Will Power

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Man. United And Man. City Given More Time By FA To Provide Observations On Tunnel Fracas

Manchester United and Manchester City have been given extra time to provide their observations following reports of an incident after Sunday's Premier League game.

They now have until 6pm on Friday, the Football Association has announced, to provide an explanation for what happened during a tunnel altercation after City's 2-1 win at Old Trafford.

It is understood the FA has extended the deadline by two days because they are mindful of Wednesday night's Premier League fixtures.

Leaders Manchester City are at Swansea City, while second-placed United host Bournemouth.

Jose Mourinho was irked by the loud music and celebrations from Manchester City's open dressing room as he made his way to his post-match press conference and an altercation followed when he made his feelings known to City goalkeeper Ederson.

The United boss then had a carton of milk thrown towards him from inside the dressing room which hit one of his backroom staff, according to Sky sources, while Manchester City assistant coach Mikel Arteta suffered a cut to the head in the incident but no punches were thrown.

It is understood United were surprised at the manner of City's celebrations after the full-time whistle.

The incident was not included in referee Michael Oliver's match report, prompting the FA to investigate.

Credit: Skysports.com

Gomes Signs Professional Contract


Manchester United is delighted to announce that Angel Gomes has signed his first professional contract with the club.

Gomes, 17, is a product of the club’s Academy system and has been at the club since the age of six. The London-born player has represented Manchester United at various youth levels and made his first-team debut at Old Trafford against Crystal Palace on the last day of the 2016/17 Premier League campaign. Internationally, Angel was part of the England Under-17s' World Cup-winning side.

Angel Gomes said: “Manchester United has always been a big part of my life. I have been with the club since the age of six and it was a proud moment for me when I made my first team debut.

“This club is renowned for giving home grown players opportunities to progress into the first team and that was a major factor in me signing my first professional contract at this great club. I am still young but am looking forward to continuing my development with the help of the coaching staff and I will take every opportunity that comes my way.”

Nicky Butt said: “Angel has gone from strength to strength in his development and we are all pleased that he has signed his professional contract with Manchester United. He is still very young and has a good aptitude for learning; coupled with his natural talent, we can see that Angel has a very bright future.”

Jose Mourinho said: “I am delighted that Angel has signed his first professional contract with the club. I gave him his first-team debut at the end of last season which made him not only the youngest Manchester United player to play in the Premier League era but also the youngest player to represent Manchester United since Duncan Edwards in 1953.”

Mourinho Explains Mkhitaryan Absence

Jose Mourinho has explained why he has decided to leave Henrikh Mkhitaryan out of his Manchester United squad for recent matches.

The Armenian has not been involved in the matchday squad in seven of the last eight games and last featured as a substitute in United's 1-0 win over Brighton on 25 November.

Mourinho was asked about Mkhitaryan's absence in his post-match press conference following the Reds' 1-0 victory over Bournemouth at Old Trafford on Wednesday night.

The boss outlined that his plethora of options in midfield and attacking positions means that there is competition for every place in the starting line-up and on the bench.

He said: “I can only have six [outfield] players on the bench and I try to have some balance on the bench – I had two defenders and [Daley] Blind who can play in different areas. I had Ashley Young to cover me all of the wing and the wing-back position.

“I had [Ander] Herrera as a midfield player, Zlatan [Ibrahimovic] as a striker and Marcus [Rashford] as a second striker and winger. I played [Anthony] Martial, [Juan] Mata and [Jesse] Lingard in the team. To have Micki means that I don’t have one of them and, in this moment, I believe the other ones they deserve [the chance to play].”

Mkhitaryan will be working hard in a bid to return when the Reds return to action on Sunday in the Premier League against West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns (kick-off 14:15 GMT).

Jose Praises Shaw And McTominay

Luke Shaw claimed his second Man-of-the-Match award in as many personal outings and manager Jose Mourinho reserved special praise for the left-back, along with Scott McTominay in his post-match interviews.

Shaw collected 48 per cent of the Twitter votes ahead of David De Gea (32%) and the impressive McTominay (20%) who also particularly pleased the Reds boss following the 1-0 win over Bournemouth.

Jose Mourinho told MUTV after the game: “Both were very good. Luke was really good and improving, but then, later in the game, he was feeling cramp and they [Bournemouth] felt that and were trying to go through that side so it was important to bring Ashley Young to the game.

"The reaction of the crowd [when he was replaced] pleased me too because there is no better thing for a player than that."

Scott McTominay arguably had his best performance in a Manchester United shirt and his effort level was clear, as the 21-year-old covered 12.18km - the most distance of any player on the pitch.

Mourinho told reporters in his post-match interviews. “Scott [McTominay] didn’t look like it was any different for him to play in another match and another competition. He is ready to play, he had 90 minutes today, he had 90 minutes against CSKA [Moscow] and he is ready to play,” he said.

“Scott, this season, has played 90 minutes in three different competitions. He played against Swansea in the Carabao Cup, tonight and played against Benfica and, for the three times, he played 90 minutes, not 89 or 87 or 85."

"He played 90 [minutes] because, in every match, he was an adult. He was not a kid, he was an adult playing really, really well."

Mourinho Reacts To Victory Over Cherries


Jose Mourinho was pleased with the response of his Manchester United team after the 1-0 victory over Bournemouth on Wednesday night.

The Reds returned to winning ways after Sunday’s derby defeat by Manchester City by beating the Cherries on a wintry evening at Old Trafford thanks to a first-half header from top scorer Romelu Lukaku.

Read the key points from the boss in an interview with MUTV and his post-match press conference…

THREE POINTS ‘VERY IMPORTANT’
“We missed great chances to score the second goal and breathe and rest and then, in the last 10-15 minutes, they [Bournemouth] were fresher than us. They had one more day to rest, we had the derby three days ago. They had a fresh [Benik] Afobe and [Jermain] Defoe to bring to the game to give them some more dynamic and they brought that dynamic to the last part of the game. Overall, I think the performance was based on a big effort and big personality and the three points were very important.”

LUKAKU’S WINNING GOAL
“It was a good cross [from Juan Mata] and a good header and then, in the second half, some good movement but without the sharpness to kill it. We had [Anthony] Martial [who was] unlucky with a missed chance and Marcus [Rashford] with that amazing shot [which hit the woodwork] so we had conditions to kill the game but it was very important to keep control.”

ANOTHER CLEAN SHEET
“The objective was to win the game more comfortably but when you cannot do that and when you feel that your opponent in the last 10 minutes is a bit stronger and fresher than you, it’s important to keep a clean sheet and I’m really happy.”

‘VERY GOOD PERFORMANCE’
“I think it was a very good performance and very good determination to win. I think the team after a defeat try not to have a second defeat and that was in the back of their minds when they were playing. They want to win the match and I could see that from minute one until the last second. We had our best period in the first period of the second half. We had the two biggest chances of the game to kill the game. [Anthony] Martial is an easy chance and the Marcus [Rashford] shot is a fantastic one that deserves a fantastic goal. After that, they [Bournemouth] come to the game strong, I believe fresher than us, one more day to rest is very important. Two or three days is a big difference and Eddie [Howe, Bournemouth boss] had two strikers to bring to the game fresh in the last 15 minutes, Jermain [Defoe] and [Benik] Afobe. When we don’t score that second goal which kills the game, they have the hope and then they also have courage and quality in their team to give us the difficult 15 minutes that they gave us. The result was open until the end.”

Bailly Out With Serious Ankle Injury


Manchester United Jose Mourinho has confirmed defender Eric Bailly has a serious injury.

A further update from the club has revealed the Ivory Coast centre-back picked up an ankle problem with his national team and could require surgery. He has been missing since the 1-0 defeat to Chelsea at the start of November and it is understood a decision will be taken over whether an operation is required in the next few days.

"I think his injury is serious," stated Mourinho, following the 1-0 win over Bournemouth that saw Phil Jones and Chris Smalling paired at the heart of the defence.

"I don’t know [how long he will be out] but his is an injury that comes from the last time he went with the international team and then we are trying a conservative treatment. But, if the conservative treatment is not resulting, probably he will have a surgery procedure but let’s wait a little bit more."

When asked about the specifics of the injury, Mourinho replied: "I'm not a doctor, I think the doctor can inform [you]. There’s nothing to hide, but I don’t want to be speaking about it."

The manager was asked if Bailly's season could be over but he preferred to focus on his other options at the back. It is believed that the ankle injury is not likely to rule the African ace out for as long as that.

"I don't want to be so pessimistic," stressed the boss. "I want to leave it with a doctor. Today, I played [Chris] Smalling and [Phil] Jones and we had [Victor] Lindelof and [Daley] Blind on the bench. Marcos Rojo was injured [against Manchester City] but nothing really big.

"During the whole season, we've had problems with central defenders but because the number is four or five, we manage always to have [players available] and Chris Smalling is playing amazingly well for seven or eight matches in a row maybe, so we are fine."

Premier League: Man. United 1 Bournemouth 0

Manchester United bounced back from the disappointment of the derby as a Romelu Lukaku header secured a 1-0 win over a stubborn Bournemouth at Old Trafford.


United had a 40-match unbeaten home run in all competitions ended by Manchester City on Sunday, but got back to winning ways thanks to a first-half Lukaku bullet header. Substitute Marcus Rashford rattled the crossbar midway through the second period, but the single goal was enough for the vital three points.

Jose Mourinho opted to make four changes from the City defeat with the likes of Phil Jones returning for his first start for over a month, while Luke Shaw returned after impressing against CSKA Moscow and Scott McTominay made his first start since the win over Benfica.

Anthony Martial tried a delicate flicked ball over the top which just evaded Lukaku and Juan Mata, before the Cherries began to get a foothold in the game themselves. First, Charlie Daniels tried his luck from 25 yards which forced David De Gea had to save smartly down to his left, before the Spaniard then had to punch away Dan Gosling's effort.

However, United took the lead when Mata crossed perfectly for Lukaku, who held off two defenders and steered a header into the top corner. His celebrations were subdued, but deep down, the Belgian would have been delighted to be back among the goals.

Moments later, the impressive Jones swung a wonderful 50-yard cross-field pass to Shaw who pulled the ball back and Simon Francis nearly diverted past his own keeper. At the other end, Junior Stanislas cut in from the right-hand side and fired an effort at goal which De Gea again did well to beat away, before Francis nearly scored at the right end, but he fired over when free in the box following another Bournemouth corner.

De Gea was called into action again seconds before the break as Ryan Fraser's cross so nearly caught the Spaniard off guard, but he managed to scamper across and palm the ball away to maintain the Reds lead.

It took around 15 minutes of the second half for the first real opportunity and it was a chance to put the game to bed. Nemanja Matic crossed for Lukaku who headed the ball down for Martial to tap home, but he skewed his effort over from five yards.

The Reds were dominating possession with young McTominay impressing in the centre of the park, before substitute Rashford came off the bench and so nearly doubled the lead, but rattled the crossbar from 35 yards with a thunderous effort.

The dangerous Jermain Defoe had a shot comfortably saved by De Gea from the edge of the box before Jones made a crucial headed intervention to deny Benik Afobe. Defoe was then thwarted by the knees of De Gea as Eddie Howe's men looked to snatch a late draw, but despite late Bournemouth pressure, including Fraser testing De Gea again, the Reds saw the game out.

THE LINE-UPS

United: De Gea; Valencia (c), Jones, Smalling, Shaw (Young 83); Matic, McTominay, Mata, Lingard (Herrera 71), Martial (Rashford 66); Lukaku.

Subs not used: Romero, Blind, Lindelof, Ibrahimovic.

Booked: Lukaku

Bournemouth: Begovic, Smith, Francis (c), Ake, Daniels; Stanislas (Afobe 71), Arter, Gosling (L. Cook 77), Fraser; King, Wilson (Defoe 71).

Subs not used: Boruc, S Cook, Surman Ibe

Booked: Gosling, Arter.

TALKING POINTS

LUKAKU BACK AMONG THE GOALS

United fans would have been delighted to see the big Belgian back on the scoresheet in the Premier League. Lukaku emphasised how deadly he is in the air, holding off two Cherries' defenders to expertly head past Begovic.

SHAW IMPRESSES AGAIN

Luke Shaw picked up where he left off against CSKA Moscow, impressing with his enthusiastic energy down the flank and he won the ball back on numerous occasions with every tackle cheered by the Old Trafford faithful.

WHAT'S NEXT FOR UNITED?

The Reds travel to Alan Pardew's West Bromwich Albion on Sunday 17 December, with kick off at 14:15 GMT, with the Baggies buoyed by a goalless draw at Liverpool.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Zlatan: Guardiola Is Immature

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has branded Pep Guardiola "immature" over his man-management during their time together at Barcelona.

The 36-year-old joined Guardiola at the Nou Camp in 2009 from Inter Milan and became frustrated with a lack of first-team opportunities, claiming the Spaniard decided to build his team around Lionel Messi.

Guardiola handed Ibrahimovic 29 appearances during their one-year stint together in Catalonia with the former Sweden international scoring 16 times from 23 starts.

Following an impressive start to life in Spain for Ibrahimovic, the pair's relationship became fractured when the striker confronted Guardiola for altering his tactics.

"The first six months were perfect, then the manager changed system, tactics and it didn't work for me," Ibrahimovic told Sky in Italy. "I went to talk to him. I'm here to talk, if you think it's for another reason then we can't talk.

"I said: 'I believe that you are sacrificing some players for one player, Messi'. He said: 'I don't think this is the case but I understand what you say. I will take care of it, no problem, I will solve everything'. I thought it would be OK.

"The following game I was on the bench. I don't say anything, I work," Ibrahimovic added. "Second match bench again. I thought he solved it well and he was not talking to me or explaining. Third match bench. Then the fourth match comes and bench again.

"I think something is strange. From that moment he stopped talking to me, looking at me. I go into a room and he walks out of it. He was not a bad person, but the most immature I've had because a man solves his problems."

The duo met on Sunday when Manchester City extended their lead at the top of the Premier League table to 11 points following a 2-1 victory over Manchester United at Old Trafford.

Credit: Skysports.com

Mourinho Clashes With Reporters At Manchester United Press Conference

Jose Mourinho clashed with reporters at his Manchester United press conference after being questioned about his role in the post-match fracas after the Manchester derby.

Mourinho was irritated by the line of questioning during the press conference, which concentrated on what had happened in the tunnel at Old Trafford on Sunday.

The United boss queried the lack of questions about Bournemouth, Manchester United's next opponents, and berated reporters at the end of the press conference, saying: "You don't like Bournemouth eh? You don't respect them?"

"You don't think they are a team capable to come to Old Trafford and do well? No respect for Eddie Howe? No respect for their players?"

Sky Sports News understands the City squad were celebrating their 2-1 victory with loud music in an open-door dressing room when United staff took offence, and Mourinho is thought to have said something to those inside on the way to his post-match interviews.

Mourinho was clearly unhappy with the manner in which City celebrated their win and pointed out that his team showed more respect following their 3-1 victory over Arsenal at The Emirates.

"For me it was just a question of diversity - diversity in behaviours and diversity in education. Just that and nothing more than that," Mourinho said.

When asked to expand on what he meant, Mourinho continued: "Diversity of behaviour, of opinion, of education you know.

"What we did in the Arsenal stadium was completely diverse, what happened after that, the way we behaved as winners."

Mourinho was reluctant to speak about the fracas and grew more and more irritable as reporters persisted with the topic.

When asked if he expects anyone from United to be punished by the FA, he retorted to the reporter who asked the question: "Why? I think you work for another club and not for the press."

Mourinho was then asked about reports Romelu Lukaku could be punished for throwing a water bottle during the scuffle that erupted between United and City's players and staff in the Old Trafford tunnel.

"You know accuse, prove, show evidence and punish him," Mourinho said.

When pressed further about whether he is confident United players behaved in the right manner, Mourinho replied: "I know. I am not confident. I know."

Credit: Skysports.com

Valencia: We Have A Duty To Fight

Antonio Valencia insists Manchester United's players have a duty to continue fighting for the Premier League title, despite Manchester City's 11-point lead at the top of the table.

Man City beat United at Old Trafford on Sunday to extend their advantage but, despite the defeat to their bitter rivals, Valencia said: "We are Manchester United and it's our duty to keep going to represent the club and keep looking forward and try to close that gap as best we can.

"While ever there's a chance mathematically, we just keep fighting."

Man City have won 15 of their first 16 Premier League matches, which is the best record at this stage of the season in the competition's history.

However, Valencia says Manchester United can use negative past experiences to inspire them to overturn the deficit at the top of the table.

The Ecuadorian said: "We know that 11 points is a big gap but I can think back to when Sir Alex Ferguson was manager and the gap was something like nine points and we ended up losing the title.

"So we know that it's the Premier League, we know that everyone's capable of beating everyone else and it's just a case of keep fighting."

Credit: Skysports.com

Pogba: I Snubbed Real Madrird

Paul Pogba says he was the subject of interest from Real Madrid before he decided to sign for Manchester United.

The former Juventus midfielder, who came through the Old Trafford academy setup, completed a then-world record £89m transfer to return to his former club in summer 2016.

The 24-year-old France midfielder says he has no regrets after admitting he turned down the chance to join the defending Spanish and European champions before the start of last season.

"To be honest, Real Madrid came to me and I was thinking to go there, and I was thinking to go to Manchester United too," he told the Beyond the Pitch podcast.

"But I always felt it in my heart. My heart told me to come back here [Manchester], I don't know why, I didn't know what was going to happen.

"But I did it, and I don't regret. I never regret my choice."

Credit: Skysports.com

Gary Neville: United Are Making Progress Under Jose Mourinho Despite Derby Defeat

I've only read reports about Louis van Gaal's quotes on United's style but my personal view is that the football under Jose Mourinho is going in a better direction.

Also, in terms of results, Jose has won a European trophy and has the team second in the league, so he's also more successful.

United are getting better and there is going to be some patience required. The team he picked for the Manchester derby was positive but I just think they lacked belief.

I think Jose has done a very good job over the last 18 months but his biggest problem is the way City are playing.

The natural thing for people to say now is that United need more players but what I'd like to see is the current players deliver more.

United have spent £75m on left-backs but have Ashley Young playing there. Three of the back four on Sunday were at the club under Sir Alex.

You can talk about buying but the recruitment has to be better. I think Jose's has been better than Van Gaal's, but for all the money that was spent on the midfield there was a lack of quality on Sunday and that's not right.

To harp back to Sir Alex Ferguson, he said courage isn't just getting stuck into tackles and running but showing bravery on the ball. I thought they lacked courage on the ball and looked timid, not in the sense of work rate but more belief and that was what cost them.

Only when Juan Mata played that nice little pass to Anthony Martial, who then set up Romelu Lukaku for his unlucky effort, did we see that bravery on the ball.

I expected more punch from United. City went to Old Trafford, kept possession and dominated the game - despite the goals being soft and the penalty calls it was domination.

It seemed like a United side going out there to stop City. When you do play a long ball you've got to do it with purpose and get players around the target but United lacked belief, which was disappointing as a fan, but fair play to City for dominating the ball.

I expected United to complete the job that Huddersfield, Southampton and West Ham had nearly done, which was to defend well, be compact and frustrate, but the counter-attacking from United didn't materialise.

Every time I've watched David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne they have been fantastic and I had hoped we would deal with them. I think there was acceptance in the stadium that they were the better team and they could have won 3-1 or 4-1 if they'd kept a centre-forward on.

The league is not over. There is a long way to go but the boost in confidence and belief will have been enormous; beating Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal was big for them but winning at Old Trafford the way they did was the most significant step.

The thing with the fracas is that I'd actually rather have seen it out on the pitch and something should have been done when City were doing the 'oles' in the corner.

Footballers get accused of not caring and I was thinking in the studio somebody has got to take a red. You've got to do something if they are doing that on your own patch.

I remember a couple of battles in the tunnel, one with Chelsea when I first broke through, then the Arsenal one with the pizza throwing. What it tells you is the nutrition is improved with the players throwing milk instead of pizza!

You'd think these things would happen more often in terms of 11 blokes against 11 blokes. I'd rather see that than hugs and cuddles going on in the tunnel.

Credit: Skysports.com

Man. United & Man. City: No Punches Thrown

Manchester United and Manchester City sources have confirmed to Sky Sports News that no punches were thrown in the tunnel fracas at Old Trafford.

Both clubs have been asked for their observations by the FA over a tussle that broke out next to the changing rooms following Sunday's dramatic 2-1 victory for City in the Premier League.

Greater Manchester Police officers present did not feel the need to intervene and the force has confirmed it is not currently investigating the incident, with no complaint having been made.

Sky Sports News understands the City squad were celebrating with loud music in an open-door dressing room when United staff took offence, and boss Jose Mourinho is thought to have said something to those inside on the way to his post-match interviews.

A scuffle then occurred in the narrow tunnel near to the away dressing room, which lasted less than two minutes, and a milk carton was thrown at Mourinho but missed, instead hitting a female member of the United media team.

City coach Mikel Arteta was left with a cut to the head but it is not clear whether this was caused by a thrown bottle or a collision with the dressing-room door.

Regardless, sources on both sides have said no punches were thrown by anyone, despite reports in the national press to the contrary. United and City have until 6pm on Wednesday to respond to the FA's request for information.

Separately, United will not face any punishment from the FA over a flare thrown towards City's Bernardo Silva late on in the derby, which extended City's advantage in the title race to 11 points.

The use of flares, smoke bombs and other pyrotechnics is forbidden by the FA and Sky Sports News has been told the FA are looking to support United in trying to identify the culprit, and hand him or her over to the police.

Credit: Skysports.com

Mourinho Questions Manchester City's Behaviour And Education After Their Derby Win

Jose Mourinho questioned Manchester City’s behaviour and education when asked about the post-match fracas after the Manchester derby.

Both clubs have been asked for their observations by the FA over a tussle that broke out next to the changing rooms following Sunday's dramatic 2-1 victory for City in the Premier League.

Sky Sports News understands the City squad were celebrating with loud music in an open-door dressing room when United staff took offence, and Mourinho is thought to have said something to those inside on the way to his post-match interviews.

After initially refusing to speak about the incident at his press conference to preview Wednesday's game Bournemouth, the United boss the offered this cryptic response.

Mourinho said: "For me it was just a question of diversity - diversity in behaviours and diversity in education. Just that and nothing more than that."

After a bitter derby defeat that severely damaged United's title hopes, Mourinho is expecting to see a reaction from his side when Bournemouth come to Old Trafford.

"When you lose you probably have a little bit more desire to win it," Mourinho said. "Nobody wants to lose once. Nobody wants to lose twice. Every team in the world, when you lose a match, the next one you have a little bit extra to give."

Though United now trail City by 11 points, Mourinho was keen to remind his critics that the team are still on pace to significantly exceed their Premier League points total from last season.

"The number of points that we have, last season we had seven less or eight less in this moment," Mourinho said.

"Last season we drew at home against Bournemouth. Now let's try to do better than we did last season."

Credit: Skysports.com

Mourinho Raises Sevilla Scheduling Concern


Jose Mourinho feels that the scheduling of Manchester United’s UEFA Champions League last-16 tie against Sevilla, between two important Premier League games, is far from ideal.

The Reds travel to Spain for the first leg on 21 February and are due to welcome Chelsea three days later before returning to Old Trafford for the second leg on 13 March, three days after facing Liverpool at the Theatre of Dreams. All domestic fixtures are, of course, still subject to change.

It promises to be a tough period for United, who will face a first-ever competitive meeting with a Sevilla side who won the Europa League for an impressive three years in a row before the Reds claimed the trophy last season.

When asked for his thoughts on the draw, the boss pointed out that the timing of the two ties could have been better. He told MUTV: “My reaction is that Spanish teams are always good and difficult. And the draw, out of eight possibilities of dates, we got both matches against them exactly when we play against Chelsea and against Liverpool. That doesn’t make things easier for us but we will try.”

With a number of league games, a Carabao Cup quarter-final and FA Cup third-round tie to come during the busy festive period and beyond, Mourinho insists thoughts of Sevilla are on the back burner and the focus is firmly on the domestic front.

He added: “We have lots of Premier League, FA Cup and League Cup games now, we focus on the domestic competitions and we can forget the Champions League.”

United reached the knockout stages of Europe’s elite competition after qualifying as Group A winners with five wins from six games.

Why Lindelof Will Be A Fine United Player

Former Manchester United player and popular MUTV analyst Bojan Djordjic is backing Victor Lindelof to shine at Old Trafford, having noted his Swedish compatriot’s recent development.

Lindelof replaced the injured Marcos Rojo at half-time in Sunday’s Manchester derby and produced an accomplished performance, showing admirable composure and good form in difficult circumstances.

It was his 13th appearance of a debut season that has involved challenges for the 23-year-old, who arrived from Benfica in the summer and has required time to acclimatise to English football.

Yet, in recent weeks, Lindelof has started to show his true quality with the Reds and that is no surprise to our former Academy graduate Djordjic, who knows the player extremely well.

“Victor did well against Manchester City and it gladdens me to say that, because he had a really tough start and, when you have a tough start, supporters get on your back,” Bojan explained during his appearance on The Paddy Crerand Show. “Certain fans did it after the mistake against Huddersfield - and I think they should take a look at themselves first because, if you are a supporter of this club, then you always support. You have to give new players a little bit of time and a chance to adapt.

“I would love to see Victor playing alongside Eric Bailly, who has been injured. I think he needs a leader beside him, somebody he can trust so he can spread the balls. To come on in the derby and do that well was great. I am happy to sit here as a Swede and talk well about his development."

Expanding on the topic, Bojan went on to list Lindelof’s burgeoning list of achievements in football and highlighted the period of education that the great Nemanja Vidic utilised upon his arrival in 2006.

“Some fans need to let a player settle in before they go on social media and slaughter players,” he said. “This guy plays for the Swedish national team, he won the league and cup at Benfica and he has just taken Sweden to the World Cup as well, so there is a player inside.

“Playing for Manchester United is totally different to anything else in football because, with one mistake, people just write you off straight away. So people have to look with their eyes a little bit and see his quality. Not only does he have a brain, he is very strong mentally as well to cope with this and he is going to get better, and better, and better. It took the great Nemanja Vidic to settle here, and Nemanja Vidic was a totally different player in style. Just give him time and he is going to be a fine player for the club.”

Mata: De Gea Is Underappreciated

Juan Mata believes his Manchester United colleague David De Gea is undervalued outside of England.

De Gea has been in superb form again this season, with his performance in the recent win at Arsenal one of his very best, and yet he was strangely overlooked for FIFA's best goalkeeper award with Gianluigi Buffon finishing top of a 15-man list that did not even feature the Reds star.

The 27-year-old did come 20th in the Ballon d'Or voting, after making the shortlist for the first time, and has been selected for the last three PFA Premier League Teams of the Year, as nominated by his fellow professionals.

Despite being generally regarded as the best in the division, the Spain no.1 should be better appreciated on the continent, according to fellow countryman Mata.

"You know, everything has been said about David from journalists, ex-players, current players, from myself," Mata said in United Review, the official matchday programme. "He is great. He is fantastic. He has an incredible talent and has shown that in every single game in every single season, which is so difficult to do. His consistency is what makes him the best or one of the best, for sure. He showed it on a big stage like Arsenal as he made sure we got the points.

"You know what?" he continued. "I don’t know why some people don’t appreciate him and how good he is. He’s not always on the list of the best goalkeepers in the world, or whatever these awards are, and, for me, it’s definite.

"I see his games week in and week out and can see he is great and fantastic. He has to be in the top three, top two or top one. For me, he’s the best and it would be nice if more journalists, not just in England as he is very well appreciated in England, but in different countries, realised how good he is."

Meanwhile, speaking before the Champions League round of 16 draw pitted United with Sevilla, Mata believes it would be premature to talk of any power shift away from La Liga to the Premier League despite the form of the English sides in the competition.

"I think it is [too] early," he stated. "The English clubs have had a great group stage and all qualified, most of them first, and enjoyed great opening games. But it’s very early to say who is going to be the winner. It’s a fact, though, that English clubs are doing much better this season and I’m happy for it."

Matic: Why I Changed My Position


Manchester United star Nemanja Matic has outlined the process behind his switch from attacking to defensive midfield.

In a revealing interview in the new edition of Inside United, the official club magazine, he recalled the explanation given to him by Benfica coach Jorge Jesus for a move to the no.6 role.

Matic has made the position his own and enjoyed a fine start to life at Old Trafford, not looking back after receiving the advice from his former boss.

"When I started to play football, my dream was to play as an attacking midfielder and to score goals," he admitted. "When I grew up slowly [motions to being tall with his hand], I started to move back and, when I came to Benfica, the coach Jorge Jesus told me I won’t have the chance to play attacking midfield.

"We had many players better than me in that position, such as Pablo Aimar and Javier Saviola. So it was difficult for me and he said, if I want to play, then the no.6 position in defensive midfield was for me and I can become one of the best in the world. I started to work hard and to listen to him and, step by step, I improved. As you can see today, I am at Manchester United and I am happy that I changed my position."

When asked if his size was a factor behind the tactical switch, the Serbian replied: "Yes, I think so. With my height, it is difficult to play forward in that role but I don’t know.

"Maybe the coach said that my height was a problem when maybe it was my quality! [Laughs] Aimar and Saviola were very small but extremely good technically and had very good quality."

Matic is the cover star of the latest Inside United with an exclusive seven-page interview inside. Also look out for 'The Graduates' featuring personal accounts from Scott McTominay, Axel Tuanzebe and Joel Pereira, Juan Mata's photography exhibition and some illustrations by Eric Cantona.

Early Team News: United v Bournemouth

Jose Mourinho has told MUTV he does not know if Marcos Rojo can face Bournemouth in the Premier League, due to the head wound the defender received in the Manchester derby.

Rojo suffered a nasty cut to the head in the first half and temporarily left the pitch to receive treatment, before gallantly returning sporting a thick bandage. The Argentina international made it to the half-time break but was taken off by the boss and replaced by Victor Lindelof at centre-back.

Speaking exclusively to MUTV following the pre-match press conference at the Aon Training Complex, Mourinho gave this update on Marcos: "He's a brave guy. I don't know how he is - let's see if he can be ready for the match. But if he's not ready, we have other alternatives to play."

As Jose then pointed out, our options at centre-back have been boosted: "Phil Jones was already on the bench at the weekend. The injury is behind him and hopefully he can stay fit for the rest of the games."

Eric Bailly is still unavailable and the Ivory Coast international has not featured for the Reds since the Chelsea game on 5 November. Meanwhile, it is believed that Marouane Fellaini is edging closer to making his own return from injury, although Mourinho did not mention the Belgian midfielder on Tuesday.

Nemanja Matic shrugged off an injury to start against Man City at the weekend and our summer signing is presumed to be fit to face Bournemouth at Old Trafford.

With regards to the visitors, Cherries boss Eddie Howe can select Adam Smith again after the right-back served his one-match suspension, but Tyrone Mings is unavailable after an injury setback.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Ref Watch: Manchester Derby

INCIDENT: Jose Mourinho believes United should have had a late penalty when 2-1 down to City, but Herrera was booked for diving after the incident with Nicolas Otamendi.

DERMOT'S VERDICT: Correct call.

DERMOT SAYS: If you watch the incident, Herrera goes over his own foot and Otamendi doesn't move. It's got to be deliberate, and it's quite clearly not a deliberate trip. For me, I think it was quite clearly not a penalty.

INCIDENT: Gabriel Jesus went down in the United box despite no contact from either Herrera or Chris Smalling, though the City forward saw his attempt to win a penalty go unpunished.

DERMOT'S VERDICT: Not a penalty, but not a yellow.

DERMOT SAYS: This is absolutely right. Michael Oliver was on his game right from the start - it was a masterclass. [It's not a yellow] because there was a little bit of contact. We have to be careful with a number of simulation acts over the last few weeks, and what we're looking to do is punish the ones which are clear acts of simulation. There is contact, but it's not a penalty. The player goes into him. It's similar to the Herrera one.

Credit: Skysports.com

FA Enquire Into Manchester United And Manchester City Tunnel Fracas

Manchester United and Manchester City have been asked for observations by the FA after a tunnel altercation at Old Trafford on Sunday.

Jose Mourinho was irked by the loud music and celebrations from the Manchester City's open dressing room as he made his way to his post-match press conference following their 2-1 defeat and an altercation followed when he made his feelings known to City goalkeeper Ederson.

The United boss then had a carton of milk thrown towards him from inside the dressing room which hit one of his backroom staff, according to Sky sources, while Manchester City assistant coach Mikel Arteta suffered a cut to the head in the incident but no punches were thrown.

Pep Guardiola was encouraged to get involved with Manchester City's post-match celebrations but declined.

It is understood Manchester United were surprised at the manner of Manchester City's celebrations after the full-time whistle.

The incident was not included in referee Michael Oliver's match report, so the FA will now investigate.

The clubs have until December 13 to respond.

Manchester City posted images of players celebrating in the tunnel following their 2-1 victory, which moved them 11 points clear at the top of the Premier League.

Mourinho accused City of being "lucky" and getting favourable decisions after his side's defeat.

Credit: Skysports.com

Strachan: Mourinho's Reaction To Manchester City Celebrations 'Understandable'

Gordon Strachan says he can understand Jose Mourinho's aggrieved reaction to Manchester City's dressing room celebrations after their Manchester derby win.

There was a tunnel altercation between the two clubs after the Manchester United manager took issue with loud music and celebrations from the away dressing room, with a member of Mourinho's backroom staff hit with a carton of milk, while City coach Mikel Arteta suffered a cut to the head.

Former Scotland manager Strachan says he can understand why Mourinho reacted in such a manner and says he should use the incident to fire up his squad.

"I think the main problem with it is that you come up the main tunnel to the dressing rooms and the manager's office is right next to the away dressing room and further on is the home dressing room," said Strachan on The Debate.

"I can understand [Mourinho's reaction], I really can, because I would like to think if I had players like that, I could say to them 'listen, we've won it, get change, shut up and let's get on the bus'.

"If that was Sir Alex [Ferguson], in the next team talk, he would say 'do you remember what they were doing in there when we got beaten?' so that would be his power, anger and motivation for the next game hearing people singing, dancing and cheering.

"I think Pep Guardiola did do that [told his players to get onto the bus] and his staff wanted to celebrate but he said 'no, let's get away' so if that had happened, two things would have happened. You wouldn't have got the milk throwing, which is nothing, and it wouldn't have given ammunition to the manager sitting next door.

"If you want to get back to your own stadium and sing and dance then great, but I think when you're in that area, in close proximity to the manager's office as well, although most probably didn't know it was just there, I think that is energy for the Man Utd players.

"If I was going to be doing anything now, I would be saying 'do you remember what happened on Saturday? They think they've won the league, they think it's easy, they've enjoyed coming here. Let's do something about this. Every time you make a run, think about that. Every time you go for a header, bullet it into the back of the net because they were enjoying themselves'."

But Sky Sports pundit Alan Smith had a different view, saying he believes that City were right to celebrate and compared the incident to the visits of Wimbledon to Arsenal in his playing days.

"I think it is a bit of a fuss about nothing in terms of what Jose Mourinho was complaining about, I think Man City were entitled to celebrate," he said.

"They were in their dressing room, the music was blaring and they were having a little sing. If Mourinho can hear it in his office next door, so be it. I think you've got to suck it up and just get on with it.

"I remember playing against Wimbledon, they'd come up to Highbury and they would be tearing the door off the away dressing room and leave a right state in there. At the time, we thought it was bang out of order and it was, but that's on a different level entirely.

"Mourinho has got this thing about showing respect, he said it to Antonio Conte at Chelsea when he thought he celebrated the victory too much but I think that is a reflection of how frustrated he is when his team loses.

"They've just beaten their biggest rivals, taught them a football lesson and I think players do celebrate a bit more now. Even if it's a bog standard game, there are selfies in the dressing room and all sorts going on. It's a different culture now."

Credit: Skysports.com

Van Gaal: Manchester United 'More Boring ' Under Mourinho

Former Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal says the club have regressed and have become "more boring" under his successor Jose Mourinho.

Van Gaal, who was pilloried for his overly-cautious approach during his two years at Old Trafford, says he would rather watch Manchester City than United.

He told Fox Sports in Holland: "If you ask me how did I do at United, I will say it was my best year ever, given the circumstances I was working under.

"We played football that was quite alright. But it's not football that is appreciated in England.

"And yet, right now, looking at United, I have to conclude Mourinho is not being criticized while it's far more boring football.

"I would rather watch City play than United. You need quality in a squad and it's clear City have a better squad.

"What United produce now is defensive football. I always played attacking football. The proof is that the opposition were always parking the bus.

"They don't do that now because Jose Mourinho plays so defensive."

Van Gaal was sacked by United just two days after winning his only trophy for the club, the FA Cup in 2016.

The Dutchman admits he still bears a grudge towards United chief executive Ed Woodward over the manner of his dismissal.

He said: "He (Woodward) never discussed anything with me - and you can talk about anything with me.

"With all my experience, I know the unwritten laws of football. A club has to prepare for the future.

"I can understand that and they should have approached me. Ed could talk to me but he did not."

Credit: Skysports.com

Herrera Calls Penalty Call In Derby 'Amazing'

Ander Herrera said it was "amazing" he was not awarded a penalty during Sunday's Manchester derby and was disappointed to be booked for simulation.

With City leading 2-1, the Spain midfielder clashed with Nicolas Otamendi in the 78th minute but instead of being awarded a spot-kick, he was shown a yellow card by referee Michael Oliver.

However, Herrera is adamant he was caught by the City defender, who had earlier scored what turned out to be the winning goal in the battle between the top two teams in the Premier League.

He said: "I think the penalty [decision] is amazing. He didn't expect to arrive for the ball. I touched the ball first and he stamped on my foot. I think everyone saw it.

"Everyone can make mistakes too, also the referee. I didn't deserve the yellow card. In the first half, there were similar situations with Gabriel Jesus and Leroy Sane, and they didn't get yellow cards.

"That is my fourth yellow card and that is a big problem for me."

The 28-year-old also believes the Premier League should adopt a similar system to the one used in La Liga where players can appeal yellow cards.

He added: "In Spain, if you get something undeserved you can appeal and they take it out.

"That is one of the things that could improve the Premier League because it is an amazing thing, an amazing competition.

"But it is a real shame that if you don't deserve a yellow card, you cannot appeal afterwards. Hopefully, one day, that rule can change."

As for the match itself, Herrera says he and his team-mates were dejected by the result.

"When you play against City you can expect to have problems when they have the ball," he said.

"But we didn't have too many problems when they had the ball, that's why we feel even more disappointed."

City's victory moved them 11 points clear of United at the top of the table.

Credit: Skysports.com

Boss Has Faith In McTominay & Tuanzebe

Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho has told MUTV he has no qualms about pitching Scott McTominay and Axel Tuanzebe into first-team action during the busy festive period.

The Reds plan to bounce back from the Manchester derby defeat when Bournemouth visit Old Trafford on Wednesday, before travelling to West Bromwich Albion at the weekend. A Carabao Cup quarter-final at Bristol City is then next on the agenda, ahead of the pre-Christmas fixture at Leicester City.

McTominay has regularly been in the squad of late and was on the bench for Sunday's clash with Pep Guardiola's Blues, while Tuanzebe has looked the part when appearing in defence - with his latest outing coming in the UEFA Champions League victory over CSKA Moscow.

"I have faith in them," the manager told MUTV during an interview at the Aon Training Complex last week. "Honestly, sometimes, I don't play them more because I have respect for some of the older players that are great professionals and are always ready for the team.

"But, in terms of their qualities, McTominay and Tuanzebe are ready, they are ready to play so I played them with 25, 30 minutes to go against CSKA. I played Scott against Benfica when we had not even yet qualified. I have lots of faith in both of them."

United To Face Sevilla In Champions League

Manchester United will face Sevilla in the UEFA Champions League round of 16.

The Reds topped Group A to set up the two-legged meeting against the Spanish side, with the first tie away from home at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium on Wednesday 21 February before the return clash at Old Trafford on Tuesday 13 March. Both fixtures kick off at 19:45 GMT.

The two clubs have never met before in a competitive fixture, although Sevilla did win Rio Ferdinand's testimonial match 3-1 at Old Trafford in 2013, after United triumphed 3-0 in a home friendly in 2006 with goals from Louis Saha, Cristiano Ronaldo and David Jones.

Eduardo Berizzo's side came back from 3-0 down at home to draw 3-3 with Group E winners Liverpool earlier in this season's tournament. Currently fifth in La Liga, the Andalusian club have been excellent in continental competition, winning a record five UEFA Cup/Europa League crowns (2006, 2007, 2014, 2015 and 2016). Former Manchester City men Jesus Navas and Nolito are part of the current squad.

The 16 teams are ultimately battling it out for the right to play in the showpiece final in Kiev next May.

'WE CAN'T HAVE TOO MANY COMPLAINTS'

Denis Irwin on MUTV: "I don't think there were any easy draws for us but we have to accept it isn't the worst draw. It is couple of hours away, we know Sevilla very well, they obviously drew with Liverpool twice in the group stage, it is away first, which helps us a little bit, so I don't think we can have too many complaints. We could have travelled to Shakhtar, which wouldn't have been ideal, and Porto would have been similar to Sevilla, but we avoided three of the big guns in Juventus, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid.

"We know they will be technically very, very good. We have played enough teams from La Liga to know that. They'll be very comfortable on the ball. But we also know that Liverpool went 3-0 up against them so they could be defensively vulnerable. On the flip side of that, they can score goals too because they came back to draw that game 3-3. There is a lot of time between now and then, but I am sure the manager will have his scouts looking at them and come February we will be ready for it."

'IT'S A GREAT TRIP FOR THE FANS'

Bryan Robson on MUTV: "It's a pretty good draw. We have stayed away from the big boys, but you cannot disrespect Sevilla. They are a decent side and the Spanish always keep possession really well. But I think we have a great chance of progressing to the next round. We are playing away first so we have home advantage in the second leg. All in, it's a good draw. You know that they're a decent side because they have three Europa League titles on their belt in recent years. We've seen them give Liverpool two good games this season, so it will be tough, but we have avoided the big teams. It is a beautiful city, too. I played there years ago with West Brom against Real Betis. It was a lovely place. It's a great trip for the fans and not too far for the team."

THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE ROUND OF 16
Juventus v Tottenham
Basel v Manchester City
Porto v Liverpool
Sevilla v United
Real Madrid v Paris Saint-Germain
Shakhtar Donetsk v Roma
Chelsea v Barcelona
Bayern Munich v Beskitas

Monday, December 11, 2017

Neville On Lukaku's 'Struggles'

Gary Neville said Romelu Lukaku "struggled" in the Manchester derby but Graeme Souness disagreed.

David Silva and Nicolas Otamendi scored goals from set-pieces as Pep Guardiola's side won 2-1 at Old Trafford to move 11 points clear of their opponents at the top of the table and win their 14th straight Premier League match.

Lukaku cut a frustrated figure leading the United forward line and had a hand in both of Man City's goals in Sunday's derby.

The Belgian failed to clear his lines on two separate occasions which allowed Silva and Otamendi to punish the home side.

Lukaku had a chance to redeem himself late on but his finish from six yards was brilliantly saved by Ederson, meaning he's only scored two goals in his last 12 matches.

Neville thinks the striker looks short on confidence.

"You look at him today and he struggled," Neville said.

"I'm not just talking about struggling in terms of missing a chance, he struggled at being in the game and being confident in the game.

"He's got to get over that quickly as he's Manchester United's centre-forward. He's a young lad but he needs to get to the point where he believes he should be out there - it's like he doesn't believe it in this period."

Lukaku joined United from Everton in the summer for £75million and scored in his first seven Premier League games for the club.

Souness believes that he's currently in a blip in terms of his form and would rather lay the reason for his lack of goals at the poor service provided by his midfielders.

"When you come with a big price there's always pressure but I wouldn't be too critical of him," he said.

"I think it's the team he's playing in. He's not playing with a David Silva or Kevin De Bruyne - he's feeding on poor passes. Sharing balls, balls that are hit at the wrong angle. I think the boy is running around but he's getting no quality service."

Credit: Skysports.com

Lukaku’s Big-game Record Is A Big Issue For Manchester United

Romelu Lukaku struggled at both ends of the pitch in Manchester United’s 2-1 derby defeat to Manchester City on Super Sunday. The Belgian striker’s record in the big games remains a concern for Jose Mourinho’s team, writes Adam Bate.

"I have been there," Thierry Henry told Sky Sports. "You are waiting for that opportunity. That clear-cut opportunity. Stay focused, stay on it. As much as it was a great save, he has to hit the back of the net. He has to hit the back of the net and he didn't. I feel sorry for him because that is what people are going to talk about tomorrow if the game stays like this."

Unfortunately for Romelu Lukaku, the Manchester derby did stay that way - his United side beaten 2-1 at home by rivals Manchester City as Pep Guardiola's team extended their lead at the top to 11 points. Not only did Lukaku fail to find a way past Ederson from point-blank range but he was culpable defensively for both of City's goals. It was his nightmare day.

In truth, better players miss better chances than the one Lukaku spurned with five minutes remaining. Better chances too than the one he skied with his weaker right foot when away down the right channel midway through the second half as United searched in vain for that equaliser. What's more, the gulf in class between the two sides was not of Lukaku's making.


Right from the outset he was an isolated figure up front. Even so, six completed passes tells its own tale and it is literally true to say that his touches of the ball created more chances for City than United. But the real problem for Lukaku was not that this was the very worst of performances. It was that this was supposed to be the time to answer his critics.

The 24-year-old striker, a £75m summer signing, of course, has now scored five goals in his last 40 Premier League appearances against the so-called big six teams. For some, this had once seemed a quirk. For others, it was only to be expected given that scoring against stronger sides is more difficult - particularly when playing for a weaker Everton team.

Now it is beginning to seem like a statistic that is haunting the player and diminishing his reputation. The move to Manchester United has certainly not improved these numbers as might have been anticipated. Instead, it has shone a light on them like never before. Lukaku has now played against each of United's top-six rivals this season. He is yet to find the net.


Of the main strikers at those clubs, Lukaku is the only one still to register in a big game. Gabriel Jesus has three and Sergio Aguero two. Alexandre Lacazette's goals for Arsenal in these games may have come in losing efforts, but Alvaro Morata hit the winner for Chelsea against United and Harry Kane scored twice in Tottenham's win over Liverpool.

In contrast, Lukaku's goals continue to come against weaker opposition. Gifted a generous fixture list to kick off his United career, he scored seven in his first seven Premier League games for the club. But since being unable to put away what Mourinho referred to as "a very good chance" in the first half of the stalemate at Anfield, Lukaku's form has dipped.

In his last 14 appearances in all competitions his only goals have been the fourth in the home win over Newcastle and an equaliser against CSKA Moscow in a Champions League tie that was all but a dead rubber. Bullying these opponents is part of the job of any forward but Jose Mourinho needs much more than that if United are to win titles.


Consider the record of Robin van Persie in United's most recent title-winning campaign. The Dutchman not only scored in seven of his 10 matches against those big-six opponents in that 2012/13 season, Sir Alex Ferguson's last, but United won five of those seven matches by one goal and drew the other two. As a result, those seven goals were worth 12 points.

Despite the club's struggles since then, United remain accustomed to seeing their star strikers step up when it matters most. This was why Zlatan Ibrahimovic made such an impression with his two Wembley winners last season. The message sent loud and clear to supporters was that here was a man willing to embrace the responsibility of the glory goal.

Gary Neville is among those United fans now wondering whether Lukaku yet has that mentality. "He struggled out there," Neville told Sky Sports when discussing the player's derby efforts. "I am not just talking about struggling in terms of missing a chance. He struggled to be in the game and feel like he was confident in the game.

"He has got to get over that quickly because he is a Manchester United centre-forward. He is a young lad and he has got to get there to the point where he feels he should be out there. It is almost as if he doesn't believe at this point in time." The problem for Lukaku now is that the opportunity to prove his point could already have passed him by this season.

There are eight Premier League games to play before United come up against another big-six rival when they face Tottenham at Wembley at the end of January. Lukaku must wait and hope in the knowledge that however many goals he scores in the intervening period, the questions about his effectiveness on the big occasion will not be going away.

Credit: Skysports.com

Jose In Tunnel Fracas With City Players

Jose Mourinho was involved in a confrontation with Manchester City players in the tunnel after Manchester United's 2-1 defeat at Old Trafford, Sky sources understand.

It is understood the Portuguese clashed with the City players because he objected to their exuberant post-match celebrations near the changing rooms.

City coach Mikel Arteta was left bleeding from his face from the melee, according to Sky sources, and several national newspaper reports claim Mourinho was soaked with water and milk.

City extended their lead at the top to 11 points with the win thanks to goals from David Silva and Nicolas Otamendi, setting a record of 14 successive Premier League victories in a single season.

The fracas will prompt comparisons with the infamous 'Battle of the Buffet' at the same ground when former United boss Sir Alex Ferguson was hit by pizza after his side beat Arsenal 2-0 in 2004.

Cesc Fabregas recently confessed he was the guilty party on that occasion, as tempers boiled over in the title race.

Mourinho accused City of being "lucky" and getting favourable decisions after his side's defeat, live on Sky Sports as part of a huge Super Sunday double-header following the Merseyside derby.

He told Sky Sports: "I think they are a very good team, I think they are lucky, I think [they] have all the decisions in their favour, probably yes.

"But Tuesday is another day in our Premier League, and I am sure all of us, everyone is going to fight for points and try to reduce the distance, which is the normal thing in the championship but of course the advantage is a very good one."

Credit: Skysports.com

Mata: No Time To Mourn Derby Defeat


Each and every Monday during the season, Manchester United ace Juan Mata pens a personal blog. In this week's entry he says there is no time to mourn defeat in the Manchester derby as he anticipates the Champions League draw...

Hi everyone,

We’re starting yet another busy week with two more games; in this month of December, there’s no truce. Unfortunately, we couldn’t finish the week as we expected since the derby at Old Trafford didn’t work out as we wanted. City took the lead, we tied the score before the break but, in the second half, we couldn’t overcome their second goal. We were close, but in the chances we had, the ball just didn’t go in. The truth is these are three points like in any other game, although the defeat is painful because it was a derby. We must carry on, knowing that there’s still a long way to go. The calendar gives you no time for mourning and we have to focus on what’s next.

This week, we have two more games: the day after tomorrow against Bournemouth, and Sunday against West Brom. The list of fixtures is very demanding this month so it’s important to get to each game in the best condition possible. I think we have the ability to do it, even though we know these are the toughest weeks of the season. We are Manchester United and we have experience in playing every few days. In fact, last week we came back to beat CSKA Moscow in the Champions League and secure the first spot of our group. It was the best way to finish what has been a very good group stage for us.

Thanks to that, precisely, this morning we will keep an eye on the draw for the round of 16 that is taking place at 11:00 GMT. Personally I have no preference, but I think being in the draw as first of our group is already important. So we will see the draw and then we will already focus our attention on the game against Bournemouth.

Have a nice week.

Hugs,

Juan

Your Monday Briefing: Latest United News

Your Monday Briefing is here to provide a round-up of Manchester United’s weekend…

UNITED 1 CITY 2
The 175th Manchester derby disappointingly ended in defeat at Old Trafford, meaning the Reds are now 11 points behind City in the Premier League table. David Silva opened the scoring with an opportunistic finish on 43 minutes and Marcus Rashford equalised in added time in the first half, before Pep Guardiola’s Blues earned a win thanks to another fortunate goal, this time from Nicolas Otamendi.

WE WILL FIGHT TO THE END
Jose Mourinho was aggrieved by referee Michael Oliver’s decision not to award a penalty in the 79th minute, when Ander Herrera was seemingly tripped by Otamendi. The boss felt that was crucial to the defeat and was frustrated, but remained bullish about the title race and clawing back that 11-point gap.

“It is a significant distance,” the manager told the media. “I don't know if we can make up the points difference. I know we can win on Wednesday against Bournemouth. Win, lose or draw, I know we can win on Wednesday and we are going to work and fight for it.”

INJURY FOR ROJO
Marcos Rojo suffered a nasty cut to the head in the first half and temporarily left the pitch to receive treatment, before gallantly returning sporting a thick bandage. The Argentina international made it to the half-time break but was taken off by the manager and replaced by Victor Lindelof at centre-back. It remains to be seen whether he will be fit to face Bournemouth at Old Trafford in midweek.

UNDER-18S DREW WITH LIVERPOOL
Our Academy lads took part in an entertaining 2-2 draw with Liverpool at The Cliff, despite the Under-18 Premier League contest taking place in testing wintry conditions.

D'Mani Mellor opened the scoring and visiting defender Adam Lewis was sent off early on, but the Merseysiders took a surprise lead via goals from Liam Millar and Glen McAuley. Coach Steven Gerrard urged his charges to preserve their lead, until Reds starlet Arnau Puigmal bagged a 94th-minute leveller.

RESERVE FIXTURE POSTPONED
This evening's Under-23s match against Swansea City has, unfortunately, been called off due to the inclement weather conditions that are sweeping the UK. A rearranged date for the fixture is yet to be confirmed by either club.

FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS IN THE CUP
The first team’s Emirates FA Cup third-round tie against Derby County will be held on Friday 5 January 2018 with kick-off at 20:00 GMT, but the match will not be shown on live TV in the UK.

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE DRAW TODAY
United will face one of six potential opponents - Bayern Munich, Juventus, Real Madrid, Porto, Sevilla or Shakhtar Donetsk - in today's Champions League round-of-16 draw in Nyon. Mourinho's men cannot face the other group runners-up Chelsea, as a fellow English team, and Basel, of course.

LOAN UPDATE
Andreas Pereira started as Valencia maintained pressure on La Liga leaders Barcelona with a 2-1 win over Celta Vigo, thanks to goals from Simone Zaza and Dani Parejo's late penalty. Our on-loan Brazilian has now registered 15 appearances for the Spanish side.

Sam Johnstone kept a clean sheet in Aston Villa’s 0-0 draw with Millwall, and Tim Fosu-Mensah was also recalled to the starting line-up by Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson for their 2-2 draw against Bournemouth at Selhurst Park. Jermain Defoe scored twice for the Cherries, who visit OT on Wednesday

United Await Champions League Draw

Manchester United will face one of six potential opponents in Monday's UEFA Champions League Round-of-16 draw in Nyon.

The Reds' reward for topping Group A will be a two-legged clash against a second-placed team from one of the other groups - Bayern Munich, Juventus, Real Madrid, Porto, Sevilla or Shakhtar Donetsk. Jose Mourinho's men cannot face Chelsea, as a fellow English team, at this stage of the competition.

There is a slightly higher likelihood of United being paired with Real, Juventus or Sevilla due to the various combinations of outcomes in the draw.

Here we run the rule over the six clubs the Reds could face when the Champions League resumes in February:

Bayern Munich
Status: Group B runners-up.
Manager: Jupp Heynckes.
Group story: The German side beat PSG 3-1 in their final game but still fell short of topping the group. Rejuvenated under returning coach Heynkes, a record of five wins suggests they will be formidable foes in the knockout stages.
Star player: Robert Lewandowski.
Record v Reds: We have played the German side 11 times since 1998, winning two, losing four and drawing five.

Juventus
Status: Group D runners-up.
Manager: Massimiliano Allegri.
Group story: Juve were unbeaten at home but lost out to Barcelona for top spot. A couple of 2-0 wins over Olympiacos showed their strength and the Italian champions held Barca to a 0-0 draw in Turin.
Star player: Gonzalo Higuain.
Record v Reds: It's been close between the clubs and who can forget our famous semi-final win in 1999? Overall, there have been five wins apiece with two draws.

Porto
Status: Group G runners-up.
Manager: Sergio Conceicao.
Group story: Portugal's Dragons won three games, drew once and lost twice in the campaign. A 5-2 thumping of Monaco in their final fixture was enough to clinch second spot behind surprise group winners Besiktas.
Star player: Vincent Aboubaka.
Record v Reds: The clubs have crossed paths eight times in total, six of those coming in the Champions League with the other two in the Cup-Winners' Cup. A 4-0 rout by the Reds at Old Trafford in 1997 stands out, as does the fateful night when Jose Mourinho steered Porto to a shock aggregate win in 2004.

Real Madrid
Status: Group H runners-up.
Manager: Zinedine Zidane.
Group story: The holders lost once in the group stages but it proved decisive as Tottenham topped the table. Zidane's men still amassed 13 points to qualify comfortably, drawing the home tie with Spurs, and smashed six goals without reply past Apoel Nicosia.
Star player: Cristiano Ronaldo.
Record v Reds: United have only won twice in 10 meetings with Real and were beaten in the UEFA Super Cup final in Macedonia at the start of the season.

Sevilla
Status: Group E runners-up.
Manager: Eduardo Berizzo.
Group story: The Spanish side have been European experts in recent years and a draw with Maribor completed a nine-point haul in Liverpool's group. Sevilla showed their battling qualities to fight back from a 3-0 deficit to earn a 3-3 draw with Jurgen Klopp's side on home turf and are specialists in two-legged ties.
Star player: Wissam Ben Yedder.
Record v Reds: The clubs have never faced each other in an official competition, although Sevilla did win Rio Ferdinand's testimonial match 3-1 at Old Trafford in 2013.

Shakhtar Donetsk
Status: Group F runners-up.
Manager: Paulo Fonseca.
Group story: It was remarkable the Ukrainians progressed at the expense of much-fancied Napoli, despite losing 3-0 to the Italians. A final-game victory, inflicting Manchester City's first defeat of the season, proved vital and coach Fonseca wore a Zorro mask in the post-match press conference as part of a vow he made should his team get through.
Star player: Bernard.
Record v Reds: During David Moyes's spell in charge, United won 1-0 at Old Trafford after drawing 1-1 in Ukraine.

The other teams still in the Champions League can only face Jose Mourinho's men in a later round. This pot features the Reds' fellow group winners Paris Saint-Germain, Roma, Barcelona, Liverpool, Manchester City, Besiktas and Tottenham Hotspur, plus the runners-up from United's pool, Basel.

Six Views On United's Derby Defeat

ManUtd.com has gathered a selection of post-match opinions from players, the two managers and others after Manchester United's 2-1 defeat to Manchester City at Old Trafford.

The Reds lost to rivals City as David Silva and Nicolas Otamendi both scored in the aftermath of set pieces, either side of Marcus Rashford's equaliser in first-half injury time.

Here are some quotes from the protagonists and the pundits as the Reds reflect on a disappointing derby day...

Victor Lindelof: “We are disappointed of course; we always want to win the games, especially this one so we are disappointed with the result. The atmosphere was amazing [in my first derby]; the fans were amazing as always and especially today. We wanted to win for them today but unfortunately we didn’t do that. On to the next one - we have a new game coming up that we need to focus on and get the three points from."

Jose Mourinho: "You can bring any football theory, you can bring the stats, the ball possession, but like last season it is a huge penalty in the crucial moment of the game. But I also have to say I feel sorry for [referee] Michael Oliver because he had a good game. I know we can win next Wednesday [against Bournemouth] and we are going to work and fight for it. Every match is a match where we are going to give everything with our qualities, with our problems - that is what we do all the time."

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola: "Football is incredible. We spoke about how to play [against] United, but never set pieces offensively and then we score two. Football is unpredictable."

MUTV's Lou Macari: "We were beaten by the better team today, there's no doubt about that. But United are still good enough to win something this season."

MUTV's Bojan Djordjic: "City made better angles and they moved for each other. I'm just gutted we didn't test their back four enough, especially the centre-back pairing when we started so well in the second half. We missed Pogba, he brings something extra to our midfield."

View from Twitter - @DanTheDad3: "We move on. Not even halfway through the season, anything can happen. We're 2nd, in the #UCL and in both domestic cups. It's only just December. Have a bit of optimism, #MUFC fans!"

Mourinho Rues Penalty Decision

Jose Mourinho feels the referee made "a crucial mistake" which proved decisive in Manchester United’s derby defeat against Manchester City on Sunday afternoon.

The Reds claimed for a penalty in the 79th minute when Ander Herrera went down under the challenge of Nicolas Otamendi but match official Michael Oliver chose to book the Spaniard for simulation and City went on to win 2-1 at Old Trafford.

Here are the manager's main comments from his interview with Sky Sports and post-match press conference:

‘IT WAS A CLEAR PENALTY’
“Clear penalty. I'm sorry for us, I'm sorry for Michael [Oliver, the referee]; I think he had a good performance but it's a clear penalty. The referee made a mistake, which can happen. Last season we had a similar situation here against Man City - City were winning 2-1 and [the referee] Mr [Mark] Clattenburg didn't see the penalty, [Claudio] Bravo on [Wayne] Rooney, and this one also. It's a clear penalty and I feel sorry for Mr Oliver because he had a good performance. He's a human being and tried his best; he was very committed to having a good match, which I think he had. He made one mistake, which was a crucial mistake for the result of the match. You can speak about anything you want. You can bring any football theory, you can bring the stats, the ball possession, you can bring everything you want, but like last season it is a huge penalty in the crucual moment of the game. But I also have to say I feel sorry for Michael Oliver because he had a good game, a very good game. The assistants the same. I think [Jon] Moss [the fourth official] came with the intention to make the perfect work which they almost did."

OVERALL THOUGHTS ON THE PERFORMANCE
"We did good things, we did bad things - we had a complete dedication to the match, with everybody trying to do their best. We know City are very good at keeping the ball possession, at keeping one of the full-backs inside. In this match they also had an extra man with the striker dropping back and then without the striker, having an extra man in midfield. Even if you try to press, it's very difficult to recover the ball, so credit to them for that good quality they have."

CITY GOALS WERE ‘EASY’
"They scored two very bad goals, two goals that were unbelievable to concede and when you conceded two goals like this, in a match of this dimension, you obviously feel bad. You will speak about what they did well and what they are good at but they scored two goals out of nothing, with rebounds - really, two easy goals."

CITY'S TIME-WASTING
"The loss of time is very important. It is something that intelligent, creative players, they know how to do. It is the kind of things that I also want my players to do in similar circumstances and I would never criticise opponents to do this in a very intelligent way in the last part of the game. So well done in relation to that."

IS THE TITLE RACE OVER?
"I don't know but they [Manchester City] are a very good team. They are lucky; they have good decisions in their favour, but Tuesday is another day of the Premier League and I am sure all of us - Chelsea third and the others in fourth, fifth, sixth - I'm sure that everyone is going to fight for points and fight to reduce the distance, which is a normal thing in the fight for the championship. But of course, City's [11-point] advantage is a very good one."

'WE ARE GOING TO FIGHT'
"It is a significant distance. I don't know [if we can make up the points difference]. I know we can win on Wednesday [against Bournemouth]. Win, lose or draw, I know we can win on Wednesday and we are going to work and fight for it. That's the only thing I say, match after match. And every match is a match where we are going to give everything with our qualities, with our problems - that is what we do all the time."

Premier League: Man. United 1 Man. City 2

Manchester United slipped 11 points behind Manchester City in the race for the Premier League title after agonisingly losing 2-1 in a fiery derby at Old Trafford.

This was a match in which records were inevitably set to be broken one way or another. United were looking to set a new club standard of 41 home matches unbeaten in all competitions - a sequence which ironically began after a 2-1 defeat against City in last season's first derby. The Blues, meanwhile, came into this game unbeaten away from home all season and were looking to break the record for successive Premier League wins in a single season.

David Silva put the visitors ahead shortly before half-time following a corner, before Marcus Rashford levelled matters just four minutes later, capitalising on Fabian Delph's mistake in first-half injury time. Nicolas Otamendi grabbed the bragging rights for City nine minutes into the second half as he poked home after the ball fell fortunately to him after a Kevin De Bruyne free-kick was only cleared into his path. The heroic Ederson denied Romelu Lukaku and Juan Mata with a stunning double save late on as City hung on.

United boss Jose Mourinho made two changes from the previous Premier League game against Arsenal with Ander Herrera and Rashford coming in for Victor Lindelof and the suspended Paul Pogba. However, the attacking looking line-up featured a total of six alterations from the midweek win over CSKA Moscow.

The whole world had their eyes firmly fixed on Old Trafford in what was the biggest, most anticipated match of the season thus far. The crowd recognised that and it was an electric atmosphere inside the Theatre of Dreams. City had the majority of the early play with Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus both having tame efforts at goal which David De Gea twice grasped gratefully.

The visitors continued to dominate the possession stakes, albeit without really troubling the Reds' rearguard, while United looked for the counter-attacking ball over the top.

Leroy Sane then tested De Gea after bringing Delph's cross down at the back post, but the Spaniard expertly tipped over from close range. From the resulting corner, Nicolas Otamendi's downward header was latched upon by Silva and he poked the ball past De Gea from five yards when free inside the box.

That goal seemed to wake Mourinho's men up and Anthony Martial tested Ederson from 25 yards, before Old Trafford erupted thanks to Rashford's quick leveller. Marcos Rojo's crossfield long ball was misjudged by City left-back Delph and United's 20-year-old Mancunian, who scored the winner on his derby debut two seasons back, calmly tucked the ball past Ederson.

The Reds looked to pick up from the equaliser in the second half as Martial and Rashford combined, but the latter's cross was diverted away by Otamendi before Jesse Lingard could pounce.

It was another setpiece which ultimately caught the Reds out. From De Bruyne's free-kick into the box, Lukaku's clearance rebounded off Chris Smalling's back and Otamendi had the easiest of tasks to divert the ball past De Gea in similar fashion to Silva's opener.

The Reds looked to hit back and Lingard played in Lukaku, but the big Belgian blazed over from a narrow angle, and Rashford did likewise with a free-kick.

At the other end, De Bruyne nearly put the game to bed with a low fizzing effort which De Gea did well to turn around his right-hand post.

Rashford again received the ball from a Delph mistake, but this time Ederson denied him, saving down low before the Brazilian somehow denied Lukaku and then substitute Mata from close range in quick succession as the Reds tried desperately to find that elusive leveller. Blues substitute Bernardo Silva nearly wrapped things up late on, but although De Gea saved with his feet, City still took home the derby spoils.


THE LINE-UPS

United: De Gea; Valencia (c), Smalling, Rojo (Lindelof 45), Young; Matic, Herrera (Mata 82); Rashford, Lingard (Ibrahimovic 76), Martial; Lukaku.

Subs not used: Romero, Jones, Shaw, McTominay.

Booked: Rojo, Rashford, Herrera, Young.

Manchester City: Ederson, Walker, Kompany (c) (Gundogan 45), Otamendi, Delph; Fernandinho, De Bruyne, David Silva; Sterling, Jesus (Mangala 59), Sane (Bernardo Silva 88).

Subs not used: Bravo, Danilo, Zinchenko, Aguero.

Booked: Walker, Silva.

WHAT'S NEXT FOR UNITED?

The Reds will look to bounce back against Bournemouth at Old Trafford on Wednesday 13 December, in a midweek Premier League clash kicking off at 20:00 GMT.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Hargreaves Tips Lukaku For Key Derby Role

Manchester United's Romelu Lukaku could be the most important player on the pitch in Sunday's Manchester derby, says ex-England player Owen Hargreaves.

After joining United from Everton for £75m in the summer, Lukaku hit seven goals in his first eight league games but has scored only twice since.

Hargreaves, who played for both Manchester clubs, believes another element of his game will be crucial.

"United will need to get out of defence through Lukaku," he said.

"Everyone said before he came to the club that his hold-up play was not good enough for a top, top player but in the past few weeks it has been much better.

"United need that so they can get players up the pitch. He could be the most important player in the game."

United are second in the Premier League, eight points behind their city rivals.

Pep Guardiola's side boast the most prolific attack in England's top flight, having scored 46 goals in 15 games.

United, meanwhile, have the best defence. They have conceded just nine goals, with only one of those at Old Trafford.

Jose Mourinho's side adopted a cautious approach in their 0-0 draw at Liverpool in October, and Hargreaves believes they will have to be more adventurous against City if they are to retain hopes of winning the title.

"United have to win," said the 36-year-old, who played for United from 2007-2011 before spending a season at City

"A draw is good for City. How many points are they going to drop over the rest of the season? They've already won the league so the goal for them is to make some noise in the Champions League.

"It is more a must-win game for United. If City win, the title race is over."

Guardiola is in his second season as City manager - and his first was mixed.

He won his first 10 matches in charge before a streak of six games without a win - the worst run of his managerial career - as City finished third.

But the Spaniard has revitalised the squad, and Hargreaves expects him to be City manager for years to come.

He said: "Manchester City were building towards Pep for a long time and I think some of the players that went there before were his mould - the likes of Kevin de Bruyne and Raheem Sterling.

"I would say Pep, with how young the squad is in terms of the players he is signing, that's a long-term project.

"It is hard to think where he could go. He has done Barcelona and Bayern Munich, he isn't going to Real Madrid, so there is only really Paris St-Germain or a national team. I think he will be there for a long time."

Hargreaves does not think the same can be said for Mourinho's spell at Old Trafford.

"If he wins the league, he could fancy a different challenge, or if doesn't work out and United are not in a position where they are pushing City then you could imagine him going after a few years."

United will be without midfielder Paul Pogba on Sunday as he serves the first game of a three-match suspension following his sending-off at Arsenal.

The France international has been hugely influential for the Red Devils this season, but Hargreaves feels United may thrive without him.

He said: "For Pogba, you would have to argue the weakest part of the game is defending. As much as he is irreplaceable, for this one-off game Mourinho might not mind having someone more defensive in.

"Pogba may help with that out ball and the ability to play a precise pass, but in terms of the defensive structure and being disciplined I don't think anything will change for Mourinho, he will demand they defend as a group, break and play on the counter.

"City will dominate the game but Watford and Arsenal had control of their games against United and were beaten comfortably."

Credit: BBC Sport

Guardiola: No Memory Of United Offer

Pep Guardiola insists he has no recollection of being enticed towards Manchester United when his 'good friend' Sir Alex Ferguson treated him in a lavish New York restaurant five years ago.

Guardiola, who at the time was enjoying a sabbatical after leaving Barcelona, was thought to be among the leading contenders to take over at United when Ferguson retired in 2013.

Ferguson wrote that he even hinted as much to the Spaniard himself during a meeting in New York in 2012.

But Guardiola, who eventually decided to return to football with Bayern Munich before joining Manchester City in 2016, says he does not recall the United job being mentioned in his meeting with Ferguson.

"If he suggested to me something like I go to Old Trafford, I don't remember," he said. "I know he has said that but I don't remember.

"We spoke about life, about football, the Premier League but he never sent me a message under the table to say, 'you know maybe United...' or something like that.

"It was just two friends, good friends, colleagues in football, talking about many things.

"I remember when he spoke a little bit fast it was difficult to understand him! But it was nice because he chose an amazing restaurant and, of course, he paid."

Guardiola, meanwhile, insists he respects Jose Mourinho highly despite their differences.

The pair have a fierce rivalry dating back to their times in charge of Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively.

Guardiola, whose side hold an eight-point lead over United at the top of the table, said: "We have faced each other many times in big moments.

"My opinion about what he has done as a manager will never change. I know the way we see the game is different but we love to compete, we love to win games.

"Believe me, it is not a special situation when I beat somebody's teams at all. I want to win but when I lose I accept the defeat and I try to learn from that for the next one. Then we move on.

"I respect a lot of my colleagues, Jose as well. We want to beat each other but what happens on the pitch happens on the pitch. After that it is over."

Credit: Skysports.com

Fury: Mourinho Is A Winner Like Me

Tyson Fury tells Sky Sports that Jose Mourinho is a "winner like me" who needs no extra inspiration to beat Manchester City at Old Trafford.

Manchester United host their great rivals City on Sunday, live on Sky Sports Premier League, trailing Pep Guardiola's men by eight points, with City chasing a Premier League record 14th successive win.

Fury, who is waiting on the resumption of an anti-doping case before making his return to the boxing ring, is a boyhood United fan, and believes stopping City's winning run will not provide Mourinho with any additional incentive.

"I am hoping to be there, meeting up with a few mates and making a day of it," Fury tells Sky Sports. "We will see how that goes! I try and get to as many games as I can. Anytime I am free and around I will go. I have four kids now and have to help out at home. The last time I was there was when Hughie [Fury, Tyson's cousin] boxed.

"There have been so many good derbies over the years. That is the game I won't miss, if I can help it. I have been to loads of them over the years.

"He [Mourinho] has done well with other teams, and is a good manager. He is doing well this season, it could be better, of course, but it will take time.

"Like me, he is a winner. And, like me, he doesn't need any inspiration or anything to give him a lift before a big game. He likes the big stage. It is where we come alive"

Should Fury make his comeback to the ring in 2018, there is talk of a homecoming bout at Old Trafford, with numerous potential opponents mooted, and Fury admitted such an event would be appealing.

"I would love to [fight at Old Trafford]," Fury adds. "There have been talks. But you need a big fight. That time will come.

"We have even talked about figures before, but nothing became of it. It is all starting to come together. I want to get four or five fights in next year."

Credit: Skysports.com

Jose Lifts Lid On Derby Preparations

Jose Mourinho lifted the lid on his sleeping pattern, team talks and what he expects from Manchester City in an exclusive pre-Manchester derby interview with Fenners on Soccer PM.

Second entertain first in the Premier League as part two of Derby Day live on Nissan Super Sunday, as Manchester United and Manchester City renew their age-old rivalry at Old Trafford.

The pressure may well be on United ahead of kick-off as they try to bridge the eight-point gap that separates them from their neighbours at the top of the table.

But Mourinho was coolness personified as he sat down with Fenners, insisting he would not lose any sleep, or change his approach for Sunday's meeting with City.

Here's the full transcript from when Fenners met Mourinho...

FENNERS: Jose the 175th Manchester derby. Everyone is excited about it. Have you already told the players who is playing yet and named your team?

MOURINHO: No.

FENNERS: When will you do that?

MOURINHO: Sunday morning. We work on principles. We work on plans. But every player has to be ready because we have so many problems and absences it's important to keep confidence levels. We are working hard on that.

FENNERS: It is a huge game. Can you treat this like any other game or do you have to approach it in a different way?

MOURINHO: No, exactly the same. We analyse the opponents. We try to understand the opponents' strength and weaknesses. We define our game plan in a theoretical way and work that on the pitch, but you have to reproduce that on the match day. Football is very unpredictable and sometimes you think the game plan will take you in a certain direction and then the unpredictability of football gives a completely different match. You must have maturity to be ready for that.

FENNERS: How do you sleep before a big game?

MOURINHO: Very well. I don't sleep after but I sleep very well before. After the adrenalin of 90 minutes and my memory giving me flashes of what happened - what went right, what went wrong, could we compete in a better way, how amazing it was, it's a time of reflection and even if I try to rest because most of the time you have a couple of days before another match, and I should be thinking about the next match, I don't sleep so well. But the night before the match doesn't matter. I sleep like an angel!

FENNERS: How about your team talk? Does it vary for a game like this?

MOURINHO: No, it is the same process. We have different meetings because we don't think it's the best thing for the players because they may lose their focus or concentration. Instead of one 30-minute meeting I do three 10-minute meetings. We split it during the days and try to make it like a routine.

We analyse our opponent, figure out the game plan during the days before and try to make it as it is, a match is a match. If you prepare in a specific way for an opponent and you don't do the same two days later for another one, what are the players going to do? So when you want the players to be focused all of the time, respect every opponent and see every point as an important point you have to follow the same process.

FENNERS: I don't expect you to give me any team news, but if Ashley Young starts, will he be on free-kicks?

MOURINHO: Ashley Young would normally start. Without Paul (Pogba) on the pitch I would say he has a chance to take free-kicks.

FENNERS: He surprised a few people with his one (at Watford) didn't he?

MOURINHO: The quality didn't surprise me a lot because in training he is one of the guys that enjoy the individual practice and he's quite successful. In the match he didn't surprise me because it's a position you'd consider to be a hot spot for Paul, and Ashley had the permission from Paul.

FENNERS: Is it a must-win game?

MOURINHO: It's a game, every game is a must-win game.

FENNERS: Super Sunday is a huge day for Sky Sports. Jamie Carragher is one of the pundits, Gary Neville is one of the pundits. Noel Gallagher is one of the pundits on the day. Did you know about that?

MOURINHO: No.

FENNERS: What do you think about that?

MOURINHO: Noel is a big Man City fan, that's not a problem at all, of course. I think if somebody invited me to be a pundit of the Eurovision Song Contest I wouldn't go! I wouldn't risk myself. But if Noel wants to do that he's a brave man.

FENNERS: I texted him to let him know that I was coming to have a chat with you today and he asked me if I would ask you a question. He said: "Will you drop David de Gea, please?"

MOURINHO: I will not drop David but second goalkeeper is phenomenal. He is the goalkeeper of Argentina, played a World Cup final, played a Europa League final, so there's no problem at all. But David was phenomenal the last match and obviously in the moment is our number one.

FENNERS: Football is unpredictable but what sort of game are you expecting on Sunday?

MOURINHO: I expect a tough game for both teams. I expect a tough game for the third team (the officials) and I obviously wish them luck and I wish the players go onto the pitch to help them and not to create them problems. I expect the players to have fair play. I expect the players to not lose the balance just because of a little win. I would like the three teams to be really happy with their performances at the end of the match. But obviously we are going to try to win and I am pretty sure Manchester City are going to try and do the same.

Credit: Skysports.com