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Van Gaal: Man United “put my head in noose,” Mourinho slams past

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Louis Van Gaal is not a man who forgets those who have wronged him.

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The legendary Dutch coach, 66, has spoken out about his firing from Manchester United in the summer of 2016, hours after he led the Red Devils to FA Cup success.

LVG, who led United to fourth and fifth place finishes in his two seasons in charge at Old Trafford, was fired a year early after he signed a three-year contract in 2014 to lead United back to glory.

[ MORE: Mourinho refuses to shake Hughes’ hand ]

That didn’t happen with a bland playing style lambasted by a large majority of United’s fans and now van Gaal, speaking to the Daily Mirror, has finally lifted the lid on how he felt about his firing.

“United put my head in a noose and I was publicly placed on the gallows. The pressure was enormous with my head in the noose and they went right behind my back. I think it was all orchestrated like a film and it was done very much behind my back right from January,” van Gaal said. “My wife, Truus, told me that the attitude of the board had changed. Women have this intuition. They smell it. I denied it, even to my wife, because between me as a manager and the chief executive Ed Woodward, everything was running as normal.”

Van Gaal then revealed that he would have been fine with Jose Mourinho taking over from him at the end of the 2015-16 season but that United never consulted him about the decision and therefore he demanded he was paid the final year of his salary. He also slammed former players for “yapping in the media” about United’s “boring” style of play.

“They told me only after it was leaked out and it was the biggest disappointment of my life,” van Gaal added. “United did not discuss this with me. If they had come to me with the Mourinho plan then I could have said ‘okay, let’s give it everything for the last six months, complete commitment to each other and the team and then Jose Mourinho can take over.’ They could have saved the last year of my salary by doing that but after what happened I made them pay every penny.”

Mourinho was appointed LVG’s successor and although he had previously been complimentary of the man who worked with at Barcelona in the past, the Portuguese coach had this to say to the Sunday Times when asked about van Gaal’s regime and that of David Moyes before him at United.

“There was an evolution in the other clubs; there was no evolution in this club. In all the areas that make a team successful, I think we stopped in time,” Mourinho said. “That was quite an empty period in the club with no evolution in areas that are important. It was the weight of the past on the shoulders of the players, managers, even boards, even probably owners, because when you are used to ‘win and win and win’, and suddenly you stop, it’s like a heavy burden.”

*Grabs popcorn*

Fernandes scores first goal, says Ronaldo backed Manchester United move

Bruno Fernandes Ronaldo
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It’s probably not a surprise that a young Portuguese player would fancy Manchester United given the heroics of Cristiano Ronaldo at Old Trafford early his career.

Bruno Fernandes admits that those images danced through his head well before he signed with the Red Devils in January.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

It’s also not a shock that United would turn to their former player for a take on the playmaker before buying him from Sporting Lisbon.

Fernandes says he’s grateful that CR7 endorsed BF18. From Sky Sports:

“I know some people asked Cristiano what he thought of me and what I was like as a player and a person,” Fernandes said. “I know he spoke highly of me and gave me a good reference, so I sent him a message after to thank him for his kind words.”

Fernandes has 19 caps and two goals for Portugal, while Ronaldo has a few more with 164 and 99.

He now has a goal and an assist in four appearances for United. Ronaldo finished with 118 goals and 69 assists in 292 appearances for the Red Devils.

Here’s the finish:

Eden Hazard suffers fracture ahead of Man City in UCL, El Clasico

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Eden Hazard is set to miss the Real Madrid’s UEFA Champions League first leg against Man City with a broken fibula.

Hazard had only returned to the lineup for two matches following a three-month absence with an ankle injury.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

The 29-year-old has made just 15 appearances for Real since arriving in a big-money move from Chelsea, scoring once with five assists.

He has never appeared in less than 30 league matches over the course of his career, five times missing one or zero matches.

Of course, all of his absences show that Real is very comfortable playing and winning without Hazard. Zinedine Zidane’s men lost Sunday to drop behind Barcelona in La Liga, but that was just its second loss of the league season.

Real will be taxed in depth like its rivals, with Wednesday’s visit from Man City followed by an El Clasico at the Bernabeu on March 1. Barcelona hosts Napoli on Tuesday.

Whether you like the playmaker or despise him, there must be some sense of sympathy for his latest ailments (even if Man City and Barca fans will likely offer a Jerry Seinfeld-esque, “That’s a shame”).

Watch Live: Manchester United, Wolves host bottom three battlers

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A pair of Premier League basement dwellers face stiff tests in their bids to win another season in the top flight.

Manchester United hosts Watford on NBCSN while Wolves welcome Norwich City on CNBC as both home sides aim to improve the health of their top four hopes in 9 a.m. ET kickoffs.

[ WATCH: Man Utd-Watford | Wolves-Norwich ]

Lineups notes from both matches:

LINEUPS

Manchester United

Watford


Wolves

Norwich City

Three Serie A matches suspended due to virus deaths in Italy

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ROME (AP) Three Serie A soccer matches scheduled for Sunday in the northern regions of Lombardy and Veneto were suspended late Saturday after the deaths of two people infected with the virus from China.

On orders from the Italian government, the games called off were: Inter Milan vs. Sampdoria, Atalanta vs. Sassuolo and Hellas Verona vs. Cagliari.

Three other matches in Genoa, Turin and Rome on Sunday are going ahead as scheduled.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

A dozen towns in northern Italy effectively went into lockdown on Saturday after the deaths of two people infected with the coronavirus from China, and a growing cluster of cases with no direct links to the origin of the outbreak abroad.

“The government is working on urgent measures to decisively confront and contain the cases of coronavirus contagion,” read a letter from Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora to Italian Olympic Committee president Giovanni Malago shortly before midnight local time on Saturday. “Those measures also include the sports world in order to prevent risks and to better take care of the health of those involved in the events and competition.

“Following measures taken by the cabinet for protective reasons and maximum precaution, on orders of the government I’m asking you to suspend all sports events of every level and discipline planned for the Lombardy and Veneto regions on Sunday.”

The secondary contagions prompted local authorities in the Lombardy and Veneto regions to close schools, businesses and restaurants and to cancel sporting events and Masses.

The mayor of Milan, Italy’s business capital and the regional capital of Lombardy, shuttered public offices.

A 78-year-old man infected with the virus died in Veneto. A postmortem on a 77-year-old woman in Lombardy came back positive, though it wasn’t clear if illness from the virus caused her death.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Andrew Dampf on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AndrewDampf