Jose Mourinho should avoid Ligue 1 and go back to Inter Milan where he is loved

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The Special One Jose Mourinho is still head hunting for a job after being sacked at Manchester United last December. Just a few weeks after his departure Mourinho was being linked to a return to his native Portugal, possibly with Benfica.

Of course the thought of Mourinho coaching Benfica after his success with Porto never looked like being a realistic option. That would be like Mourinho returning to Italy to coach AC Milan after his incredible success at rivals Inter. All you do in that process is tarnish fans memories of what had been before and it rarely works out with a smile on your face.

But let’s face it football misses Mourinho, even the negative side of Mourinho, glum face, no wins and arguments with players and officials. Modern day football has enough room for Mourinho and lets not forget his incredible successes. Say what you will about Mourinho, his presence does win trophies.

The latest news on Mourinho has come from left field and does feel like a surprise. Apparently he is interested in coaching in France’s Ligue 1. But with the PSG job unavailable, what other options does Mourinho have? Well there is Lyon who have always been a huge club and have had a solid season and have very decent players. They are currently in 3rd place trying to chase down 2nd placed Lille. But they are also 25 points behind PSG.

Lyon of course dominated French football in the 2000s winning 7 titles in a row but the money that PSG has now has changed the ball game in France. The other club he is being linked to is an even greater surprise- Monaco. Now of course Monaco did win Ligue 1 in 2017, but they are a selling club and much of that team has disappeared including the great Kylian Mbappe who was snapped up by PSG. Now Monaco are just trying to survive in Ligue 1.

Of course the destination of Monaco would greatly suit Mourinho but it is questionable whether he will be able to add to his trophy haul by going there. Plus how much disrespect can one man in Leonardo Jardim be shown? Sacked earlier in the season to make way for Thierry Henry. He was brought back in just a few months later when it was clear that Henry was not cut out for the job. Are we seriously suggesting he will be tossed aside once more to make way for Mourinho?

If the truth be told Mourinho should avoid Ligue 1 and go back to Inter Milan. Inter do have a lot of problems but at the same time they have shown great signs this season and if he was given a decent transfer budget together with the contacts he has maybe he could make something of it once again in Milan. Just think for a second how loved Mourinho is at Inter and love is what he really needs at this time.

It was evident again this past weekend when he was reunited with Inter when an all star team played an all star Tottenham side to open up Tottenham’s new season. Mourinho was the happiest that the public had seen him in quite a while.

The bottom line is that managing Inter and being back in Serie A would not be an easy job, and the club would have to challenge a Ronaldo led Juventus. But at the same time he would walk into  a city and club that 100% respect him.

Does he leave the memories as they are or does he come back for a second helping. In part when he did with Chelsea he got immediate success with another league title, but by the end of his reign there it had turned nightmarish and that is something that even after 3 years has not left Mourinho’s legacy.

Paul Pogba is wrapped up in such an enigma even he doesn’t know what club he wants to play for

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Rewind four months ago, it is the beginning of December and Paul Pogba, a moody Paul Pogba arrives for training at Manchester United. He doesn’t want to be at the club, not because he doesn’t like the club or like playing in the Premier League but because. well, let’s say he’s not on best friends terms with the manager Jose Mourinho. There have been coded tweets about it, face gestures and Sky Sports once caught some tension in United’s training session between Pogba and Mourinho. There is a constant grey cloud over the club and Pogba wants out.

Pogba has friends in Europe, many friends who are influential and such is his CV which includes playing for Juventus and winning a World Cup with France last summer that his options are wide open. A few months ago there are hints that he will leave United for Barcelona, Lionel Messi seems interested and Barcelona is a million miles away in terms of happiness for Pogba than United with Mourinho in charge. The flirtation seems genuine. But like a professional that he is Pogba will sit it out, maybe something will change.

Just before Christmas it did, and whilst this may sound cruel, Pogba and United’s players got an early Christmas gift when Mourinho was sacked. It may not have been what they wanted- we won’t know until they decide to write their inevitable autobiographies- but it was most certainly what the players needed.

When it was announced that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer former legend with the club would take over, there was relief around the dressing room. The Norwegian may not be the right man for the club, but he was the perfect man for the club right now, right bang in this situation. Since December he has proven that he is the right man for the club and for the next 3 years as he signed a deserved full time contract. He has worn a smile that could have warmed Christian Bale after a press interview and it is no coincidence that Pogba has looked back to his French international best.

Even when Pogba has played bad, he’s played well for Solskjaer. Even when Pogba saw red or threw a strop, Solskjaer has defended him. The manager has more knowledge of human psychology in one finger nail than Mourinho has in a lifetime and it has worked wonders. Plus of course United do have very good players, they just needed motivation and needed to be told that the best form of attack is to attack.

And yet Pogba remains coy on his future. There are reports linking him to Zidane’s Real Madrid, we say Zidane now because it is clear since his return to Madrid the club have turned a corner and will mean to do serious business in the summer. Pogba could fit an attacking midfield role at the Bernabeu perfectly for the club. You get the feeling if a firm offer came in Pogba would say thanks very much and leave. Of course maybe the pinnacle of his football would be at United who are now set on a course to relive some of the glory days of the past.

But maybe Pogba doesn’t entirely know what Pogba wants. What he shouldn’t do like many have before him is join the worlds best team thinking that trophies will naturally come.

When you think like that the joker card of football will ultimately play its hand.

 

Manchester United’s Romelu Lukaku is finally the player he always wanted to be

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Maybe all Romelu Lukaku needed was a manager who believed in him in order to get the best out of the Belgian. Because there can be little doubt that Lukaku has just gone a few levels up over the past few weeks.

Lukaku has always been able to plug goals away even at Everton he was able to make an impact where he scored 25 league goals in his final season with the club. It was that season that prompted United to spend upwards of £75m on bringing him to Old Trafford.

Lukaku repaid in his debut season knocking in 27 goals and it meant a lot to a player who was now being coached by Jose Mourinho, the same manager that discarded him at Chelsea and sold him to Everton. Lukaku had worked so hard that he was able to say with his goals, that Mourinho had indeed made a mistake in selling him in the first place. Now both worked together, but Lukaku didn’t look like a happy man under the Portuguese. That has changed under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer though.

In Lukaku’s last 3 games for Manchester United he has scored 6 goals- 2 in each game. He got the winner against Crystal Palace where United ended up winning 3-1. Then surprisingly they struggled against Southampton at home, having to come back from a goal down. With the match poised at 2-2, Lukaku got the winner- another three points which took the Red Devils back into the top 4.

But Lukaku’s crowning moment would be saved for the Champions League, this is the competition that the 25 year old wanted to play in and to prove himself. It’s all very well scoring some goals in group games, but you can be judged harshly for not delivering in the knock out rounds when it really matters. Lukaku delivered.

United had lost the first leg against PSG 2-0 at home, still Solskjaer’s only defeat as United boss in almost 3 months in charge. The club looked dead and buried, game over. And yet there was hope and positivity in the ranks, even Sir Alex Ferguson flew out with the team to support them.

What happened was a bit of history for the side- who went on to win 3-1 in Paris. No club had come back in the Champions League from a 2-0 home 1st leg match, that all changed and Lukaku was at the heart of it.

He opened the scoring after just two minutes and then scored again to put his side 2-1 up. But he had proven that he could now score at the highest level and will be certain to start more games for the club against the best teams.

It feels like Lukaku has been around forever, but at only 25 he is yet to reach the peak of his potential, and he has his best years ahead of him. It really could have gone either way for him, a good player never reaching his potential, but with the right coach it feels like the best of Lukaku is yet to come and that should be frightening for any of United’s rivals.

EPL Game of the Weekend – Man Utd vs Southampton

lukakuWhen Man Utd parted company with Jose Mourinho back in December and brought in club legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on a caretaker basis, many assumed this was little more than a nostalgia act – a chance to see Ole back at the club for a time while the hierarchy went about searching for a permanent successor to the Portuguese boss. However, in the time since Solskjaer’s return, United have gone on a run of 13 wins in 16 matches, tasting defeat only once – and this run of form has led many to assume that the 46-year-old will be given the job on a permanent basis at some point between now and the start of the 2019-20 campaign. This past weekend, the Red Devils welcomed Southampton to Old Trafford in what would turn out to be a modern-day classic game. Continue reading

Does Solskjaer Perform Miracles?

Well, frankly it is looking like he just might, and here at freetips.com, we are rooting for him. It has been a turbulent season for United, and the silverware has looked so far out of their grasp it has been a humbling time for the once glorious reds who ruled Manchester.

As if Manchester City winning last season was not bad enough for them, it is looking likely that the Manchester blues will retain the title for the second year running while Old Trafford languishes as a former ground of glory that has now seen a downturn in luck.

Such has been the gravity of the situation that in December manager Jose Mourinho was given his marching orders. He may now live to regret one of his final comments when he stated that it would need ‘almost a miracle’ for the team to pull out of the nosedive and finish respectably within the top four. Clearly, caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took that as ‘challenge accepted’, and boy has he turned around the performance level of the Red Devils. When Mourinho left the club they were 11 points behind the much coveted Champions League place. It was indeed looking like an impossible task.

You can almost hear the “Mission Impossible” title credits rolling as Ole worked his magic, racking up an incredible eight wins and one draw in just six short weeks, landing Man United into that fourth place position one point clear of Arsenal and Chelsea. There is little doubt Ole Gunnar Solskjaer considers United his home, and his own playing career there was rather successful.

The Baby-faced Assassin as he was dubbed earned a reputation as a super sub frequently coming off the bench at the last moment and scoring some incredible goals. Unfortunately, a severe knee injury ended his career in 2007 and keen to stay with his club he became a coach and ambassador. Later his role was augmented, and he took on coaching responsibility for the reserve team.

He returned home in 2011 to manage Molde and secure them their first ever Tippeligaen title, and then just to prove it wasn’t a fluke he did it again for a second time. In his third season, he took them to the 2013 Norwegian Football Cup Final where the team triumphed. After a brief stint at Cardiff, he was back at Molde until 2018 when Man United came knocking, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer answered.

It is clear that momentum is building as fans, and players alike, feel that it is time Solskjaer was officially made the manager, but not everyone agrees. Gary Neville has said that he does not think the timing is right and the situation should be looked at in March and decided in April.

Wes Brown, however, feels that Solskjaer is by far and away the best fit the team have had for some time and that the formalities should be put in place to make him full-time manager. Whatever happens, it has to be said that Ole has actually performed the much-needed miracle.

Manchester United’s Alexis Sanchez needs to return to Arsenal or leave the Premier League

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Despite the odd good game for Manchester United it is fair to say that Alexis Sanchez will never be remembered as one of the Old Trafford greats and even though he has only been at the club for one season perhaps it is the right time to quit the club.

United are good, Sanchez is good but for whatever reason the two entities just don’t fit. When Jose Mourinho bought Sanchez from Arsenal last summer it was seen as a fantastic deal. Because Sanchez was far and away Arsenal’s best player of the past few seasons. It seemed almost bizarre in fact that Arsenal would sell to a Premier League rival but sell they did.

Once at United Sanchez just didn’t perform most blamed Mourinho’s tactics and let’s be honest the whole team were not performing. But what has been surprising is that Sanchez has not picked up his form under new manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer despite the rest of the squad doing so.

Even Solskjaer has admitted that there isn’t anything they can do with the player- but he will give him time and has commented that the player is a quality one who needs to find himself. The truth is that Sanchez does not seem happy at United and has simply not settled into life up in Manchester- it happens and perhaps the Chilean should not be too harshly judged about it.

Could he return to Arsenal? There were rumours that he wanted to play for Manchester City, but he has become the shadow of the player that everyone knew and it is unlikely now that City manager Guardiola would go for his signature. But at Arsenal as long as Unai Emery wanted him, he would be welcomed back. It was clearly an environment that Sanchez enjoyed and revelled in, but of course everyone needs to be on the same page for that to happen.

Otherwise perhaps the simple solution for Sanchez would be to leave the Premier League- maybe a return to Spain is on the cards? It just might be a culture that suits Sanchez more anyway. Although a return to Barcelona does not seem possible, but Sanchez is still good enough to play for any of the top six sides in La Liga.

Sanchez is a quality player that there is no doubt, but has there been a more unhappier high profile Premier League player of  the past six months?

Ole Gunnar Solsjkaer should be permanent Manchester United manager- what are the club waiting for?

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In 2 months Ole Gunnar Solsjkaer has done to Manchester United what three other managers and five years could not do, he has them playing the Manchester United way again so why haven’t the board announced him as United’s permanent manager?

What Solsjkaer got the job the whole mood shifted at the club one that had been moody, downbeat and not playing to their strengths under Jose Mourinho. But now it was like the mid 1990s again. Hardly anyone could have believed United would have been able to catch up to Arsenal and Chelsea and are now in 4th place. In December United were 9 points behind Arsenal, now they are a point above them and make no mistake they will fire even more ahead in the coming weeks/months.

But the United board just aren’t trusting him yet. Their argument will be that this is just the beginning- but what manager has done this well? David Moyes Louis van Gaal and even Jose Mourinho showed weakness in their first few months in charge of the club. While it is true that this incredible run will end at one point for the Norwegian, the players love him and respect him and he does have a future at the club. The worry will be if United bring in a big name and it doesn’t work out.

Zinedine Zidane may have been on most fans thoughts to come to United but we have to remember he had problems in the past with the likes of Ronaldo and especially Gareth Bale at Real Madrid, even if he was successful. The key for Solsjkaer’s success is that he is ready for his teams to play attacking football but is also ready for man management. He is happy to love every player that wears United’s famous red jersey and feels like the first proper United man in the dugout since Sir Alex Ferguson said goodbye back in 2013.

It feels that Ed Woodward and co are going to wait to see how United reach against PSG in the Champions League and feels very unfair. Nobody would have thought that United were going to win the Champions League this season. Surely now it was all about a top 4 place and deep runs in a cup. United are still there in the FA Cup and they should do well against PSG, but if they fail the manager should not be judged in this way. Let’s remember that 60 days ago he was in charge of Molde in Norway and dreaming of this job.

Give him the position, his blood and DNA belong at United and Old Trafford. Don’t let the excuse of him finally losing a game, which is going to happen be the moment that the hierarchy make the 4th mistake in 6 years.

Three things that have improved since the arrival of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

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Manchester United and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer are currently on an amazing winning streak of eight games in all competitions, which puts them just three points behind the top four spots in the Premier League as well as a place in the fifth round of the FA Cup. It’s been the ideal comeback since the departure of Jose Mourinho, however, the second half of the season is now kicking off in full effect.

Since the managerial change, a lot of things have changed on and off the pitch, allowing the side to revive their style of play and a footballing campaign that had seemed to be apparently over and buried in the grave. Not only that, even the Old Trafford faithful are enjoying the rollercoaster of a ride they are on at the moment, as they are simply taking each game and fixture one small step at a time.

Here are three things we have learnt about Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United…

Best way to defend is to constantly attack

United’s defence has constantly been the side’s main weakness throughout the season so far, where they have lacked solidity as a unit and have been relying on David De Gea to come up with the vital goods in goal as usual. However, they have now learnt to dominate possession once again and to calmly play the ball around the opposition’s half, minimising the amount of times they have to defend in their own half.

Thanks to Solskjaer’s positive mindset and his ability to install a winning mentality into the squad, the team are able to show to the opposition that football is played the Manchester United way or the highway. The recent statistics are surely backing up these opinionated comments, as the side have managed to achieve 22 goals and have conceded on only five occasions, showing huge improvement defensively.

The mood within the dressing room has massively turned around

Throughout the final couple of weeks or so under the reign of Mourinho, the manager had lost the faith of his key players in Alexis Sanchez, Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba whilst dividing and tearing the dressing room into pieces. Once this had become evident within a number of league matches, there was a huge feeling within the fanbase that he would be relieved of his duties before the matter affected the club in the long run.

Now, six weeks into Solskjaer’s time at the football club he adores the most, he has re-assured the squad and had advised to each single one of them, of the important role they will be playing for the side from now until the season comes to an end. The positive feelings and the high spirits speaks for itself on the pitch and during the training sessions, where all the individuals are better and stronger as a whole than ever before.

Pressing high up the pitch with intensity can lead to positive outcomes

Believe it or not, football has massively changed over the last five to ten years, and one of the main factors to this has been the high pressing system that is utilised by the best teams in Europe. Bayern Munich, Liverpool and Manchester City are the perfect examples to use, three well-known sides that play effectively within this method that allows them to advance well in all the competitions they take part in season by season.

Looking back at United, it is important for the side to press in numbers and to understand when to press, purely because it is crucial to not run around like hooligans and it is a must to control the stamina levels during the match. With the likes of Martial, Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford pressing with intensity, whether it’s down the flanks or through the middle, a lot of the side’s goals have been by forcing the opposition into making mistakes and pushing them out of their comfort zone.

The curious case of Manchester United’s Eric Bailly

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When Manchester United completed the signing of centre-back, Eric Bailly, in the summer of 2016, it had seemed like the club’s diabolical presence of Chris Smalling and Phil Jones in the backline had come to an end. Having left Villarreal and La Liga at such a young age, the Ivory Coast international moved to England as an unknown player who cost the biggest club in England a fee of £30million.

The player himself moved to a new country and a new league with very little expectations, given that he wasn’t seen as one of the best rising and upcoming centre-backs within Europe. However, the instant mentions about his athleticism, composure on the ball and his mentality of intercepting and tackling every ball, made it feel like a defender was coming in to fix the side’s ongoing issues.

Looking back at Bailly’s first season in the Premier League, it can be easily stated that he exceeded all opinions and predictions of how he would do, as he formed a really consistent and dominant partnership with the likes of Jones and Marcos Rojo throughout the campaign. In that very moment, the centre-back seemed like the perfect individual for the manager to form his defence around.

Although the main focus was on Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who arrived in the same window as Bailly did, it was the latter that instantly became a fans favourite and was seen as one of the signings of the season. Not only that, he came out on top when facing the likes of Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy and Sergio Aguero in his first campaign within English football.

Though, the unfortunate issues began in the following season with an unknown injury in October 2017, which kept him out on the sidelines until the first week of December as he missed five games altogether. At first, it was regarded as a minor setback that would keep him away from the side for four to six weeks, but he returned to training and a week later, he suffered a major ankle problem that would see him face his longest spell so far in his professional career as an injured player.

Within the period from October 2017 till February 2018, Bailly missed 26 important games and it could very well be the reason to why he has fallen down the pecking order over the last couple of months. Also, the defence has been mentioned as a department that is filled with flaws and weaknesses, so it’s not actually a surprise to see the backline being changed week in and out.

Also, the 26 games he missed should be seen as three quarters of a season that the 24-year-old spent on the sidelines, which has simply stagnated his development and has prevented himself from proving that he is one of the best centre-backs within England and Europe. If the long-term injury had not occurred, he would have potentially had another 15 to 20 league games of experience under his belt and he would now be playing alongside Victor Lindelof at the heart of defence on a regular basis.

On the other hand, Eric Bailly still has a lot to learn given that he has a tendency to lose focus in the matter of seconds and can frustratingly be seen as a red card waiting to happen. If the former manager, Jose Mourinho, who has a history when it comes to improving young and upcoming defenders, cannot help take the centre-back to the next level, the question has to be seriously asked on what needs to be done, in order to make the individual become consistent and defensively dominant again.

Overall, the majority of Manchester United supporters and the Old Trafford faithful know how brutal and talented Eric Bailly is, someone who is not afraid of putting his head where most would not even confidently put their feet into the challenge. And in the end, all he may need is more game time alongside Lindelof under a manager that has an actual footballing system, or a defensive coach that can kind-heartedly assist him on and off the pitch to become a more complete and perfect centre-back.

Four things we truthfully learned about Manchester United in 2018

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The majority of Manchester United supporters will be hoping that the New Year is filled with memorable moments as well as one or two trophies. 2018 as a whole will be one to forget for the Red Devils, given that a lot of unforgettable things had happened, from the unconvincing transfer windows to the disappointment in the Champions League and the defeat in the FA Cup final.

On top of that, the Old Trafford faithful had to bare the appalling and dire football that was played under Jose Mourinho, which resulted in a number of points being dropped home and away during the season. Due to this, the board made a huge managerial decision and are now looking to get back to their best, before they can start to challenge for the league title and the domestic trophies again.

Here are the four fascinating things we learned throughout the year of 2018…

A director of football is badly needed

With the likes of Andrea Berta, Fabio Paratici and Paul Mitchell being reportedly linked as the new director of football at Manchester United, the board and Ed Woodward are starting to understand the importance of having an individual that has the football knowledge to help take the football club to the next level. If this was to happen within the next couple of months, the next permanent manager of the team will enjoy the presence of someone who has positive plans for the long run.

Most vitally, a director of football will help to target players in a simple yet effective way, which will allow the club to utilise their money properly rather than splashing it out on midfielders or attackers who have not proved themselves at the top level. The revival of Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund and Sevilla over the last five to ten years have been because of the board’s capability to bring in a sporting director, who can bring forward a controllable philosophy that everyone can follow.

Jose Mourinho was the virus, not Paul Pogba

For a large number of months in 2018, it had seem like the gloomy days and painful nights at Old Trafford were solely due to the rift between Jose Mourinho and Paul Pogba, two individuals who could not get along with one another and could not put their differences aside for the sake of the football club. With the situation becoming worse and worse, the Premier League pundits and Manchester United supporters felt one of them had to leave before it affected the team as a whole.

In the end, the hierarchy felt enough was enough and chose to relieve the manager of his duties, which now happens to be a great decision as the side are now playing their football with more confidence and freedom as well as Pogba himself being the heartbeat of the midfield. Had the board decided to back the manager and get rid of the player, they would have potentially looked very stupid in a year’s time, where the Frenchman could be playing the best football of his career at Barcelona or Paris Saint-Germain whilst they are stuck with a declining and finished Mourinho.

David De Gea has constantly been saving United’s defence

Over the last couple of years or so, both Louis Van Gaal and Mourinho set United up in a defensive and counter-attack way, which made it look like the side were defensively a solid unit whilst being just about clinical on the other side. However, the side’s defensive displays in recent years have been largely exaggerated due to the brilliance of David De Gea, a goalkeeper that comes up with a number of saves with ease on a regular basis, which has made him to be recognised as the best shot-stopper within the Premier League as well as one of the best goalkeepers in Europe, if not the best.

The defence has to be seen as a weak department and an area that needs shuffling around, especially given that the likes of Antonio Valencia, Ashley Young, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones have been playing at the club for far longer than necessary and have simply failed to reach the potential they were expected to meet. If the board want to make a statement and are looking to show ruthlessness, then they will be willing to seriously revamp the backline over the summer transfer window.

The future looks bright for the Red Devils on and off the pitch

For sure a lot of money has been spent from after the Sir Alex Ferguson era up until now, though, it cannot be kept as a secret that the current squad is filled with a number of talented players. They maybe yet to prove themselves as Champions League or Premier League winners, but the important individuals such as Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Paul Pogba, Victor Lindelof as well as a couple of others who have shown moments here and there are ready to take this football club forward.

Overall, it is impossible to see United fall far away from the top sides within England and Europe, as they have the financial resources to aggressively buy in every transfer window. On the other hand, it is critical for the club to start reflecting and showing their dominance on the pitch, otherwise, their chances of creating another successful legacy decreases season by season. In the end, there is simply no doubt that the Red Devils will be bouncing back and return to the throne that was once theirs.