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.

Watch Live: U.S. starts U-20 World Cup v. Ukraine

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The much-anticipated U-20 World Cup run for the United States begins Friday with a Group D opener versus Ukraine.

[ STREAM: U.S. U-20s v. Ukraine on Telemundo Deportes ]

Tim Weah and Paxton Pomykal lead the way for Tab Ramos’ United States, who will also meet Nigeria and Qatar in the group stage.

Winning the group likely means avoiding heavily-favored France in the knockout rounds until a potential and unprecedented final.

 

Transfer rumor roundup: Dembele to Man Utd, Fraser to Arsenal

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Manchester United will fire off a $45 million opening bid to bring Moussa Dembele from Lyon to Old Trafford.

It seems unlikely that number will do the trick for the Ligue 1 outfit which bought him from Celtic for $25 million last summer.

Prolific in Scotland after making his name at Fulham and letting his contract run out, the 22-year-old scored 15 goals with five assists in his first Ligue 1 season. He also scored three goals between UEFA Champions League qualifying and the tournament itself.

That comes from Sky Sports’ Transfer Centre, which also has the report that United remains interested in Newcastle United’s Sean Longstaff — we’ve covered that before — and has cooled on Idrissa Gana Gueye of Everton due to a $45 million price tag.

Nathaniel Clyne is a man in demand after his loan stint at Bournemouth furthered his chances of leaving Liverpool.

Sky Sports says the right back’s price tag is around $20 million, and that Napoli, Crystal Palace, and West Ham are all interested in his services.

Clyne had an assist in 13 matches on loan for the Cherries, who are also worried about interest in star playmaker Ryan Fraser.

The diminutive midfielder showed a dynamic connection with Callum Wilson and rang up seven goals and 14 assists at the age of 25.

But Bournemouth is said to want $38 million for its star. Will Arsenal go that high?

Pochettino joke inspires full press release denial from Real Madrid

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Real Madrid might just be pretty soft… off the field.

Easy, Madridistas. We’re simply talking about the strongly-worded condemnation of Mauricio Pochettino‘s Friday comments about Real’s training grounds.

The Tottenham Hotspur boss, seemingly joking, claimed that Real chairman Florentino Perez would not let Spurs stay at their training ground ahead of the UEFA Champions League Final against Liverpool unless he signed a deal to manage the Madrid club, saying, “I asked Florentino to let us sleep in the sports centre, but he did not want to let us have the facilities.”

From reading the comments, it’d be hard to believe he was being serious (especially with Zinedine Zidane a club legend and squarely in charge). But either the public was legit enraged by Poch’s quip, or Real is very soft. Perez’s club released this strongly worded statement regarding whether it was ever asked to allow Spurs or Liverpool to stay on the club’s grounds. From RealMadrid.com:

Real Madrid CF also wants to emphasize that the accommodation of the finalist teams of the Champions League are assigned by UEFA following criteria of organization and security. And that at no time has our club been requested that these teams could be accommodated in the facilities of Ciudad Real Madrid.

Sometimes it’s better to just stay silent and roll with the punches, Mr. Perez.

PSG boss Tuchel admits Neymar, Mbappe could leave

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Paris Saint-Germain boss Thomas Tuchel hopes to hold onto his two biggest stars, but recognizes that both Kylian Mbappe and Neymar could leave Ligue 1 for the right offer.

Neymar has been in the headlines after his season ended early following a suspension for hitting a fan after PSG lost the French Cup Final. It would be easy to see him leaving PSG, especially with Real Madrid and Manchester United among those expected to spend big this summer.

[ MORE: Bayern confirms Sane pursuit ]

And Mbappe said he was keen on a “new project,” later saying that could be at PSG. And Les Parisiens released a statement saying he was not for sale.

Tuchel admits that hasn’t eased his concerns.

“I was a bit hesitant after what Mbappe said,” Tuchel said.

“As a coach, I do want them to continue, but this is football, we are not naive. Many clubs want to transfer many players. But if you ask me, the manager, yes, I want them here next season. But if not, we will find solutions.”

There are very few clubs on Earth which wouldn’t want either player, but few with the resources to buy and then pay them. And in terms of the Premier League, you’d almost bet on Neymar to have big interest in Manchester United if the Red Devils were in the Champions League.

Do you think either will stay at PSG?

Either player would be huge dominoes in the transfer market, and could trigger the movement of essentially anyone else to Paris: Paul Pogba? Ousmane Dembele? Toni Kroos? Almost anyone would be on the table.