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Mourinho’s treatment of Luke Shaw follows pattern

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Jose Mourinho has brutally criticized Luke Shaw in public as the Manchester United left back, once the most expensive teenager on the planet, looks to have no future at Old Trafford.

[ MORE: Moyes apologizes to reporter

Following United’s 0-0 draw with West Bromwich Albion on Saturday, Mourinho spoke about Shaw who he left out of his 18-man matchday squad despite seeing his team ravaged by injuries and suspensions in recent weeks.

“The way he trains. The way he commits. The focus. The ambition. I cannot compare. He is a long way behind,” Mourinho said of Shaw.

These comments have rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, especially given the fact that the 21-year-old England international only returned in the summer from a career threatening double leg fracture he suffered at the start of the 2015-16 campaign.

Shaw has pushed hard, so it seems for the outside, to regain his fitness and win back his place in United’s lineup but the likes of Daley Blind, Matteo Darmian and Marcos Rojo have been deployed out of position at left back ahead of Shaw and he’s made just 15 appearances all season. Mourinho has called his fitness and focus into question twice this season already after a defeat at Watford and following a win at Swansea, plus rumblings coming out of United early on this season suggested that Shaw was struggling with the new regime.

Now, Shaw’s fitness history may suggest Mourinho’s comments about his focus are close to the mark.

During his first two seasons with Southampton in the Premier League he was substituted late in games on multiple occasions as he was tired and couldn’t complete a full 90 minutes. Then under Louis Van Gaal he was criticized for his lack of fitness but won over the Dutchman and put in superb displays early last season before his horror leg break.

There’s no doubting Shaw’s technical ability as one of the best young left backs on the planet but perhaps his attitude and fitness, something Mourinho has always put intense focus on, can be doubted.

Yet, wherever he has gone Mourinho has cast aside big names to try and make a point to the rest of the squad as to the levels expected by him and his coaching staff. And, usually, they’re youngsters he casts aside.

When you look to his rebuild of Chelsea from 2013 to 2015, the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Kevin De Bruyne and Ryan Bertrand were all cast aside and they’ve all gone on to become stars in the Premier League with other clubs and on the international stage with Mourinho looking somewhat of a fool for misjudging them.

However, was Mourinho’s harsh treatment of the aforementioned players — and many more with David Luiz cast aside and Bastian Schweinsteiger the latest example of someone castigated by Mourinho who has since admitted he was wrong — the catalyst for them to grow into elite players?

Who knows. But there is a pattern emerging of these players perhaps wanting to prove Mourinho wrong and this criticism of Shaw suggests the young left back has one more chance to impress his manager.

It would be no surprise if Shaw leaves United this summer and with Liverpool, Manchester City and even Chelsea reportedly on the hunt for a left back they could do a lot worse than put their faith in a player of great talent who is eager to prove Mr. Mourinho wrong.

As has been the case in the past, Mourinho’s wrath may be the making of a talented youngster dipping below his high standards. Yet, Mourinho, once again, may not be the man to directly benefit from his own harsh treatment.

Manchester United breaks through Copenhagen in extra time

Manchester United - Copenhagen
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Manchester United – Copenhagen: The Europa League’s biggest underdogs of the quarterfinals took the tournament favorites to extra time before succumbing 1-0 in Cologne.

Bruno Fernandes highlighted his Man of the Match performance by converting an Anthony Martial-won penalty in the 95th minute for Manchester United, the only way past Copenhagen’s terrific goalkeeper Karl-Johan Johnsson.

But Fernandes gave United a scare, needing care for his hamstring at the final whistle.

[ MORE: Liverpool announces new left back ]

Johnsson made 13 saves, seven from inside the box, to keep Copenhagen within a sucker punch of eliminating the Red Devils over 90 minutes.

Manchester United heads to Dusseldorf for an Aug. 17 semifinal against the winner of Tuesday’s tilt between Wolves and Sevilla.


Three things we learned

1. Copenhagen plays prime tournament soccer: The heaviest underdogs in the quarterfinals, Copenhagen executed a traditional 4-4-2 in a less-traditional low block for much of the match. The low block wasn’t the surprise, but instead of two banks of five, the rows of four with two men hassling up front challenged United for time and helped spring a number of dangerous counters. The Danes opened up in extra time after going behind, but taking it to extra time was more than many expected out of them.

2. VAR denies the Red Devils: A rout would’ve been on if this match was staged a year ago without VAR, as the assistant referee twice allowed United goals to go to video. Harry Maguire was offside before assisting the first would-be Red Devils goal, while Mason Greenwood was off before ripping a rocket off the far post and into the goal.

3. Bruno is a beast: Fernandes was everywhere, cueing up his teammates for chances when he wasn’t smashing them off the frame in a bid to win it himself. The Portuguese playmaker registered three key passes, put three of his five shots on target, and won the majority of his duels on top of scoring the game’s lone goal (SofaScore). Now United must hope his late leg injury was just a product of 120 minutes and nothing major.

Man of the Match

Fernandes, and yes we had him here before he smashed his penalty home. Fernandes is now the Europa League’s leading scorer with seven goals between Sporting Lisbon and United.


Manchester United – Copenhagen recap

United has plenty of the ball in the first 10 minutes but Copenhagen provided legitimate danger that Eric Bailly managed in his own six.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka blocked a cross with his face and needed treatment, looking quite dazed before returning to the game.

Another Copenhagen chance was blocked in the six by Bailly (again), who proved a wise choice over Victor Lindelof.

VAR had a look at an early United goal and rightly chalked Harry Maguire offside in the build-up. And it took Mason Greenwood’s hammer off the far post off the board for offside early in stoppage time.

Copenhagen was in it at the break. Would United pay?

[ MORE: Lukaku leads Inter past Bayer Leverkusen ]

The early stages of the second half remained with the Red Devils, Copenhagen parking all its men behind the ball at times.

Rashford flubbed a chance to shoot or pass to Paul Pogba when Bruno Fernandes spotted him at the back post just after the hour mark.

Fernandes tried his luck from distance in the 63rd, ripping a shot off the far post.

Ex-Everton man Bryan Oviedo nearly put Copenhagen ahead in the 66th only to see Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Bailly clog his shooting lane after Rasmus Falk dazzled to get into the box.

Karl-Johan Johnsson made a flying save on Anthony Martial to force an 84th-minute corner that came to nothing for United.

Johnsson denied Martial again in-tight at the start of stoppage time, but the high was short-lived as the Frenchman was dropped in the box moments later.

Fernandes stepped to the spot and used a stuttering run-up before blasting his penalty home.

Martial nearly had it 2-0 after the restart when he dribbled through the Copenhagen 18 but took it himself instead of laying off to Juan Mata in what would’ve been a fairly straight-forward chance for the Spaniard.

Johnsson denied Fernandes at the end of the first 15 minutes of extra time, United unfortunate to not score on the ensuing corner when Mata’s shot was blocked to Lindelof, who fired off the outside of the post.

Lindelof made a fine intervention to block a close-range equalizer bid in the 116th.

Inter Milan rides early goals past Bayer Leverkusen

Inter Milan - Bayer Leverkusen
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While Manchester United and Copenhagen played chess across the country, Inter Milan and Bayer Leverkusen were staging double jumps all over a checkerboard in Dusseldorf.

Romelu Lukaku and Nicolo Barella scored twice in six first-half minutes before Kai Havertz answered in the 24th to account for all the goals in Inter’s 2-1 defeat of Bayer.

Lukaku has scored in nine-straight UEL matches, a new record.

[ MORE: Liverpool announces new left back ]

Inter now waits for an Aug. 16 semifinal in Cologne, where it will meet the winner of Tuesday’s match between Basel and Shakhtar Donetsk

Bayer now must settle for the Europa League again via its fifth-place finish in the Bundesliga.

The three goals in the nine minutes were highlighted by Lukaku doing his best “Harry Kane versus Leicester City” falling down finish.

Nicola Barella put Inter ahead after a quarter-hour when he made the most of a loose ball outside the 18.

A Manchester United connection saw Inter ahead by two when Ashley Young found Romelu Lukaku and the Belgian striker maintained his composure while being dragged to the ground, beating Lukas Hradecky with a low shot.

Kai Havertz and Kevin Volland’s interplay near the box ended with the transfer rumor mainstay slipping a shot home to bring Bayer back within one.

Lukaku had penalty decisions taken off the board by VAR in each half.

Who’s next for Manchester United if Sancho stays at Dortmund?

Chiesa to Manchester United
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The transfer rumor mill is usually buzzing this time of year, but it’s nearly a cacophony following Michael Zorc’s announcement that Jadon Sancho will be staying at Borussia Dortmund.

[ MORE: Liverpool announces new left back ]

Reports say Manchester United is not quitting on the idea of Sancho at Old Trafford, but here are some other targets if the Red Devils have to look away from the English phenom.

Federico Chiesa, Fiorentina

Linked with United for some time including a Monday nod from Football-Italia, Chiesa’s approximately $80 million price tag is high but half of what Dortmund is asking for Sancho.

The versatile playmaker has often been linked with Juventus, though Fiorentina is loathe to do business with The Old Lady unless absolutely necessary after big sales of Roberto Baggio and Federico Bernardeschi to Juve in the past.

The 22-year-old already has 17 Italian caps and scored 10 goals with six assists for La Viola this season in Serie A play, career bests in both.

Douglas Costa, Juventus

This one could become even more feasible if Juve latched onto Chiesa.

Juve desperately needs to get younger and Costa doesn’t figure to fit into the plans of Andrea Pirlo, a month away from his 30th birthday.

Costa works better on the right side and would be a worker bee looking to set up Rashford and Martial or cut back for Bruno Fernandes. He boasts double-digit assist seasons in the Bundesliga (Bayern), Serie A (Juve), and Ukraine (Shakhtar Donetsk).

TURIN, ITALY – MAY 19: Douglas Costa (Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images)

Raul Jimenez, Wolves

This one still feels like a long shot of long shots given the players’ age and status at Wolves, but the El Tri star has been linked with United in the past.

Jimenez doesn’t solve the wing issue presented by Sancho staying at BVB, and you’d fancy the Red Devils to go after one of Wolves’ wingers before Jimenez.

But Solskjaer enjoys Marcus Rashford at left wing and could use Anthony Martial at right wing a bit more often than center forward. Throw in Mason Greenwood and the boss would have a lot of permutations to use around Bruno Fernandes in a front three or four.

Ivan Perisic, Inter Milan

Mentioned as part of a swap deal for Alexis Sanchez, that’s less on the cards after the Chilean accepted a Man United payoff to move to Inter for free.

The 31-year-old favors the left wing and Inter would be happy to offload him after Bayern declined its option to buy the loanee who managed seven goals and 10 assists in just over 1600 minutes.

That’s pretty good output for a part-time player who kept some tread on the tires.

Perisic to Manchester United
MOSCOW, RUSSIA – JULY 15: Ivan Perisic of Croatia (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

James Rodriguez, Real Madrid

If you’re sensing a thread amongst most of these players, it’s no surprise considering United has a wage scale to meet the needs of many wantaways.

Real desperately wants to get something for Colombian star James, who at 29 played less than 800 minutes for La Liga’s champions this season.

His two-year loan stint at Bayern also saw him as a part-time player, but like Perisic a productive one. James scored 15 times with 20 assists over two seasons with the Bavarians.

Kingsley Coman, Bayern Munich

This would cost a lot of dough.

The 24-year-old has been a part of nine-straight league winners between Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus, and Bayern.

Okay that’s cheating a bit considering his Ligue 1 crowns came off a handful of appearances over two seasons at the Parc des Princes.

But the left and right winger might be on for a change of scenery with Serge Gnabry and Leroy Sane set to dominate the preferential places at Bayern.

Liverpool confirms signing of Greek left back

Tsimikas signs with Liverpool
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Well that escalated quickly (or has been on the cards and needed to wait for Olympiacos to bow out of the Europa League).

It took less than 24 hours for the rumored move of Kostas Tsimikas from Olympiacos to Liverpool to become a reality, giving the Reds valuable depth behind Andy Robertson.

[ MORE: Atleti without Correa, Vrsaljko ]

Tsimikas, 24, is thrice-capped by Greece and has 86 appearances for Olympiacos with 12 assists. He will wear No. 21 for the Reds.

From LiverpoolFC.com:

“I’m very happy, I’m very proud to be here. For me, the biggest club in the world. It’s an honour to be here and I will give my best. The league here, I like a lot. I watch it on the TV and it was always one dream I had from when I was a kid to come to play in this league and to come through.

“With a lot of work and focus on what I do and what the coach wants, and every day working hard in training, I can be on the highest level. [I want] to achieve [our] goals. To win the league again and also to win the Champions League.”

Tsimikas is about two years Robertson’s junior.

He played 384 minutes over four appearances versus PL sides in the Europa League, helping Olympiacos beat Arsenal before falling to Wolves last week.