VIDEO: Jose Mourinho bullish, stands by decision to remove Carneiro, Fearn from bench

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LONDON — “I haven’t seen it this packed in years,” said one local journalist in the tiny press lounge at Chelsea Cobham training ground in London’s suburbs

[ MORE: Mourinho irked by Carneiro’s FB post ]

On Friday, media members flocked to see what Jose Mourinho had to say following his public criticism, then demotion, of two members of his medical staff made headlines around the world.

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The manager of the reigning Premier League champions looked as you would expect throughout: surly, unimpressed and defiant. It’s a look we’ve come to know well over the years as he sat and address the media from his perch three to four feet above the rest of the room.

Mourinho started by refusing to admit he’d done anything wrong in removing both Eva Carneiro and Jon Fearn from the bench for all first-team matches, plus not letting them attend the team hotel and training sessions ahead of games for the foreseeable future. All of this comes after Carneiro and Fearn ran onto the pitch — beckoned by referee Michael Oliver to do so — late in Chelsea’s opening day game against Swansea City to treat an injured Eden Hazard.

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Already down to 10-men following Thibaut Courtois’ red card, Mourinho was incensed that his medical staff “didn’t understand the game” and momentarily left him with only eight outfield players as Swansea attacked.

Before Mourinho’s press conference began, Chelsea’s head of communications revealed that two other members of Chelsea’s medical staff will be on the bench for the clash against Manchester City on Sunday (Watch live, 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra) but that their names will not be released.

Addressing the media for the first time since widespread criticism of his decision to demote two highly respected members of his medical staff, here’s what Mourinho had to say, in just under 15 minutes, to a packed out press room.

Mourinho’s opening statement after asked if Carneiro, Fearn will be on bench and if he has any regrets:

I hope this room is full because the champions are going to play against the former champions. Because the transfer window is on fire and in the last period, because we have, hopefully, a big match on Sunday. But I knew it already, it is not a surprise. Your question is probably… most of the people here don’t even like football. They come for other reasons.

 I don’t want to run away from it. I accept the question and understand the question. First of all I want to say I have a fantastic medical department with a top leader. With more than a dozen professional between doctors and physios and masseurs and specialist of different areas. I have a good relation with them.

As they tell me all the time, they were never praised so much as there were with me in the last couple of years. Because normally managers, when things go well they keep for themselves but when they have problems with injuries and related to medical department. That is when they talk about the medical department. I

I praise them lots of times in these couple of years. They don’t forget that, I don’t forget that. As they also told me yesterday, we have disagreements during this period. We need disagreements to improve. We work together. We improve together. That’s the way we do things.

This, I want to make it very, very clear. Your question about the bench, I have to say for some people the bench is very important. For other people it is not important. For some people it is not what people think you do, it is what you do. 

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The bench is my responsibility, yes. It is my decision, it is nobody else’s decision. Every week I face a decision about the bench. Every week with 25 players, 11 on the pitch, seven on the bench and seven of them are not even on the bench. I have to choose. I have seven assistants, only four can go on the bench. I have four kit men, only one can be on the bench. With the medical department, only two can go on the bench and we have more than a dozen. It is important to be on the bench for some, for others it is more important for their contribution. What they do.

I understand the question, I don’t want to run away from the question. John Fearn and Dr. Carneiro, they will not be on the bench but it doesn’t mean that Sunday is the rest of our season or the rest of our careers. They will not be on the bench on Sunday, that is clear, that decision is my responsibility but it doesn’t mean they will not be on the bench in the future.

 If you want to speak with me about football, I’m here. If you want to speak to me about other issues, I am not here.

On if he regretted any part of his action:

I have no problem answering. You can take your conclusion by what I said. My relation with everyone who works, the majority, is an open relation, it is a relation open to disagreements, critic. The game is a very emotional space for every one of us. If a player has a bad reaction with a colleague or a member of staff. Football is football. The match is a match. Everything in a match can be different. Especially after the meeting I had with my medical department yesterday, where I got enough feedback to understand the way we have been doing things for two years and the kind of relation we have between all of us, allows us to have this kind of relation.

On the preparation for the game vs. Man City being impacted:

If somebody thinks that a disagreement between two members of the medical staff and the manager can affect the week, it is somebody who doesn’t have a a clue about what football is and preparation for matches. It is obviously not. The season is very, very long. We are speaking about 38 matches. 38 matches is an eternity. It is a marathon that started last week and ends in a around 10 months.

I cannot say it is crucial, I cannot say it is decisive. I cannot say that it is very, very important. But, two title contenders, three points. If you can get three and your opponents zero, it is important. I’m not going to say the game isn’t important but for sure the game doesn’t decide anything for the winner or the loser.

On team news:

Oscar is a doubt, he had a little injury in training. Courtois is suspended as you know. Apart from that, all good.

On if all successful managers have to be ruthless:

I speak about myself, I don’t speak about other managers. I am far from being ruthless. Far. Far. I have a fantastic relation with almost everyone who works with me. I am open to mistakes, communication dialogue, critics. I make mistakes. And as some people in my medical staff said to me yesterday, we work together, we improve together. I am far from being ruthless.

On Chelsea fans being concerned about lack of transfer activity:

Chelsea supporters are worried about the transfer window, they must be until the moment Mr. Abramovich bought the club. Since Mr. Arbamovich bought the club, Chelsea supporters cannot speak in a negative way about the transfer market. They have to only speak in a positive way and praise the owner and praise the board. The dedication and all the owner did for the club has been absolutely amazing and is obviously a fantastic contribution to the success the team had in previous years. We managers, we won titles. Players won titles, the club won titles.

Everybody had a contribution and I think the contribution of the owner as being massive in that aspect. If in this moment we are not top of the league in relation to the spenders, it doesn’t mean people have to be worried. First of all the transfer window is not closed, it is open until the August 31. Second, you don’t always have to be ‘champion in the market.’ Third, we do things when we have to do and when we think we can do it at the right moment. For example when two years ago we didn’t buy a striker and people was a bit disappointed we didn’t buy a striker, we didn’t buy a striker because we knew the next year Diego Costa is coming and is coming for a price that is established in his contract. Sometimes you have to think more than the moment. Many, many times is the reason why we don’t discuss things publicly or explain publicly because we work inside. The owner is the owner and he will be the owner for many, many years. The board has such a close relation with the owner. The board just gave me a four-year contract. We are in great stability and we work fantastically well.

On speaking to the players about why the doctors won’t be on the bench:

No. Why? With the players? No. Because the players, the only thing they need to be worried about is to have the best people around them. In this club they are surrounded by top quality people, they trust everybody the same way. In fact the most important thing for the players is the medical care they have during the week. They have to be in condition to perform the best they can.

On speaking to Eden Hazard about the incident: 

I’m not discussing it. That’s my problem.

Pulisic Watch: Goal, hamstring injury in FA Cup final

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Christian Pulisic had both a dream and nightmare outing in the FA Cup final, as he became the first USMNT player in history to score in the FA Cup final but looked to have severely injured his hamstring.

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Pulisic, 21, scored a superb opener at Wembley as he dazzled for Chelsea early on but right at the start of the second half he raced clear of the Arsenal defense, again, but appeared to injure his right hamstring badly before he took a shot.

Injury update, latest news on Pulisic

Frank Lampard gave a Pulisic injury update after the game and said that the USMNT star would not be fit to play in their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second leg game at Bayern Munich next Saturday. Lampard also confirmed that Pulisic will have a scan on his injured hamstring to determine the severity of the damage.

Here’s a close look at a superb display for Pulisic which ended in injury.


2nd minute: Found on the ball and plays it back to Rudiger. Chelsea looking to play the ball direct early on.

7th minute: GOALLL! Finds Giroud centrally, then surges forward and finds Mount on the left.  A cross from Mount is flicked to Pulisic by Giroud and he dinks home over Emiliano Martinez. Pulisic becomes the first USMNT player in history to score in an FA Cup final.

9th minute: Man, is he up for this. Pulisic puts Bellerin under pressure and wins the ball back for Chelsea.

11th minute: Lovely feet from Pulisic as he ran past two Arsenal defenders and at another two, before hitting a shot right at Emiliano Martinez.

14th minute: A nice flick to Giroud who didn’t quite read it. Lovely creativity.

20th minute: Picks up the ball on the left and is calm and composed on the ball. Always looking to drift inside.

31st minute: Cuts in from the right and flies past two players but Alonso fouls and the attack is over. Chelsea struggling after Arsenal’s equalizer.

38th minute: Found by Kovacic and plays it wide as Chelsea try and possess the ball after losing captain Azpilcueta to injury, who had given away the penalty kick Arsenal equalized from.

41st minute: Almost gets away but Arsenal stop him. A real nuisance.

45th minute: Tackled by Kieran Tierney, as Arsenal win a free kick right on the edge of the box but it is flashed wide.

47th minute: Right at the start of the second half he accelerates towards goal and is away from the Arsenal defense, but he pulls up in agony with a right hamstring injury before getting a shot away which is just wide. Somehow he still had a shot despite being in agony.

48th minute: Pulisic is in agony as he is helped off the pitch and Pedro replaces him. A dream start to the FA Cup final ends in agony for the American. Chelsea and USMNT fans everywhere will be waiting anxiously to hear the latest Pulisic injury update.

UPDATE: Pulisic went straight down the tunnel and was seen late in the second half as the other Chelsea players sat in the stand and watched their team.

Ranking new Premier League kits for 2020-21

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Premier League kit rankings are absolutely one of our favorite things to do each summer.

New kits have been dropped by plenty of Premier League clubs ahead of the new 2020-21 season, with fresh looks galore.

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Some teams have kept it simple, while others have gone for something very different.

With big name kit suppliers arriving on new deals at clubs, there will be some very different looks for next season and beyond.

Check out our 2020-21 Premier League kit rankings from the shirts released, so far.


1 – Sheffield United: Absolutely stunning design. Simple and striking at the same time. Love it.

2 – Southampton: Classy retro kits to celebrate their 135th anniversary, as Saints return to their original look.

Southampton

3 – Aston Villa: Clean, sharp look and you can’t go wrong with claret and blue. Love the larger badge too.

 

4 – Arsenal: Loving the retro vibes and yet another fine Arsenal kit.

 

5 – Brighton: Gone for an all blue number with white pinstripes. This is very good and a big chance from the bigger blue and white stripes. Retro, again.

6 – Tottenham Hotspur: Very sleek look and Spurs have kit it simple. Like the away kit, a lot.

7 – Manchester United: Nice little design throughout the kit which adds something extra.

8 – Liverpool: New Nike kits for the first time in history. The teal trim looks smart. Kept it simple and safe.

9 – Wolves: Another team which has gone for the retro look and it works.

10 – West Brom: The barcode stripes are slightly jarring but the colors, badge and design are good.

11 – Man City: A little too much going on with the home and away kits.

12 – West Ham: The Hammers are celebrating their 125th anniversary in style. Very nice. Classic look with a massive badge. Maybe a bit too plain?

13 – Chelsea: The new sponsor logo and the size of it has been ridiculed and it does ruin the very snazzy looking kits.

14 – Similar look for Leicester and this is a nice design. Big fan of the sleeves.

15 – Everton: Hummel are underrated and this has a nice retro look to it.

16 – Newcastle United: Does what it says on the tin. Black and white stripes, and that’s it.

Alexis Sanchez close to permanent Inter move; Ceballos update

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Alexis Sanchez is close to a permanent move to Inter Milan and there’s an interesting update on Dani Ceballos heading to Arsenal on a permanent basis.

[ MORE: Bundesliga plan for fans’ return ]

Starting in Milan, several reports claim that Alexis Sanchez is finally leaving Manchester United and will sign for Inter permanently on a free transfer. Other reports claim that Inter are paying a $17.6 million transfer fee for Sanchez, who still has two years left on his current Man United contract of $730,000 per week.

Sanchez’s departure will allow Man United to wrap up the $140 million signing of Jadon Sancho, with Sanchez’s huge salary finally off their wage bill as they’ve been paying a big chunk of his wages since last summer when he joined Inter on a season-long loan.

As for the details of the permanent deal, our partners in the UK at Sky Sports have some more details.

“The Chile international would receive a payout from United for cancelling his contract, which still has two years to run. The details of the payout are unknown but the value of the remaining two years in wages is around £55m. Sanchez is set to sign a three-year contract with Inter worth £6.3m a year. A deal should be finalised this week and would mean Sanchez is eligible to play for Inter in this season’s Europa League competition.” 

Alexis Sanchez, 31, has been in good form for Inter Milan since the restart (three goals and seven assists says as much) as he finally seems to have shaken off injuries. In 18 months at Man United the Chilean star struggled to make an impact after joining in January 2018 as part of a swap deal with Henrikh Mkhitaryan as he left Arsenal after a lengthy contract saga.

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As for another player who could be joining his loan club permanently, there is an intriguing update from Real Madrid and Spain midfielder Dani Ceballos.

Ceballos, 23, starred on loan at Arsenal and helped Mikel Arteta’s side win the FA Cup as he put in a man of the match performance in a new deeper role in central midfield.

The Spaniard has been instrumental so far during Arteta’s rebuild of the Gunners and although the Arsenal boss is keen for the club to work out a deal to extend the loan of Ceballos, or even try and sign him permanently, it appears the silky midfielder may not be so keen on staying in London.

Speaking to Spanish outlet El Partidazo de COPE, here’s what Ceballos said about his future as he will chat with Real after their Champions League Round of 16 clash with Man City later this week.

“I haven’t spoken to Real Madrid yet, but anyone who wears that shirt is happy,” Ceballos said. “Madrid are better than any club in the world. We’ll see about my future. I’m not thinking about whether or not I can play for Real Madrid, Arsenal or another club. Now it’s time to disconnect. I have to be calm and think clearly with my family about the coming year.”

Ceballos has also stated his love for his boyhood club, Real Betis, as he could end up back in Spain but not at Real Madrid.

Arsenal and Arteta want Ceballos to remain at the Emirates, badly, and they must do all they can to bring him back to north London for the 2020-21 season. His partnership with Granit Xhaka in the two deeper central midfield roles was a big surprise as they added stability, vision and composure to the engine room.

Bundesliga agree on plan for fans to return when government allows

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The Bundesliga has agreed on a plan for fans to return to stadiums, but only if the government gives them the green light later this month.

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In a meeting of clubs from the top two tiers of German soccer on Tuesday, clubs voted in favor of allowing some fans back into stadiums when the 2020-21 season starts on Sept. 18, with German Cup games scheduled for the week before that.

Germany has dealt with the coronavirus pandemic particularly well but there are concerns about a second wave after a rise in infections in recent weeks.

The parameters for how Bundesliga fans would be able to return to each stadium, and the protocol for pulling it off safely, is generally as follows:

  • No visiting fans until the end of 2020
  • No alcohol sold in stadiums until at least Oct. 31
  • No standing in stadiums until at least Oct. 31
  • Contact info and ID data to be collected for all fans inside the stadium

Now it is all about the meeting next week between the health ministers of each region of Germany, as they will have the final say on whether or not some fans can return to stadiums.

The Bundesliga was the first of Europe’s top five leagues to return to play, as they restarted the season in May amid the coronavirus pandemic. The protocols the Bundesliga put into place set the framework for leagues in England, Spain and Italy to resume action later in the summer.

Speaking in a news conference German Football League (DFL) CEO Christian Seifert had the following to say on the matter via Yahoo.

“If and when fans will return to the stadiums is not a decision for the DFL but for the political leaders,” Seifert said. “The DFL does not expect or demand anything but we are preparing to take this small step (with fans in stadiums) when the time comes. Priority is not full stadiums but the health situation. We should not take unnecessary risks but we should also not capitulate and just expect it to go away.”

“No one at the DFL will demand a specific number of fans. That would be irresponsible. Professional football can only come back in steps. There is no magic switch for politicians to give the green light for full stadiums. That will happen in steps. We will have to reclaim normality in small steps.”

The soccer and sporting world will have all eyes on Germany to see if this plan is approved and how things go from mid-September onwards.