Man Utd hold talks with Mourinho

 Posted by at 7:06 AM
Feb 062016
Jose Mourinho left Chelsea – for the second time – on 17 December

Manchester United have held talks with representatives of former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho.

The 53-year-old Portuguese, who was sacked by the Blues in December, is increasingly hopeful of succeeding Louis van Gaal at Old Trafford.

No agreement has been reached, and the club have made no comment, but negotiations have begun.

Dutchman Van Gaal, 64, is expected to leave United at the end of the season – one year earlier than scheduled.

That would leave the way clear for Mourinho, who is known to be excited by the prospect of taking over at Old Trafford.

Sections of the United support have called for Jose Mourinho to become their new manager

The United hierarchy are thought to be keen to respond after Manchester City secured the services of coveted former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola earlier this week.

Mourinho’s arrival would mean a resumption of a rivalry that began in Spain when he was coach of Real Madrid between 2010 and 2013.

Twice in recent weeks, Van Gaal’s tenure has seemed perilous.

However, defeats by Stoke on Boxing Day and Southampton on 23 January have been followed by an improvement in both form and performance.

United, who are five points adrift of the Champions League places, play Chelsea on Sunday (16:00 GMT).

Who else is in the frame?

It is widely assumed the most obvious alternative to Mourinho is Ryan Giggs, Van Gaal’s assistant.

The Welshman, who joined United aged 14, made a record 963 appearances for the club and won 13 Premier League titles.

The 42-year-old took over as manager on an interim basis in April 2014 following the sacking of David Moyes.

Although he has not spoken about the United job since Van Gaal took over, it would be a surprise were he not interested in replacing the Dutchman should the opportunity arise.

However, while Giggs was happy to further his education under Van Gaal, he is unlikely to be as willing to work with Mourinho.

What went wrong for Mourinho at Chelsea?

Mourinho’s first spell as Chelsea manager lasted from 2004 to 2007, and included two Premier League titles.

On his return, he again led the London club to the title, but left just seven months later.

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Mourinho had lost players – Shearer

He made a disastrous start to this season, losing nine of the first 16 league games, and departed with the team 16th in the league, one point above the relegation zone.

The former Porto boss fell out with the Blues’ medical team, in particular club doctor Eva Carneiro, after describing them as “naive” for running on to the pitch to treat midfielder Eden Hazard during a draw against Swansea in August.

Carneiro, who left the club on 22 September, is taking legal action against Mourinho and the Blues.

How is his relationship with Man Utd?

Mourinho has never hidden his admiration for United, and particularly their legendary former manager Sir Alex Ferguson.

Speaking before taking his Inter Milan side to Old Trafford for a Champions League last-16 tie in 2009, he said: “I want to face the best and United are a team of champions with a super coach in Alex Ferguson.”

But after being linked with the manager’s job following the departure of Ferguson in 2013, he declared his allegiance to Chelsea.

“I would have turned down every job in the world – the Manchester United job, every one – for Chelsea,” he said.

There were reports last month that Mourinho had written a six-page letter outlining his suitability for the United role, but that was dismissed as “absurd” by his agent.


Simon Stone – BBC Sport football reporter

Before the red carpet is rolled out to welcome Manchester United’s new manager, a word of warning.

Talks should not be interpreted as an agreement, as an offer, or even the promise of one. None of that has happened.

Neither should we assume Ryan Giggs is out of the running, nor that the merits of Laurent Blanc and Mauricio Pochettino, the two other realistic candidates for the job, have been discarded.

The fact is, given the pressure Louis van Gaal has been under recently, United’s hierarchy simply would not be doing their jobs properly if they did not at least get some idea of the thinking behind the major candidates.

And what of Van Gaal?

He may have twice looked as though he was on the brink of being sacked, but he is still in a job and on Tuesday his side delivered their best performance of the season in beating Stoke 3-0.

Even Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini accepts United are not out of the Premier League title race just yet – and if they did win it, there would be no vacancy for Mourinho to fill at the end of the season anyway.

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Hiddink had Chinese League offers

 Posted by at 5:34 AM
Feb 062016
Hiddink has managed the Netherlands, South Korea, Australia, Russia and Turkey national teams

Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink has revealed he was approached to manage in the lucrative Chinese Super League.

The 69-year-old Dutchman was installed as Chelsea caretaker boss in December after Jose Mourinho’s departure, but says he had chances to manage in China.

“I had some possibilities to go there in the recent past,” said Hiddink, who is so far unbeaten in his second spell as interim boss at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea sold Ramires to Jiangsu Suning last month for a reported £25m.

The Chinese team are managed by former Chelsea defender Dan Petrescu, while former England coach Sven Goran Eriksson and ex-Brazil coach Luis Felipe Scolari are also club bosses in China.

Colombia striker Jackson Martinez joined Guangzhou Evergrande from Atletico Madrid for £31m the following week.

And the Chinese transfer record was broken for the third time in 10 days when Brazil midfielder Alex Teixeira, who had been a target for Liverpool, opted to join Jiangsu Suning for £38.4m.

More money has been spent in China’s transfer window than the £175m recorded in last month’s Premier League window.

However, Hiddink says the English Premier League has a global appeal and will soon have even more significant financial power from the new broadcast coverage deal, which is worth £5bn domestically.

“When you travel around the world, the Premier League is so attractive, attracting a lot of people,” he said.

“In the biggest cities to the smallest villages, wherever in the world there is a satellite showing Premier League. Clubs in England cannot complain about having no income in the near future.”

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Feb 062016
Anthony Knockaert won promotion to the Premier League with Leicester in 2014

French midfielder Anthony Knockaert scored his first goal for Brighton as the Seagulls beat mid-table Brentford to go third in the Championship table.

Chris Hughton’s side are two points behind second-placed Middlesbrough.

Knockaert, who joined the Sussex club from Standard Liege in January, beat David Button with an angled shot.

Tomer Hemed expertly headed in Beram Kayal’s right-wing cross, his first goal since 5 December, before Jamie Murphy added a third in stoppage time.

Brighton’s 3-0 win over Brentford as it happened

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Hughton on Brighton v Brentford

Bruno also had a first-half shot deflected onto the crossbar by Brentford centre-back Harlee Dean, as Brighton strolled towards a third successive win.

At the other end, with the score at 0-0, goalkeeper David Stockdale made a flying save to keep out Alan Judge’s powerful first-time shot.

Knockaert set up both goals in a 2-1 win over Huddersfield on his home debut 13 days earlier and he was in fine form once more against the Bees, although he should have opened the scoring inside the second minute but poked wide from eight yards.

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Smith on Brighton v Brentford

Israel striker Hemed had started the season with five goals in his nine appearances for Brighton but, like his team-mates, had struggled for goals during a seven-match winless run in the league over the festive period.

That dip in form appears to be at an end, with Murphy’s late goal on the counter-attack sealing Brighton’s biggest win of the season.

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Chelsea v Man City live on BBC

 Posted by at 1:32 AM
Feb 062016
Manchester City won the first league match between the teams this season 3-0

Chelsea’s FA Cup fifth-round tie with Manchester City will be live on BBC One on Sunday, 21 February (16:00 GMT).

City boss Manuel Pellegrini said earlier he was worried about the prospect of a Sunday game as they play in the Champions League on 24 February.

The BBC and Football Association tried to find a way to screen the game on Saturday but “conflicting fixtures and safety concerns” made it impossible.

Bournemouth’s tie with Everton will be shown on Saturday, 20 February (17:15).

BT Sport will show Arsenal against Hull at 12:15 GMT on the Saturday and Blackburn against either West Ham or Liverpool the following day at 14:00 GMT

They will also screen League One Shrewsbury’s home match against Manchester United on Monday, 22 February at 19:45 GMT.

Have you added the new Top Story alerts in the BBC Sport app? Simply head to the menu in the app – and don’t forget you can also add score alerts for the Six Nations, your football team and more.

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Feb 062016

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Ayre defends Liverpool ticket prices

Liverpool chief executive Ian Ayre has urged fans to “look at the facts” before taking part in a walkout protest about next season’s ticket prices.

A supporters’ group wants fans to leave their seats in the 77th minute of Saturday’s home game against Sunderland in protest at the £77 top-priced ticket in the new main stand next term.

Ayre highlighted that 64% of season ticket prices will decrease or freeze.

“No-one is being priced out of the stadium,” he said.

“There is a seat for everyone at the right price.”

Plans for the new three-tier main stand at Anfield, increasing the stadium’s capacity from 45,500 to almost 59,000, were announced in 2014.

Work began on the £100m project in December 2014 and is expected to be completed in time for the start of next season.

Ticket prices for 2016-17 were announced this week, with fans’ group Spirit of Shankly critical of the “extremely disappointing” outcome.

Liverpool’s announcement