old Trafford and the Frenchman is expected to be out for at least a few weeks with a hamstring injury.

Such has been Pogba’s importance to United so far this season, Jose Mourinho handed him the captains armband for their return to the Champions League. On the pitch Pogba has provided driving runs from midfield, scoring two goals and adding two assists as his offensive output has been cranked up several notches compared to last season.

Who will replace him in United’s lineup on Sunday against Everton (Watch live, 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com)?

Marouane Fellaini is the main contender to slot right in for Pogba after his Man of the Match display against Basel in midweek where he scored and set up the third with a commanding display in central midfield. In many ways the role Pogba has been playing is perfect for Fellaini.

The Belgian had been restricted to a deeper central midfield role under David Moyes, Louis Van Gaal and even Mourinho last season, but if the Portuguese coach wants to lessen the impact of Pogba’s loss, Fellaini should slot in to start against his former club on Sunday. Mourinho continues to call Fellaini one of his “most important” players and the aggressive midfielder seems to have fed off that confidence given to him by his boss.

However, Mourinho does have options with both Ander Herrera and Michael Carrick waiting in the wings to slot in alongside Nemanja Matic against Everton.

Both would be a safer, more defensive option than Fellaini and given the Belgian midfielder facing his former club, tempers could flare in midfield just like they did last season at Goodison Park when he gave away a penalty kick moments after coming on as a substitute.

Fellaini will probably start but with Everton set to pack the midfield with playmakers like Wayne Rooney, Gylfi Sigurdsson and maybe Davy Klaassen, having an extra defensive midfielder may be the smarter move for Mourinho.

With games against Burton Albion in the League Cup, a Premier League clash at Southampton and then a trip to CSKA Moscow in the UCL, Fellaini is likely to have a bigger impact against those teams. Yet with Mourinho’s love for the Belgian midfielder very well, don’t be surprised to see Carrick and Herrera both on the bench this Sunday at Old Trafford.

Man United sign Nemanja Matic from Chelsea

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Serbian destroyer Nemanja Matic is ready to be Jose Mourinho’s hatchet man once again.

[ MORE: Christian Pulisic to Liverpool? ] 

For the second time in his career Matic has signed for Mourinho, putting pen to paper on a three-year deal with the Red Devils reportedly paying over $52.3 million to Chelsea.

Matic, 28, is of course much more than a thug in the engine room as the lanky Serbian international has won two Premier League titles in the past three seasons with Chelsea.

His elegance on the ball, timing in tackles, supreme positional sense and aerial ability has seen him develop into one of the finest holding midfielders in Europe and in Chelsea’s most recent title winning seasons he was pivotal in protecting the back four but also chipping in with telling moments in attack.

Mourinho is certainly delighted to have Matic at Old Trafford.

“Nemanja is a Manchester United player and a Jose Mourinho player. He represents everything we want in a footballer; loyalty, consistency, ambition, team player,” Mourinho said. “I would like to thank him for his desire to join us because without that, it would be impossible to have him here. I am sure our players and supporters will love him. A big welcome to our new number 31.”

So, there you have it. Once Mourinho finds players he trusts he often moves them from club to club. Paulo Ferreira, Ricardo Carvalho, Samuel Eto'o and Zlatan Ibrahimovic are just a few of the examples of Mourinho having unbridled faith in familiar faces.

That said, Matic has not had a preseason with Chelsea leaving him off their tour of the Far East with this deal in the works and his insistence to leave Chelsea for Man United was clear all summer, especially with holding midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko arriving from AS Monaco. It may take him a little way to get back up to speed and there is a lingering sense that Chelsea delayed this transfer after United won the race for Romelu Lukaku earlier this summer. Surely they wouldn’t be so petty with their former manager involved…

Matic said to work with Mourinho again “was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down” as well as thanking Chelsea for this time at the club.

With N'Golo Kante the main man in Chelsea’s engine room last season, Matic’s fine form was often overlooked. He kept Cesc Fabregas out of the starting lineup for most of the campaign and he will now line up alongside Ander Herrera to create a formidable, snappy-tackling shield for United’s defense.

Quite why Chelsea have allowed Matic to leave to a direct PL rival is beyond most people, but United have now strengthened in all the areas they needed to this summer and have a new, powerful spine in Victor Lindelof, Matic and Lukaku. In central midfield Matic and Herrera will be first choice with Paul Pogba ahead of them, while Michael Carrick and Maraoune Fellaini will also challenge for the two deeper central spots.

Mourinho wanted a new striker, center back, central midfielder and a winger in the summer window and he’s spent $190 million to get three out of the four.

This is now very much a Mourinho team and Matic is very much a quintessential Mourinho player.