Who scored it better: Mata, Townsend pot League Cup beauties

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There’s team goals, and there’s solo goals.

The League Cup saw both in its early Tuesday throes.

[ LIVE: Follow League Cup scores ] 

First, Frank Lampard‘s Derby County received a rude welcome to Old Trafford.

Manchester United went up 1-0 in under 200 seconds with a breakneck rush up the left of the field (see above).

Ander Herrera spotted Anthony Martial, and an exquisite touch sent the Frenchman toward the corner flag.

His cross was touched to Jesse Lingard by Romelu Lukaku, and the English winger laid off to Juan Mata.

Mata made no mistake, supplying the finish required by such an electric move.

The second goal came at the Hawthorns, where Crystal Palace’s Andros Townsend punished West Bromwich Albion with a long dribble and shot from distance.

Report: Mourinho tells Pogba he will not captain Man United again

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Reports are circulating that Jose Mourinho has told Paul Pogba he will not captain Manchester United again.

After United’s 1-1 draw against Wolves on Saturday, Pogba approached reporters in the mixed zone at Old Trafford and told them United must “attack, attack, attack” when playing at home.

He set up United’s goal against Wolves but was at fault for the equalizer.

Pogba has worn the captains armband for several games this season (mostly due to Antonio Valencia’s ongoing injury problems) despite his outspoken nature in the media and reports of a rift between himself and Mourinho over the past 12 months.

The BBC claim that Mourinho has told Pogba he will not wear the captains armband again, as the French superstar appeared to undermine his authority when it came to tactics. A separate report from The Times states that Mourinho told his entire squad that Pogba would no longer captain the team on Tuesday ahead of their League Cup clash with Derby County at Old Trafford, as he addressed the team at the training ground and dropped Pogba from the matchdsy squad.

Mourinho is said to have reminded his players that nobody is bigger than the club and was furious with Pogba’s attitude in recent games.

Speaking in his programme notes ahead of their clash with Derby on Tuesday, Mourinho said the following about his players.

“[The game against Wolves was] an important lesson; a lesson that I repeat week after week after week, a lesson that some boys are not learning,” Mourinho said. “Every team that play Manchester United are playing the game of their lives, and we need to match that level of aggression, motivation and desire – 95% isn’t enough when others give 101%.”

Rumors persisted all summer long about Pogba leaving United to move to Barcelona or going back to Juventus.

Those reports will now intensify ahead of the January transfer window as Mourinho seems to have finally lost his patience with the enigmatic midfielder. Pogba’s agent, Mino Raiola, has had plenty to say about his client and will no doubt be talking in the coming days.

Since his then world-record transfer of $120 million from Juve in the summer of 2016, Pogba has struggled to find cosistency at United under Mourinho and was dropped last season and his attitude was questioned.

Even though his form for France in their 2018 World Cup win was much improved and he won many plaudits, Mourinho was hardly complimentary of Pogba’s displays, further fuelling the fire of a significant rift between the duo.

It seems that the relationship between Mourinho and Pogba has now hit rock bottom. Where do they go from here? What a mess.

Man United reveal record revenue; net debt rises by $280 million

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Manchester United’s latest financial figures were discussed on Tuesday by Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward and overall the picture of one of the wealthiest clubs on the planet was very rosey.

They recorded a record revenue of $777 million for the year ending 30 June 2018, with a profit of around $58 million.

But one number stood out: United’s net debt has risen by over $280 million in the past 12 months due to tax reforms in the United States of America.

With United owned by the U.S. based Glazer Family and listed on the New York Stock Exchange, those tax reforms seem to have hit the Red Devils particularly hard over the past 12 months.

On the pitch, Woodward seemed impressed with the way Jose Mourinho and his players have been performing and maintained his support for their manager.

“Everyone at the club is working tirelessly to add to Manchester United’s 66 and Jose’s 25 trophies. That is what our passionate fans and our history demands,” Woodward said. “We are committed to our philosophy of blending top academy graduates with world class players and are proud that, once again, last season we had more academy graduate minutes on the pitch than any other Premier League club.”

Some of the other big takeaways from Woodward’s financial update include:

  • United paid wages of $389.3 million in 2017/18 – an increase of $42.6m, or 12.3%, on previous year
  • For year ending 30 June 2018 – record revenue of $777 million, with operating profit of $58m
  • Expect revenue to rise to a record $809-829 million in 2019

EFL Cup preview: Liverpool-Chelsea highlights 3rd round

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The EFL Cup returns with 15 games — featuring 14 Premier League sides — spread across Tuesday and Wednesday.

[ MORE: Sarri believes Chelsea still far from competing with Liverpool ]

Liverpool face Chelsea on Wednesday, as the premier tie of the third round will be played at Anfield. The Reds and Blues are yet to play in the PL this season, though they were the last two remaining sides with 100-percent records to start the campaign until Chelsea slipped up away to West Ham United on Sunday. Following Wednesday’s clash in the northwest of England, they’ll meet again on Saturday at Stamford Bridge for that first meeting in league play (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com).

Following his side’s draw at the London Stadium, first-year Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri threw a bit of cold water on Blues fans’ growing hopes that a title challenge might be possible this season, claiming that this week’s opponent remains “a step forward of us at this moment.”

“We have to play against a very, very good team who have worked with the same coach for three years,” he said. “We have started to work together 40 days ago, less 10 days for the international break, so for us it is a bit early. We have to work and then, maybe, in one year we will be at the same level as Liverpool.”

[ MORE: Mourinho’s mixed messages over Man United progression ]

Elsewhere this week, Manchester City and Manchester United will each take on lower-level opposition on Tuesday, as the Red Devils will get a visit from Championship side Derby County — which will see Rams manager Frank Lampard match wits with his former manager, Jose Mourinho, for the first time — and the defending holders take a trip to League One side Oxford United.

A pair of all-London battles featuring Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal take second billing to Liverpool versus Chelsea on Wednesday. Tottenham will get their chance at revenge against Watford, the side that ended Mauricio Pochettino’s side’s perfect start to the season, at Wembley Stadium. Back in north London, the Gunners will host west London’s Brentford, one of nearly a dozen sides with dreams of winning promotion from the Championship this season.

Tuesday’s EFL Cup schedule (all games 2:45 p.m. ET, unless noted)

Manchester United vs. Derby County — 3 p.m. ET
Oxford United vs. Manchester City
Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Leicester City
West Bromwich Albion vs. Crystal Palace — 3 p.m. ET
Bournemouth vs. Blackburn Rovers
Burton vs. Burnley
Millwall vs. Fulham
Blackpool vs. Queens Park Rangers
Wycombe vs. Norwich City
Preston North End vs. Middlesbrough

Wednesday’s EFL Cup schedule (all games 2:45 p.m. ET, unless noted)

Liverpool vs. Chelsea — 3 p.m. ET
Tottenham Hotspur vs. Watford
Arsenal vs. Brentford
West Ham United vs. Macclesfield Town
Nottingham Forest vs. Stoke City

Oct. 2 EFL Cup schedule

Everton vs. Southampton

Mourinho’s mixed messages over Man United progression

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Jose Mourinho believes his Manchester United side will progress this season. Even if the table or points tally doesn’t show it.

Work that one out.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Speaking ahead of United’s 1-1 draw at home to Wolves on Saturday — Paul Pogba has already had his say as he urged United to ‘attack, attack, attack’ at home — Mourinho said he is pleased with the overall development of his side.

“I am not saying we are going to have more points than last season because last season we collect a very acceptable level,” Mourinho said. “I think we are going to be a better team. We are going to play better than we did but I think it’s going to be a very difficult season. Not just for us, also for the others because the others they can say exactly the same as I am saying and they can say: ‘Oh, Manchester United, good team, good squad, City good squad, good team.’”

“I am optimistic, but a difficult season, yes,” Mourinho added. “I don’t change that because we won two matches in the Premier League. You see the level of the teams: you see [the] Liverpool squad, City squad, Chelsea squad, Tottenham squad, Arsenal improving. It’s going to be difficult.”

As Mourinho mentioned, they’ve won two of their last three but just three of their opening six PL games this season and they’re already eight points off league leaders Liverpool in the table.

Surely he can’t be too happy with the development of his team? Mourinho questioned the attitude of his players after the draw with Wolves, which isn’t a sign of him believing they’re moving in the right direction.

The Portuguese coach is sending out mixed messages.

United’s dropped points against Tottenham, Brighton and Wolves were deserved, although the game against Spurs was a strange one as they played well and should have led but they were then punished in the second half. Wolves could’ve easily nicked a win at United on Saturday and United’s defensive deficiencies are the biggest problem for Mourinho to sort out as he chops and changes defensive players.

Do they need to attack more? Well, that is always the objective for any team and United are no different, especially at home, but Mourinho doesn’t seem to know his best attacking lineup aside from Romelu Lukaku. There’s no doubt Alexis Sanchez is in a severe slump, while Marcus Rashford is being played out of position on the wing and the likes of Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial are in and out of the team. To become a better attacking unit you need to have a settled system and personnel who can create and combine effectively. United do not have that. At all. And they haven’t since Mourinho arrived in 2016.

Over the past three seasons, United have scored 131 goals, the fewest amount of the so-called ‘big six’ in the Premier League.

They’ve scored nine goals in their opening six games of this season and they’ve conceded nine. That points to fine-tuning needed in both defense and attack if they’re not only going to finish in the top four but also drag themselves into the title race.

At this point Mourinho needs his players to put points on the board and more trophies in the cabinet at Old Trafford because his team aren’t showing serious signs of progression and aren’t enjoyable to watch on a weekly basis a la Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham and even Arsenal.