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PL Preview: Man United vs. Newcastle

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Manchester United’s search for an end to the four-match winless streak now features a brand new dark cloud hanging over Old Trafford as the Red Devils host Newcastle at 12:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, live on NBC or live online at NBCSports.com.

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A major report by The Mirror on Friday claims that Jose Mourinho will be fired following Manchester United’s match no matter the result, surely to dominate the pre-match chatter. Mourinho has had a tumultuous season, as feuds with players like Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial bled over into the media.

United has not won since a Champions League win over Young Boys on September 19th, a run of four matches across all competitions without a win. That stretch has seen them lose to West Ham in Premier League play and Championship side Derby County on penalties in League Cup play, plus draws against newly-promoted Wolves in the league and most recently a boring 0-0 finish against Spanish side Valencia.

Ander Herrera has missed much of the start to the season with an ankle injury, and was thought to be on his way back, possibly returning in this weekend’s match, but the BBC reports he will remain on the sideline. Marcos Rojo and Jesse Lingard also miss out for Manchester United.

For Newcastle, Solomon Rondon is out with a thigh injury, while Paul Dummett and Federico Fernandez are likely to miss out with hamstring problems. The Magpies have only won once in their past 36 visits to Old Trafford, but could have a great opportunity to buck that trend as they face a wounded giant. Newcastle has yet to win a single Premier League match this season, with just two points through the first seven games of the campaign.

What they’re saying

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho on Newcastle’s results: “The results they had against the top teams didn’t get them points yet this season but gave them very, very close results and very difficult matches for the opposition, so we expect a difficult match.”

Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez on Manchester United’s struggles: “In all my time in England, I don’t remember any fragile Manchester United team. All of them have been really strong every year with good managers, good players, so I don’t see any fragile Manchester United team.”

Prediction

The new report about Jose Mourinho gives this match an entirely different feel. Could Mourinho indeed save his job with a win? Is it already over for the Portuguese boss? Will the players play for him with his job on the line? Will they throw him under the bus? There’s so much unknown here. What we do know is that both these teams come into the match in poor form, and something has to give. That something feels far more likely to be Manchester United than Newcastle, even if Mourinho is right that the Magpies have deserved more from a number of results. Still, this match has a 1-1 draw all over it, a fitting end to Mourinho’s tenure at Old Trafford.

Report: Manchester United staff thinks Mourinho to be fired soon

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According to the Daily Mail, there are Manchester United staff members who believe Jose Mourinho could be fired this week.

The report states that both staff members and players on the roster were “openly discussing” Mourinho’s job status on the train ride home from the team’s most recent failure, a 3-1 loss to West Ham in London.

Manchester United sits nine points adrift of the top of the Premier League table, the club’s worst start in 29 years to this stage. The Red Devils fell to Derby County on penalties in their previous match to fall out of the League Cup in the third round, and have losses to Tottenham and Brighton earlier in the season.

Mourinho has most come under fire for his treatment of French midfielder Paul Pogba, who has been criticized and benched at times this year by the Red Devils boss, and Alexis Sanchez is the latest star to feel Mourinho’s heat. The Manchester United defense has also struggled mightily, with Mourinho unable to find his best defensive lineup. He has rotated between Chris Smalling, Victor Lindelof, Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo, Eric Bailly, and even young Scott McTominay, some of whom have dealt with injuries over the course of the young season. He has also missed key midfield cog Ander Herrera who should return soon from an ankle injury.

The Portuguese manager was meant to bring the club back to the heights of Sir Alex Ferguson, and they finished second in the Premier League table last season, but with the massive gap behind champions Manchester City, it was tough to enjoy the growth of the team. This year, they have taken a significant step back, with Mourinho unable to shake the narrative that his squads implode in his third season at the club.

The biggest hurdle to Manchester United making a change is Mourinho’s contract, which has a year-and-a-half left on it and pays him a whopping $19.5 million a year, all coming on an extension signed earlier this calendar year. United would have to pay the remaining amount on his deal should they cut him loose. Mourinho even joked about his contract a few weeks ago, saying “do you know how much they would have to pay me?” when asked if he’s worried about his job security.

Manchester United rocked at West Ham United

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  • Joint-worst start in Man Utd history
  • WATCH: Anderson puts Irons ahead
  • Wicked deflection makes it 2-0
  • Rashford pulls one back

Felipe Anderson and Marko Arnautovic scored as West Ham United piled misery on Manchester United with a 3-1 win on Saturday at the London Stadium.

Andriy Yarmolenko authored a Victor Lindelof own goal before halftime, and both Mark Noble and Lukasz Fabianski were very good for the victors.

Marcus Rashford scored for Manchester United, who is off to its joint-worst start to a Premier League season. Jose Mourinho joins David Moyes with that bit of Red Devils infamy.

Once 0-4, West Ham is now 12th with seven points. Man United slips eighth with 10.

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West Ham won a corner in the first minute, though Fabian Balbuena couldn’t get purchase on Felipe Anderson‘s well-executed service.

Anderson gave United the lead when Pablo Zabaleta raced past Luke Shaw to meet a Mark Noble through ball, sending a cross into the box. Neither Ashley Young nor Ander Herrera could stay with Anderson, and it was 1-0 behind David De Gea.

United settled into the game by the quarter hour mark, and Romelu Lukaku headed a cross off the post in the 22nd minute.

The Irons, however, doubled their advantage with a deflected Yarmolenko strike in the 43rd minute, his left-footed hit taking a hard turn off Victor Lindelof (who was keeping pace with a Marko Arnautovic run).

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United threatened more in the second half, with its best moment coming when Marouane Fellaini nodded an Ashley Young cross toward the near post. West Ham keeper Lukasz Fabianski was on the scene to make a fine diving stop.

Jose Mourinho took out Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial in the 71st minute, and United scored on the next chance when Rashford turned a Luke Shaw corner kick on goal.

But Arnautovic restored the two-goal cushion on another Noble through ball, holding a Carlos Sanchez jersey aloft as Mourinho walked through a sea of bubbles.

VIDEO: West Ham takes early lead over Manchester United

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Manchester United went down early at West Ham United, the lively hosts finding a terrific sixth minute goal at the London Stadium.

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Felipe Anderson is the goal scorer, nabbing his first Premier League marker.

Mark Noble played Pablo Zabaleta through the left side of the Manchester United defense, as Luke Shaw could not keep up with the Argentine’s run.

Zabaleta crossed for Anderson, who had an edge on Ander Herrera and pushed the ball past David De Gea.

Manchester United fell to Derby County at midweek in the League Cup, while West Ham clobbered Macclesfield Town 8-0.

League Cup: 10-man Man Utd stunned at home; Man City wins

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Derby County outlasted 10-man Manchester United in an eight-round penalty shootout as the Rams knocked the Red Devils out of the League Cup at Old Trafford on Tuesday.

Locked 2-2 after 90 minutes, the sides each converted their first seven penalties before Phil Jones missed Manchester United’s eighth following a Richard Keogh conversion.

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With Paul Pogba sitting in the stands but dancing through the headlines, United’s players piled some lumber under manager Jose Mourinho’s hot seat.

Marouane Fellaini‘s goal deep in stoppage time gave 10-man Manchester United a stay at Old Trafford after the hosts tossed away a 1-0 lead. Diego Dalot’s cross was met by the big blonde head of Fellaini, who canceled out Jack Marriott’s late goal for Derby County.

Harry Wilson, on loan from Liverpool, scored a knuckling free kick in the second half of Derby’s visit to Old Trafford to bring Frank Lampard‘s Championship side level after Juan Mata‘s third minute opener. It was gorgeous (see above).

Mata’s goal itself was pretty, as United moved up the field quickly from Ander Herrera to Anthony Martial. The latter’s crossed was moved into Mata’s path via Romelu Lukaku and Jesse Lingard, and the Red Devils were up early.

But the Rams kept knocking, and earned a free kick that Wilson crushed past a perplexed Sergio Romero, who was later sent off for a handball outside the box in the 68th minute, further setting the stage for the Cottagers.

Marriott struck for what looked to be the eventual winner about 17 minutes later.

Millwall 1-3 Fulham

American midfielder Luca De La Torre made the most of the chance handed to him by Slavisa Jokanovic. The 20-year-old played 16 minutes in the second round but earned a start at The Den, where he assisted Joe Bryan‘s opener and scored a 52nd minute goal for himself before adding another assist on the Cottagers’ final goal.

Oxford United 0-3 Man City

Phil Foden scored his first Man City goal, capping off a relatively easy stroll for Pep Guardiola‘s men. Gabriel Jesus and Riyad Mahrez also scored for the reigning champions of the Premier League and this tournament.

Elsewhere
West Brom 0-3 Crystal Palace
Burton Albion 2-1 Burnley
Wycombe Wanderers 3-4 Norwich City
Bournemouth 3-2 Blackburn Rovers
Preston North End 2-2 (3-4 PKs) Middlesbrough
Blackpool 1-0 Queens Park Rangers
Wolves 0-0 (1-3 PKs) Leicester City