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Report: Manchester United staff thinks Mourinho to be fired soon

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According to the Daily Mail, there are Manchester United staff members who believe Jose Mourinho could be fired this week.

The report states that both staff members and players on the roster were “openly discussing” Mourinho’s job status on the train ride home from the team’s most recent failure, a 3-1 loss to West Ham in London.

Manchester United sits nine points adrift of the top of the Premier League table, the club’s worst start in 29 years to this stage. The Red Devils fell to Derby County on penalties in their previous match to fall out of the League Cup in the third round, and have losses to Tottenham and Brighton earlier in the season.

Mourinho has most come under fire for his treatment of French midfielder Paul Pogba, who has been criticized and benched at times this year by the Red Devils boss, and Alexis Sanchez is the latest star to feel Mourinho’s heat. The Manchester United defense has also struggled mightily, with Mourinho unable to find his best defensive lineup. He has rotated between Chris Smalling, Victor Lindelof, Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo, Eric Bailly, and even young Scott McTominay, some of whom have dealt with injuries over the course of the young season. He has also missed key midfield cog Ander Herrera who should return soon from an ankle injury.

The Portuguese manager was meant to bring the club back to the heights of Sir Alex Ferguson, and they finished second in the Premier League table last season, but with the massive gap behind champions Manchester City, it was tough to enjoy the growth of the team. This year, they have taken a significant step back, with Mourinho unable to shake the narrative that his squads implode in his third season at the club.

The biggest hurdle to Manchester United making a change is Mourinho’s contract, which has a year-and-a-half left on it and pays him a whopping $19.5 million a year, all coming on an extension signed earlier this calendar year. United would have to pay the remaining amount on his deal should they cut him loose. Mourinho even joked about his contract a few weeks ago, saying “do you know how much they would have to pay me?” when asked if he’s worried about his job security.

Guardiola doesn’t rule out Arteta exit: ‘If he wants a job we are open to talk’

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Very few figures have been as supportive of Pep Guardiola throughout his successful stint with Manchester City as his right hand man and assistant Mikel Arteta.

[ JPW: Three things learned in London ]

After City’s 3-0 win over Arsenal on Sunday, Guardiola highlighted on the positive influence the 37-year-old has had on City’s recent glory, amid reports linking Arteta to Arsenal’s vacant manager role.

“[He has] a lot [of influence],” Guardiola told Sky Sports. “He is part of the huge success we had. An important part. What will happen will happen. I think he is part of our staff so what is going to happen I don’t know.

The storied manager doesn’t want his assistant to leave Manchester, but made it clear the last thing he wants to do is shoot down any possibilities of Arteta starting his managerial career. In Guardiola’s words, he doesn’t want the former Arsenal midfielder to feel “uncomfortable.”

“At the end it’s personal, if he wants a job we are open to talk,” he added. “I don’t want to make him uncomfortable.”

In a span of over three years, the two Spaniards have won a grand total of seven titles with City – two Premier Leagues, an FA Cup, two EFL Cups, and two FA Community Shields.

Following Arsenal’s loss to the defending champions at the Emirates, interim manager and Arsenal legend Freddie Ljungberg urged the club’s board to come to a decision on the managerial situation in North London.

“…I said I think it needs to be cleared up, to make a decision so everybody knows,” Ljungberg said. “That is something I’ve said but it is totally up to the club. I am very honored and I’m trying to do things as good as I can. I think it would be good to make a decision, regardless of what it is.”

From 2011 to 2016, Arteta played for the Gunners, making 110 appearances and scoring 14 goals. In 2016, the Spaniard retired following a 17-year career.

What do Arsenal need to fix first?

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LONDON — Arsenal have won one of their last 12 games in all competitions and are in freefall.

[ MORE: 3 things we learned

Interim head coach Freddie Ljungberg hasn’t been told if he will be in charge until the end of the season, while there is no indiciation that a new manager will arrive anytime soon.

It is a colossal mess, as the Gunners are as close to the Premier League relegation zone as they are the top four. With so much going wrong on and off the pitch, where on earth do they start to fix things?

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Here are five things they need to focus on first.


STICK WITH FREDDIE OR HIRE A NEW GUY

This is the biggest thing to sort out first. What direction are the club going in? Should the players prepare for a new manager in the next week or so? Or will they at least have the comfort of knowing Ljungberg will be in charge until the end of the season? Either way, it needs sorting. Now. Arsenal are still, somehow, in the top four hunt and are just seven points back. But they are also just seven points from the drop zone.

“As I’ve said to the club, for me it is a great, great honor to do this. Of course, Per [Mertesacker] is the academy manager and he’s doing two jobs in one go and I said I think it needs to be cleared up, to make a decision so everybody knows,” Ljungberg said. “That is something I’ve said but it is totally up to the club. I am very honored and I’m trying to do things as good as I can. I think it would be good to make a decision, regardless of what it is.”

Ljungberg is spot on. One way or another Arsenal’s players, staff and fans need some direction, at least in the short term. The easy option will be to give Ljungberg and his assistant coach Per Mertesacker the job until the end of the season then evaluate who is available. Sorting out who the manager will be until May could well settle things down, and Arsenal badly need that to happen. The way the fans were just disappointed rather than angry against Man City, plus left their seats at half time and just stuck around to watch City rather than their own team was a damning indictment as to how bad things have become. The ownership have a lot to answer for and making a firm and swift decision on the managerial situation will help everything else move forward.


FOCUS ON MIDFIELD SHAPE

Matteo Guendouzi was totally overrun in central midfield on Sunday and Arsenal’s decision to play a 4-2-3-1 didn’t work out. Lucas Torreira had a torrid outing and the duo who promised so much last season seem totally out of their depth this campaign. Finding a midfield shape which works and sticking with it is the way to go as Arsenal need more numbers in the middle, either with a 4-1-4-1 formation or a 3-5-2. There isn’t enough protection for their error-strewn defense and pragmatism should now be the focus if they’re going to get back on track and secure wins way at Everton and Bournemouth to put themselves back in the top four battle. With Chelsea and Man United the next two up after that, Arsenal can still salvage their season if they bring more structure to their entire team, and especially their midfield.


3-5-2 FORMATION

This will give them extra defensive solidity and their defenders who are actually fit will get extra cover. It has to happen. Going forward it will also allow Aubameyang and Lacazette to play together centrally, while Ozil could float about in the hole ahead of two more defensive minded central midfielders. With injuries to full backs, there could be issues out wide but Saka and Maitland-Niles (the only two fit options at full back) would be better suited to being allowed to push forward. 3-5-2 should be the switch.


GO FOR EXPERIENCE OVER YOUTH

At times like this it is time for experience to come into the team. Ljungberg pointed to Arsenal’s fans being proud of the young players on the pitch at the end of the game as five players 20 years old or younger (including three teenagers) were on show. Arsenal have to get their most experienced players on the pitch to grind out results. David Luiz and Alexandre Lacazette need to come in and the Gunners simply have to get as many players on the pitch who have handled this kind of situation before. The younger players are talented but they need to be eased into the team. This pressurized situation is far from ideal for them to make progress and it could damage them for the future. It is time for Arsenal’s more experienced players to stand tall, but first of all they need to be put on the pitch.


FINDING A ROLE FOR OZIL

He divides opinion but if Ljungberg wants Arsenal to be a fluid, attacking team, then Ozil needs to play a central role going forward. Ozil has started every PL game since Ljungberg arrived and that shows the faith the Swede has in him. Playing Ozil in the hole will be key and encouraging him to drop deeper and try to set the tempo for their attack is what needs to happen. Ozil was frustrated to be brought off against Man City, and rightly so. He didn’t feature that much going forward and Arsenal just couldn’t keep hold of the ball. Against teams like Everton and Bournemouth coming up, he has the quality to unlock opposition defenses. He should be given the chance to dig Arsenal out of this horrible situation.

Ljungberg urges Arsenal to sort out manager situation

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LONDON — Freddie Ljungberg wants to know his future and that of Arsenal’s. Now.

[ MORE: 3 things we learned ]

The Swedish coach is currently Arsenal’s interim boss but has endured mxed results in his first five games as manager, beating West Ham, losing to Man City and Brighton and drawing against Norwich and Standard Liege.

Hardly vintage stuff.

After their humbling 3-0 defeat at home against Manchester City on Sunday, Ljungberg was asked if the uncertainty around the managerial situation is impacting his players.

“As I’ve said to the club, for me it is a great, great honor to do this. Of course, Per [Mertesacker] is the academy manager and he’s doing two jobs in one go and I said I think it needs to be cleared up, to make a decision so everybody knows,” Ljungberg said. “That is something I’ve said but it is totally up to the club. I am very honored and I’m trying to do things as good as I can. I think it would be good to make a decision, regardless of what it is.”

Whispers around the press room at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday suggested that the Gunners are willing to wait until the summer to land the ‘right man’ for the job, and that means Ljungberg could be in temporary charge until May.

Right now nobody knows what is happening and Ljungberg is right. Now is the time to either stick or twist for the Gunners.

With away games against Everton and Bournemouth coming up in the next two, Arsenal’s players need some sort of answer so they can focus on winning those two games to set themselves up for crucial battles against fellow top four hopefuls Chelsea and Man United.

Ljungberg has shown the first signs of being a little fed up with playing the waiting game. Arsenal’s fans and players feel the same. Ljungberg has failed to change the tactics and his main plan is to set up the Gunners in an attacking system while their defensive deficiencies remain.

It’s time for the ownership group and the hierarchy at Arsenal to make a decision about the immediate future of the club. One way or another.

Bundesliga wrap: Schalke GK gets karate red card; Gladbach loses

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Borussia Monchengladbach failed in its bid to reclaim the top spot on the Bundesliga table, and Schalke overcame an eye-widening red card on Sunday.

[ MORE: Klinsmann gets 1st win ]

That means RB Leipzig ends the weekend in first.

Schalke 1-0 Eintracht Frankfurt

USMNT midfielder Weston McKennie suffered a painful injury and was stretchered off the pitch, but that wasn’t the most painful looking incident of the day.

That honor goes to this Alexander Nubel red card intervention on Mijat Gacinovic, who — you’re not gonna believe this — did not finish the game.

Schalke won the match anyway, riding Benito Raman’s 53rd goal to the win. David Wagner‘s men are now just five points off the table lead, a point above Bayern Munich and a point below Borussia Dortmund.

Wolfsburg 2-1 Borussia Monchengladbach

Wolfsburg got a much-needed win to deprive Gladbach of a return to the top of the table.

The hosts started the season unbeaten in nine matches but had lost four of five to fall well off the title pace.

Wolfsburg’s Xaver Schlager and Gladbach’s Breel Embolo traded goals two minutes apart in the first quarter hour, but Maximilian Arnold struck in stoppage time to send Wolfsburg eighth.

American center back John Brooks went 90 minutes in the win.

Heck of a volley for the winner.

STANDINGS

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 RB Leipzig 15 10 3 2 42 16 26 4-2-1 6-1-1 33
 Mönchengladbach 15 10 1 4 31 18 13 6-1-1 4-0-3 31
 Borussia Dortmund 15 8 5 2 37 19 18 5-2-0 3-3-2 29
 FC Schalke 04 15 8 4 3 26 18 8 4-3-1 4-1-2 28
 Bayern Munich 15 8 3 4 41 21 20 5-1-2 3-2-2 27
 SC Freiburg 15 7 4 4 24 18 6 4-2-1 3-2-3 25
 Bayer Leverkusen 15 7 4 4 22 20 2 3-4-1 4-0-3 25
 VfL Wolfsburg 15 6 5 4 17 15 2 3-3-2 3-2-2 23
 1899 Hoffenheim 15 6 3 6 21 27 -6 3-1-4 3-2-2 21
 1. FC Union Berlin 15 6 2 7 19 20 -1 5-0-3 1-2-4 20
 FC Augsburg 15 5 5 5 24 28 -4 3-2-2 2-3-3 20
 Eintracht Frankfurt 15 5 3 7 24 23 1 4-3-1 1-0-6 18
 Hertha BSC Berlin 15 4 3 8 21 29 -8 3-0-4 1-3-4 15
 FSV Mainz 05 15 5 0 10 20 38 -18 3-0-4 2-0-6 15
 Werder Bremen 15 3 5 7 23 35 -12 1-2-4 2-3-3 14
 Fortuna Düsseldorf 15 3 3 9 16 32 -16 2-1-4 1-2-5 12
 1. FC Köln 15 3 2 10 14 30 -16 2-1-4 1-1-6 11
 SC Paderborn 15 2 3 10 18 33 -15 1-1-6 1-2-4 9