What now for Mourinho, Man United?

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MANCHESTER — His eyes fixated on the journalist sat in the corner of the press room at Old Trafford. He held three fingers aloft. He demanded “respect, respect” as he stormed out of the press conference room after letting everyone know how many Premier League titles he had won (three, in case you didn’t know).

This feels like the moment when Jose Mourinho finally flipped given all of the criticism and all of the negativity swirling around his Manchester United side.

Not to sound like a kid in a schoolyard but, well, he started this. Some of the criticism he has received is unfair given his record of winning trophies at some of the biggest clubs on the planet. But this is the here and now we are talking about, Jose.

[ MORE: Mourinho’s meltdown in full flow ]

At the start of their preseason tour in the United States this summer Mourinho spoke about a tough season ahead as he presumably tried to cajole the board, mainly executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, into action in the transfer market. Despite handing Mourinho a new long-term contract in January 2018, that didn’t happen as new center backs failed to arrive with combative midfielder Fred the only major signing. But Mourinho has still spent the second-highest amount on transfer fees since he arrived at United in 2016, so perhaps his previous buys persuaded Woodward that he’d keep his cash in the bank, for now.

Despite Mourinho’s spending there is no clear identity, no real plan for the way he is setting up his United team every time they step on the pitch. Pep Guardiola has it at Man City and so does Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool and Mauricio Pochettino at Tottenham. Mourinho seems to be muddled in his tactical approach, with his players unsure what the real message is each time they step out onto the pitch.

With the negativity spreading to his players and the majority of the fans, Mourinho is now asking for “respect” and demanding journalists to stop asking him questions about defenders making horrendous mistakes because United played well for the first 45 minutes against Spurs.

The respect he is craving from the media and the wider public wasn’t afforded to his players this summer. Yes, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Victor Lindelof in particular may not be good enough to play week in, week out for United but the huge mistakes they’re making are a product of doubts creeping into their minds about their manager, the way they’re being asked to play and all of the madness Mourinho has whipped up.

He’s a master of creating a siege mentality but the other inmates, his players, are being housed in a different asylum. They are not on the same page.

[ STREAM: Watch every PL match live

But what now? Where does this leave Mourinho and, more importantly, United?

The most important thing is that he now goes back to basics. Part of his rant on Monday involved asking journalists whether playing well or getting results mattered more.

“When I win matches, I come here many times and you are not happy I won matches and you say the most important thing is the way of playing. You have to make the decision. I need to know from you what is the most important thing. To play well and play offensively? Or to win matches?” Mourinho asked, rhetorically.

He’s a man who has been hammered time and time again for being pragmatic but getting results. He grinds out wins. He wins trophies. He’s even won trophies at United that way in 2016-17. So, he has to go back to that system. He tried to play a more attacking way, with a 3-5-1-1 formation ripping Tottenham apart at times in the first half but United were so susceptible to counterattacks. Mourinho is trying to adapt his tactics but can he complete that transformation into the modern era of high-pressing and five-man defenses quickly transitioning into attackers?

Mourinho claimed United won the “tactical and strategic” battle against Tottenham on Monday and for the first half they did. And maybe that is the way Mourinho now wants to play, to be more open and hope that the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Paul Pogba and others take their chances when they fall to them.

The safer option, and the route Mourinho will probably go down, is reverting to type. A solid 4-3-3 (4-5-1 when defending) and playing off Lukaku as the targetman as the rest of the team stay in their shape and try to get crosses from out wide as soon as they can. Those tactics delivered the League Cup and Europa League in Mourinho’s first season at United but his ideas were new, the players were more eager to adapt to his way of playing.

Now, as he enters the meaty part of his third season in charge at United, his players are questioning not only Mourinho’s tactics but his man-management as he’s fallen out and criticized many of them by now.

Therein lies the magic of Mourinho’s third-season syndrome. His abrasive, aggressive nature gets results for the first few years at a club but then, unless he adapts his methods, everything starts to turn against him. Speak to employees of Chelsea, Real Madrid or now United. They have eerily similar stories and this situation is eerily similar to what happened at Chelsea in 2015.

Mourinho must adapt his tactics and his attitude if he’s going to turn this around at United. The likelihood is that he won’t do either and that means more pain is on the horizon for the Red Devils.

USMNT vs Iran player ratings out of 10

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Christian Pulisic was injured scoring the lone goal of a 1-0 win over Iran as the United States men’s national team advanced to the World Cup’s Round of 16 on Tuesday.

WATCH IRAN vs USA FULL MATCH REPLAY

Fortunately for the USMNT, his exit from the match did not stop the Yanks from delivering a spot in the knockout rounds.

While the attack sputtered without him, the defenders and midfielders largely stepped into the fold as Yunus Musah and Co. helped Matt Turner keep a second clean sheet in three games.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub ]


Iran vs USA player ratings out of 10

Matt Turner: 6.5 — Some nervy moments late but the Arsenal backup again showed command of his box even when his body didn’t follow-through on good decisions.

Antonee Robinson: 9 — There’s an argument to be made that “Jedi” was the player of the round for the USMNT. He made a few rescue tackles and crosses from the left were few and far between.

Tim Ream: 8 — Quick, someone ask the coach if the guy who played every minute of the group stage is now a good fit for his system.

Cameron Carter-Vickers: 7 — Terrific when the U.S. had the ball and mostly good at the back, too. Is a good fit as a RCB in the back three, if that’s something Berhalter pulls out again.

Sergino Dest (Off 82′): 9 — While Pulisic’s goal was the moment of the game and Musah delivered several other moments, the fullbacks were the story of the entirety. Dest’s assist was massive, too (obviously).

USMNT player ratings
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Tyler Adams: 8 — He rarely has bad games in a USMNT shirt, and there’s a reason he has the captain’s arm band when most teams would’ve automatically allocated it to Pulisic.

Yunus Musah: 8.5 — It’s fair to say the U.S. hasn’t had as a complete a midfield duo in Musah and Adams in two decades, if not longer. Musah was monstrous

Weston McKennie (Off 65′): 6.5 –Still working his way to match sharpness over the hour-plus, and you can pen him in for a start and a sub in every game the rest of the way.

Tim Weah (Off 82′): 7.5 — The team’s second-biggest threat, could’ve had this match salted away at the hour mark with a hat trick on another day.

Josh Sargent (On 75′): 7 — Yeoman’s work from the Norwich City man, who limped off after landing awkwardly on the ball.

Christian Pulisic (Off HT): 8 — Scoring a round-clinching goal in a World Cup game is a really good way to cement your status in a national team program. His abdominal injury required a precautionary trip to the hospital. Fingers are crossed. So are toes. And any new appendages that might evolve.

Subs

Brenden Aaronson (On HT): 7 — A busy boy in his half, had Iran just as enraged as he’s had Premier League opponents

Kellyn Acosta (On 65′): 6.5  — Job done.

Haji Wright (On 75′): 6.5 — See above.

Walker Zimmerman (On 82′): 8 — A goal-line clearance and all the aerials duels you knew would be won when he was plugged into the lineup, were won. Three clearances in 10-plus minutes.

Shaq Moore (On 82′): 6 — Wyd, Gregg? Moore’s only job should’ve been to shut down crosses. He didn’t.


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USMNT player ratings
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USMNT tops Iran to set up World Cup date with Netherlands

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Christian Pulisic was injured scoring the lone goal of a 1-0 win over Iran as the United States men’s national team advanced to the World Cup’s Round of 16 on Tuesday.

The Yanks, runners-up in Group B, will play Group A winners Netherlands at 10am ET Saturday.

[ MORE: USMNT player ratings vs Iran ]

Pulisic walked off the field on his power and appeared to have taken a hard shot to the midsection. We’ll update his condition as soon as it becomes available.

WATCH IRAN vs USA FULL MATCH REPLAY

England won the group while Iran bows out along with Wales.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub ]


What we learned from Iran vs USA

It’s difficult not to feel good for Christian Pulisic, no longer the young sparkplug hopeful of reaching his potential.

The next great American player actually became the next great American player, and our enduring World Cup-related memory of him was in qualification; The teenage goal scorer who didn’t find a teammate to also score in Couva as the Yanks crashed out of the tournament.

Now the enduring World Cup image of him, rightly so, is as a gamer. Pulisic scored a round-sealing goal while getting kicked in the nether region.

Then his teammates needed to hold on tight.

They mostly did! The USMNT stayed firm after Gregg Berhalter stopped going for the second goal, removing several attackers in favor of Walker Zimmerman and Shaq Moore.

It was nervy, but they did it. And the U.S. moves forward…


Stars of the Show

Christian Pulisic

Antonee Robinson

Tyler Adams

Majid Hosseini

Tim Ream

USMNT player ratings
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Christian Pulisic goal video: Dest cues up USMNT star

How to watch Iran vs USA live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 2pm ET, Tuesday Nov. 29
Stadium: Al Thumama Stadium, Al Khor
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)


Key storylines, players to watch closely

For Iran, it’s about riding the momentum of a huge win after finding inspiration in a huge loss. There’s an ocean’s worth of difference in emotion between the 6-2 tournament-opening loss to England in Al Rayyan and the 2-0 triumph over Wales In the same city. Can Mehdi Taremi or Sardar Azmoun succeed where Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling could not and break down the USMNT defense for a goal?

Meanwhile, the Yanks may still be lamenting a 1-1 draw with Wales as much as they are celebrating a strong performance that kept them unbeaten against England at the World Cup after a scoreless draw with Gareth Southgate’s men In Al Khor. Gregg Berhalter has to find a way to unlock the USMNT’s final-third woes when they hit Al Khor on Tuesday.

There has also been some off-field tension brewing between the U.S. and Iran surrounding this game, as Gregg Berhalter and captain Tyler Adams responded to in a tense press conference amid questions from the Iranian press.


Iran quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 20
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 5
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from AFC (Won Group A)
Coach: Dragan Skocic
Key players: Ehsan Hajsafi, Sardar Azmoun, Mehdi Taremi

USA quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 16
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 9
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from CONCACAF (3rd place)
Coach: Gregg Berhalter
Key players: Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams

Berhalter ‘proud’ of USMNT, looks ahead to Netherlands; Pulisic injury update

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USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter was a relieved man as he spoke to media after the USA beat Iran 1-0 to clinch a spot in the last 16 of the World Cup.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub ]

After Christian Pulisic’s first half goal the U.S. held on late on as Iran create three good chances but the young American side dug deep.

They will now face the Netherlands in the last 16 on Saturday (kick off, 10am ET) and Berhalter was asked how proud he was of his side.

USA grind out win after impressive display

“Proud. First half we showed what we can do soccer wise. Second half we showed what we could do determination wise. The guys grinded. They gave every single ounce of energy. We are undefeated going into the knockout round,” Berhalter said.

He was then asked about his nerves late on as Iran almost scored in the 99th minute when Mehdi Taremi nearly got on the end of a ball into the box.

“This new injury time, counting every second, it is stressful. I think I have less hair on my head now,” Berhalter smiled. “We will take it and we will move on and we will go battle Holland.”

Christian Pulisic injury update

Pulisic, the goalscoring hero, was subbed out at half time after getting hit in the abdominal area (it looked like a nasty whack to the groin) when he scored the winning goal.

Asked about the status of the USMNT and Chelsea star, here is what Berhalter had to say.

“No update on his status but I’ve been saying all along, ‘it’s a wonderful thing when one of your best players is also one of your hardest working.’ He is certainly that. I can’t say enough positive things about Christian.”

Another update from Fox said Pulisic was taken to the hospital after the injury.

Australia vs Denmark: How to watch live, stream link, team news

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This will be an epic battle in Group D as Australia and Denmark can both reach the last 16 of the World Cup heading into their final group game.

STREAM LIVE AUSTRALIA v DENMARK

After their superb win against Tunisia last time out, Australia know a win against Denmark puts them in the last 16 of the World Cup for just the second time in their history. Graham Arnold has had plenty of criticism for the way his team play but they were totally committed against Tunisia and always carried a threat on the counter. They will have to put in a very similar display against the talented Danes but a point could well be enough as Tunisia would have to beat France in the other game in Group D to complicate matters further for Australia and Denmark.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub

As for Denmark, they have had a very poor tournament so far. They were woeful in attack against Tunisia in an opening game stalemate, while they were beaten by France last time out and Kasper Hjulmand has failed to get his team going in attack. Christian Eriksen and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg are trying to drive Denmark on from midfield but they just haven’t look dangerous going forward. They have to win against Australia and then hope Tunisia doesn’t beat France and it goes down to goal difference. 

[ MORE: Group D standings, schedule, scores ]

Here is everything you need for Australia vs Denmark.


How to watch Australia vs Denmark live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 10am ET – Wednesday, November 30
Stadium: Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)


Key storylines, players to watch closely

Australia will set up exactly the same as they did against Tunisia as they will whip in balls to Mitchell Duke who was the hero with his superb flicked header. Both Duke and Arnold pointed to the ‘Aussie Spirit’ getting them the win against Tunisia and there is a real grit and determination about this team.

Denmark know they have to win, so they will go for a more attack-minded lineup and they have the quality to beat Australia. They will likely start Braithwaite and Dolberg as they try to get something going in attack and this is basically a knockout game in the group stage.


Australia quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 38
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 5
How they qualified: Qualified from AFC via the intercontinental playoffs
Coach: Graham Arnold
Key players: Mathew Ryan, Aaron Mooy, Mathew Leckie

Denmark quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 10
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 5
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from UEFA (Won Group F)
Coach: Kasper Hjulmand
Key players: Kasper Schmeichel, Simon Kjaer, Christian Eriksen