Paul Pogba

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Savage Mourinho details Man United’s problems

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Talk about kicking a club when they’re down…

Jose Mourinho has said a few things about Manchester United since he was fired as their manager in December 2018.

But these are perhaps the most savage comments yet. It’s not how much you say, but what you say, and Jose hasn’t lost his touch.

Speaking to French outlet L’Equipe, Mourinho was asked about why United suffered so badly in the final weeks of the season and ended up finishing in sixth place after losing seven of their final 11 games in all competitions and picking up just one win in that run.

“On Manchester United, I only want to say two things. One is that time has spoken. Two, it’s the problems are still there,” Mourinho said.

Ouch.

Mourinho, 56, is still out of a job but has been linked with moves to the likes of Inter Milan and Paris Saint-Germain, with the Portuguese legend spending plenty of time as a pundit on beIN Sport sharing his thoughts about the game.

Asked be L’Equipe about the power of Paul Pogba at United and if their issues off the field resulted in Mourinho being fired, because the club backed Pogba over him, the former FC Porto, Chelsea, Inter and Real Madrid boss couldn’t have made his feelings any clearer.

“No, no. The problems are there, you can imagine that the problems are the players, the organization and the ambition,” Mourinho said. “I will only say that I cannot say ‘yes’ when you ask if Paul was the only one responsible.”

So, Mourinho is saying that Pogba was a part of the problem and that there is plenty of rot at the core of Manchester United.

He then went on to take a subtle swipe at Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

“I really squeezed, like an orange, to achieve them. When you have a very professional group of players who are ambitious, hard-working and talented, at a structured club, you don’t have that erosion,” Mourinho explained. “When you are almost alone, in that you don’t have the support of the club close to you, while certain players go somewhat against the coach, who is the nice guy. I don’t want to be the nice guy, because the nice guy, after three months, is a puppet and that doesn’t end well.”

He has spoken quite positively about United since he left but with his replacement Solskjaer (first as a caretaker, then as a permanent head coach in April after an incredible few months in charge) now under pressure, Mourinho is twisting the knife a little.

Is Mourinho to blame for plenty of United’s problems on the pitch? Yes, of course he is. The squad he helped build then rip the confidence out of is largely down to him and his coaching staff.

But the larger problem at United, such as boardroom members (ahem, Ed Woodward) muddling into soccer decisions when they should stick to business, is what is really holding them back.

Until United appoint a sporting director to give them a clear identity and direction, they will be a rudderless ship drifting from one expensive mistake to another.

Mourinho is telling it how it is, and his feat of winning the Europa League and League Cup in 2016-17 and then finishing second in the Premier League in the 2017-18 campaign with these players is looking a better achievement by the week.

He knows it, and that is why Mourinho has gone in on United right now.

Solskjaer says Man United challenge will take “a long time”

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With Manchester United falling 2-0 to relegated Cardiff City to close out the campaign, a broken Ole Gunnar Solskjaer told the media that the club still has a lot of work to do to regain its former glory.

“More or less the only positive from today is that the season is over,” a despondent Solskjaer said after the loss, which completed Manchester United’s season-ending tailspin that featured just one win in the final seven matches of the campaign.

“To reach the leaders it will take a long time,” Solskjaer said, admitting the supporters must understand the club needs realistic ambitions while they search for the right formula. “For ourselves, the short-term focus in the league will be getting into the top four. We have got the Europa League, FA Cup, Carabao Cup to go for a trophy because Manchester United can’t go many years without winning a trophy. Jose [Mourinho] won the Europa League last and that is a realistic ambition.”

It has been six years since Manchester United last won a Premier League title, as the club continues to search for a light at the end of the post-Sir Alex Ferguson tunnel. Solskjaer appeared to be the answer, with the club on a 12-match Premier League unbeaten run to start his tenure, but they fell off the map after that, winning just two of their last nine league matches and ending on a four-match winless run.

“The last couple of months have been extremely hard for the team, the club and for the players,” Solskjaer said.

Supporters are beginning to get restless with the club’s character, as video on social media showed Paul Pogba receiving abuse from his own supporters during the club’s lap of honor around Old Trafford after the loss.

Raiola transfer ban extended worldwide by FIFA

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According to reports across Europe, including Sky Sports, superagent Mino Raiola has seen his transfer ban extend worldwide by FIFA’s disciplinary committee.

News of Raiola’s initial suspension came through on Thursday, with the Italian FA banning the agent from performing his representative duties for three months, a suspension that only took effect within the Italian federation. However, the reports on Friday state that the chairman of the FIFA disciplinary committee, Ghanan judge Anin Yeboah, has taken charge of the case and extended it to apply worldwide. This means Raiola is effectively banned from performing any duties as an agent for the duration of the suspension.

It is still unclear what the reason for the suspension is, as neither the Italian FA nor FIFA have officially stated the reason for the disciplinary action. However, Gazzetta dello Sport reported Thursday that the suspension has to do with the 2015 transfer of Gianluca Scamacca from Roma’s youth system to PSV. Scamacca, now 20 years old, was just 16 at the time, and the transfer reportedly angered Roma. The report did not explain what rule Raiola may have violated during the proceedings of that transfer.

The exact start and end dates of the suspension are not known, but theoretically, if it were to take effect yesterday, that would mean Raiola could resume duties on August 9, exactly one day after the close of the summer transfer window in England.

The ban could have a significant affect on the transfer market this summer, with Raiola representing a number of high-profile players who are the subject of heavy transfer speculation. The most notable two Raiola clients are Paul Pogba and Matthijs de Ligt, with Pogba reportedly unhappy at Manchester United and de Ligt a highly sought-after young defender set to play in the Champions League final with Ajax in a few weeks. Raiola will likely have coworkers and colleagues who could perform the duties he would otherwise complete during a normal, uninterrupted transfer window, but it could leave Raiola clients in a tricky situation if they are unable to communicate with their agent normally.

Raiola said Thursday that he would challenge the suspension legally, calling it “a sentence dominated by political willing, without taking into the right consideration the reason of law.”

Superagent Raiola given three-month transfer ban in Italy

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Ahead of the summer transfer window, Italian superagent Mino Raiola has been handed a three-month transfer ban by the Italian FA for unknown reasons. Raiola announced he is appealing the suspension.

Raiola is best known for representing Paul Pogba, plus Mario Balotelli, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Blaise Matuidi, Marco Verratti, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, and many others.

The statement from the Italian FA read, “The Sports Procurators Commission condemns Mr Carmine [Mino] Raiola and Mr Vincenzo Raiola, on their own behalf and as legal representatives of the companies they represent to sanction of the suspension from the exercise of the activity of sports attorney to the extent, respectively: with regard to Mr. Carmine Raiola, of 3 months, with regard to Mr. Vincenzo Raiola, of 2 months.”

Raiola himself said he does not know why he was banned, incredulously claiming it to be “perhaps the result of a story by some frustrated weirdo.”

“I immediately called in lawyers and I appeal,” the 51-year-old told Dutch outlet Eindhoven Daglbad. “This is a personal error. I have not received any explanation.”

“You can ask me three thousand questions about it, but I honestly don’t know what is going on,” Raiola insisted. According to Gazzetta dello Sport, the suspension has to do with the 2015 transfer of Gianluca Scamacca from Roma’s youth system to PSV. Scamacca, now 20 years old, was just 16 at the time, and the transfer reportedly angered Roma.

“My personal feeling is that this punishment responds to a political will, without taking the law into account,” Raiola later said in a tweeted statement. “It’s a sanction based on falsehoods and lies. Law and justice must prevail in any correct system and I hope my name will be restored in the next chapter of this story.”

Raiola’s ban only takes effect with regards to Italian clubs, so it shouldn’t affect Pogba’s reported efforts to leave Manchester United for a top Spanish club. It would have affected Romelu Lukaku‘s reported interest from both Juventus and Inter, but Lukaku left Raiola earlier this year for Roc Nation Sports.

It could, however, affect the summer fortunes of Dutch youngster Matthijs de Ligt, who is represented by Raiola. The 19-year-old Ajax captain has been linked with top clubs all over the map, with Juventus included in the mix.

Reports: Real Madrid pursuing both Hazard and Pogba

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Eden Hazard isn’t the only Premier League player Real Madrid is seriously considering pursuing this summer.

According to two reports from Marca, which often has a tight connection with Real Madrid’s front office, Real Madrid is both in advanced discussions with Eden Hazard’s representatives, as well as thinking about signing Paul Pogba this summer.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

The Marca report on Hazard states Chelsea is requesting a $156.5 million transfer fee for the Belgian international. The report adds that initially Real Madrid scoffed at the bid, but after the season the club has had, they’ve settled for having to spend a boatload of cash for Hazard.

That complicates things for Real Madrid’s pursuit of Pogba. Per Marca, Zinedine Zidane has requested Real Madrid attempt to sign the Manchester United midfielder, but Man United reportedly won’t accept anything less than $223 million, much more than Real Madrid is willing to spend on one player. Combine that with Hazard’s fee, and it seems near impossible.

It’s not clear exactly how both players will work in Zidane’s system, regardless. Pogba could be successful if he plays alongside Toni Kroos and Luka Modric in midfield, but that may leave Casemiro out of the fold, which could hurt the balance of Real Madrid’s lineup.

Additionally, while Hazard will be a boost for the team, Vinicius Jr. has already been terrific as a left winger and truly, the team needs a better striker up top, and we’ve seen Hazard struggle when playing as a false nine.

Regardless, it will be sad for the Premier League to lose two of its most talented, marketable stars, should they leave this summer.