Getty Images

Martial hits out at Mourinho; Young signs new deal

Leave a comment

Ahead of Manchester United’s UEFA Champions League clash with Paris Saint-Germain at Old Trafford on Tuesday, Anthony Martial has hit out at Jose Mourinho.

[ MORE: Pogba dazzles in United win

Speaking to the media alongside his new boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Martial acted as Solskjaer’s translator at one point as French media asked questions ahead of the UCL last 16 first leg.

When asked about the incredible change in results and performances since Mourinho was fired in December and Solskjaer was hired on a caretaker basis until the end of the season, this was Martial’s response.

“We have a coach who has perhaps got different intentions, a different approach and we are trying to do what he is asking us to do,” Martial said. “Perhaps it is easier for us now to play this style of football compared to the previous style of football we were asked to play. We are doing well on the pitch and we hope we continue to do well on the pitch.”

Ouch, that has to hurt Jose. But with 10 wins from 11 games in all competitions under Solskajer, the Red Devils returning to the top four and rampant attacking displays from Martial, Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford, can you really disagree with what Martial is saying?

Probs not.

As for Solskjaer, the man who scored the winning goal in the UCL final in 1999 for United, he is relishing the chance to lead them out against PSG in what should be another classic European night at Old Trafford. Keen to brush off talk about a win against PSG being key in gaining him the United job on a permanent basis, Solskjaer was focused on enjoying the occasion.

“It is both the supporters and the players who are looking for to this,” Solskjaer explained. “It has always been special. I want my players to go into this game confident and embrace the game… We’ve given ourselves the best possible opportunity because of the way we’ve come into this game. We’re confident and we’re looking like a team. If there was ever a time to go into big games, it’s now.”

With Neymar out and Edinson Cavani doubtful for PSG, the stars are aligning for United to take a lead with them to the Parc des Princes for the second leg in two weeks time.


Fresh from United signing Martial and Phil Jones to new contracts, Ashley Young is the latest to commit his future to the club.

Young, 33, was out of contract in the summer but has agreed an extension on his deal until the summer of 2020. The converted right back has flourished in his new role and has been one of United’s most consistent players over the past 12 months, as he has often captained the team.

The former Aston Villa and Watford player has now been at United for eight seasons and is a reliable and versatile player for the Red Devils.

Signing him to a one-year contract extension makes perfect sense, especially with Antonio Valencia‘s injury problems and his future at Old Trafford uncertain.

“Since I’ve come into the club, Ashley has been fantastic. His attitude and his experience around the place is vital for us because we have got a young team,” Solskjaer said. “We’ve got players that need some leaders in the dressing room and Ash is one of them so I’m delighted.”

Top Premier League storylines: Week 35

Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Leave a comment

A pretty unique situation at the Etihad Stadium headlines another stop on the road to the Premier League title.


And we go again
Man City v. Tottenham Hotspur — 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com STREAM ]

As hard as it is to fathom Man City getting off the mat quickly following their Champions League exit at the hands of Spurs, it’s even more difficult to imagine the visitors traveling back to London and returning to Manchester with the same fire shown in Wednesday’s thriller.

Not only that, but how can the hosts ignore reminders of what happened against the visitors three days prior with the very same opponents staring them down, even if City is business-like? Frankly, no result would surprise us (unless someone hangs 10 goals or something truly absurd happens at the Etihad (again)).

Liverpool’s title train pulls into Wales to meet hopeful Bluebirds
Cardiff City v. Liverpool — 11 a.m. ET Sunday on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com STREAM ]

Cardiff City has new life in the race for Premier League survival, though Neil Warnock‘s men will hardly be expecting a point or three from Liverpool’s Anfield visit. That said, the Reds are coming back from Portugal and have been using Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah an awful lot. Here is where guys like Xherdan Shaqiri will, theoretically, need to step up.

Weary Chelsea seeks revenge against relatively rested Reds
Everton v. Manchester United — 8:30 a.m. ET Sunday on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com STREAM ]

You wouldn’t be stunned if Manchester United fans are having second thoughts about Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as Red Devils full-time boss, though they’d be over the same things — that defense — that worried Jose Mourinho. Richarlison and Gylfi Sigurdsson will try to seize on that, and United’s midweek action versus Barcelona, at Goodison Park.

Stumbling Wolves hope to take advantage of sluggish Brighton
Wolves v. Brighton and Hove Albion — 10 a.m. ET Sunday on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com STREAM ]

Nuno Espirito Santo‘s men have slipped back into their early season mold of having fine performances in big games but not fully arriving for the little guys. Brighton, now just two points clear of the drop zone, will hope that it can do as visitors what hosts Southampton and Burnley did to Wolves.

Magpies, Saints battle for assured safety at St. James’ Park
Newcastle United v. Southampton — 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday on NBC and online via NBCSports.com STREAM ]

The stakes here are pretty straight-forward: Win, and forget about relegation (Saints would still be mathematically alive for the drop with all three points, but it would be an extreme scenario involving fellow drop candidates running off wins over big sides).

Video shows Lazio fans’ racist chants aimed at Chelsea loanee Bakayoko

Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images
Leave a comment

ROME (AP) A video has emerged of Lazio fans directing a racist chant at AC Milan midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko.

The video posted on the Gazzetta dello Sport website shows fans singing, “This banana is for Bakayoko,” during Wednesday’s 2-0 win over Udinese at the Stadio Olimpico.

[ MORE: Pochettino “not optimistic” on Kane ]

It was an apparent response to Bakayoko and Milan teammate Franck Kessie waving the shirt of Lazio defender Francesco Acerbi in front of their supporters like a trophy after a 1-0 win on Saturday.

Bakayoko, who is black, is on loan from Chelsea.

Lazio fans have a long history of racist and anti-Semitic episodes.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Chelsea, Pulisic may tour U.S. in 2020

AP Photo/Tim Ireland, File
Leave a comment

Chelsea has announced intent to visit the United States in the Summer of 2020.

Blues chairman Bruce Buck says the club “has work to do in Middle America” as it’s built up what he believes to be significant support on the coasts of the United States.

[ MORE: Pochettino “not optimistic” on Kane ]

Chelsea will be in Boston next month to play MLS side New England Revolution in a friendly billed “The Final Whistle on Hate.”

But Buck knows that Americans have plenty of interest in new signing Christian Pulisic, who will still be with Borussia Dortmund when Chelsea visits the U.S. in May.

“He’s a personable boy. He’s well-liked in this country,” Buck told the Associated Press. “So of course I would expect him when we come here and play some friendly matches, which is what our objective is in the summer of 2020. Then, yes, I think he will be helpful.”

American fans have been skeptical about how much of Chelsea’s interest in Pulisic was based on potential for stardom versus potential for marketing appeal in the States, but it’s important to note that this article could’ve been written about signing a top Mexican player and touring Mexico, or a Japanese star and heading to Asia.

Pochettino discusses City rematch, Kane status

AP Photo/Dave Thompson
Leave a comment

Mauricio Pochettino and Tottenham Hotspur flew back to North London after Wednesday’s memorable triumph in the UEFA Champions League, a few days before the club will make the same trip to visit Manchester City in the Premier League.

“We are tired after an amazing and crazy and unbelievable night,” Pochettino said, via the BBC. “We flew late and didn’t sleep too much, but the happiness made us feel strong and with energy. We need to forget the Champions League now and be ready for Saturday, for a battle.”

[ MORE: Klopp on 1st time facing Messi ]

Good luck on the forgetting part, Poch. The advancement past Man City over two legs came after VAR correctly ripped a stoppage time City goal off the board and plunged Spurs from despair into euphoria.

And now they go again.

Pochettino said he elected to bring the team back to London to sleep in their own beds and recover at their own facilities.

It also allows Spurs to keep a close eye on Harry Kane, who missed the second leg and has been expected to miss most if not all of the season with an ankle injury.

“We are not optimistic but you know Harry Kane and with Harry Kane all is possible,” Pochettino said. “We are not going to say he is not going to play again or not. We will assess him day by day.”

We have to imagine that Spurs going from, “Can we beat City and stay in the Top Four without Harry?” to “We are three wins from a Champions League title” might help Kane heal a bit faster (and he’s already a bit of a specimen when it comes to that.