Questions to answer in MLS preseason camp: Philadelphia Union

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(Through the week we’ll look at three Major League Soccer clubs per day, considering what they need to accomplish and what questions deserve answers during preseason training camps. Opening day in MLS is March 2.)

Next up in our peak around the MLS landscape are the Philadelphia Union. The third-year expansion franchise — can we really call it an expansion club anymore? — didn’t have a strong 2012 but has plenty of pieces to compete this season. John Hackworth will have a full year to earn his keep after taking over for Petr Nowak midway through last year’s campaign. The big question: Can he combine the wily veterans with a growing crop of talented youngsters to make a push for the playoffs? The answer to these three questions will help us decide.

  • Can Jack Mac dominate?
  • The forward, who turns 21 on August 5, is coming off a kind of, sorta breakout season in 2012. After starting just five matches in 2011, he made the opening XI 18 times, netting eight goals. McInerney is one of the most natural finishers in the league, a talent not shared by too many young Americans. He is young, but entering his fourth season in MLS and could be primed to truly make an impact on every game he plays. The Union, who finished ninth in the Eastern Conference in goals scored, desperately need him to hit for a dozen or more.

  • What to do about Freddy Adu?
  • We know one thing: The teen prodigy-turned-flameout won’t be playing for Hackworth. The coach said as much in his honest, infamous open letter to fans, saying Adu was “not part of our plans going forward.” Hackworth did not spell out those plans — nor does he have to — but it’s clear that the midfielder will find himself elsewhere or sitting out the season entirely. From a playing perspective, Adu’s final destination does not matter as the Union have enough talent to compete without him, but they are hamstrung by his salary. It would be better to be rid of him sooner rather than later, even if that means taking on a portion of that DP fee.

  • Are they ready for “the Leap”?
  • In 2010, the Union got their bearings. In 2011, they surprised the league and made the playoffs. In 2012, they struggled under Nowak, then managed to find some stability with Hackworth but still finished in eighth in the Easter Conference. Anything could happen in year four. It’s doubtful that they will be one of the top teams in the conference, but a good year could see them compete for a playoff spot. If a few players can improve, the entire squad could follow. A lot of ifs, however.

Step back in 2012 after a strong 2011

MORE in ProSoccerTalk’s preseason camp series:

Up Next: Portland Timbers

Timeline of Mourinho’s demise: How, when, why it went wrong

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Where did it all go wrong for Jose Mourinho at Manchester United?

[ MORE: Mourinho fired by United ] 

After finishing in second place last season and showing clear progress from his first full season in charge, everything began to unravel during United’s preseason tour of the U.S. in July.

[ MORE: Bookies odds on new manager ] 

Below is a look at the timeline of Mourinho’s demise, as his demeanor changed and once again he was hit by the third-season syndrome which is threatening to overshadow his success as one of the greatest managers the game has ever seen.


Timeline of Mourinho’s demise: July to December, 2018

“We are in trouble” – July, 29 2018: Repeats multiple times that United are in “trouble” as he wanted to sign new central defenders Harry Maguire and others.

Meeting with Woodward goes viral – August 1, 2018: Shown having a rather heated exchange with executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward in Miami after United’s final game of their preseason tour in the U.S. as it appears he will not sign the central defender he wanted.

“You cannot buy class” – August, 18 2018: Hits out at Manchester City after their ‘All or Nothing’ documentary shows players mocking him. “You cannot buy class and they showed that clearly, that was really obvious.”

Defeat at Brighton – August, 19 2018: Mourinho’s men lose at Brighton in a shocking defensive display which was to become one of the main reasons for their worst-ever start to a season.

Defeat at home against Tottenham, “respect, respect, respect” – August, 27 2018: After a 3-0 defeat at home by Tottenham, Mourinho demanded more respect from journalists who were questioning him as he stormed out of a press conference. “This [holding three fingers up]. 3-0, 3-0. Do you know what this is? 3-0. But it also means three Premierships and I won more Premierships alone than the other 19 managers together. Three for me and two for them two. So respect man, respect, respect, respect.”

Fallout with Pogba caught on TV cameras – September 26, 2018: Cameras at United’s training ground show Mourinho having a go at Pogba and United’s midfielder hitting back at him. This was all centered around an Instagram video that Pogba had posted while in the stands at Old Trafford watching United’s League Cup defeat to second-tier Derby County a few days earlier.

Defeat at West Ham – September 29, 2018: A 3-1 hammering at the Hammers again underlined the defensive shambles his team had become. Pogba was subbed out in the second half and when asked to talk to reporters after the game he simply said: “You want me dead?”

Hits out at Chelsea fans after draw – October, 20, 2018: Manchester United let in a late stoppage time goal at Chelsea to draw 2-2. Mourinho then hits out at Chelsea’s fans, holding up three fingers to let them know how many Premier League titles he had won for the club.

Defeat at Man City – November 18, 2018: Demolished by Man City 3-1 in the Manchester Derby, this underlined just how far United had fallen behind their closest rivals atop the table.

“We will be in the top four in January” – November 23, 2018: Mourinho declares that United will be in the top four of the Premier League by the end of December and the busy festive period. His team then went on a run of just one win in five games, which ended with him being fired. He left United 11 points off the top four.

Statement released by Mourinho’s agent, Jorge Mendes – December 10, 2018: Jorge Mendes released a statement saying that “Jose is very happy at the club and the club is very happy with him.” That came amid reports that Real Madrid wanted him to return as their manager. Mourinho said he “didn’t care” about Mendes’ statement and it was not his statement.

Defeat at Liverpool – December 16, 2018: A 3-1 defeat at Liverpool, after which Mourinho questioned the “physicality” of his players, praised Liverpool and then rattled off his success at previous teams Porto, Real Madrid and Inter Milan. In his final media appearance as United’s manager, perhaps he knew the end was near.

Social media reacts to Jose Mourinho’s exit

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Jose Mourinho has been fired by Manchester United and social media was set alight as the combative Portuguese coach was finally given his marching orders.

[ MORE: Mourinho fired by United

Once again he has been sacked in the third season of a job, with United sitting in sixth place in the Premier League table, 19 points off leaders Liverpool and 11 points off the top four.

[ MORE: Pogba deletes social media post

The soccer world has been having its say, with Mourinho’s departure huge news across the globe.

Here is a look at some of the big names who have been having their say.


Bookies odds for next Man United manager

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The bookmakers are dishing out odds for who the next permanent Manchester United manager will be, but things are a little complicated.

[ MORE: Mourinho fired by United ]

After firing Jose Mourinho on Tuesday it is believed that United will appoint an interim coach who will steady the ship between now and the end of the season. And then they will appoint a new manager in the summer, with a complete restructuring of the club behind-the-scenes with a technical director appointed to help the manager.

Many believe that United’s number one target is Mauricio Pochettino, but Tottenham’s Argentine boss is unlucky to leave midway through the season and with Spurs on the verge of moving into their fantastic new stadium. Pochettino only signed a new deal in the summer, which ties him to Spurs until 2023.

[ MORE: Pogba deletes social media post

Via Oddschecker, here is a look at the favorites to be named the next manager of United.


Zinedine Zidane: 4/1
Laurent Blanc: 10/1
Michael Carrick: 14/1
Antonio Conte: 16/1
Leonardo Jardim: 16/1
Eddie Howe: 16/1
Jupp Heynckes: 20/1
Guus Hiddink: 20/1
Lucien Favre: 25/1
Mauricio Pochettino: 25/1
Nicky Butt: 25/1
Arsene Wenger: 25/1

Pogba deletes social media post after Mourinho’s exit

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Paul Pogba has deleted a social media post which went live just a few minutes after Jose Mourinho was fired as Manchester United’s manager.

On Tuesday Pogba put up a photo of him smirking on Instagram, with the comment: “Caption this!”

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Given Pogba’s very public spat with Mourinho over the past few months, putting up something like this only further fuels the fire that United’s superstar midfielder has continued to clash with his former manager.

That said, this could been a poorly scheduled post from a company Pogba was working with and nothing more and it appears Pogba was working with adidas at an event on Monday.

Still, this simple response from Manchester United legend Gary Neville summed it up.

Pogba was left on the bench for United’s 3-1 defeat at Liverpool, which turned out to be Mourinho’s final game, and in recent weeks the World Cup winner has been reduced to cameo appearances from the subs bench.