Report: Mourinho to be fired after Newcastle match

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According to a report by David McDonnell of English publication The Mirror, Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho will be fired this weekend no matter the result of United’s match against Newcastle on Saturday.

The report states that Mourinho is “past the point of no return” in the eyes of the Manchester United board. The Red Devils are off to their worst start to a top-flight season in 29 years, sitting in 10th place with 10 points through seven matches. They have failed to win in four straight matches across all competitions, with losses to West Ham in the Premier League plus one to Derby County on penalties in League Cup action.

The Mirror’s report cites “senior United sources” and states the leader of the charge to make a change is executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward. Letting Mourinho go would be a costly move to the club, as he signed a contract extension just nine months ago that runs through 2020 with an option for one more year. He reportedly makes upwards of $23.6 million per year, and United would be required to honor the remaining balance on his contract should they cut him loose.

Mourinho has come under fire from the media for his divisive treatment of players such as Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial, but has managed to keep the supporters on his side, reflected by the repeated chants in support of Mourinho during Manchester United home matches at Old Trafford. However, the fans have also voiced their displeasure at the performances on the pitch, booing the team off in the most recent 0-0 draw with Valencia at Old Trafford in Champions League play.

The Mirror report does not address why Manchester United has decided Mourinho’s fate so late in the week and then left him with an apparent lame duck status for the Newcastle match. Should Mourinho indeed go, assistant coach Michael Carrick would likely take charge in an interim role, the report states. Zinedine Zidane has been repeatedly mentioned as a favorite for the potential opening, having been without a job since leaving Real Madrid this summer on his own accord.

Each and every day it feels like there is a fresh, newsworthy incident involving Mourinho. The most recent sign of Mourinho’s combative nature came Friday during his pre-match press conference ahead of the Newcastle match. He was asked, “Are the fans assured that you’re doing everything that you can to try and turn this around?” Instead of answering the question, Mourinho simply stared blankly at the reporters for several seconds before the press officer was forced to move the press conference forward. The press conference featured a mere six questions and took less than four minutes before Mourinho decided he’d had enough.

Should Mourinho end up sacked, it would mark his fourth tenure in his last five in which he was either fired or left in the third season. The only tenure that stands out of the usual path is his two-year stretch at Inter before he departed for Real Madrid.

Mourinho’s potential sacking would also mean that all three managers who have attempted to follow in Sir Alex Ferguson‘s footsteps will have failed, as the club has still yet to win a Premier League title in the wake of his retirement. David Moyes failed to last even a full calendar year, while Louis Van Gaal made it almost two years in charge and Mourinho has been at his current position since May of 2016.

AP source: FIFA proposes annual Club World Cup

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A person with knowledge of the talks tells The Associated Press FIFA President Gianni Infantino is doubling down on his Club World Cup plans with a proposal for an annual tournament despite European soccer’s resistance to any competition that challenges the supremacy of the Champions League.

[ MORE: Premier League club power rankings ]

The revised proposal amends an initial plan to play a 24-team Club World Cup every four years. The new format will be discussed at the FIFA Council meeting in Rwanda on Friday, the person said. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the discussions were confidential.

UEFA has stymied Infantino’s attempts since March to gain approval for the new FIFA competitions, which will have $25 billion of income guaranteed by an international consortium including Japan’s SoftBank.

Is something amiss with Romelu Lukaku?

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Maybe he was sick. Maybe he was tired. Heck, maybe he’s still exhausted from the World Cup.

But something isn’t right with Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku, and it was on full display in Tuesday’s 1-0 loss to Juventus in the UEFA Champions League.

[ MORE: Match recap | Mourinho reacts ]

Lukaku was fighting his touch, and just plain out-of-sorts, which is unusual for the industrious center forward.

The 25-year-old has just four goals for United in 13 matches across all competitions this season, all coming in the Premier League and none since a Sept. 15 marker at Watford.

Tuesday’s performance could be down to one bad night, but Lukaku has been much better for country than club in the same time span. The Belgian scored a pair against Switzerland on Oct. 12 and two more the previous month versus Iceland.

While Eden Hazard certainly isn’t unlocking defenses for him at Old Trafford, Lukaku has struggled in a few different ways. He’s getting less shots off per game, his key passes are down, and so are his dribbles.

Moreover, his offsides are higher than they’ve been since 2014-15, so perhaps he’s even cognizant of his struggles and trying to cheat a bit more.

If Harry Kane‘s post-World Cup struggles, relatively speaking, can be down to exhaustion, perhaps someone should check on big Rom.

Lukaku is still grinding through performances, for better or worse, and his four goals do lead United on the season. And it’s paramount to note that the side’s uncharacteristic 16 goals allowed per game (5th worst in the PL) is a bigger reason for its record than the 15 goals for (tied-7th).

A visit from former club Everton could snap Lukaku back into form, but perhaps the big man needs more than adrenaline right now. Mourinho hasn’t subbed him once this season in any competition, and he’s being leaned on heavily by Roberto Martinez at Belgium, too. After running him 90 in the 2-goal performance against the Swiss, Lukaku got another 45 in a friendly against the Netherlands.

Maybe this is where the loan for Zlatan Ibrahimovic comes into play, or perhaps Marcus Rashford should get some time running atop the United attack. Either way, it’s a good bet that the big man could use a respite.

Allegri: Juventus tried to ‘attack around Nemanja Matic’

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Max Allegri’s plan to attack without Mario Mandzukic got the job done.

Juventus took a 17th minute lead against Manchester United at Old Trafford and did not look back, deprived of a multi-goal halftime lead by United backstop David De Gea.

[ MORE: PL club power rankings ]

Without Mandzukic, his towering talisman, Allegri turned to less hold-up play and more active runs through the midfield.

And he wasn’t shy about the tactics, with the numbers showing that Nemanja Matic was a very busy man. From Football-Italia:

“Naturally we can play without Mandzukic, someone has to get into the box. It was important against Manchester United to keep the ball to ground and attack around Nemanja Matic.

“We still make too many mistakes on the final ball, as we had so many more chances and half-chances that we didn’t develop properly. A couple of times it was the player with the ball, another couple it was the player who didn’t peel away from his marker to reach the space.”

Allegri has long been said to be a fan of Matic’s, but Dybala shook the center midfielder on this goal.

The win was Juve’s first at Old Trafford since a 1996 visit in the Champions League. All told, Juve is 2W-2D-3L at Manchester United in its illustrious history.

UEFA Champions League Weds. preview: Spurs need W

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Tottenham Hotspur’s UEFA Champions League dreams aren’t quite hanging by a thread, but anything less than six points from their next two matches will leave them all but dead.

Spurs and PSV Eindhoven begin a home-and-away run in Group B on Tuesday, with both sides 0-2 from matches against Barcelona and Inter Milan.

[ MORE: PL club power rankings ]

The Premier League side showed better than its Eredivisie hosts, but that matters little as both sides hope for a double while Barca and Inter square off in Spain and Italy over the next fortnight.

Eric Dier is hopeful that Spurs’ away form can carry over to the Netherlands:

“We’ve done well away from home so far this season. We’ve had some tough away games. Last weekend at West Ham was another and we managed to get another win. We feel very good at the moment. We have to try to continue that feeling tomorrow.”

Liverpool, meanwhile, has to get off the UCL mat following a stunning late loss in Napoli. The Reds are hopeful that a pair of matches against the weakest side in the group, Red Star Belgrade, does the trick.

At Anfield for the first match, Liverpool will be atop the group if it manages a win while PSG wins or draws Napoli in France.

American winger Christian Pulisic and Borussia Dortmund open their pair of matches with Atletico Madrid as well, and the opener comes at the Westfalenstadion. The other group match sees Thierry Henry’s AS Monaco away to Club Brugge and hoping for a an almost necessary three points.

Finally, there’s the chaotic Group D, with Porto and Schalke opening Wednesday atop the group. USMNT midfielder Weston McKennie and Schalke are at Galatasaray, while Porto visits desperate Lokomotiv Moscow.

Schalke boss Domenico Tedesco has prepared his men as best he can for Turkey:

“During the training session we had soundbites from Galatasaray’s last home game playing through the Veltins Arena’s sound system, in order to give the players a taste of what to expect,” Tedesco said.

Schedule
PSV Eindhoven vs. Tottenham Hotspur — 12:55 p.m. ET
Club Brugge vs. AS Monaco — 12:55 p.m. ET
Barcelona vs. Inter Milan — 3 p.m. ET
Liverpool vs. Red Star Belgrade — 3 p.m. ET
Borussia Dortmund vs. Atletico Madrid — 3 p.m. ET
Paris Saint-Germain vs. Napoli — 3 p.m. ET
Galatasaray vs. Schalke — 3 p.m. ET
Lokomotiv Moscow vs. Porto — 3 p.m. ET