Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho is operating as a pundit for this summer’s World Cup in Russia, but saved any biting thoughts for either of Wednesday’s semifinalists for another time.
Mourinho of course praised Croatia for its run to the final, where Vatreni will meet France on Sunday.
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“It’s a great achievement for a country where the league is a minor league and the majority of the players don’t player in Croatia but abroad,” Mourinho said. “As I know, when you work abroad, you feel your country in a different way.”
The Croatian First Football League ranks 11th in UEFA coefficient, between Iceland and the Netherlands.
As for England, the Portuguese manager heaped praise on the Three Lions.
He says the side is primed to move forward and continue its growth, and was sure to toss in some fond words for his former Chelsea assistant Steve Holland.
“It’s a young team, the majority of the players will play in the next World Cup with more experience at club level,” Mourinho said. “If I was in charge of the FA there would be no doubt that I would keep Gareth Southgate and Steve Holland in their jobs and give them the chance to take the team to the next Euros and the next World Cup.”
Not exactly going out on a limb there, though England’s managerial spot has neither been stable nor particularly hot in some time. Roy Hodgson and Sven-Goran Eriksson each worked three major tournaments, but Steve McClaren and Fabio Capello were both one-and-done.
Will Frank Lampard be the man to push Derby County’s consistent promotion push over the line?
The Rams have been in the Championship playoffs thrice over the past five seasons, and finished 8th and 9th in the other two campaigns.
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Lampard, 39, was linked with both Ipswich Town and Oxford United in bids to land his first manager’s job.
Sky Sports says Lampard will bring Jody Morris, the architect of Chelsea’s successful U-18 side. Morris, also 39, was Lampard’s teammate at Chelsea early this century.
Derby has had five full-time managers since the start of the 2014-15 season: Steve McClaren (twice), Paul Clement, Darren Walsall, Nigel Pearson, and Gary Rowett.
Atletico Madrid doesn’t need to win Europa League Final to make the UEFA Champions League, but Marseille might.
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The two tangle Wednesday in Lyon, with Atleti’s Antoine Griezmann returning to France to face one of the biggest clubs in Ligue 1.
And there are two specific French strikers who may make the difference in the final, won last season by Manchester United. Atleti won the UEL in 2010 and 2012, and a French team has never won the tournament (Marseille is a two-time finalist).
Griezmann will be the key for Atletihas a goal or an assist in all but one Europa League match this season, and his 27 goals and 15 assists on the season on par with most of his better years despite playing in fewer matches.
Marseille’s Florian Thauvin was a bust under Steve McClaren at Newcastle, but has fulfilled every bit of his promise this season with OM after a terrific return to Ligue 1 last season.
Atleti has allowed a miserly 20 goals in league play this season, and just 13 more in 20 other matches. Goalkeeper Jan Oblak has been especially sensational in the tournament.
DERBY, England (AP) Derby County has fired former England manager Steve McClaren for the second time in less than two years and delivered a damning critique of his reign.
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The second-tier League Championship club says there has been a “significant, unexpected and persistent decline in results, team unity and morale.”
The 55-year-old McClaren returned to the central England club in October, following his May 2015 dismissal. Derby has won once in nine league matches and is 10 points from the playoff places with nine games remaining.
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Chairman Mel Morris says “the heartbeat, commitment, focus and passion has been lacking something fundamental.”
McLaren is the last England manager to fail to qualify for a tournament, losing his job after 18 months in 2007 after missing out on the 2008 European Championship.
The draw for the FA Cup fourth round was made in London on Monday and some intriguing ties were drawn out.
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Reigning Premier League champions Leicester City have been drawn against East Midlands rivals Derby County in a big, er, derby, at Pride Park as Steve McClaren‘s side are going well in the second-tier and will fancy their chances against the Foxes.
Both Chelsea and Manchester United have also been handed local derbies with Antonio Conte‘s side hosting Brentford in west London and Jose Mourinho’s United welcoming Wigan Athletic to Old Trafford.
The only two potential all-Premier League ties are Southampton against Arsenal (providing Saints get by second-tier Norwich City in a replay) and Crystal Palace against Manchester City assuming that the Eagles get by third-tier Bolton in a replay.
In total there could be a maximum of 13 Premier League teams remaining in the last 32 of the competition after the replays take place on Jan. 17-18.
Below is the schedule in full for the fourth round as the ties will take place on the weekend of Jan. 28.
FA Cup fourth round draw
Tottenham Hotspur vs. Wycombe Wanderers
Derby County vs. Leicester City
Oxford United vs. Newcastle United/Birmingham City
AFC Wimbledon/Sutton United vs. Cambridge United/Leeds United
Plymouth Argyle/Liverpool vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers
Southampton/Norwich vs. Arsenal
Lincoln City/Ipswich Town vs. Brighton & Hove Albion
Chelsea vs. Brentford
Manchester United vs. Wigan Athletic
Millwall vs. Watford
Rochdale vs. Huddersfield Town
Burnley/Sunderland vs. Fleetwood Town/Bristol City
Blackburn Rovers vs. Barnsley/Blackpool
Fulham vs. Hull City
Middlesbrough vs. Accrington Stanley
Crystal Palace/Bolton Wanderers vs. Manchester City