Mourinho wields axe: Pogba, other stars to leave Man United

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Manchester United are reportedly ready to let Paul Pogba leave this summer.

According to multiple reports the French midfielder will be sold after this season as he continues to clash with manager Jose Mourinho.

Pogba, 25, has only completed 90 minutes in four of his last 11 games for United and was subbed in the second half of their shock home defeat against West Brom on Sunday, although Mourinho insisted that was because he was on a yellow card and he didn’t want to go down to 10-men.

Yet this situation between Pogba and Mourinho has been unraveling for some time as the former was left out of plenty of United squads, then Pep Guardiola revealed recently that Man City were offered the chance to buy Pogba in January, around the same time he was dropped by Mourinho in place of youngster Scott McTominay.

Things have deteriorated quickly for the club-record $130 million signing as he started the season superbly but then injury and a loss of form derailed his campaign. It now seems like Mourinho is ready to move on from Pogba.

As for some of United’s other stars, it is believed that Anthony Martial, Daley Blind and Matteo Darmian will all be sold this summer as Mourinho wants a huge clearance as he tries to close the gap on Manchester City who wrapped up the PL title on Sunday.

Looking ahead to United’s clash at Bournemouth on Wednesday (Watch live, 2:45 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) as their battle for second place rumbles on — United are four points ahead of fourth-place Tottenham and one point ahead of third-place Liverpool — Mourinho said it is an audition for players to be starters for their huge FA Cup semifinal against Spurs at Wembley on Saturday.

“If I play someone against Bournemouth and he is phenomenal, he plays the semi-final,” Mourinho said. “The word is not rotation. This is an opportunity for some people to play and to try to get a place in the team. Some of the guys who played [against West Brom], they don’t have a place in that team. I only know one criteria [for choosing the team]. It is the way you play. This is the only way I can select players. Do you want me to go for the price they cost? Or their salary? Or their beautiful face? The only way is to go with performance.”

It seems like it’s not only Pogba who will be playing for his Manchester United in the final weeks of the season, with the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Ander Herrera also at risk of losing their starting spot.

Mourinho is on the war-path ahead of a key semifinal clash. If United finish second in the PL and win the FA Cup, that’s not a bad season, but if they finish in fourth and don’t win the FA Cup, it’s not a great season at all despite some progression.

Azpilicueta angry despite goal: “FA Cup not enough for us”

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Cesar Azpilicueta to Alvaro Morata has been the top recipe for Chelsea goals this season, and Sunday saw the pair reverse roles.

[ MORE: Match recap | Chicharito reacts ]

Morata won a ball at the back post, and Azpilicueta outmuscled a pair of would-be tacklers to poke home the opening goal of Chelsea’s 1-1 draw versus West Ham United at Stamford Bridge.

But Azpilicueta wasn’t in the mood to wax poetic about his second goal of the season, instead lamenting Chelsea’s fifth-place standing one year after winning a second Premier League title in three seasons.

Now Chelsea sits 10 points back of the Top Four, and just three clear of chasing Arsenal. From the BBC:

“To get a draw at home in another London derby is really frustrating for all of us and all of the fans. It’s becoming harder and harder every game it goes on. We are further away than ever. The FA Cup is a massive trophy but it’s not enough for us. We will try to win it but the cup will not save our season.”

Woof. Chelsea seems destined for another change at the wheel, as Azpilicueta is not sugarcoating life at Stamford Bridge.

Pochettino on ending Chelsea’s streak: “It’s a day to feel very proud.”

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Even a club as big as Tottenham Hotspur knows how big a single win can mean, even outside the parameters of a title race.

[ MORE: Recap | 3 things ]

Spurs finally got over a 28-year Stamford Bridge-sized hump on Sunday, beating Chelsea 3-1 with the help of two Dele Alli goals (and the emotional lift of Harry Kane‘s substitute role and early return from injury).

Manager Mauricio Pochettino didn’t hide his glee after the win, which saw the Blues go eight points clear of fifth place Chelsea with seven matches to play.

“After 28 years it is important to win here. It’s a happy day for everyone, fans, players. And we feel very proud.

“We tried to change and switch some players at half-time to find better links and positions to move the ball. After the game when you win it looks like a good decision. The players deserve praise because we showed character at 1-0 down. It’s a day to feel very proud.”

Spurs also have an opportunity to truly focus on winning a long-sought trophy with the FA Cup semifinal against Manchester United on April 21. Both teams are fairly set in the Top Four and will surely be sending their top troops onto the Old Trafford pitch.

But Sunday remains about ending Chelsea’s home mastery of Spurs. It was quite a win for Pochettino’s men.

1912 FA Cup winner’s medal stolen

South Yorkshire Police
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A 106-year-old footballing relic has been snatched from a house in England.

The home of the 82-year-old grandson of former Barnsley player Philip Bratley was burglarized last weekend according to the BBC and other reports, and among the items stolen was an “invaluable” FA Cup winner’s medal from 1912.

That year, Barnsley defeated West Bromwich Albion in the finals of the 41st FA Cup, with Bratley scoring the winning goal in the semifinal replay over Swindon Town. He went on to make over 100 appearances for Barnsley between 1910 and 1014 before moving transferring to Liverpool, where he spent one season before he left during the first World War.

“This item is of great sentimental value to the family and belonged to the 82-year-old victim’s grandfather who, at the time, played for Barnsley,” the South Yorkshire police said. “The family is extremely upset that this, along with many of their belongings, have been stolen. If you have any information please get in touch so we can try and reunite this invaluable item with its rightful owner.”

Barnsley has offered to assist the South Yorkshire police in their search for the stolen artifact, as those with any information are encouraged to contact either entity to share what they may know.

FA Cup: Conte “pleased” by Chelsea’s rebound after CL defeat

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The mark of a truly great team is not only found in the number of trophies won, but how they bounce back from failure.

[ MORE: Chelsea drawn against Southampton in semis; Man United-Spurs ]

After bowing out of the Champions League at the hands of Barcelona on Wednesday, Antonio Conte‘s Chelsea could have gone one of two ways during Sunday’s FA Cup quarterfinal clash with Leicester City — and for the rest of the season, for that matter. When Jamie Vardy pulled Leicester back to 1-1 with fewer than 15 minutes until full-time, the Blues had a choice to make: keep fighting, or fold under (more) pressure.

[ MORE: Spurs advance to FA Cup semifinal | Man United join them ]

To their credit, they were undeterred and booked their place in the semifinals, where they’ll face Southampton, courtesy of Pedro‘s 105th-minute winner. Following the game, Conte was highly complimentary (by his standard) of his players — quotes from the BBC:

“A tough game but we knew this. The last game at home we suffer a lot against Leicester. We must be pleased today. I saw a good performance and great character from my team. After the game in the Champions League when we spent a lot of energy they showed good heart to beat Leicester.”

“When you arrive at this point, every game is difficult. They (Southampton) have just changed coach but now it is important to be happy and to go for another game at Wembley. We will try to do our best to reach the final. We want to give satisfaction to our fans.

“I think that for us our target is to try and do our best. To work hard with the players. I must be pleased with the commitment of the players. If you can win a trophy it is important for a team like Chelsea. But the most important thing is for us to fight until the end in every competition. We will try to reach the final.”

[ MORE: Southampton see off Wigan | Chelsea complete the final four ]

As for Pedro, he believes scoring a goal of Sunday’s import will do wonders for his confidence, which could prove a massive boon in Chelsea’s quest to overcome a five-point deficit and usurp fourth-place Tottenham:

“It was a very difficult game. It was good for me to score for my confidence and to get to the next round.

“It was hard to find the pass in between the lines. Leicester defended very well and pressed high. It is difficult to win against this team.

“The most important thing for us was the teamwork and to make it through to the next round. “We have to fight in the next few games. It is a difficult situation for us in the league but we have to fight.

“We have a good opportunity to go to the final and fight for a place in the top four. But now is the moment to relax and enjoy this win.”