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Jose Mourinho: I should cry every week about injuries

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For now, Jose Mourinho has taken the high road. So he says.

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Speaking ahead of Manchester United’s trip to title contenders, and his former club, Chelsea, on Sunday (Watch live, 11:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com), Mourinho believes his side would be getting more credit if he had complained more about recent injuries.

Despite United sitting second in the Premier League table 10 weeks into the season, his side have been heavily criticized for defensive displays in recent weeks.

Mourinho says he doesn’t complain about injuries as much as other managers and that’s probably why his team are getting plenty of criticism.

“It’s my fault because I should cry every week about our injuries and remind everybody, day after day or press conference after press conference,” Mourinho said. “So it’s my fault. It’s my decision. It’s my way of dealing with problems. It’s my way of trying to motivate and respect and give confidence to the players that are going to replace those people. But maybe I have to reconsider my profile. I know that I moan about a lot of things but I don’t with injuries and probably I should.

“I think any other manager would be speaking about Pogba every day. ‘Oh, I don’t have Pogba. Oh, when will I have Pogba? Oh, 10 matches without Pogba. Oh, all the Champions League group phase without Pogba. Oh, all the big matches, against Liverpool, against Chelsea, against Spurs without Pogba. Oh.’ I don’t speak about Pogba one single time. It’s only when you ask me about his situation. And it’s not just Pogba. It’s Pogba, it’s Fellaini, it’s Carrick, it’s Ibra, it’s Marcos Rojo. It’s a big group of players. So I think we are doing very, very well.”

Does he have a point?

Hmmm. This is a tough one. Mourinho has definitley mentioned injuries to Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marouane Fellaini in previous press conferences. What about his rivals?

Manchester City have had to deal with a season-ending injury to Benjamin Mendy, Vincent Kompany out for most of the campaign and a few games without Sergio Aguero. Pep Guardiola‘s men have coped just fine but he has mentioned their absentees on a few occasions.

Chelsea have had multiple absentees across their squad this season (Eden Hazard, Alvaro Morata and N'Golo Kante among them) and there have been a few rumblings from Antonio Conte during their up and down start to the campaign.

Liverpool have been missing Adam Lallana and Nathaniel Clyne for all of the season so far, plus Philippe Coutinho and Sadio Mane have been out injured for spells. Jurgen Klopp has certainly pointed towards those injuries for some poor displays from the Reds.

The timing of these comments from Mourinho is somewhat expected.

Heading into the final international break of 2017, he knows the likes of Fellaini, Pogba, Rojo and even Ibrahimovic will return within the next few weeks. When they return to full fitness he can have no excuses.

Until then, he will keep reminding us just how good United were early in the season before they were struck by a raft of injuries he doesn’t want to talk about.

“I really think that you and the specialists know the football that we were playing at the beginning of the season,” Mourinho told the media. “You know. Now you pretend that you don’t know. Now you pretend that we never played amazing football, that we never scored lots of goals, that we never scored amazing goals. That we never had our midfield players and our defenders arriving in the opposition box and scoring goals and creating chances.

“I know that you know that. You just pretend, because it’s convenient for you to pretend that these things didn’t exist. But they exist. And we miss our players, of course we miss our players. And we have to play big matches without them, and we are probably going to play one more without them again.”

Premier League rivalries: The Merseyside derby

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While the Merseyside derby has been dominated by one side of late, that has not detracted from the spectacle of the most historic matchup in English top flight history.

Uninterrupted in top flight play since 1962/63, the two sides are situated less than a mile apart, with the proximity feeding an already intense matchup.

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Despite the incredibly close geographic proximity, the derby is sometimes known as the “Friendly Derby” as there are often families with split allegiances. Still, the matchup has the most red cards in Premier League history with 21, including 17 of those in the especially heated timeframe between 1997 and 2008.

Unfortunately for Everton, the rivalry has become one-sided over the past decade, with the Toffees failing to win since October of 2010. Liverpool has won 11 of the 21 games, with the other 10 ending in a draw. That has somewhat deescalated the vicious nature of the matchup, especially since Liverpool has gone on to become one of the most formidable sides in Europe over the past few years while Everton continues to challenge for a top-half place in the league.

Still, the 228 all-time matches between the clubs continues to fuel one of the great matchups in the English domestic landscape, and sooner or later this rivalry will regain its venom to bring the bite back to this matchup.

Bayern Munich signs coach Flick as permanent boss

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Bayern Munich has locked down interim head coach Hansi Flick as permanent boss, signing the 55-year-old on through the summer of 2023, the club announced on Friday.

Flick took over on an interim basis for Niko Kovac when the Croatian was let go in early November with the club fourth in the Bundesliga table. He impressed during his time as interim manager, leading the club back to the top of the table thanks in large part to a current 11-match league unbeaten run that features 10 wins and a draw.

That streak includes a 0-0 draw with then-second placed RB Leipzig that kept Bayern atop the table, plus a dominant 5-0 win over then-fifth placed Schalke. Successive 2-1 defeats to Borussia Monchengladbach and Bayer Leverkusen are the only real blemishes on his record in charge so far, coming way back in late November and early December.

“I’m looking forward to taking on the upcoming tasks along with my staff and the team,” Flick said in the official team release. “The talks with Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Oliver Kahn and Hasan Salihamidžić were very good and in a spirit of good faith. We’ve determined the direction for the upcoming years. I’m sure we can achieve a lot together.”

Flick has also kept the club’s pristine Champions League record alive this season, with wins over Red Star Belgrade, Tottenham, and Chelsea by a combined 12-1 scoreline. The 3-0 first-leg win over Chelsea in the Round of 16 has the club primed to reach the quarterfinal round should the competition eventually resume.

Speaking to Flick’s adaptability, he also kept the club rolling in the recent absence of in-form striker Robert Lewandowski, working 6-0 and 2-0 wins over Hoffenheim and Augsburg without his lead frontman who began a long absence with a broken tibia.

“Bayern are very satisfied with Hansi Flick’s work,” said Bayern’s chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge in the release. “The team has had a very good development under him, plays attractive football which is reflected in results. We are the only club still competing in all three competitions.”

Sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic added, “Hansi and I know in which direction we want to develop the team. We believe that Hansi is also the right head coach for the current time.”

Transfer Rumor Roundup: Montiel to Palace or West Ham, Coutinho to depart Barcelona

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River Plate is one of many clubs that could use this coming transfer window to earn a payday after taking losses in the coronavirus shutdown, and that could come at the benefit of one Premier League club.

West Ham is apparently one of a few teams after Argentine international Gonzalo Montiel who could fetch River Plate somewhere in the vicinity of $24 million. The right-back is a River Plate youth product who established himself as a regular for the club at just 20 years old and has spent the last three seasons earning significant minutes. Now 23, Montiel is a strong passer who can create for teammates with long-range deliveries.

Argentine publication Ole mentions that Spanish side Valencia has shown interest of late, but also states that West Ham made contact in January but was turned down by River Plate and the Hammers could be suitors again once the next window arrives. Montiel was also linked with Crystal Palace by Goal back in late March, while Argentine newspaper El Intransigente linked the player with Southampton. Palace and Saints both make sense as they are both looking to replace big-name departures of late, with Crystal Palace still yet to truly replace Aaron Wan-Bissaka while Southampton has not seen much from those brought in to take over for Cedric Soares.

Barcelona is reportedly ready to lower its asking price on Philippe Coutinho, with a bid of $86 million potentially workable for the Catalan club, according to a report by the Evening Standard.

Coutinho was extremely poor in his season-and-a-half at Barcelona, and while the Brazilian playmaker had upped his game on loan at Bayern Munich before the coronavirus shutdown, the purchase price on his loan deal is a whopping $130 million, which Bayern Munich is not willing to pay.

Barcelona is desperately in need of funds to support its summer business, with Lautaro Martinez and Neymar both heavily linked with the La Liga giants. It’s highly unlikely that both will be possible to acquire given both the team’s business of late and the coronavirus shutdown causing financial strain on clubs all over the world, and a significant sale may even be needed to get one of them over the line. Coutinho provides such a possibility, but with Barcelona not exactly in a position of strength given Coutinho’s lack of recent star power and the club’s need to sell, dropping the asking price is a highly likely eventuality.

The Evening Standard report mentions that Barcelona believes the Premier League is the “most likely possibility” for a Coutinho suitor given the league’s memories of his incredible spell at Liverpool just a few years ago.

Speaking of the Premier League, Manchester United was reportedly close to securing a marquee striker last summer before eventually sticking with Marcus Rashford up front. Speaking to Italian print publication Tuttosport on Wednesday, Romelu Lukaku’s agent Federico Pastorello said that the Belgian big man almost went to Juventus on a swap deal before Manchester United backed out of the transfer negotiations due to Dybala’s high wage demand. Eventually, Lukaku departed for Inter Milan where he settled in quickly and has contributed to a furious title challenge that just lost steam before the coronavirus shutdown.

Pastorello simply responded “It’s true” when asked if Dybala had been a focal point of Manchester United negotiations, but hedged his answer with, “Romelu, however, had always hoped to go to Inter because he was impressed by the affection of the Inter fans.”

Henderson contacts PL captains to set up coronavirus relief fund

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According to a report by The Times, Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson has contacted captains of other Premier League clubs to discuss setting up a coronavirus relief fund for the National Health Service (NHS) in Britain.

The report states that Henderson’s effort began before Health Secretary Matt Hancock criticized Premier League players for not “doing their part” by taking wage cuts.

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The fund is reportedly likely to run into the millions of pounds in value and has apparently been positively embraced by the players Henderson has spoken to, with an understanding that players will give what they can in accordance with the wide variety of salaries across the league. He has also apparently contacted banks to help set up the fund.

The Guardian reports that Henderson is unhappy with news of the fund breaking before it was completely established.