Mourinho, Man United silence doubters

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LONDON — Jose Mourinho and Manchester United were up for the fight in more ways than one at Chelsea on Saturday.

[ MORE: 4 things we learned ]

The beleaguered Red Devils let in a 96th minute equalizer to leave Stamford Bridge disappointed but with a renewed sense of belief as they made top of the table Chelsea sweat, especially in the second half.

The way Mourinho’s men fought back from 1-0 down to go 2-1 up (thanks to Anthony Martial‘s two goals) proved they can still go toe-to-toe with one of the best teams in the Premier League. And the way Mourinho acted on the sidelines after being antagonized by Chelsea coach Marco Ianni underlined the fighting spirt which still burns bright, despite reports that United’s manager was set to be fired two weeks ago.

Ross Barkley‘s late, late equalizer meant that Chelsea remain unbeaten under Maurizio Sarri but the Blues knew they had got away with one after a powerful display from United who looked so much better with the shackles off compared to their usually defensive tactics away from home against a fellow top six club.

Speaking after the game, Mourinho and United felt like they deserved more ahead of a huge few weeks which sees them face Juventus twice in the UEFA Champions League, Everton and Manchester City.

“I think it was a fantastic game with a fantastic result for Chelsea and an awful result for us,” Mourinho said. “When you are the best team you want to win. If somebody tells me before the game you go to Stamford Bridge and you get a point, you say, ‘that is okay, it is good.’ It is so difficult to win at Stamford Bridge that I think every team feels that one point is a positive result. We were so much in control, so much the best team in the second half that I think we clearly deserved to win the match. Bad result.”

On the situation with Ianni, Mourinho said he has spoken to Sarri about it and Chelsea’s assistant coach had apologized to him and that was the end of the matter.

“Bad education,” Mourinho said. “But I also made mistakes in football match and I will make more. So when after the game he came to me to apologize, I accepted his apology and nothing more to say.”

The way Mourinho reacted sparked a melee and his message to Chelsea’s fans at the final whistle was classic behavior from a born fighter backed into a corner in recent weeks.

Mourinho held three fingers up to Chelsea’s fans to remind them how many Premier League titles he had won for them in the past.

And that fighting spirit was shown by his players as this draw at Chelsea was more impressive than their stirring 3-2 comeback win against Newcastle before the international break. A more offensive lineup choice from Mourinho saw Paul Pogba, Martial, Juan Mata and Marcus Rashford cause Chelsea plenty of problems in the second half and slack defensive marking from Pogba on the first goal and overall on the second cost them all three points.

What impressed Mourinho the most about the spirited display from his side?

“Everything. I think what I call the Chelsea triggers, we controlled them,” Mourinho said. “The reality is that we concede two goals in set pieces, not goals in organized play. We controlled that very, very well and we put lots of feet in the last third in the first half. In the second half we managed to transform that in occasions to goals and ambition with good intensity, good passing, good quality. We deserved much more than this result, but it is what it is.”

This draw proved that United’s season is far from over and Mourinho’s men are capable of fighting along with their manager to finish in the top four this season.

Report: Ibrahimovic could return to AC Milan

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic could be a one-season wonder in Major League Soccer.

After a spectacular 22-goal, 10-assist campaign for the LA Galaxy, Gazzetta Dello Sport reports that Ibrahimovic is waiting for the phone to ring from AC Milan sporting director Leonardo, with a potential six-month deal in Milan on the table. Ibrahimovic and Leonardo have history – Leonardo was at Paris Saint-Germain when Ibrahimovic joined…from AC Milan, where Ibrahimovic played for two seasons, from 2010 through 2012.

[READ: Oscar Pareja departs FC Dallas for Tijuana]

The 37-year-old striker is now 18 months removed from tearing the ACL in his right knee and showed few injury worries during his time with the Galaxy, where he started in 24 or 27 matches after joining in May. The report in Italy claims that Zlatan could earn upwards of $2.3 million for his six-month stint at Milan, which is more than he earned in base salary in one season in the U.S.

If this is the end of Zlatan’s time in MLS, he leaves having proven that he took the league seriously but also how embarrassingly bad the LA Galaxy’s defense was in 2018. There’s just no way that a team with 22 goals from Ibrahimovic should miss the playoffs.

The big Swede joins the likes of Didier Drogba and Wayne Rooney as recent European imports who had an instant impact in MLS. However, Ibrahimovic won’t be remembered alongside players such as David Beckham, Robbie Keane, Thierry Henry and David Villa, all of whom had huge long-term impacts in MLS and for their clubs.

UEFA: FFP rules must be “strong and clear”

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Current UEFA general secretary Aleksander Ceferin is making a robust statement about his intentions to hold teams accountable under Financial Fair Play.

In the wake of reports from Football Leaks, published through Der Spiegel, alleging that both Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain had overvalued sponsorships to get around FFP rules, Ceferin told the BBC that the same type of corporate actions may not continue under his watch.

[READ: Ceferin says European Super League is “fiction”]

“I don’t want to speak about Man City or PSG but for any club the rules have to be strong and clear,” Ceferin said. “We will act by the book, by the regulations. We know that we have to modernize. We know we have to check the rules and regulations all the time. We know that the situation in the football market is changing all the time. So that’s also part of our thinking for the future – do we have to do something about the regulations to be more robust? Yes.”

The new Football Leaks allegations aren’t exactly breaking news. UEFA ruled in 2014 that Man City had broken FFP rules, eventually settling with the club for around $63 million in today’s dollars, the same price Man City soon paid Liverpool for Raheem Sterling. The settlement helped Man City avoid being barred from the UEFA Champions League as well as help avoid UEFA losing key sponsorships and advertising revenue with one of the big clubs out of the spotlight.

FFP is a double-edged sword for UEFA. It was instituted by former UEFA president Michel Platini as a way to curb overspending and keep clubs from spending so much they became insolvent – look at Rangers or Valencia, for example. However, the way the rules were implemented, it almost forced the status quo to remain the same, just as billionaires from the Middle East and Asia were prepared to pump billions into their clubs, without having to worry about debts.

In order for PSG and Man City to become giants, the clubs needed to invest massively, and while both teams may have broken FFP rules, if they’re operating within their means, it should be allowed. Ceferin’s statement is bold, but it’s one that he’ll have to back up with action if a big club breaks FFP rules again. Is UEFA willing to jeopardize advertising revenue to keep the likes of Man City, or Barcelona or PSG out? We’ll see.

Portugal unaware of joint World Cup bid with Spain, Morocco

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LISBON, Portugal (AP) A Portuguese official says Spain has made no approach about the possibility of presenting a three-way bid to host the 2030 World Cup with Morocco.

Education Minister Tiago Brandao Rodrigues, who oversees sports, says he has “no formal knowledge of any official announcement about a three-way bid.”

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

He also says he believes FIFA does not allow joint bids from separate confederations – in this case, UEFA and the Confederation of African Football.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez supposedly conveyed the bid offer to Moroccan counterpart Saad Eddine El Othmani during a brief visit to the north African country.

Bids to host the 2030 World Cup are being considered by countries in South America and England.

French prosecutor opens probe into alleged discrimination at PSG

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PARIS (AP) The Paris prosecutors’ office has opened an investigation into alleged discrimination by Paris Saint-Germain following a complaint by France’s League of Human Rights, which claims that club scouts illegally profiled potential recruits by their origin.

The investigation includes the supposed collection of personal information in a fraudulent, disloyal or illegal way and conserving personal information which “directly or indirectly” reveals racial or ethnic origins.

The action came three days after PSG said an internal investigation had found “no proven case of discrimination.”

PSG has acknowledged that forms with “illegal content were used between 2013 and 2018.” However, it declined responsibility for implementing the policy.