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Mourinho slams “ridiculous” Man United defending

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LONDON — Jose Mourinho rued poor defensive mistakes from his Manchester United side on Wednesday as they lost 2-0 at Wembley to Tottenham Hotspur.

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The Red Devils fell behind just 11 seconds into the game as a long ball forward was flicked into Christian Eriksen by Dele Alli and the Danish playmaker delivered the opener.

United never recovered and Phil Jones shanked a clearance into his own goal Tottenham’s second goal and, in truth, the 2-0 scoreline was flattering for United as Spurs missed several glorious opportunities to extend their lead further.

Speaking to reporters after the game, Mourinho didn’t mince his words.

“It’s a performance that starts with a ridiculous goal,” Mourinho said. “That goal after a few seconds has a big influence in the game because Tottenham can play the way they like to play. In the end, we played against a very good team. Both goals were ridiculous goals, also the second was unlucky. The first goal is an accumulation of mistakes in spite of the fact that everything happened so fast. My players have watched the Tottenham kick-off many, many times. They know the way they do it and they also know [Harry] Kane normally starts in a position in front of the line to win some metres. We didn’t control it, lost the second ball on the ground and it was a really, really bad goal.”

Ys, United made poor defensive mistakes, but Mourinho must take his portion of the blame. When the team sheets were passed around at Wembley (which saw a record crowd for a Premier League game of 81,798) United’s attacking intent was clear. Alexis Sanchez, Romelu Lukaku, Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard all started but the Red Devils were unbalanced and Nemanja Matic overrun in midfield.

It’s unlikely Mourinho will go all-out attack against a top six rival away from home again anytime soon.

The defeat now drags United further into the top four battle as they’re just five points ahead of fifth-place Spurs with an almighty scrap for the Champions League spots set to take center stage in the final months of the season with Manchester City 15 points clear and the champions elect.

Another talking point from the game was Alexis Sanchez’s Premier League debut for United as he returned to north London but didn’t enjoy taking on his former bitter rivals Spurs.

The ex-Arsenal man failed to have a shot on goal and cut a frustrated figure as Tottenham gave him special treatment with tough tackles and tight marking, as well as Spurs fans booing his every touch.

Mourinho was happy enough with Sanchez’s output as he switched him from the left flank in the first half to a central attacking role in the second half.

“He worked hard, but again the transformation the game had, the game was not for him,” Mourinho said. “In the second half, I tried to give him a position where he could be closer to [Romelu] Lukaku but then he felt the need to drop too much to organise. But he gave everything, good effort and this is a good feeling for me to know that the player is available with that spirit.”

United’s manager also teed up the battle between his club and four others for the three remaining Champions League spots as Man City moved 15 points clear atop the Premier League table on Wednesday.

“Yes, the Premier League finishes for us at Old Trafford in the last match against Watford in May but we knew that the distance to the leader was already considerable, even before this match,” Mourinho said. “Now we have us, Chelsea, Spurs, Liverpool, Arsenal – we will be there fighting for the positions.”

Game on.

Breaking: Unai Emery to take manager role at Arsenal

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Arsenal has found its next manager, and it isn’t Mikel Arteta, despite the former player’s strong links to the club.

BBC Sport has reported that former Paris Saint Germain manager Unai Emery will be named the club’s next manager as a successor to legendary coach Arsene Wenger, who recently stepped down from his post.

Emery served two seasons at the helm for PSG, after making a name for himself at Sevilla previously with three consecutive UEFA Europa League titles (2014-2016).

More to follow…

Transfer rumors: Willian, Alderweireld to Manchester United

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The transfer rumor mill is picking up steam this Monday, including some persistent whispers regarding two Premier League players with possible futures at Old Trafford.

Both of these make a lot of sense.

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A day after Nemanja Matic stressed the need for experienced players at United, two good fits hit the rumor mill (again).

Matic’s old Chelsea pal Willian has interest from United if he seeks a way out of London — which seems likely — where he’s said to be ready to go if Antonio Conte remains as manager.

Then there’s Toby Alderweireld, whose been very strong at Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur but reportedly fallen out with current Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino.

During a rut, the Tottenham manager claimed that Alderweireld was held out of Spurs’ lineup due to the form of the players in front of him.

Also from Sky, we’ll leave this quote from PSG chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi on the idea of possibly selling Kylian Mbappe.

Al-Khelaifi told Canal+: “You want me to give you a number? More than €1bn! Yes, I said one billion! And even if you gave me a billion, I wouldn’t sell him.”

Pogba: Mourinho “made me progress in leadership”

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Paul Pogba says “we are never sure of anything but contractually, it’s sure” that he’ll remain at Manchester United.

That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement from United’s most expensive transfer purchase, as many have linked him with a move away from Old Trafford.

[ MORE: No World Cup for Chelsea trio ]

He also said he’s not worried about his relationship with United boss Jose Mourinho, and pointed out that his problems and growth in Manchester are a natural part of a player’s progression. From Sky Sports:

“There were times where I wasn’t playing, I was on the bench. There was a lot of talk, people thought it wasn’t working out,” Pogba added.

“But a coach and a player don’t have to be best friends, we don’t have to go to restaurants together. I had a few little problems too… football is sometimes all about the mental side. He put me on the bench and I gave my response on the pitch. I always give everything I’ve got.

“He made me progress in leadership. I had the armband with Mourinho, it was the first time in a club, it’s important for me, it makes me grow to be also a leader in the France team.”

In a candid talk, the 25-year-old Pogba was asked about Paris Saint-Germain and told French television that he’d be open to representing the club in the future despite the fact that his parents are Marseille supporters.

Moore takes hold of West Brom’s promotion bid

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Darren Moore‘s spell as West Brom caretaker manager couldn’t quite pull off a miraculous run to Premier League safety, but the promise it contained has helped him to the first chance at earning promotion back to the top flight.

West Bromwich Albion announced Moore as its new manager on Monday, with the boss promising his Baggies would play attractive football while also being a side “that’s willing to fight and scrap for every ball.”

[ MORE: No World Cup for Chelsea trio ]

Moore is also happy to carry a flame for minority coaches — called BAME (Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic) — in England.

“If it does inspire others, I would be extremely proud,” he said. “I don’t just speak on behalf of BAME coaches but the young, aspiring British coaches across the board.”

Moore, 44, only lost one of his six PL matches as WBA boss, winning three times and inspiring many to wonder what would’ve happened had the Baggies’ pulled the plug on Alan Pardew — and Tony Pulis before him — earlier.

A center back in his playing career, Moore spent 18 seasons between a number of clubs including West Brom, Derby County, and Doncaster Rovers. He won promotion as a player twice with West Brom, and again with Derby.