Mourinho defiant: “No way I resign. There’s nobody better than me”

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LONDON — With the bright lights of Stamford Bridge shinning down on Jose Mourinho, the Portuguese boss watched on in disbelief as Chelsea’s dramatic collapse continued with a 3-1 defeat to Southampton on Saturday.

[ MORE: Three things we learned ]

That loss signaled the Blues’ fourth defeat in eight Premier League games this season, and with fans booing his decisions, off-the-field incidents with Eva Carneiro dominating headlines and the reigning PL champs now 10 points off top spot, the pressure is building on Mourinho.

[ MORE: Mourinho – “If they want to sack me… sack me” ]

When speaking to the media afterwards, the 52-year-old was in a typically defiant mood and insisted he will not resign and leave Chelsea in the lurch.

“No way I resign. No way,” Mourinho said. “Why? Because Chelsea cannot have a better manager than me. There are many managers in the world that belong to my level, but not better. There is no chance I run away. Why? For two reasons. One: because I have my professional pride and I know that I am very good in my job. Second: I like this club very much and if that’s not the case it could be different. In the accumulation of both situations I want the best for my club and the best for my club is for me to stay. So, I stay.

“When we were champions I said ‘I am going to stay until the owner and the board want me to leave.’ No club can persuade me to leave. No financial offer can persuade me to leave. I am going to stay until the day the owner or the board tell me: ‘Jose, that’s enough.’ I said that when I was champion and I say that when I am 16th in the table. No chance I resign.”

Those words came after Mourinho had gone on an incredible seven-minute rant to TV cameras following the game, as he tried to deflect his players from criticism by complaining about penalty decisions not going the way of his team. But there is no way he can cover up the sheer ineptitude of Chelsea’s defensive performance. He knows it, and admitted several of his players are in a bad place with regards to their form and are “fragile” mentally as Southampton became the first team to score three times in a PL game at Stamford Bridge in the Mourinho era. Mourinho’s Chelsea lost just once at home in the PL during his first five season in charge. This season they have lost two of their first four home games, with Crystal Palace and Saints plunging the Blues into their worst moment under Mourinho. So where is it going wrong? How is this all unraveling so quickly?

Defense — an area Mourinho prides himself on as they had the best defensive record in the PL last season and he is revered as a defensive tactical genius — has been a huge issue for “The Special One” and after he recalled captain John Terry to the starting lineup (he had been dropped to the bench for four of the last five games), Terry and Gary Cahill were ripped apart by the pace of Sadio Mane and Graziano Pelle‘s power. In truth, Saints were sensational but this isn’t the first time (and probably won’t be the last time) Chelsea will be ripped apart this season. Theorists suggested before the season began that Mourinho would suffer from his “third-season syndrome” something which has kept him moving from club-to-club in the past. His hot-headed approach often sees him fall out with players, staff and directors and means he will never be able to sustain success and be a legendary figure at one club for more than a few seasons. Right now, those theorists will be having a field day. But it’s not all Mourinho’s fault. His players are letting him down. Badly.

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Players like Terry, Cahill, Branislav Ivanovic, Nemanja Matic (who was subbed out midway through the second half despite coming on at half time), Cesc Fabregas and Eden Hazard are the most noticeable who are lacking in form and confidence. Mourinho admitted that moving forward he will give youngsters like Ruben Loftus-Cheek a chance to shine but stopped short of blaming his senior players for getting Chelsea in this shocking position in the first place. He didn’t need to admit it. It is clear for everyone to see Chelsea’s squad is in a dark place as their incredible collapse continues.

In this dark hour, Mourinho called for Chelsea’s board to back him, for stability to return to the Bridge and for everyone to work together despite a shocking run of results to open up their title defense. He admitted winning the title would be tough this season, and with Chelsea currently 10 points off top spot, it’s easy to agree with that. He did refuse to rule out a top four finish and called on Chelsea’s directors to change their ways after ruthless sackings of managers in the past for dips in form nowhere near as bad as the one he’s currently enduring.

“When I was contacted to come back, I was told ‘we had so many managers. We know you are the best,'” Mourinho revealed. “I think it is time for the club to act in a different way, to mark a position of stability, a position of trust. Three months ago we were all together in the buzz of the cups. It is time for all of us to be together now in the bottom of the league.”

Eight weeks into the 2015-16 Premier League season, nobody expected Chelsea’s title charge to be over. It is. Nobody expected Mourinho to be under pressure and for his future at Chelsea to be in jeopardy. It is.

Bruce explains taking wheel at wobbly Newcastle United

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Steve Bruce didn’t have it in him to turn down his boyhood club again.

The well-traveled manager and Manchester United legend has taken the reins at combustible Newcastle United after Rafa Benitez walked away from the club this summer.

[ MORE: Sturridge punished ]

Bruce was Sheffield Wednesday manager when that happened, but simply could not resist the lure of managing at St. James’ Park.

He’s also quite confident in his abilities. From The Chronicle:

“I know in some people’s eyes, I’m not Rafa and I know there are big shoes to fill but believe me, I’ll give it everything I possibly can and hopefully I prove the doubters wrong.”

Bruce certainly does not have Benitez’s resume, but has had success in lower leagues. He’s led Birmingham City and Hull City to a pair of promotions each.

If Newcastle backs him as rumored, he may be able to have one of his better Premier League seasons, but his being backed is a wobbly proposition at best (The club is being linked with monster Hoffenheim forward Joelinton).

Bruce knows things have been largely poor at Newcastle United under owner Mike Ashley, and that the club could be taken over by new owners with different ambitions for their manager’s position.

But, again, this is the club he’s supported since he was a boy.

“As I said the easy thing would to have been to say no but I just hope that people show the respect which you obviously only gain by getting results and doing the job, but hopefully that will go hand in hand.”

It’s another Zlatan day, as Galaxy star rips Vela, talks Area 51

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic took a shot at his rivals and his league in one fell swoop.

Perhaps Major League Soccer’s hit is down to proximity and not intent, but the LA Galaxy star certainly didn’t disguise his feelings when asked whether LAFC star Carlos Vela is the best player in the league.

[ MORE: De Ligt joins Juve ]

Vela, 30, has lit MLS on fire to the tune of 19 goals and eight assists in 19 matches, driving the second-year squad to the top of the Western Conference.

Zlatan and the Galaxy’s seasons have trailed behind, relatively speaking. The third-place Galaxy are 12 points behind LAFC, with Ibrahimovic contributing 13 goals and three assists in three fewer games.

“29, he’s playing in MLS and he’s in his prime. When I was 29, where was I?”

Herculez Gomez replies that Ibrahimovic was in Europe (Vela turned 30 in March. At 29, Ibrahimovic scored 21 goals in 41 appearances for AC Milan, on loan from Barcelona. At 30, he scored 35 in 44 for Milan).

“Big difference, exactly.”

Vela, for what it’s worth, spent 2005-17 in Europe. Anyway, here is the exchange.

But wait, there’s more.

Zlatan was also quizzed on Area 51 while in a scrum. For those who may not know, Area 51 is a classified United States military facility in Nevada which has long been speculated as the home of extraterrestrial testing and scientific experimentation.

He doesn’t need to worry about going there, because he has his own Area 51 and there is only one Zlatan.

Who will make Ballon d’Or final three?

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When Luka Modric won the Ballon d’Or last summer, marking the first victor neither named Lionel Messi nor Cristiano Ronaldo since 2007, it threatened to signal a new era for the trophy in more ways than one.

Ronaldo didn’t win the honors, finishing second, but Messi was inexplicably left off the final ballot altogether.

[ MORE: De Ligt joins Juve ]

Could this be the year that neither makes the top three? Probably not, but it could be the first time Ronaldo fails to make the list since Barca swept the honors Messi, Andres Iniesta, Xavi in 2010.

So while most of us are not thinking of the award right now, Ronaldo has it on his brain. It’s no surprise that Marca, known for its backing of Real Madrid royalty, has thrown his name in the mix as a “favorite” given his scudetto with Juventus. That it mentions his performance in the UEFA Nations League is a little goofy — it was a two-match summer — but such is life.

Ronaldo and Messi are deadlocked on five Ballons d’Or, the most ever, and Messi’s year was superior to his longtime rival. Both won their leagues and Messi did not claim domestic honors at the Copa America — in fact he was not his phenomenal self — but Messi scored 12 goals in 10 Champions League appearances before Liverpool stunned Barcelona prior to the final (Ronaldo’s Juve lost to Ajax).

Marca proffers this “I don’t care but obviously I very much care” from CR7:

“I don’t live with an obsession about awards,” Ronaldo explained. “My numbers don’t lie, this year I’ve won three titles and I’ve been good in the Nations League. What else can I do?”

Ronaldo, it should be noted, was still incredible last season. He scored all three goals as Juventus erased a 2-0 first leg deficit in the UCL Round of 16 versus old rivals Atletico Madrid, then scored in both legs of the side’s exit via Ajax. And he likely would’ve won the top scorer’s prize in Italy had he not missed six matches through injury and rest.

Messi again breached the half-century mark in goals, scoring 51 times in all competitions for Barcelona. He chipped in 22 assists and also missed six matches between the UCL and La Liga.

Are there three players who could surpass both to make a new final three?

It would be stunning if Liverpool and Netherlands center back Virgil Van Dijk was kept off the top three, while Sadio Mane may have a Champions League crown and Africa Cup of Nations victory. And you can follow the Luka Modric logic to a land where treble- and Nations League-winning Bernardo Silva is in the discussion (Raheem Sterling was also great).

Kylian Mbappe had probably the best-looking season on Earth, scoring 39 times with 17 assists in 43 matches and navigating the attention that came with Neymar’s long-term absence by shouldering the burden to great success. We made the argument that his 19 goals and six assists in 23 Neymar-free matches is one of the prime reasons he’s be worth almost any transfer fee.

Also remember that the odds of the captains of international teams having enough ballots without Ronaldo and/or Messi named is very difficult to imagine.

Still, Messi, Mbappe, and Van Dijk seems like the final three to us. What do you think?

LIVE — UEL second legs will determine possible Wolves opponents

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Wolverhampton Wanderers will find out its first Europa League opponent on Friday, and the field will be winnowed with a bevy of second qualifying round second legs on Thursday.

[ LIVE: Europa League scores  ]

Malmo, Aberdeen, Kilmarnock, Rangers, Legia Warsaw, and Hajduk Split are the biggest names in play on Thursday, with only the Polish side failing to hold an advantage after the first leg.

American forward Romain Gall is in the mix for Malmo, though he’s been an unused sub of late for the Swedish powers. That could change today, with Malmo in Northern Ireland with a 7-0 advantage over Ballymena United.

You can follow the dozens of ties by clicking the link above.