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Reasons behind Man Utd’s offseason woes

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At least once during the past two months you’ve probably muttered to yourself: “What the heck is going on at Manchester United?”

You were, and are, right to think that.

WATCH LIVE: Transfer Deadline Day show, August 9 at 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com 

Theorists who back the ‘Jose Mourinho third-season syndrome’ are currently rubbing their hands gleefully as they get ready to sit back, grab some popcorn and watch the meltdown.

But what are the issues at play? Why is Mourinho more miserable than usual? How are things threatening to teeter on the edge of the abyss?

Even if Manchester United sign a few players in the final day of the window (to add to Fred, Diogo Dalot and Lee Grant) it hasn’t been a happy summer for Mourinho’s side.


1. Jose Mourinho and Ed Woodward’s relationship is strained – Anybody who saw that awkward embrace (if we can even call it that) between Mourinho and executive vice-chairman Woodward following United’s preseason game in Miami knows all is not well between them. Mourinho has mentioned time and time again how he’s given his list of players to Woodward and that’s all he can do. Sir Alex Ferguson and Martin Edwards (then David Gil later on) were pros at getting deals done for United. Fergie would set them up, Edwards or Gil would get them done. Mourinho and Woodward are doing neither and the pressure is cranking up on both.


2. Players getting sick of constant mind games – Instead of congratulating Paul Pogba on his stunning displays in the World Cup or Anthony Martial on the birth of his new child, Mourinho went in an opposite direction over the summer. He said it is time for Pogba to “figure out” what his best position is and how to play it at United like he did so brilliantly for France during their World Cup success. He also questioned why Martial was gone for so long of United’s U.S. tour during the birth of his child. Mourinho’s coldness knows no bounds. It’s not even the star players who should be upset. Mourinho calling out most of the squad on the U.S. tour as not being good enough to play with Alexis Sanchez was such a poor move considering that was the hand he was dealt after the World Cup. It was the same for Man City and Liverpool, but you didn’t hear Pep Guardiola or Jurgen Klopp complain about it. The opposite was very true.


3. Even the fans are getting tired of Mourinho – If you listen to talk shows discussing United’s summer, you have two camps. 1) There are fans who love Mourinho no matter what and they blame Woodward for not giving him the squad he needs, despite $400 million being spent since he arrived in 2016 as boss. 2) Fans who are sick and tired of Mourinho’s constant negativity and they can’t even point to a particularly exciting brand of play despite finishing best of the rest last season behind runaway winners Man City. Even FA Cups, League Cups and the Europa League won’t sway them in wanting Mourinho out, even if there isn’t a better alternative.


4. The kicker: Man City are amazing and Liverpool is spending big – The truth of the matter is, Mourinho has arrived at United during a time of transition and where their closest rivals are further ahead in their projects, due to vast resources, having more time and support, or both. Pep Guardiola has been backed in the transfer market and already had a plethora of superstars to work with when he arrived in 2016. He’s already delivered a title and stunning teams to watch at City. As for Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool, he’s spent huge sums of cash upgrading his defense and midfield this summer and despite Mourinho’s snipes he is backed by his board and the fans almost unanimously after arriving in October 2015 and fostering an exciting, attacking style of play.

Juventus goalkeeper Szczesny to have offseason knee surgery

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Juventus goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny will undergo knee surgery this offseason, but he will be available for the final match of the season against Sampdoria, manager Massimiliano Allegri confirmed on Saturday.

The Polish international has been the first-choice goalkeeper for much of the year for Juve, but has occasionally ceded time to 26-year-old Mattia Perin.

Allegri said that Szczesny will need “keyhole surgery,” likely another term for an arthroscopy, lending belief that he is either struggling with a torn meniscus or just generally needs his knee cleaned out. Given that speculation, it’s unlikely the surgery will cause him to miss any time at the start of next season. The 29-year-old has been a warrior for most of his career, staying clear of serious injuries throughout his time with both Arsenal and Juventus.

Juve has already confirmed its ninth straight Serie A title, but the club has limped down the stretch of the season, without a win over its last four matches. Prior to the late-season slide, Szczesny had been the goalkeeper to secure the best results, with Perin between the sticks for both of Juve’s two losses on the year and Szczesny dropping just four points all season, but the Polish international has been the one in goal for the four-game slide that includes three draws and a loss.

Allegri also announced that Cristiano Ronaldo will be held out of the season finale on Sunday and will not make the trip with the squad for the road game, instead resting for international duty this summer. “It is right for others to play now,” Allegri said.

“After that, we can all go to the beach, I’ve been told to put sun cream on my head. Now let’s go for a drink,” Allegri said, joking about his extremely short hair to end the press conference.

PSG extends manager Thomas Tuchel through 2021

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No wonder Thomas Tuchel was in such a jovial mood regarding his job security yesterday.

Paris Saint-Germain announced on Saturday that it has handed manager Thomas Tuchel a one-year contract extension, pushing the expiration of his contract to the summer of 2021. The addition extends his initial two-year deal he signed last summer when he joined the club after leaving Borussia Dortmund.

The news is somewhat surprising given that Tuchel had come under fire for PSG’s struggles down the stretch of the season, first with the club’s elimination from the Champions League in the Round of 16, and then for the failures down the stretch of the domestic campaign. It took weeks to formally clinch the league title as the team skidded through April, and the club fell to Stade Rennes in the final of the Coupe de France. Still, according to a number of reports, the deal was signed back in March making the end to the season irrelevant.

The German boss was able to joke about his future after PSG’s season-ending defeat to Stade de Reims on Friday, laughing at reporters who asked about his job security heading into the summer, “Honestly, I am worried… I get the impression that everybody knows something that I do not!”

Less than 24 hours later, news of his extension was official. “The entire Paris Saint-Germain family is delighted to see Thomas Tuchel extend his contract ,” said PSG chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi. “For a year now, Thomas has been bringing fantastic energy every day, not only to players, but to the entire club.”

Ultimately, PSG won the Ligue 1 crown handily, ending the season with a 16-point cushion. The first half of the season was an unmitigated success, starting the league season on a 14-match winning streak and not suffering a single loss until early February. They also performed well in the Champions League, losing just once in a very difficult Group C that featured Liverpool, Napoli, and Red Star Belgrade. The costly slip came against Manchester United where they fell 3-1 in the second leg at home despite a 2-1 first-leg advantage.

Tuchel’s extension also comes with its head-scratchers, as the German was critical of club hierarchy after Friday’s defeat. He hit out at the front office for allowing Neymar to leave the club early to join up with the Brazilian national team, with the 27-year-old suspended for the final match of the year. “No, Neymar has not been released,” Tuchel said when asked about Neymar’s absence from the squad. “In any case, he has not by me. It is not a sporting thing, so I do not know. You will have to ask the club.”

“Correct, this season has had its problems,” Tuchel continued later. “The goal moving forward has to be to stay more focused. That goes for the team, as well as the club. We must be stricter and pull in the same direction to achieve our goals.”

RSL’s Savarino downs Atlanta United in 94th minute

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Atlanta United dropped its second straight match, this time in gut-wrenching fashion, as Jefferson Savarino scored a 94th minute winner to hand Real Salt Lake a 2-1 win over Frank De Boer‘s bunch.

Josef Martinez appeared to have rescued Atlanta with his 78th minute equalizer, cancelling out Sebastian Saucedo’s first-half opener, but Savarino struck a blistering stunner from outside the box with the minimum three minutes of added time already passed. Savarino used straight muscle to shield a charging Leandro Gonzalez Pires off the ball, and the strike punished Brad Guzan for creeping just inches too far towards his near post.

The late winner redeemed a Real Salt Lake defense that fell asleep just a fraction too early on Martinez’s goal, as a low cross from Franco Escobar should have been easily dealt with, but the Venezuelan waited for the right moment and pounced in front of a snoozing Justin Glad to poke home the delivery.

While the two sides split the possession, RSL out-shot Atlanta and held the lead most of the way after Bofo put them in front just past the half-hour mark. The 22-year-old was given way too much space just outside the top of the box and placed a curler past Guzan for the opener for his second goal in two weeks.

The win gave RSL its third straight victory in what has become a streaky season. The campaign so far features two winning streaks and two losing streaks through 13 matches, with just one draw among the group. For Atlanta, the second straight loss leaves them stuck in fourth, squandering the chance to pass third-placed Montreal who sits a just point ahead.

LA Galaxy moves third in West with 1-0 win over Orlando

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A Jonathan dos Santos howitzer was enough to give the LA Galaxy a 1-0 win over Orlando City at home to move them into third place in the Western Conference standings.

The win not only boosted the Galaxy back up the standings but also stopped a brutal four-game losing skid that had threatened to erase the fabulous winning start to the season. It marks the club’s first clean sheet since a 0-0 draw with Minnesota United in late April.

The winner came in the 19th minute, a blast for his second goal of the season and first since mid March.

The clean sheet did not come easily. Dave Bingham stopped a Nani penalty in the 32nd minute after dos Santos tackled Sebastian Mendez in the area. Perry Kitchen – off the bench for his 2019 debut – was on hand to clear off the line after Bingham whiffed on a 68th minute Sacha Kljestan cross, while Bingham came up big three minutes later to stop a header by Chris Mueller off a corner.

Los Angeles’s victory moves them to 25 points, one behind Seattle who has a game in hand, and two ahead of Houston who has played three fewer games. For Orlando, they remain on 15 points, good for 10th in the East.