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The international break is here and, for once, I actually do not think this is a bad thing.
Defeat to Sevilla, news of Luke Shaw deciding to leave following further criticism from his boss and Jose Mourinho in general has created a truly toxic atmosphere amongst supporters. That win over Liverpool feels like a long, long time ago.
And with the World Cup in Russia lingering on the horizon, the upcoming friendlies will give supporters an inkling of how their countries are shaping up for the greatest sporting show on earth.
Here is a list of all the fixtures United players will be involved in over the next week or so.
And the midfielder’s superb form for Napoli this season, combined with Santos claiming he would listen to offers in the summer, has culminated in reported interest from Man United.
But Santos, speaking in a recent interview, has made it clear that United have not established their interest in Jorginho as of yet.
“As a player for one of the most important national teams, and a club fighting for the Scudetto, it’s clear he’ll be looked at by these clubs,” he said.
“I’ve spoken with [Napoli sporting director Cristiano] Giuntoli three times in recent months. He hasn’t told me anything, but I haven’t had any contact with [Manchester] United.”
Jorginho is a player whose stock could rise astronomically over the next few months. Napoli have, for the first time in years, made the Serie A title race competitive, with the 26-year-old playing an integral role in the middle.
And he may well have a similarly important part to play for Brazil at this year’s World Cup. Many fancy the Selecao to go all the way this year following a remarkable turn of form under manager Tite.
In other words, if United are to make an attempt to sign him, they would be smart to tie up any deal before he potentially wins Serie A and the World Cup. Any fee for him afterwards would be astronomical.
Manchester United players have become frustrated with Jose Mourinho’s treatment of Luke Shaw and senior figures in the dressing room will seek to address the issue with the boss, according to reports.
The 55-year-old handed Shaw his first start in a month against Brighton and Hove Albion last weekend and could be seen angrily shouting at him throughout the first half before taking him off at the break.
His criticism of Shaw’s performance in the aftermath was the latest of a series of jibes in his direction, leaving members of the squad exasperated with their manager’s treatment of the 22-year-old.
And according to the Telegraph‘s James Ducker, members of the club’s board have grown concerned about the potential implications of Mourinho’s comments on Shaw’s fee in the summer, while senior figures in the dressing – fronted by Michael Carrick – have taken exception to the way their boss has treated the left-back on a human level.
Criticism is important – necessary, in fact – but the 55-year-old has targeted Shaw on too many occasions, in such corrosive fashion, for this to be simple managerial advice.
And now the left-back will leave in the summer. Nobody can blame him. Following a truly horrific injury, leaving mental as well as physical scars, all he needed was some support from his manager – to be made to feel important.
Instead, he has been on the receiving end of what can only be described as, at best, arbitrary victimisation and, at worst, sheer bullying, and his confidence has been destroyed as a result.
But the 31-year-old, speaking in an interview ahead of friendlies with Italy and Spain, noted that he was happy with his current role under Jose Mourinho.
“I’ve said that I don’t know too much about personal statistics because I don’t look at them,” he said.
“But it’s nice to hear I’ve let in many goals when I have been playing, or that I’ve kept so many clean sheets. I’m more concerned with the work I do, being able to help my teammates. I try to do the best I can, whether that’s on the pitch or from the outside.
“I try to help, to work with my team-mates to be available. If I get to play and then keep a clean sheet that’s even better. It’s the energy, the fuel that keeps me working. It’s what I’m striving for and that keeps me going, week after week, day after day.
“I know that generally I won’t be playing at the weekend, but I try to stay in good shape for myself, mentally to show the manager here and at the national team, that Sergio Romero is in good shape.”
Hardly anything is ever said of second choice goalkeepers: always there, always necessary, yet totally peripheral.
No sportsman encounters the arbitrary nature of fate more than a keeper. No player is more alone with their thoughts, their mistakes. And this is doubly true for Romero, who does not even have the luxury of getting to play every week, to feel the flow of things.
Others at least have the incentive of knowing they could play on the weekend; the Argentine, on the other hand, fights a very different battle, and his record between the sticks over the last two seasons demonstrates his mastery of one of the hardest yet unnoticed roles in professional sport.
Marcos Rojo has shed light on his hilarious reaction to the news that Alexis Sanchez would be joining Manchester United in January.
The Chilean arrived over the transfer window in a straight swap deal that saw Henrikh Mkhitaryan head the other way.
He has so far struggled to enmesh himself in the fabric of Jose Mourinho’s attacking lineup since arriving, managing just one goal and two assists.
But Rojo, speaking in an interview this week, has insisted that Sanchez is a top player, and gave an interesting anecdote about the time he realised the forward would be a Man United player.
“Alexis is a great player, but we didn’t used to get on out on the pitch,” he said.
“Every time we came up against one another, whether in internationals or when United played Arsenal, I would give him a good kicking — and he did the same to me.
“On top of that I used to insult him, and he would reply in kind. So when I learned that he was going to join United I said: ‘Oh, f****** hell, no, now this guy’s going to be here’.”
“We were in Dubai at the time Alexis’ transfer went through. I was calmly sitting in a chair watching a film when Jose Mourinho came up and gave me a tap on the shoulder.
“He told me: ‘We’re going to sign Alexis. I don’t want you smashing him up in training tomorrow’. He burst out laughing.”
You might think that the English and Scots hate each other. But any rivalry between the two nations – kicked off by a fight over some book in the 17th century – is mainly conveyed in lighthearted, mocking terms.
Chileans and Argentines, however, really do not get along. They hate each other. The tension between the two nations is raw, fleshed out over the 20th century by various American policies.
But one thing the two players do have in common, without doubt, is a ruthless fighting spirit. And while teething problems and injuries have respectively blighted Sanchez and Rojo’s recent exploits at Old Trafford, supporters will hope to see the pair restoring a sense of fight to United’s performances following the international break.
Manchester United star Marcos Rojo has admitted that he couldn’t believe the club were interested in signing him while he was at Sporting.
The Argentine gained huge praise due to his performances during the 2014 World Cup and there were a host of clubs who wished to successfully negotiate a transfer.
However it was Louis Van Gaal who signed Rojo to become United’s new left-back, particularly since the spot was vacated by Patrice Evra.
The versatile defender though struggled under the Dutchman and in the position he seemingly performed so well in for his nation.
Under Jose Mourinho though he’s grown tenfold as a classic centre-back and has claimed that he used to watch the Red Devils as a youngster due to their other South American stars.
According the club’s official website, Marcos said: “I couldn’t believe it. I was celebrating, jumping around the house with my girlfriend. It was incredible, for Manchester United to be interested in me, for it to be so real, it was so exciting.
“When I was a boy all I did was watch football and I would watch the Premier League. I would watch Manchester United because Veron played for them and because of Diego Forlan.
“I always paid attention to Manchester United. They are one of the greatest teams there has ever been, so I watched every game.”
Marcos Rojo once appeared to be at the brink of leaving Old Trafford before Mourinho arrived and quite literally saved his career.
It seemed as though the 28 year old always had an error in him at one point but completely turn his career around under the Portuguese manager.
In fact he’s done such a good job that fans have been wishing for him to make a return to the starting XI as soon as possible to partner up with Eric Bailly.
Rojo’s hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed by Jose either with the former Chelsea manager rewarding him with a new contract to extend his stay at Manchester United.
With Phil Jones and Chris Smalling failing to capitalise on his extended absence out of the starting XI, the former Sporting man just has to prove that his recent horrific injury hasn’t affected his ability.
Manchester United star Paul Pogba has admitted that playing with PSG’s crown jewel and Brazil international Neymar would be a pleasure.
While the Frenchman’s comments were perhaps harmless, a lot of fans have already taken issue with it due to reports previously linking him with the Ligue 1 side.
It’s not the first time Pogba has talked about playing with other club’s stars and so it makes the comments a little less serious than they may be.
Quality players always want to play with quality players and so it makes sense why the midfielder would publicly admit what he did.
However, due to his ongoing saga supporters were always going to take the comments with a pinch of salt and he’s certainly not helped his situation at all.
According to Sky Sports, Paul said to TyC Sports: “Yes, Neymar. I like him. He has the definition of happiness on the pitch. In Brazil, football is everything, it’s life in Brazil. Everyone plays football.
“I love to see him on the pitch playing, with his technique and his ability. It’s a different style. When you say the word ‘Neymar’ around the world, everyone knows who he is and what he does.
“Therefore if I could play with him one day, it would be a pleasure.”
Of course there is the alternative scenario to imagine but it’s also the one that’s far less likely to happen in the real world.
There have been recent reports surfacing that United are interested in Neymar and are willing to break the bank to pull him away from PSG’s grasp.
It could be that Paul Pogba was simply stating his desire to play with another of the world’s stars without it meaning that he wished to leave such as he did last summer with Antoine Griezmann.
Aside of the unlikeliness of the Brazilian’s desire to leave the club he just joined, Jose Mourinho already has a defensive revamp he needs to deal with and so can’t possibly afford to blow his transfer budget on one player.
Pundit Martin Keown has made the bold claim that Jose Mourinho is currently walking a tightrope at Manchester United due to his recent criticisms of the squad.
The Portuguese manager has not been afraid to call out his players for underperforming and while fans believe it was the correct call, many sections of the media have decided it’s a step too far.
Mourinho has been a little harsh but it’s nothing unwarranted as United got knocked out of the Champions League by a poor Sevilla side.
To make things worse their own display was shocking, frustrating supporters even further and the following 2-0 win over Brighton did not help matters either due to the dire performance.
Keown though believes Jose is risking losing the dressing room, particularly with his criticism of left-back Luke Shaw.
According to Sports Mole, Martin wrote in the Daily Mail: “Mourinho has lost dressing rooms at Chelsea and Real Madrid. He knows he is walking a tightrope but he is doing whatever it takes to get a performance.
“Trying to get a reaction is one thing. Humiliating his players is another. I do not like the way Luke Shaw has been treated. Mourinho should consider his players as sons.
“How would he react if his own child was being treated this badly? Because Mourinho did not play at the highest level, he will simply not understand the effect that being hooked at half-time has on a player.
“Other players at Old Trafford may look at Shaw and think: ‘That could be me next.’ By behaving this way, Mourinho risks driving a wedge between the squad and the staff.”
Shaw’s situation is an interesting one due to the ups and downs of what has continued to develop, particularly with all the rumours going on.
Jose Mourinho hauled off the Englishman at half time during the win against Brighton, believing he failed to perform even to the basic standards of the tactics.
The substitution signalled to others in the squad that the former Chelsea man will not accept underwhelming performances from his players.
To the credit of Mourinho he has also heavily praised Shaw when the youngster played well and so it makes sense to not only explain to fans what was going on but to also criticise the player when necessary.
France manager Didier Deschamps has claimed that Paul Pogba can’t be happy with what’s going on at club level with Manchester United.
The former Juventus star’s saga has no end in sight with many pundits believing he simply has to leave the club to get back to being his best.
Others claim that Jose Mourinho is the one who hopes to let go of Pogba as stories of their rift continues to pile up.
The truth is that the Frenchman is simply out of form and it has nothing to do with the player and manager’s relationship with each other.
Deschamps appears keen on finding out what’s going on with his star player but insists he does so with all his players at every opportunity.
According to Talk Sport, Didier said to L’Equipe: “This is a situation that he must not appreciate because of everything he would have been able to offer. There must be numerous reasons.
“He cannot be happy with what he is going through with his club. It’s not specific to Paul. It can happen elsewhere that a player is a bit down or is going through a particular situation with his club.
“That could be Paul now, or others at other times, and I will do as I always do and talk to that player to understand better, because I don’t have all the information.”
Fans initially gave Paul the benefit of the doubt and called on Mourinho to use his player in a 4-3-3 formation to ensure good performances.
However, the midfielder failed to replicate the same type of form he experienced at the start of the season and it soon became clear that the Portuguese manager had good reason to drop him.
To put things in perspective Paul Pogba has failed to create a single chance in his last five Premier League matches, a far cry from his free flowing early days.
His issues are clearly not tactical and as Jose has claimed he’s talented enough to play in any role that is given to him whether a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-3-3.
Supporters have forgotten that his best form for United came when he was used in a 4-2-3-1 at the start of the campaign.
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