Tottenham ‘make contact’ with Mourinho over Poch’s job

Tottenham are ready to bring in Jose Mourinho if Mauricio Pochettino leaves the club this season, according to reports.

The Portuguese coach was sacked at Manchester United last December after high-profile clashes with star players Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial, while there was apparent discontent over the club’s failure to sign a defender in the summer.

Meanwhile, Pochettino has done brilliantly to build Spurs into a side consistently challenging for the top four places in the Premier League, while he got them to the Champions League final last term.

However, Tottenham have struggled this season with injuries and rumours of unhappy players in the squad, with speculation over the summer that several key stars could leave.

And now there has been some speculation that he could leave Spurs, although Tim Sherwood says Daniel Levy would never sack Pochettino.

The Daily Mail recently claimed that Tottenham ‘are among the clubs that appeal’ to Mourinho, with Real Madrid another job that the Portuguese manager would be interested in.

And Soccerlink now say that Spurs are ‘looking for a possible successor’ to Pochettino although his job is ‘not threatened’ just yet.

The report in France adds that Mourinho ‘has been contacted by the London staff who hold him in high esteem’.

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Liverpool loanee Grujic details plan for Anfield return

Liverpool loanee Marko Grujic insists he has a future at the club despite a second consecutive season on loan at Hertha Berlin.

The Serbian midfielder has made just 14 appearances in all competitions for Liverpool since he was signed by Jurgen Klopp from Red Star Belgrade for £5.1million in January 2016.

The 23-year-old, who has scored two goals in seven league appearances for Hertha Berlin this season, insists his long-term future is with the European Champions.

“It’s not easy to become a part of the Liverpool squad, I can see myself in the red shirt but I have to become more experienced before I can wear it again,” Grujic told the Liverpool Echo.

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“I want to improve my physical performance and take my concentration to another level. I want to be ready for Liverpool so I will have a chance to get into the team.”

Grujic says Klopp was key to his decision to remain in the Bundesliga for another season, despite offers from elsewhere.

“He said that it would be a great opportunity for me to improve my development,” Grujic said.

“The Bundesliga is one of the strongest leagues in the world and Hertha Berlin is a big club. It is very important for me to play regularly right now and [Klopp] told me to fight for my place in the team.

“Klopp and I are texting regularly. I am also in close contact with the Liverpool loan-manager (Julian Ward), he watches every game that I’m in and we’re texting afterwards.

“Also I am very close to Dejan Lovren and Roberto Firmino, but all of the players from Liverpool are great.”

 

Report: One reason Man Utd are delaying DoF appointment

A report has revealed one reason for Manchester United’s inability to appoint a suitable director of football.

There were rumours in January that the Red Devils wanted to appoint a director of football before appointing their next manager.

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That didn’t materialise but the club are still reportedly committed to bringing in the right candidate for the role with Edwin van der Sar the latest name linked.

And The Athletic have information as to one reason the appointment hasn’t yet been made by United.

Daniel Taylor wrote in The Athletic:

‘Even more perplexing is United’s continuing inability to appoint a technical director, 14 months after the club first let it be known this was among their priorities.

‘One of the reasons for the delay, according to information passed to The Athletic, is that [Ole Gunnar] Solskjaer and his assistant, Mike Phelan, tend to perform parts of this role anyway, bearing in mind it involves creating a pathway between the academy and first team, planning ahead with a three-year cycle and looking after the continuity of the club.’

Arsenal loanee Nketiah reveals frustration after England hat-trick

Arsenal loanee Eddie Nketiah admits he is frustrated by his role on the bench at Leeds after he scored a hat-trick for the England U21s in their 5-1 win over Austria.

The 20-year-old – who scored four goals for the Young Lions during the latest international break – is yet to start a Championship match.

Nketiah has scored four goals across all competitions for Marcelo Bielsa’s side – two of which have come off the bench in the league – and the striker believes he has earned a starting place for the promotion contenders.

 

 

“I am really just trying to do as much as I can,” Nketiah told Sky Sports News.

“Obviously, I will never be happy with being on the bench. I want to play. I pride myself on being in the team. I think I am good enough to be in the team.

“All I can do is put in the performances that I do. When I come on [to] try and contribute and I think with the chances I have had, I have done really well.

“In the two games I have [started], I have scored. I always try and help the team when I come on.

“I feel like going away with England is always a great opportunity for me to continue to put a case forward and show myself.”

Nketiah, who also missed a penalty at Stadium MK, was joined by Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi in the goals as Aidy Boothroyd’s side moved top of Euro U21 qualifying Group C after three games played and he will now switch his focus to club commitments.

“[England] is a great platform and I am grateful to be here and I just want to continue doing more at this level and for Leeds,” he added.

Leeds sit fifth in the Championship, two points behind league leaders West Brom, and will aim to return to winning ways when they host Birmingham at Elland Road on Saturday.

 

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Redknapp: Give Liverpool the Premier League title now

Harry Redknapp thinks Liverpool should be awarded the Premier League title already after their rampant start to the new campaign.

The Reds find themselves eight points ahead of nearest challengers and defending champions Manchester City after winning all eight of their opening fixtures.

Jurgen Klopp’s men look to be in unstoppable form at the moment and head to Old Trafford on Sunday to face arch-rivals Manchester United, who have made a slow start to the season.

“I can see them [Liverpool] winning the league this year,” Redknapp told the Daily Mail.

“Give them the title and give it to them now. I’ve had a big bet and I think the bookmakers should pay me out!

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“If I had one club I’d love to have managed it would have been Liverpool. I loved them.”

Tottenham have struggled to find their feet this season with injury problems and rumours of discontent in the squad – but Redknapp has tipped them to come good.

“At the start of the year I really thought Spurs would push Man City and Liverpool a lot, lot closer,” Redknapp added.

“Tottenham have got a great team, with Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Son Heung-Min – I thought this could be their year.  But it’s been a disappointing start for them for sure and they need to turn it around quickly, but I still think they’ll finish third.

“They’ve got a great group of players. It’s some squad, if you go through it, I don’t care what anybody says I don’t think there’s a lot between that squad and Liverpool’s and Man City’s squad, I really don’t.”

 

Bulgarian PM calls on FA president to resign after racist chanting

The prime minister of Bulgaria has called on the country’s football association president to quit after the Euro 2020 qualifier against England on Monday night was marred by racist chanting, according to reports.

England’s black players and backroom staff were subjected to abuse at various stages of the match, but the match was ultimately completed with England winning 6-0 in Sofia.

Sanctions from European football’s governing body seem sure to follow, and Bulgarian leader Boyko Borissov is now reported to have told the president of the Bulgarian Football Union, Borislav Mihaylov, to stand down.

“The prime minister called me urgently a short time ago,” Bulgarian sports minister Krasen Kralev said in quotes reported by sportal.bg.

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“The government has done a lot for the development of Bulgarian football in the last four years.

“But after the recent events, having in mind the whole state of football and last night’s incidents, the prime minister has ordered me from today to suspend any relations with the BFU, including financial ones, until the resignation of Borislav Mihaylov.”

The governmental interference in the Bulgarian association is likely to attract the interest of football’s world governing body FIFA, and could result in further sanctions in addition to anything that may come from UEFA.

Mihaylov wrote to UEFA before Monday night’s match criticising the fact that England players had spoken about the potential for racist abuse at the match, calling it an “unjust branding” of Bulgarian supporters and urging UEFA to impose sanctions if England did not follow protocol.

Piara Powar, the executive director of the Fare network which had spotters inside the Levski stadium, said he believed some of the racism was motivated by a desire to create a problem for Mihaylov by certain supporters.

“They were getting involved in racism because they are racist, but also because they do not respect the leadership of the FA president,” he told the PA news agency.

“So when the FA president was telling them not to be racist before the match, it was almost a signal for them to contradict him and punish his leadership of the FA.”

Borissov (@BoykoBorissov) tweeted on Tuesday morning: “I strongly condemn the conduct of some of the fans at the stadium #BULENG.

“It is unacceptable that Bulgaria which is one of the most tolerant states in the world and where people of different ethnic and religious background peacefully live together should be associated with racism.”

‘Very special’ Mourinho still in touch with me – McTominay

Scott McTominay says he owes Jose Mourinho a “tremendous amount of credit” for his development and has revealed that he is still in touch with the former Manchester United boss.

The Portuguese coach was sacked at Manchester United last December after high-profile clashes with star players Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial, while there was apparent discontent over the club’s failure to sign a defender in the summer.

And Mourinho has come under fire since for leaving the Red Devils in a worse position than when he took over but McTominay says he will forever be in debt to the man that delivered his big break at senior level.

McTominay told Sky Sports: “Jose is very special to me. He still keeps in contact with me now and keeps in touch after some games.

“He’ll always have a special place in mine and my family’s heart because he’s the one who brought you in, he was the one who trusted you, he was the one who had belief in you.

“I owe a tremendous amount of credit to him because if it wasn’t for him I might not necessarily be sitting in this seat.”

 

McTominay added: “I wouldn’t be at this football club if it wasn’t for Paul McGuiness, Dave Bushall, Tony Whelan and people like that who show an absolutely ridiculous amount of patience with somebody who can’t even play an U18 game because he’s growing, his legs are stretching and he’s got no co-ordination.

“Yeah they need to be patient. Off the pitch as well they have to be patient with you as well. There’s a lot of different things with school and in your education and your digs you’re staying in.

“Dave Bushall had to change my digs like three or four times because my mum at home wasn’t happy or whatever. It’s amazing the level of work they go to, to ensure that every family and every player is happy. It’s incredible and a real credit to the academy and the staff here as well.”

 

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Rashford praises Bulgaria captain for his courageous act

Marcus Rashford was full of praise for Bulgaria’s captain Ivelin Popov for confronting his own supporters at half-time.

There were two breaks in play during the Euro 2020 qualifier with Bulgaria in Sofia after racist chanting was reported to the match officials – with England eventually running out comfortable 6-0 winners.

Following UEFA’s anti-racism protocols, an announcement was made in the 28th minute warning fans that any further incidents could result in the match being abandoned, while another pause before half-time only added to the nasty spectacle.

England decided at half-time to play the remainder of the game as braces from Ross Barkley and Raheem Sterling and goals for Rashford and Kane ensured a thumping win for the visitors.

Bulgaria’s captain Popov remonstrated with his own supporters at half-time in an effort to halt their chanting.

“Not an easy situation to play in and not one which should be happening in 2019,” Rashford wrote on Twitter.

“Proud we rose above it to take three points but this needs stamping out. Thankful to the brilliant England support.

“You got behind us in the most meaningful way possible tonight and we are all very grateful. Have a safe journey home and take care.

“Also been told what the Bulgaria captain did at half-time. To stand alone and do the right thing takes courage and acts like that shouldn’t go unnoticed. #NoToRacism.”

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Bulgaria coach/ostrich ‘didn’t actually hear’ racism

Bulgaria head coach Krasimir Balakov claimed not to hear any racism during England’s Euro 2020 qualifying win in Sofia.

Ross Barkley and Raheem Sterling netted a brace apiece at the Vasil Levski National Stadium, complementing efforts from Marcus Rashford and Harry Kane.

 

 

But the 6-0 victory was overshadowed by deplorable racist behaviour, which forced the Group A match to be halted twice in the first half.

Asked about the racism at a ground already partly closed due to a previous UEFA sanction for “racist behaviour”, manager Balakov said: “I was concentrated on the game.

“I didn’t actually hear anything but I just talked to the English press downstairs and I told them that if this is proven to be true, then we have to be ashamed and we have to apologise for it.

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“But, once again, first it has to be proven to be true.”

The word “if” was repeatedly used by the Bulgaria head coach, who on the eve of the game said England had a bigger problem with racism than his country did.

“Let me tell you that even though you all know Bulgaria has had disciplinary measures against our union, those have not been because of racist chanting or ethnic hatred,” he said.

“Those were referring to the fact that the stadium was partly closed because of the display of a banner for an organisation which is not forbidden by Bulgarian law and for a small third-party group of people who were chanting in the game against Kosovo.

“Either way, this all happened, this became a topic after we played at Wembley and it absolutely replaced football as the main topic, which I don’t think is fair.

“But, of course, I think this is an extremely serious and sensitive topic.

“I have always had my firm stance against racism and if something is proven to be true, and there was this actual abuse, then again we have to say that this is a big shame.”

One person who appeared come out with credit was Bulgaria captain Ivelin Popov, with Rashford thanking him on Twitter for showing “courage” in speaking to fans at half-time.

But Balakov believes that conversation was more likely to be about Bulgaria’s poor display than a plea to halt racist abuse.

“I have to say I really have no idea about this,” he added.

“If our captain spoke to the fans, then it’s probably because the fans were unhappy with the way the team was performing.

“The whole topic in the build-up up to the game, the fans are emotional, but – you obviously, because you want me to say this and I have to say this – if something happened then I’m sure it was a small group of people who were really out of their minds because this is unacceptable.”

Pundit names ‘only thing’ that can save Man Utd this season

Former defender Clayton Blackmore claims that Zlatan Ibrahimovic is the “only thing” that can “save” Manchester United this season.

The Swede scored 28 goals in all competitions for the Red Devils in his first season at the club as they won the Europa League and League Cup.

Ibrahimovic was handed a short-term deal the following campaign but injury hampered his progress and he left for America in March 2018.

Since then, he has scored 52 goals in 56 appearances for LA Galaxy and Blackmore – who must have been reading our Mailbox – thinks he could still help United this season.

“We’re lacking a target man and the only thing that is going to save us this season is Ibrahimovic,” Blackmore told the Daily Mirror.

“He has thrown his name in the hat and he’s probably the best target man you can have.

“He’s 6ft 5in, he’s a black belt and he fancies his chances against ­anybody.

“He’s still scoring goals, too. We have got rid of so many good ­strikers – (Wayne) Rooney went, (Robin) van Persie went, loads of them.

“These players have gone but they haven’t been replaced. Bringing Ibrahimovic in is a no-brainer.

“He doesn’t run, but he doesn’t need to because he is that good.

“There are not many players who can jog around the pitch and ­control the game, but, when he was here before, we won trophies with him, when he was fit.

“We should try and get him in January or whenever we can ­because he can lead the line.

“Getting (Robert) Lewandowski would be perfect, too. That’s ­obviously a big ask, but he’s also the kind of player the club needs. Yes, he’s a bit older, but he’s the kind of player that can help the kids.

“If we played someone up front alongside him, then the goals will come, I’ve no doubt about that.”