Tottenham ready to laud ‘born winner’ Mourinho

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LONDON — Jose Mourinho isn’t a hero at Tottenham Hotspur yet. But the fans want him to be.

Before the game the lyrics of a Tom Greenan’s Song “found what I’ve been looking for” blasted out over the PA system. Spurs and their Chairman Daniel Levy feel like the have, generally.

All the chatter before, during and after the game was about Jose Mourinho. The “born winner” who has won trophies at FC Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan, Real Madrid and Manchester United.

Spurs fans hope Mourinho adds Spurs next to his list and keeps his incredible record going of winning silverware wherever he’s gone.

The former Chelsea and Man United manager has now won his first two games as Tottenham’s manager, beating rivals West Ham 3-2 on Saturday and securing a spot in the UEFA Champions League last 16 by beating Olympiacos 4-2 in dramatic fashion.

It was box office Mourinho to be 2-0 down early, make a tactical substitute after 30 minutes, then rally to win 4-2 and spark wild celebrations on the sidelines and in the stands. It was quite surprising just how positive Tottenham’s fans were towards Mourinho.

Asked by ProSoccerTalk after the game about the reaction from home fans and what he made of his home debut for Spurs, Mourinho made it all about the team, but mostly about himself.

“It is not about me, it is about the team. I just want to help. The fans helped, I helped, the ballboy helped. Everybody that loves Spurs helped the players. The players are the most important thing,” Mourinho said. “My feeling was great, especially because it was one of these matches where I had to play. Some of the matches you play before the match, the way you prepare the team, you work, you train and your action during the game isn’t very important. In other matches you have to play. But today I had to play. “I think that was my 80th victory in the Champions League. Let’s go for 81.”

He is always focused on one thing: Winning above everything else.

Speaking to Spurs fans before the game, they are keen to forget Mourinho’s allegiance to rivals Chelsea (but were also keen to also mention they couldn’t forget former manager George Graham for his links to Arsenal) provided he does one thing: Win.

“If you’re going to go get someone, this club needs someone who is going to win, so you can go on and win. It has been so long. He is a winning manager,” Danny Hood said, smiling, as he stood next to his daughter with his flat cap on. “To get a couple of trophies would be great and then hopefully even if he does go, hopefully they will have it in them to do it again.”

Mourinho is all about the final step for Tottenham.

Under Mauricio Pochettino they came so close to winning silverware but just came up short. That ruthless edge wasn’t there. Firing Pochettino and hiring Mourinho came out of necessity.

“When it happened I was shocked. In terms of Pochettino, I thought he had a little bit of time left. And Mourinho, well, I thought it was quite an extreme appointment,” Duncan Capp, a lifelong Spurs fans from Uxbridge, explained. “At the same time you could see the sense as well. A proven winner of trophies and it is sort of a marriage of convenience for both parties. Tottenham want to get back to the top four and Mourinho wants to get back to the Champions League and hopefully win it, again.”

There was a spring in the step of fans and staff members at Spurs before and after the game, as the new manager bump has arrived big time under Mourinho. For a manager who divides opinion, there is still a sense of hesitation to laud him from Tottenham’s fans.

His name was not sung by the home fans on Tuesday against Olympiacos.

“I don’t think we will be singing his name just yet and any response will be more for the team who are playing in the Champions League tonight,” Capp said. “I don’t think there will be a negative response for Mourinho. He has a chance, especially if he keeps winning. We aren’t going to win every single game under Mourinho, we know that, but the Champions League is a good platform for him. It is his competition, or so he thinks. If we can have a good run in the Champions League and get in the top four, it would be a good season.”

Other were more keen to go all-in on Mourinho: “If we start winning every week then we will start singing his name!” Hood added.

Fans broke down his hiring time and time again amongst themselves, with many admitting he’s probably be gone inside three seasons but if he left with a few more trophies under his arm, who cares? They want to win, any way, any how. One fan belted out that 38 1-0 victories with boring football would do the job.

Somewhere Mourinho’s ears must have pricked up.

“You have the third most successful manager in history now,” one fan explained to another. “Exactly. We sacked one world class manager and replaced him with another,” replied another.

Mourinho was apparently the “best appointment we could have made” but some admitted they were a “little worried about the reaction he will get.”

They know the Portuguese coach is playing the same game he has time and time again to get fans onside early and believe they can succeed. He’s a master at it.

“Mourinho is saying all the right things, Pochettino was saying all the wrong things,” said one man leaning on the edge of corporate box inside the stadium. He and his friends had a theory, if Spurs didn’t hire Mourinho, Arsenal would have. And they believed Pochettino would never go to the Gunners.

The next guy came along and wasn’t happy with Mourinho being the new manager but quipped “he could be a great manager and I hope it works out, but…”

The retort arrived: “But how good will it be for the youngsters, to have a winner like that around the team!?”

It all goes back to winning. It always does with Mourinho.

Winning means Spurs will try to become nasty again, as they try every trick in the box Mourinho wrote to get success.

He was the first person to celebrate with the ball boy who hurried to get the ball to Serge Aurier for Spurs’ second goal. The master of the dark arts approved.

“We want somebody who is nasty and pushing people and mixing it up. When Pochettino took over we were the youngest, fittest team and the most aggressive team,” Danny Hood added. “People talked about us being the hardest team in the league to play against. Dele used to dive, wind people up, Poch told him to stop that and knocked the confidence out of him. I want that nasty team again, that team who fought everyone. I hope that comes back.”

There is still a reluctance to get too excited by Mourinho.

“My initial reaction was shock but once you break it all down, here some of the details and rumors, then you sort of understand it a bit more. You can accept it a little more,” Capp added.

The acceptance at Spurs is that Mourinho isn’t perfect, but he’s a winner.

“He’s proven he can win everywhere, so let’s hope Spurs aren’t the odd ones out,” Daisy Hood laughed. “I nearly fell asleep during the Newcastle game! I want trophies. So it is Mourinho. As long as he’s running up the touchline at Stamford Bridge celebrating for Tottenham, I’m happy.”

Man City vs Man United: How to watch live, stream link, team news

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Manchester City vs Manchester United: Erling Haaland is set for his Manchester derby debut when the two-time defending champions host the rapidly improving Red Devils at Etihad Stadium on Sunday (watch live, 9 am ET on Peacock Premium). 

STREAM LIVE MAN CITY vs MAN UNITED

Haaland has taken the Premier League by storm with an absurd 11 goals scored in his first seven games after (ostensibly) choosing Man City over Man United before leaving Borussia Dortmund this summer.

Six weeks ago, Manchester United had not a single point from their first two games, including a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of tiny Brentford, but Erik ten Hag has since switched tactical course en route to four straight wins, including a 3-1 victory over PL leaders Arsenal last time out, to set up this hugely intriguing showdown on Sunday.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Man City vs Man United

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]


How to watch Manchester City vs Manchester United live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 9 am ET, Sunday
Online: Stream via Peacock Premium


Key storylines & star players

Despite a pair of disappointing draws (Newcastle and Aston Villa), it’s been an unbeaten start to the 2022-23 season for Man City, who still lead the PL in possession (66.4 percent per game) while also becoming an unstoppable offensive force from last season (14 goals in their first seven games) to this season (23). That’s not to say it’s been easy as Manchester City go through a tactical shift of their own to better appeal to the big Norwegian’s poaching abilities. Though they have been forced to grind out results a few times already this season, it’s highlighted a newfound spontaneity for a side that’s been as regimented as any in the world. Will that freedom be what ultimately lands Pep Guardiola his first Champions League trophy since 2011, and perhaps a third straight PL title (and a fifth in six years) to boot?

As for Manchester United, the Ten Hag era has been a wild roller-coaster ride already, short as it’s been. The back-to-back defeats were one thing, but the abject performances were the real cause for discontent. While picking up the four straight victories, the Dutchman has also settled on a midfield setup with Scott McTominay and Christian Eriksen operating in (effectively) a double pivot with Bruno Fernandes the most advanced of the three. It has brought defensive stability, of course, but more importantly the change has revealed a deadly counter-attacking side. Each of Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford and Fernandes have scored twice during the winning run, with new boy Antony also getting in on the fun on his debut. With space in behind (and the proper service from deep), Ten Hag might just have his first winning formula (albeit quite unlike him).


Manchester City team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Kalvin Phillips (shoulder), John Stones (hamstring), Benjamin Mendy (suspension – MORE) | QUESTIONABLE: Aymeric Laporte (knee)

Manchester United team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Harry Maguire (hamstring), Marcus Rashford (thigh), Brandon Williams (undisclosed), Mason Greenwood (suspension – MORE) | QUESTIONABLE, Donny van de Beek (knock), Martin Dubravka (knock)

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WATCH: Lionel Messi spins gorgeous free kick goal past Nice’s Schmeichel

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Lionel Messi got the better of Kasper Schmeichel with an outstanding free kick as Paris Saint-Germain outlasted Nice 2-1 on Saturday at the Parc des Princes.

The world’s greatest scorer was fouled to set up a free kick just inside the arc. Nice, of course, got into a wall and former Leicester City keeper Kasper Schmeichel arranged it to his liking.

As he does so many times, however, Messi spun a free kick just over the wall. The ball, which came so close to taking a slight turn off a leaping wall member (actually, did it?), tumbled down and right into the side netting to give PSG a 1-0 lead before the match was a half-hour old.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Ricardo Pepi scores relentless Groningen goal ]

Gaetan Laborde tied the match before halftime, and Nice’s revamped roster looked set to hold tight for a point (The club’s signed familiar Premier League names Schmeichel, Ross Barkley, Aaron Ramsey, and Mario Lemina).

Even that wouldn’t be enough, though, as Kylian Mbappe came off the bench to replace young Hugo Ekitike to finish a Nordi Mukiele assist for a 2-1 win.

PSG has eight wins and a draw this season, good for a two-point lead on second-place Marseille. Messi has five goals and a joint-league-best seven assists, tied with Neymar. Mbappe and Neymar are tied for the league goals lead with eight.

Lionel Messi free kick goal video

USMNT’s Ricardo Pepi defies xG with relentless goal (video)

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USMNT forward Ricardo Pepi’s goal while trying to will Groningen back into an eventual 4-1 loss to AZ Alkmaar on Saturday will not be one of the expected variety.

The 19-year-old striker, on loan from Augsburg, ran onto an audacious long pass from 20-year-old defender Neraysho Kasanwirjo but had plenty of work to do with AZ leading 2-0.

[ MORE: Josef Martinez scores audacious overhead goal ]

Pepi sees one defender fall in a race to the ball, then bodies up AZ’s Sam Beukema a little outside the six-yard box.

Hand-to-hand combat sees both players hit the turf, and Pepi probably could won a penalty.

But the World Cup hopeful spins while on the pitch and snaps a shot past charging AZ goalkeeper Hobie Verhulst to make it 2-1.

Video after the jump.

Ricardo Pepi
fotmob.com

Ricardo Pepi goal video: Fantastic start to Groningen loan

Pepi now has a goal or an assist in his first three Eredivisie outings, not unlike his fantastic start to life in a USMNT shirt.

His goal contributions have taken a dive since his first two USMNT matches — World Cup qualifiers against Honduras and Jamaica — and he only has one assist from the following 10 outings in a U.S. shirt.

Still, Pepi is clearly one of Gregg Berhalter’s favorite options for the upcoming World Cup, and his performances will be measured against Union Berlin’s Jordan Pefok, FC Dallas’ Jesus Ferreira, and others.

In a tournament where every moment matters, his work for this scrappy finish will be well-noted by the USMNT staff.

Josef Martinez scores vicious overhead kick in Atlanta United loss (video)

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If this is the last goal of Josef Martinez’s (likely) final season with Atlanta United, it will be very appropriate.

So for Martinez, even in a losing effort, to go airborne for an overhead kick that is a simply sensational feat of athleticism and power, well, it just feels right.

The 29-year-old Venezuelan forward joined the Five Stripes in 2017 in what seemed a massive capture for the club at the time and now seems downright gargantuan, but he’s fallen out with current manager Gonzalo Pineda and was even suspended for a match last month.

[ MORE: West Ham beats Wolves | Klopp reacts to latest setback ]

Martinez has nine goals and four assists in an injury-abbreviated 25-game season, giving him 111 goals in 156 appearances for ATL UTD. The former Torino and Young Boys striker is still being capped for Venezuela and would leave with an MLS Cup, Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, and Campeones Cup as well as a boatload of individual honors.

Atlanta lost 2-1 to New England on Saturday and returns home for their season finale next weekend versus New York City FC. The Five Stripes won’t make the playoffs unless at least two teams decide not to field teams, so if the NYCFC game doesn’t go well, let’s pretend this one was his final appearance for the club.