Getty Images

Mourinho right to hit out at Henrikh Mkhitaryan?

1 Comment

Jose Mourinho has launched a scathing attack on Manchester United playmaker Henrikh Mkhitaryan, his latest target after calling out Luke Shaw last season and during this campaign.

Given Mourinho’s comments, it’s hard to see the Mkhitaryan sticking around at Old Trafford for much longer. And perhaps that is what Mourinho wants.

Speaking ahead of United’s clash with Brighton & Hove Albion at Old Trafford on Saturday (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) Mourinho discussed Mkhitaryan’s recent form.

He didn’t hold back.

“I was not happy with his last performances,” Mourinho said. “It’s not one or two, I am talking about three, four or five. He started well this season but his performance levels, goalscoring, assists, high pressing, bringing the team with him as number 10, were decreasing step by step. That was enough [to be dropped] because the others worked to have a chance. Everybody works to have a chance. It’s as simple as that.”

This isn’t the first time Mkhitaryan has been criticized by Mourinho, but it may be the last and with incredible competition for places among the attacking midfielders at United, the Armenian international may be the odd one out.

Just a few months into his debut campaign at United, following his $37 million move from Borussia Dortmund in the summer of 2016, Mkhitaryan was hauled off at half time in the Manchester derby and Mourinho didn’t start him in another PL game for three months.

The 28-year-old rebounded well from a tough start to life at United and scored 11 goals in 41 appearances in all competitions in 2016-17, scoring six times in their run to winning the UEFA Europa League, including in the final.

Mkhitaryan recovered from that knock-back and did start this season well but hasn’t featured since a lackluster display in the defeat at Chelsea on Nov. 5. In all honesty, Mkhitaryan was woeful at Chelsea and it would be easy to understand if the real reason he hasn’t played a single second in any of United’s last two games is because he is still lost in N'Golo Kante‘s back pocket…

With Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata all able to play in the same role as Mkhitaryan, plus Zlatan Ibrahimovic returning to full fitness to boost their attacking options, this attack on Mkhitaryan is well-timed by Mourinho and could suggest he’s ready to offload him in January when the transfer window reopens.

It is believed Mkhitaryan’s former club Dortmund may be eager to buy him back in January with the Bundesliga side having bought Shinji Kagawa, Mario Gotze and Nuri Sahin back to the Westfalenstadion in recent years.

Mkhitaryan’s time at United has been somewhat underwhelming but if he leaves in January, his career can’t be brushed aside as a complete failure as he helped them to two major trophies last season and a return to the UEFA Champions League.

His time at United will be remembered more for his constant battle to impress Mourinho. The 2015-16 Bundesliga player of the year appears to have lost both the battle, and the war, when it comes to that.

Mourinho bemoans ‘very bad’ preseason for Man United

Photo by Henry Browne/Getty Images
1 Comment

MANCHESTER, England — Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has described the team’s preseason as “very bad” because of the disruption caused by the World Cup and the absence of Alexis Sanchez for the tour of the United States.

Paul Pogba, Romelu Lukaku, Marcus Rashford, Marouane Fellaini and Phil Jones will not return to training with United until close to the start of the new season because their countries got to the semifinals of the World Cup in Russia.

Sanchez wasn’t among the United squad heading across the Atlantic because there was an issue with his visa after the Chile forward accepted a 16-month suspended sentence in Spain over a tax issue.

Mourinho said “preseason is very bad, I have to say that,” adding that “I am worried because I am not training with all my players.”

On Sanchez, Mourinho said “he’s very sad, it’s not good for him or me, not good for anyone. There is no one to blame — the club is making an effort. I have to respect the U.S. authorities in their process of selection of visas. I hope he will come to join us.”

Mourinho said he is set to start the season with Sanchez, Juan Mata and Anthony Martial as his strike force.

United flew to Los Angeles on Sunday and will play five games, including three International Champions Cup matches against Real Madrid, AC Milan and Liverpool, during its stay.

United plays its first English Premier League game of the season on Aug. 10 against Leicester at Old Trafford.

WATCH LIVE: U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals Wed. night

Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open is back, with all four quarterfinal matchups set for Wednesday night.

[ MORE: USWNT names veteran team for Tournament of Nations ]

It’s a mixed bag of haves and have-nots from the 2018 MLS regular season still alive in the competition. Current holders Sporting Kansas City are still alive and have been drawn away to the Houston Dynamo (8:30 p.m. ET), in something of a grudge match for Houston after coughing up a 2-0 lead and losing to Sporting KC 3-2 last month.

Los Angeles FC host Portland Timbers (10:30 p.m. ET) in a rematch of Sunday’s league clash at Banc of California Stadium (a 0-0 draw). Philadelphia Union and Orlando City SC open the night’s action at Talen Energy Stadium (7 p.m. ET), followed by Chicago Fire taking on the only remaining lower-division team still in the competition, Louisville City (7:30 p.m. ET).

All games will be streamed live on ussoccer.com, direct links below.

STREAMS

Philadelphia Union vs. Orlando City SC — WATCH
Chicago Fire vs. Louisville City — WATCH
Houston Dynamo vs. Sporting Kansas City — WATCH
Los Angeles FC vs. Portland Timbers — WATCH

Miami City Commission sends Beckham stadium to Nov. ballot

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images
1 Comment

David Beckham and his business partners, the Mas brothers, are one top closer to securing the stadium deal required to bring an MLS expansion franchise to the city of Miami — maybe, but also maybe not.

[ MORE: Transfer rumor roundup: Pogba wants Juve move, Grealish to Spurs? ]

The Miami City Commission voted on Wednesday to place a referendum on the November ballot, paving the way for Beckham and Co.’s privately-funded complex on city land currently occupied by a golf course. The final vote tally was 3-2 in favor of sending the issue to ballot. A previous Commission session was conducted, and ended, last week without a final vote taking place as the fifth and final member had yet to make up his mind.

Beckham and partners used the last week, between Commission meetings, to put a full-court press on Miami’s general public, local media and the last remaining member of the Commission.

[ MORE: PHOTOS: 2018-19 Premier League jerseys ]

The key, and most contentious, part of the proposal is (at least) $35 million worth of toxic waste which must be removed from the site. That number could very easily double or triple once clean-up begins, and Beckham’s group would be on the hook for the total cost.

The proposed stadium would seat roughly 25,000 fans and would be just one part of the 58-acre park which will also include retail, restaurants and hotels.

Sarri hopes to convince Hazard, Courtois in face-to-face meeting

Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The coming days and weeks will be immensely tense times for players, coaches, directors and fans of Chelsea alike — but, for no one more so than new Blues boss Maurizio Sarri, who faces the very real prospect of losing arguably his two best players before managing his first game at Stamford Bridge.

[ MORE: Transfer rumor roundup: Pogba wants Juve move, Grealish to Spurs? ]

Forward Eden Hazard has made it pretty clear he’d prefer a move to his yet-unnamed “preferred destination,” and goalkeeper Thibut Courtois has said he’d like to continue playing with Hazard, either in west London or elsewhere. Sarri hopes he’ll have a chance to persuade the Belgian duo to stay another year, or longer, but he doesn’t plan on doing so until they return from their offseason breaks, at which point he can meet with them face to face — quotes from the Guardian:

“Clearly the players you are referring to are very high-level players and I would like to keep them. But a telephone call without looking them in the eye will not give me any certainty.

“I would like to meet these players face to face and talk to them and understand what the best thing is for everyone to do. Before that I would also like a player to come on the pitch for four or five days with me to have a clear idea of what the plan is.”

Given that the Premier League’s transfer window will close before the upcoming season’s opening weekend (Aug. 9), the period of time during which Hazard and Courtois will be available to meet with Sarri, and the amount of time to reinvest and replenish the squad should they leave, will be an extremely narrow window. After finishing third-place at the 2018 World Cup, they could very easily be away until the final 48 or 72 hours of the window.