Pogba: I’m always smiling now

Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba says he has "come out of the shadows" and is loving life at Old Trafford again.

The France international crossed swords with former United boss Jose Mourinho and struggled to recapture his international form in the Premier League in the first half of the 2018/19 campaign.

However, he has thrived since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was named caretaker manager last month.

United made it five Premier League victories in a row by beating Tottenham 1-0 at Wembley on Sunday, with Pogba providing a sublime pass for Marcus Rashford to score the winner.

Pogba said: "Before the coach arrived I was in the shadows, on the bench, and I accepted that. It is a pleasure to play again. That's normal. Now I am always smiling.

"It's a pleasure to be reunited with him [Solskjaer]. I knew him from the academy and the reserves, when his nickname was 'Super Sub'.

"He is doing a really good job. As a player he knew the mentality of this club. He has come back to help us and it is going very well. The season is long so let's see how it goes.

"I am playing a bit further forward. I have more security behind me, it gives me the freedom to go forwards to try to get into the box and support the strikers."

United's improved recent form means they can now be backed at 9/4 to finish in the top four of the Premier League this season while Chelsea are available at 1/3, Arsenal at 11/2 and Tottenham at 2/11.

Ramos cools talk of Jose return

Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos says it is disrespectful to suggest former manager Jose Mourinho might be returning to the Bernabeu.

Los Blancos are currently preparing for the Club World Cup final with Al Ain, where Santiago Solari will win a first trophy as coach if they win on Saturday.

It has been a turbulent season in the Spanish capital, with Julen Lopetegui sacked in October, just over four months after being appointed as Zinedine Zidane's successor.

Mourinho is available after being sacked by Manchester United last week and there has been press speculation that he might return to the Spanish giants.

"People need to show more respect to the coach we have now," Ramos said. "Mourinho left us five years ago yet everyone keeps talking about him."

Mourinho previously managed Real Madrid from 2010 to 2013, winning La Liga in 2012. He still has a good relationship with Real president Florentino Perez, prompting the link to a return.

Solari was appointed to the post last month after a spell as caretaker boss and is the 12th manager Ramos has played under.

"I'm not the person who decides which coach comes here or doesn't. Some people seem to think that the captains decide which coach Real Madrid appoints," said Ramos.

Real Madrid are 1/7 to win the FIFA World Club Cup final on Saturday. Al Ain are 16/1 while the draw is 15/2.

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Solskjaer has long-term interest

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has thrown his hat in the ring as a candidate to become the next permanent manager of Manchester United.

The former Red Devils striker has been drafted in on an interim basis following the sacking of Jose Mourinho, but Solskjaer is clear that he would like to impress enough to be considered for a more long-term role.

His first task, however, is to try and oversee a victory at another of his former clubs, with United visiting Cardiff City at teatime on Saturday.

He told reporters at his pre-match press conference: "When you get a job like this and you sign for six months, you say 'I'm happy to help out'. My job now is to do as well as I can and move the club forward as well as I can.

"I understand that there are so many managers that would love to be at this club. I am one of them (but) it is not something that we have talked about."

Meanwhile, the Norwegian has played down talk of setting targets for what he expects over the coming months, with United currently down in sixth place in the Premier League and facing a huge task to secure a top-four finish.

He added: "I want to get the players to understand how I want to play, then let's take the results after that and see how many points we can gather.

"This club has made up many points before, but I will not set a target now. We will go game by game."

The Red Devils are 4/7 to win at Cardiff on Saturday and are 7/1 to do so by a 2-0 scoreline, with United 6/5 to keep a clean sheet against the Bluebirds.

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Klopp hails ‘outstanding’ Mourinho

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has labelled Jose Mourinho an 'outstanding manager' following the latter's sacking by Manchester United.

A 3-1 defeat to the Reds at Anfield on Sunday proved to be the last match in charge of the Red Devils for Mourinho, who was axed after two-and-a-half years at the Old Trafford helm.

However, he leaves with high praise from Klopp, who has urged the Portuguese to focus on all the success he has had in his illustrious career to date.

Klopp told reporters: "He is a very competitive guy, very ambitious. He has all my respect, (he has been) unbelievably successful.

"I can imagine the last few months especially were not a joy for anybody, especially him. It is not nice to face all these questions every day. That is a problem.

"But nobody can take away all the things he has won. Nothing can take that away.

"I hope, personally, he has that in his mind when he leaves and not a few other things that happened in the last few months. He is an outstanding manager."

Mourinho has won eight league titles across four countries during his spells in charge of FC Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid, with his most notable achievement guiding Inter to a domestic double and Champions League glory in the 2009/10 season.

He had previously led Porto to Champions League success in 2004, while he also lifted the UEFA Cup a year earlier, while in his time in charge of United he guided them to Europa League success.

United are 50/1 to win the Champions League this season, with Liverpool 10/1 and Manchester City 3/1.

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Pochettino focuses on cup derby

Tottenham Hotspur head coach Mauricio Pochettino has vowed to maintain his full focus on the job of preparing his side for a League Cup quarter-final with Arsenal.

Pochettino has been heavily linked with interest from Manchester United, who sacked manager Jose Mourinho on Tuesday morning following a poor first half of the Premier League season.

However, the Argentinian says he will not allow himself to be distracted by the swirling rumour mill, with getting his players right to try and beat the Gunners at the Emirates Stadium.

He told reporters: "We know a lot of rumours happen, but it's not my business what happens in another club now.

"I accept everything. I accept the rumours when they're positive (and) when they're negative. I accept opinions when you win and people praise you and when you lose and they're negative against you.

"I'm so focused on delivering my best job, our best job, in this club and now we have ahead a very busy period and tomorrow we play another derby, such an important derby for us.

"It's the quarter-final of the cup. I think all the people understand we're focused on trying to deliver our best job tomorrow."

Arsenal and Spurs met in a Premier League fixture at the Emirates earlier this month, when the hosts came from behind to secure a 4-2 victory, while the last League Cup meeting was won 2-1 by the Gunners in September 2015.

Tottenham are 10/11 to reach the semi-finals of the League Cup and are 9/1 to defeat Arsenal 2-1 in 90 minutes on Wednesday evening, with the Whites 6/1 to go all the way and win the competition.

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Premier League: Manchester United axe Jose Mourinho in unsurprising move

Jose Mourinho’s era at Manchester United has officially ended.

The writing was on the wall when the Red Devils found themselves at eighth place after 10 games in the 2018-19 Premier League season. United have largely struggled this year under Mourinho and failed to string wins consistently.

United lost to Liverpool in Matchday 17, a result which proved to be the last straw for the Red Devils’ top brass.

In the official announcement made by the club, they confirmed that the 55-year-old manager “has left the club with immediate effect.”

“The club would like to thank Jose for his work during his time at Manchester United and to wish him success in the future,” Manchester United said in the release.

The former Real Madrid and Chelsea boss guided United to a second-place finish in the 2017-18 Premier League campaign. He also won the Europa League and EFL Cup last year, raising hopes that he would be able to take the team to the next level in his third year in charge.

Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case at all. United are currently sitting at sixth place with only seven wins to go with five draws and five defeats, their worst start in 28 years. They are 19 points behind leaders Liverpool and are off the pace for a Champions League spot.

The team doesn’t also have a positive goal difference, having conceded as many goals as they have scored (29).

Who’s going to take charge now?

According to Manchester United’s release, “a new caretaker manager will be appointed until the end of the current season.” This statement suggests that the team won’t be rushing in finding his permanent replacement.

Michael Carrick will reportedly take care of the team’s training on Tuesday and, perhaps, moving forward until the club finds an interim boss to handle the managerial duties.

Tottenham Hotspur boss Mauricio Pochettino is rumoured to be the possible replacement for Mourinho at Old Trafford, having been previously linked with the club. Early in the season, the Red Devils grabbed the Premier League 2018 news and headline when they reportedly offered £40million to lure the Spurs boss away from the North London club.

What did they say?

Mourinho’s sacking didn’t come as a surprise considering Manchester United’s poor start and bleak future. However, as expected, sports personalities, media and fans all shared their reactions with the development.

Stay tuned at us for more updates on this story.

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United sack Mourinho

Manchester United have sacked manager Jose Mourinho after two-and-a-half years in charge.

The Portuguese took over at Old Trafford in the summer of 2016 and was quickly followed into the club by then-world record signing Paul Pogba.

Mourinho's first season in charge was deemed a success after winning both the EFL Cup and Europa League, while he guided the club to second behind Manchester City last term.

Despite their encouraging results, the 55-year-old's tactics drew great ire and he regularly clashed with the board over signings.

Mourinho also struggled to get the best out of Pogba and openly criticised certain members of his squad.

The 2018-19 campaign has been a poor one to date, with United 19 points adrift of leaders Liverpool following Sunday's 3-1 defeat at Anfield.

That was the team's fifth Premier League defeat of the season and the board have now decided to part company with the coach.

Assistant Michael Carrick will take temporary charge and an external appointment is set to be made before the end of the week.

A statement on the club's website read: "Manchester United announces that manager Jose Mourinho has left the club with immediate effect.

"The club would like to thank Jose for his work during his time at Manchester United and to wish him success in the future.

"A new caretaker manager will be appointed until the end of the current season, while the club conducts a thorough recruitment process for a new, full-time manager."

Tuesday's news marks the third time he has been sacked in December, having also lost his job in the final month of the year at both Benfica and Chelsea.

United's next game is on Saturday away at Cardiff, a game they are 11/20 to win, with the draw 14/5 and the Bluebirds 11/2.

The Red Devils are 14/1 to finish in the top four.

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Champions League: Five Key Storylines to Watch for in the Knockout Stage

The draw for the Last 16 of the Champions League has thrown out some pre-Christmas crackers. Two EPL managers have landed monster ties as life doesn’t get any easier: Manchester United’s Jose Mourinho was drawn against PSG while Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool take on his old Bundesliga foes, FC Bayern.

Tournament favourites Barcelona and Manchester City both have favourable draws. Barca will face Ligue 1’s Olympique Lyonnais while the Premier League champions have drawn FC Schalke, out of form and in 13th place in the German league.

It’s a draw to set the pulses racing, so make sure you keep up with all the latest Champions League 2018 betting odds right here at us.

Tie of the Round

Atletico Madrid vs Juventus

Cristiano Ronaldo is never far away from the Champions League 2018 news; he managed to get himself sent off against Valencia in his opening Euro game for the Bianconeri and has managed just one goal in the group matches. He scored nine at this stage last season and remains the competition’s top scorer.

So make no mistake, Ronnie will be ready to torment his old Madrid foes. It could be an interesting battle for the limelight, though, as Antoine Griezmann is hitting form for Diego Simeone’s team, scoring a brace on the weekend as Atleti keep up their pursuit of Barca at the top of La Liga.

A job interview for Jose

Manchester United vs PSG

Their former, and much loved, talisman had a bad time against Valencia though it didn’t matter in the end, but Manchester United will be seriously regretting their 2-1 defeat at the Mestalla. A draw against PSG is about as tough as it gets. The French leaders gave Liverpool the run-around in their group match, and we saw how easily the Merseysiders brushed United aside last Sunday.

The only way I can see the Red Devils competing is if Jose is able to strengthen in the January window. But the next question is whether or not Mourinho will still be at Old Trafford by then. It’s almost three years to the day since he was sacked by Chelsea, and the curtain at the Theatre of Dreams could be about to fall.

Next stop, Paris?

Champions League: Is Jose Mourinho Paris Saint-Germain bound next season?

Jose Mourinho at the touchline during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Liverpool

Revenge could be sweet for Jurgen Klopp

Liverpool vs FC Bayern

It shows just how far Liverpool have come, and how FC Bayern have struggled this year, that Jurgen Klopp’s Reds will likely start as favourites for this tie.

Last season’s beaten finalists have just returned to the top of the Premier League with a win over Manchester United, and in Xherdan Shaqiri Klopp has found a fourth striker to add to his Fab Three.

As head coach at Borussia Dortmund, Klopp suffered the agony of losing a Champions League final to FC Bayern in 2013 when Arjen Robben scored a late winner.

The memories of that Wembley final defeat will spur the Reds’ boss on, and his team will be determined to go one better than last year. But they must beware Bayern: they still have world-class players.  Robert Lewandowski is enjoying European football more than domestic this season, with seven Champions League goals already to his name.

BVB can put the record straight

Spurs vs BVB

Borussia Dortmund are surely a decent outside bet to go all the way in the 2018/19 Champions League. Lucien Favre’s team is nine points clear at the top of the Bundesliga and is playing some of the best attacking football in Europe. Spurs beat BVB in last season’s competition, and the Germans will be keen to assert their superiority this time around.

The Yellow Wall will be there to roar on their heroes with the advantage of the second game at home, and the Christmas Bundesliga break could work to their advantage. But Mauricio Pochettino will tell his players this is winnable for Spurs. And they have shown they can upset the odds and keep fighting to the end, with late goals against Inter Milan and Barcelona to thank for their progress in this competition. And they were at it again with an injury-time winner against Burnley on Saturday.

Can Ajax continue their unbeaten run?

Ajax vs Real Madrid

Nicolas Tagliafico scored a 95th-minute equaliser in a 3-3 draw with FC Bayern to maintain Ajax’s unbeaten record in the Champions League this season. Including qualifying rounds, that makes 12 games in total for Erik ten Hag’s young team.

He is leading his side in a two-horse race against PSV for the Dutch League, having won the last six games. In Serbian Dusan Tadic, the Dutch have a lively goal threat. The former Liverpool man has scored five so far.

Meanwhile, Santiago Solari has steadied the ship at the Bernabeu after Julen Lopetegui’s disastrous tenure. Five wins in six have lifted Los Blancos up to fourth and within five points of leaders Barca.  The champions will be favourites, but Ajax will entertain and aim for a big upset.

Full Draw

FC Schalke vs Manchester City

Atletico Madrid vs Juventus

Manchester United vs Paris Saint-Germain

Spurs vs Borussia Dortmund

Lyon vs Barcelona

AS Roma vs FC Porto

Ajax vs Real Madrid

Liverpool vs FC Bayern

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Jose spells out United’s task

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has warned that his side face a major task in trying to secure a top-four finish in the Premier League this season.

The Red Devils boss was speaking after seeing his team beaten 3-1 by Liverpool at Anfield, a result which left United some 11 points adrift of fourth-placed Chelsea, who claimed a 2-1 win at Brighton earlier in the day.

And Mourinho, whose side have only won seven of the 17 Premier League games they have played so far this season, is well aware of the tough times which could lie ahead in the coming months.

The Portuguese told reporters: "Of course we can't win the title. I can't fix that, but we can still finish fourth.

"It's not easy – for sure, we are going to finish in the top six, like all the other historical top teams, but we can get fourth position. Now, we must aim for fifth and probably later we can look to fourth."

United can be backed at 14/1 to finish in the top four, with Chelsea priced at 2/9 and Arsenal 13/8.

Meanwhile, Mourinho accepted that his United outfit had been beaten by the better team on Sunday, adding: "The players that were on the pitch today gave everything.

"Liverpool are a better team, we cannot compare their intensity and their physicality and, based on that intensity and physicality, then the technical qualities go up and they are a better team than us."

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Shaq-attack grounds Red Devils

Xherdan Shaqiri sprung from the bench with 20 minutes left to score twice as Liverpool defeated Manchester United 3-1 at Anfield.

The Swiss scored two deflected goals in seven minutes, ensuring Liverpool returned to the top of the Premier League with a thoroughly deserved success.

Jurgen Klopp boldly sent Shaqiri in for Fabinho as his side struggled to get on top of deep-lying United in the second half.

It paid off handsomely, moving Liverpool 19 points clear of their bitter rivals – the biggest gap between the clubs at this stage of a season in 46 years.

Liverpool began with the sort of intensity predicted, as the Red Devils attempted to quell the raucous atmosphere inside the famous Merseyside venue.

Roberto Firmino tested David de Gea early on as the home side made inroads but it was Sadio Mane that made the breakthrough on 24 minutes. Fabinho's lofted pass was expertly cushioned down on his chest and volleyed underneath de Gea, Mane having lost Ashley Young in the 18-yard box.

United got a lifeline shortly after the half-hour. Romelu Lukaku's low cross to the near post was spilled by Alisson, with Lingard reacting fastest to silence the Kop.

That gave Jose Mourinho's men a foothold and, in truth, they held the hosts off with some ease before Shaqiri arrived – despite Liverpool dominating possession.

Within three minutes of Klopp's key change, Mane's low cross took a couple of deflections before arriving at Shaqiri's feet and his shot clipped Young en route to cannoning off the cross bar and into the United net.

With ten minutes left, Shaqiri made sure. A flowing Reds move saw him feed Mohamed Salah on the edge of the box and, when the ball came back, the playmaker saw his curling left-foot show clip Eric Bailly and fly past de Gea.

Liverpool are 1/2 to extend their Premier League advantage by defeating Wolves at Molineux on Friday. The home side are 5/1 while the draw is 10/3.

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