Jose Mourinho has admitted it is a gamble for his current Manchester United team to play attacking football because of their vulnerability at the back.
Mourinho, who has enjoyed huge success in his managerial career through defensive organisation, abandoned his normal caution against Tottenham on Monday night and paid the price with a 3-0 defeat that left United in the bottom half of the Premier League table ahead of Sunday’s game at Burnley.
The United manager has always felt a responsibility to follow the club’s attacking traditions, but the signings of star forwards Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez have not been matched by the arrival of any new defenders in the last transfer window, causing friction between Mourinho and executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward.
It leaves Mourinho with a dilemma ahead of their trip to Turf Moor in which defeat would signal United’s worst start to a season since 1986, shortly before Ron Atkinson was sacked.
Asked about replicating the positive approach seen against Spurs, Mourinho replied: ‘We are going to try. It’s a process that has risks, especially if you make the defensive mistakes that break that dynamic.
‘The teams that are really good offensively are the teams that are very solid from the back. In the Spurs match, we were positive and strong and I think the opponent, a very good opponent, felt they were in trouble. But two defensive mistakes in five minutes lost the game for us. We are what we are.’
Mourinho predicted a tough campaign for United during their pre-season tour to America and defeats in consecutive games to Brighton and Spurs, conceding six goals, have done nothing to dispel his fears.
‘I knew this season was going to be difficult because I knew last season was very difficult,’ he said. ‘I said that in the summer before the competition started. It’s not especially now. It’s not because we lost six points that this is going to change.
‘Two defeats are two defeats. We still have 35 matches to play. Last season we had a fantastic start and we won the first three matches. Then we lost a couple of matches.
‘Maybe this time we start with two defeats and who knows if we will have a good run that gives us consecutive victories and consecutive points.’
Mourinho has used five central defenders in United’s last couple of games and is unlikely to be able to call upon Phil Jones this afternoon because of injury.
Sanchez may return to the starting line-up after training all week following a minor knock. Mourinho may even be tempted to recall Anthony Martial, whose last goal for United came at Burnley in January.
The United manager is still awaiting the outcome of contract talks between the club and Spanish goalkeeper David de Gea.
‘I just know that everything is in movement and hopefully we’ll have good news sooner rather than later,’ he added.
Thursday’s Champions League draw pitted United against their former superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, who is now at Juventus.
Mourinho managed Ronaldo at Real Madrid and said: ‘Juventus have transformed themselves into the biggest candidate for the Champions League.
‘They don’t hide their investment. Cristiano will be happy to come back to Old Trafford — as he was when he played against them for Real Madrid.’
Barcelona Announce New Financial Boost
Barcelona have announced they’re getting their finances on track.
Barca has issued an official statement communicating that it has received a stable triple B negative rating from the credit rating agency Fitch.
This is an important vote of confidence in terms of the club’s image. It is worth remembering that the club has already reached an agreement with the American investment fund Goldman Sachs, which has loaned the club 500 million euros.
The same fund already injected 90 million euros into the club during Josep Maria Bartomeu‘s presidency, with said loan conceived to aid the development of the Espai Barça project.
In a statement, the club announced:
“The sporting and financial project of the new FC Barcelona board of directors has received a vote of confidence in receiving a stable triple B negative credit rating from the credit rating agency Fitch.
“The credit rating agency gives a triple B rating to companies that are satisfactory at the time of rating, just as has happened to FC Barcelona after their assessment.
“With this BBB stable negative rating the Fitch agency values positively the Club’s financial project, which will have to undergo important readjustments to balance books.
“The confidence shown by Fitch allows the Club to look to the future with optimism and at a moment when the organisation is adjusting is financial viability plan as well as its strategic plan.”
Gerrard Frustrated With Liverpool Links: I Don’t Welcome It, I Don’t Add To It…
The Reds legend is consistently linked as a future replacement for Klopp, who is expected to leave Anfield when his contract expires in 2024.
But Gerrard is unhappy about the speculation as he is “very happy” in Glasgow.
“I don’t welcome it, I don’t add to it. All I do is focus on the job I have here and I’m very flattered and grateful for the position.
“I’m very happy here, I’ve said it on numerous occasions, it’s a huge club, I’m settled, I’m happy and I can continue to develop and keep trying to push this team forward.”
Tokyo Olympics: Nigeria Leads Countries With Highest Figure Of Banned Athletes
Ten athletes from Nigeria have been banned from participating in the Tokyo Olympics.
While the names of the affected athletes were not released, a statement from the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), revealed that a total of 18 athletes have been declared ineligible, with Nigeria being the most affected.
According to AIU, the 10 athletes from Nigeria failed the minimum testing requirements under Rule 15.
“Under the framework of Rule 15 governing National Federation Anti-Doping Obligations, which came into force in January 2019, National Federations are accountable for ensuring appropriate anti-doping measures are in place in their respective jurisdictions.
“Among other things, the Rule sets out minimum requirements for testing on the national teams of ‘Category A’ federations deemed to have the highest doping risk and considered as a threat to the overall integrity of the sport.
“The key requirement in Rule 15 is that an athlete from a ‘Category A’ country must undergo at least three no-notice out-of competition tests (urine and blood) conducted no less than 3 weeks apart in the 10 months leading up to a major event. Only then do they become eligible to represent their national team at the World Athletics Championships or the Olympic Games.
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