Juan Mata has expressed his dismay after Manchester United suffered a 1-0 defeat at Newcastle United on Sunday afternoon.
Jose Mourinho’s men created a litany of chances, with Anthony Martial missing a one-on-one with Martin Dubravka and Alexis Sanchez failing to take advantage of an open goal, before they were made to pay for their sloppiness by Matt Ritchie’s 65th minute goal.
Martial and Michael Carrick both went painfully close to claiming a late equaliser but Newcastle stood firm to register their first win at home since October.
And Mata, writing in his weekly blog, adopted a notably disappointed tone when reflecting on the defeat to Rafa Benitez’s side.
“Unfortunately this is one of those days when you don’t feel in the best mood to update your blog, neither do you to read it,” he wrote.
“It’s not easy to write after a defeat. The truth is, after losing an away game you think a lot about it on your way back home. You remember every play, every moment, and you try to change the outcome but obviously that’s impossible.
“You can’t turn back time, so the only way to carry on is to turn all this rage into a desire to win, work and attitude for the next game.
“The 1-0 in Newcastle hurts because we had chances to score both in the first and in the second half, but they took better advantage of their weapons.
“We already have to focus on the FA Cup and Huddersfield. It will be a great opportunity to prove that a new win can help to forget yesterday’s game. By the way, thank you to those who travelled to Newcastle, you deserved a different game and a different score.”
This was a not a performance from the same cut of cloth as woeful displays away to Huddersfield Town or Tottenham Hotspur, and perhaps on another day United would have found the opening goal which has so often served as a platform for solid wins this season.
But the cold reality is that United, with 27 games of the season gone, still don’t have a known best starting XI, or even a formation that Mourinho and his staff have agreed upon.
And yet, somehow, they have remained second throughout most of the campaign – a sign of the natural talent and winning nous in the side as well as the fallibility of teams like Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal and Liverpool.
In other words, the margin for improvement – greater execution, greater tenacity, greater diversity of options – is massive, and ought to serve as a positive challenge for next season.
Demetri Mitchell‘s superb start to life on loan at Hearts continued on Sunday with a sublime finish to compliment his third ‘Man of the Match’ performance in under a month.
The youngster was handed his senior debut for Manchester United back in May against Crystal Palace and impressed with a diligent, energetic display at left-back.
He joined Hearts on loan over the January transfer window and has looked right at home from the start, claiming three ‘Man of the Match’ performances in just five outings.
And he capped off a swift counter-attacking move against St Johnstone with a scintillating strike to claim his first goal for the fifth placed Scottish Premiership side.
— Heart of Midlothian (@JamTarts) February 12, 2018
Most of the noise following that 2-0 win over Palace surrounded Josh Harrop, who claimed a superb goal on his first and only senior appearance for United, but the real star of the show that day was Mitchell.
He performed fearlessly and seemed to relish the challenge, bursting across the surface in a kind of calculated, ineffaceable frenzy that led to many suggesting he would factor in Jose Mourinho’s plans for the 2017/18 campaign.
But his decision to join Hearts following an impressive first half of the campaign under Ricky Spragia – during which he didn’t miss a single game – is proving to be the right one. And while Mourinho goes searching for reinforcements at left-back over the summer, one part of the solution could be sitting right under his nose.
Israel’s minister of intelligence says that by striking key Iranian sites in Syria, Israel has sent a clear message to Iran that it won’t tolerate an Iranian military foothold on its doorstep.
It was a total knockout for Chuck Liddell in the Celebrity Big Brother house.
The UFC fighter became the first houseguest to be evicted on Friday night after the majority of the alliance formed in the house used their votes to takedown him instead of former Big Time Rush singer James Maslow.
At first it seemed that Maslow was the target of the alliance formed by the women in the house and Ross Mathews, but Shannon Elizabeth flipped the vote when she explained to the other members of the alliance that she thought Omarosa Manigault Newman (who was reportedly hospitalized recently following a competition) and Keshia Knight Pulliam made a side deal to keep Liddell.
Following his eviction, Liddell gave a behind-the-scenes look at his eviction to PEOPLE and chatted about his predictions for the show.
PEOPLE: Were you shocked to be the first one evicted from the house?
Liddell: Yes, I was very sad. I had been waiting to get to that point where things were going fast, and I really wanted America to be able to see me do these competitions. I think they’re missing out.
Why do you think the house ultimately voted for you to be evicted over James?
I think because I was one of the strongest players. They were worried about me. James was able to convince them that I was more of a threat than he was.
Do you regret making the move to open up your gift bag (which provided an opportunity to reverse the Head of Household)? It arguably prompted your nomination for eviction.
I think it was a play that needed to be made. If I could have gotten that recast, I could have flipped everything. It might have been a better idea to just slip by for a little bit but that’s not my style. I’m aggressive.
When you were saying goodbye to the housemates, Omarosa slipped you a piece of paper. What was that?
Oh, she gave me a phone number to call her mom.
What did you make of Omarosa in the competition? Did you know a lot about her going in?
I didn’t know too much going in. I met her before a fight, and I liked her. I heard a lot of people in there that she’s a lot of different things, but I thought she was great. She used to be a volleyball player, I think she’ll go far in this competition. I hope she does.
Who were you most surprised to see when you first walked in the house?
I was most surprised to see Metta . I wasn’t expecting to see Metta in there. I met him a few times and I always liked watching him play basketball.
What won’t you miss about being in the house?
It was kind of nice to be out and back home, but I miss being in the game. I was just learning the game, just getting it down, and I wanted to show everyone what I could do and show them the wild, goofy guy that the more pent up I get, the more funny I get.
Any predictions for who might win?
I would say Omarosa is going to be tough in there. I think she’s got a shot. Shannon —I think she’s got a big target and people are coming after her. Maybe Marissa . She might slip in and knows the game. She might be able to slip by everybody, and don’t sleep on her. She might be able to pull it off.
You now get to be on the jury to pick the winner. How are you going to make your decision?
I need to watch the rest of the season and see what happens before I decide who I would pick. I mean, there’s a few people I won’t pick but it depends on who gets there.
While talking with host Julie Chen after your eviction, you said you want to be on Amazing Race next with your wife. What’re the chances that’ll happen?
I don’t know, we’ll see! I’ll keep plugging it.
Celebrity Big Brother airs Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.
Man City vs Leicester City
It didn’t take long for Manchester City to assert their authority over Leicester on Saturday.
Raheem Sterling fired the Sky Blues ahead in the third minute. The England forward converted a Kevin De Bruyne cross from close range.
De Bruyne was again the creator for Man City’s second at the start of the second half. Sergio Aguero found the net, after Jamie Vardy had levelled in the first half.
The De Bruyne and Aguero tandem sprung up again as City went 3-1 up.
Riyad Mahrez makes his Leicester return
With Leicester 3-1 down, Claude Puel brought on Riyad Mahrez.
Mahrez’s introduction was significant. The Algerian had been a target for Man City on the final day of the January transfer window.
Leicester held firm, Mahrez didn’t get the move he badly wanted, and he proceeded to steer clear of the club for a few days.
Indeed, after missing several days of training many thought Mahrez would play no part in the Man City match.
Leicester fans send a message to Mahrez
A picture of one Leicester fan holding up a sign for Mahrez spread on social media during the game.
The image showed how fans were willing to forgive Mahrez for going AWOL: they just want to see the club’s best player on the pitch.
— Match of the Day (@BBCMOTD) February 10, 2018
Yet, when Mahrez came off the bench, the Leicester fans made their thoughts crystal clear.
According to reports at the game, the Leicester fans weren’t happy with Mahrez’s return.
Most still expect Mahrez to leave the King Power Stadium at the end of the season.
Will Man City still be interested in him at that point?
Mahrez gets cheered by both sets of fans. Iheanacho got bigger cheer.
— Simon Stone (@sistoney67) February 10, 2018
— Chris Slater (@chrisslaterMEN) February 10, 2018
Strange reception for Mahrez. Couldn't hear the #LCFC fans above the applause from the Man City fans around us.
— Rob Tanner (@RobTannerMerc) February 10, 2018
Tax cuts and economic growth appear to be improving the party’s political position, but President Trump can’t seem to stop antagonizing voters, especially women.
Jose Mourinho has hit back at recent attacks on Paul Pogba’s playing style at Manchester United, insisting the Frenchman had more potential than most midfielders in the world.
The 24-year-old picked up widespread criticism after he was taken off during Man United’s 2-0 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur last week.
Pogba’s subsequent exclusion from the starting XI for United’s win over Huddersfield Town three days later prompted further questions surrounding his approach on the pitch.
But Mourinho, when asked about Pogba once again ahead of the visit to Newcastle, hit back at those commenting on his style.
“Paul had a very professional behaviour,” he said. “This week was not different to what Paul is every week. He works well, he’s a good professional He likes to train. I’ve never had a single problem with him. He likes to train.”
“I was laughing over the past week because I heard and watched, read a few things, and I’m not English but I think I understand English enough when you want to say box to box.
“But with some comments from some important people in football I got a little confused.
For me box to box means box to box. You have to be good in this box and have to be good in that box.
“It means you have to defend well in this box, the physical condition and desire and stamina to go until the other box. In the other box you have to be good at scoring, creating, heading and so on.
“And when your team loses the ball you have to go to the other box. Now I’m confused when some people say box to box has to play free of defensive duties. That’s not a box to box. That’s a box in the box and stay in that box. Don’t move from that box!
“I think this country produced a lot of box to box players. I had the pleasure to coach some of them, but nowadays with some pundits, some agents, some family members, the concept of box to box is changing a little bit.
“It looks like we are going to a different concept. Box to box are not my words. I heard it for the first time in 2004 when I arrived. For me, with my Portuguese and trying to translate to the English I
just think midfield players.
“For me Paul is a midfield player. He’s not a left back, he’s not a striker. When people ask his best position: he’s a midfield player. It depends on the tactical system but he will always be a midfielder.
“Then with so many opinions, and we are in a world of opinions, people can get confused. There is no confusion between me and Paul. It’s difficult to play a midfielder with more potential than Paul.”
Mourinho received a similar question regarding Pogba last week and didn’t really answer it. This time, however, he wanted to make a point, and it wasn’t really about his star man at all.
The 55-year-old doesn’t see Pogba playing poorly whilst the majority of those watching spew over his languid, free-flowing and, yes, occasionally costly approach on the ball. What he sees, in effect, is the imposition of English standards on how midfielders should play and a vitriolic response when Pogba – how dare he – doesn’t satisfy the demands of our footballing culture.
And what he is also implying, albeit subtly, is that such a worldview is wrong, and that, really, to tell a midfielder of Pogba’s natural ability to be more ‘box to box’ and ‘tackle’ more is nothing short of laughable – and the prime reason why nothing ever changes after England fall short at a major competition.
To put it bluntly, our footballing language – the way we understand the beautiful game – is caveman-esque in comparison to others. Long balls, second balls, target men, fixed positions. These are staples of our very outlook on the game and perhaps we should start questioning whether they really do constitute the final answer.
Xabi Alonso, for example, once stated that it surprised him that English crowds admire tackling, which is deemed a recurso – or last resort – in Spanish football, whilst simultaneously growing frustrated at a player who applies pausa, an ability to put the breaks on, feint, and leave the onrushing opponent ten yards away.
In Italy, a player does not play a position but rather their role (ruolo), and managers will often discuss how a player has “interpreted their role” after the game. Passing and possession isn’t measured by numbers and is instead referred to as fraseggio, which literally means ‘phrasing’- a term used to describe musical expression and symphony.
I could go on. Football is interpreted differently by different cultures – just like anything, really – and the reason Pogba will never be appreciated fully in this country is strictly because he hails from a very different type of footballing education.
And, frankly, the fact that he doesn’t align with this country’s hopelessly backward definition of how to play the game is not his problem in the slightest.
Scott McTominay has spoken of the importance of playing in the UEFA Youth League as a youngster coming through the ranks at Manchester United.
Nicky Butt’s side will face Liverpool in the last 16 of this year’s competition after finishing second in their group behind FC Basel.
The likes of Tyrell Warren, Indy Boonen, Joshua Bohui and Angel Gomes have all played an important role in guiding Man United to the knockout phases, with the latter’s performances meriting a place on the bench against Yeovil Town in the FA Cup.
“I was part of that as well and a lot of other players like Axel [Tuanzebe], Tim Fosu-Mensah and Marcus Rashford were too. It educates footballers and makes you more mature as a person.
“I actually watched the game with [Under-23s midfielder] Callum Whelan. It was a tough one for the boys. It was a qualifying match for the last 16, so it was vitally important for them to get through to that.
“It’s a competition which is so valuable – the experience of going away, travelling with the first team and being a part of different surroundings and playing against different cultures, which they might not have expected in a really tough match [against Brodarac].”
The 17 to 20 period is vital time for any player. This is when you start to build connections with potential first team partners and hone the technical apparatus that will serve as a platform for the rest of your career.
For English players, however, the lack of minutes on the pitch during this time sets them miles behind players from, say, Germany or Spain, where policies are put in place to ensure youngsters play next to each other regularly.
But the UEFA Youth League, first introduced in 2013, serves as a vital chance for youngsters to grow accustomed to the feeling of playing abroad, of playing against sides that go about their business differently, of learning new ways to get the better of your opponent.
The English game, as an inverse to the country’s current political direction, needs to internationalise itself if it is to grow, and the younger this happens the better.
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