Manchester United fire David Moyes as manager

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The worst kept secret in soccer is out: David Moyes has been fired as manager of Manchester United.

On Tuesday, United released an extremely short statement on their website as Moyes was dismissed after less than a season in charge at Old Trafford.

Moyes was reportedly told his fate at an early morning meeting, as club legend Ryan Giggs will now take charge of first team matters for the final four games of the current campaign.

The 50-year-old Scotsman spent just nine months and 22 days in charge at United, and here is all the club had to say on his dismissal.

“Manchester United has announced that David Moyes has left the Club. The Club would like to place on record its thanks for the hard work, honesty and integrity he brought to the role.”

Moyes won 27 of his 51 games in charge of United, losing 15 and drawing nine with a win percentage of just 52.9 percent. The Red Devils will finish outside of the top four for the first time ever in the Premier League era, as their title defense has gone horribly wrong. Moyes simply wasn’t up to the job, as the most successful team in English soccer has been reduced to mediocre, at best, for most of the season.

(MORE: How the Manchester United job has become a poisoned chalice)

With rumors rife throughout the start of this week that United’s owners, the Glazer family, had lost faith in Moyes and were ready to give him the boot, the announcement came as no surprise. Following United’s 2-0 defeat to Moyes’ old club Everton on Sunday, Moyes tried to remain positive despite the totally abject and lackluster display which highlighted all that’s gone wrong during his ill-fated time in charge of the club.

(MORE: Candidates you need to know as Manchester United looks for a manager)

Moyes was handed a six-year deal at the start of the 2013-14 campaign as his predecessor Sir Alex Ferguson handpicked him to lead United after Fergie called time on his 26 years in charge at Old Trafford. Yet nobody expected what was to come, as United spiraled out of control under Moyes and currently sit in seventh spot after damaging defeats throughout the 2013-14 season. Many have suggested Moyes has ‘lost the locker room’ as players lost faith in his managerial abilities, and from the way they’ve been playing it is hard to argue with that. Also, having Ferguson’s shadow looming large over Moyes every single day has made his job even more difficult. Plus the arrival of new Chief Executive Ed Woodward at the same time as Moyes meant that he couldn’t benefit from the decades of experience David Gill had in running the club successfully behind the scenes.

(MORE: Ryan Giggs appointed interim boss of Man United)

The reigning Premier League champions will finish outside the top four for the first time in PL history, they have lost a record 11 games in a single season so far this campaign and are set for their lowest ever points total which means no Champions League soccer next season. Financially the Glazer’s didn’t seem willing to hand Moyes a war-chest of over $200 million to bring in new players this summer, as the defeat to Everton meant that dreams of UCL soccer were officially ended, which in turn cost the club an estimated $75 million in lost revenue. That seemed to be the final straw.

(VIDEO: Where David Moyes went wrong at Man United)

With four games to go in the season, Moyes’ assistant coach and still a player at United, Ryan Giggs, will take over on a interim basis as the board weigh up without to promote from within or go out and get one of many managers being linked with the job. Jurgen Klopp, Diego Simeone and Louis van Gaal are the favorites to replace Moyes but many would like to see Giggs given the chance alongside his former teammate Nicky Butt.

This is what the club had to say on Giggs appointment as caretaker boss.

“Following the departure of David Moyes as manager, Manchester United has announced that Ryan Giggs, the club’s most decorated player, will assume responsibility for the first team until a permanent appointment can be made. The club will make no further comment on this process until it is concluded.”

The last time United fired a boss was Ron Atkinson back in 1986, as instability now rules the Red Devils as fans don’t know what to expect.

Moyes’ nightmare at United is finally over, as the Old Trafford try to move on and rebuild ahead of next season where they must return to the top four after their worst season in the PL era has cost Moyes his job after just nine months in charge.

MORE: Jurgen Klopp rules himself out of Manchester United gig
MORE: Candidates you need to know as Manchester United looks for a manager
VIDEO: Where David Moyes went wrong at Manchester United
MORE: Premier League Playback – Why Moyes should go

Champions League preview: Spurs host Leipzig, Valencia visits Atalanta

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Two more UEFA Champions League Round of 16 ties kickoff Wednesday, including one being labeled as the biggest in a club’s existence.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

That would be Serie A side Atalanta, which hosts Valencia at 3 p.m. at Gewiss Stadium.

Atalanta had played in two consecutive Europa Leagues, but this is their first move into the Champions League. To make the knockout rounds is exceptional, and club president Antonio Percassi is fired up.

“We must be honest, this is the most important game in the history of this club,” Percassi told Sky Sport Italia. “It doesn’t seem real. It’s exciting just thinking that tomorrow we’ll be in a Champions League Round of 16. It’s wonderful for our fans too. … This is going to be a unique experience that will stay with us for the rest of our lives.”

Atalanta finished second in its group to Manchester City, and is fourth in Serie A. Valencia won its group.

There’s a Premier League side in action on Wednesday, too, as Spurs begin life without Heung-Min Son.

Jose Mourinho spun a tale about how badly Tottenham will need its fans against RB Leipzig, comparing the home-field advantage to an emergency rescue crew of sorts.

Leipzig is led by Julian Nagelsmann, who was once referred to as “Baby Mourinho” by his players.

The 32-year-old was quick to distance himself from the story.

“Tomorrow it is Leipzig against Tottenham, not Mourinho v. Baby Mourinho,” he said. “I have great respect for Mourinho. He has won lots of titles with big clubs, the Champions League twice. He has made his mark on European football at some big European clubs. I think it his 59th knockout game in the CL and it is my first so there is obviously respect there.”

Liverpool’s Robertson not a fan of Atletico Madrid theatrics

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Liverpool fullback Andy Robertson was not impressed with Atletico Madrid’s display as his side fell 1-0 in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League’s Round of 16 tie on Tuesday.

The Reds fell behind on a fourth-minute Saul Niguez goal and couldn’t get a shot on target despite 73 percent possession in Spain.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Atleti executed its plan to near-perfection, slowing restarts and taking advantage of counterattacking opportunities to assuage the constant pressure of Liverpool.

At times it was reminiscent of early-century Italian national team play, and both neutrals and Liverpool knew what they were in for once Atleti took the lead.

“We gave them the best possible start to get the fans behind them and then they can start falling over and things like that, trying to get under our skin a bit which I think we handled quite well to be honest,” Robertson told BT Sport. “We know we are better than (how they played). We put in a decent performance and we can be better than that. Luckily we have got a second leg to put it right.”

Given the performance and the reputation, you’d still fancy the Reds to “put it right” at Anfield. Jurgen Klopp thinks Atleti will feel plenty of pressure at Anfield, and he will certainly feel the officiating will be more to his liking.

Liverpool’s Klopp: ‘Our people will be ready’ for second leg at Anfield

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Jurgen Klopp didn’t have any issue with Diego Simeone’s defense-first Atletico Madrid in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie on Tuesday.

The Spanish side flummoxed Liverpool’s attack and the Reds didn’t manage a shot on target despite eight attempts and 73 percent possession at the Wanda Metropolitano.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

What Klopp didn’t appreciate was the referee’s work, though, implying that Polish official Szymon Marciniak was overwhelmed by the occasion. Marciniak has worked UCL matches for six seasons, twice overseeing quarterfinal ties.

Klopp was shown a yellow card in the second half, and the Liverpool boss felt Sadio Mane was harassed by Atleti. Klopp removed yellow-carrying Mane at halftime.

“He was targeted obviously,” Klopp said after the game. “The only thing they wanted was to make sure he got a yellow card. The score is 1-0, that’s all but you need to be really strong as a ref in this atmosphere. So many things happened, after 30 minutes already three players were on the ground. The first yellow card was a striker from us. I’m not sure they even got a yellow card, which is funny.”

Atleti’s Angel Correa was shown a yellow, while Klopp, Mane, and Joe Gomez were cautioned for Liverpool.

The Liverpool boss found himself laughing a few times, especially when he was asked about Simeone’s touchline personality.

Klopp said before the game that if the German was a four in intensity, then Simeone was a 12. Simeone followed suit by constantly urging the crowd to get behind the home side on Tuesday.

That didn’t bother Klopp, but he issued a public relations officer’s dream in reacting to it.

“Wow, wow,” he laughed. “That’s energy. I don’t think I have to do it that much (at Anfield). Our people will be ready. Welcome to Anfield. It’s not over yet.”

Klopp finished his remarks by saying of Jordan Henderson‘s removal from the game with a hamstring injury, “I hope it was a precaution, but I’m not 100 percent sure”

Haaland wins first leg after Borussia Dortmund-PSG comes to life late

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Erling Haaland scored twice in a mid-second half flurry as Borussia Dortmund beat Paris Saint-Germain 2-1 in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie on Tuesday.

The hosts also got an assist from teenager Giovanni Reyna, who became the youngest American to appear in a Champions League match.

Haaland now has 39 goals in 29 appearances between Red Bull Salzburg and BVB, 11 of those for his new German employer.

Neymar scored off a Kylian Mbappe goal for PSG, who brings an away goal back to the Parc des Princes for a March 11 second leg.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Neymar had an early free kick, missing just wide of the far post.

Jadon Sancho troubled the keeper twice in the first half hour, first with a cross that Mats Hummels headed over goal. Then, Keylor Navas picked another Sancho offering out of the air.

Sancho kept serving, and Erling Haaland couldn’t turn a promising cross on target.

Dortmund walked into halftime with a scoreless match but a 7-2 edge in shot attempts. Neither of PSG’s shots were on target.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

Borussia Dortmund boss Lucien Favre put in American teen Giovani Reyna in the 67th minute.

Two minutes later, it was 1-0 to the hosts through Haaland’s close-range goal.

Neymar replied from close range himself after a powerful, clever dribble from Kylian Mbappe led to a pass through the box.

But Haaland got his second in the 77th minute with a scorching shot that serves as the first senior assist of Reyna’s senior career with Dortmund (Watch it here).