Man Utd picked weird time to fix mistake in hiring Mourinho – Sharpe

Manchester United picked a “weird” time to sack Jose Mourinho, according to former winger Lee Sharpe, who says it was a mistake to hire the manager in the first place.

United announced Mourinho’s immediate departure on Tuesday in the wake of their 3-1 defeat to Liverpool on Sunday. The club will appoint a caretaker manager to replace him until the end of the season while they look for a long-term solution.

The Portuguese coach spent over two years in charge, guiding them to a Europa League title and a runners-up finish in the Premier League.

However, the former Chelsea, Inter and Real Madrid boss’ third season at United had been plagued by bad results and performances as well as reports of spats with some of his players.

Sitting sixth in the Premier League and 11 points behind fourth-placed Chelsea, United face a demanding festive schedule amid further upheaval, but Sharpe feels they had to address the drop in morale.

“The timing is a little bit weird,” he told  BBC Radio 5 Live .

“They have four games in 10 or 12 days. They obviously don’t have anyone lined up permanently and I just think it is because the team is not playing great and have had poor results.

“The demeanour of Jose Mourinho and the players has dropped. They have probably accepted they are not going to make a top-four spot and now is the time to change.”

The ex-England international said Mourinho had plenty of problems to deal with at United, from constant injuries to a lack of support from the board. Most importantly, though, he believes coach and club were never a good match.

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“He has not picked a regular back four. Some of it is due to injury but he doesn’t have a settled defence, he likes to kill a game before he wins it and that is not the philosophy of Manchester United,” he said.

“They gave him a good contract last year but they haven’t backed him. They’ve then given him players he didn’t want.

“He was never my first choice for manager. They weren’t in Europe at the time and he was someone who could bring in big names and raise standards. He had a winning mentality and he has brought that to the club. But it was never done in the Man Utd way. I think it was a mistake but I can see why they have done it that way.”


Kashima Antlers vs Real Madrid Betting Tips: Latest odds, team news, preview and predictions

Real Madrid face a familiar opponent on Wednesday evening in the semi-final of the Club World Cup.

Los Blancos overcame Kashima Antlers in the final of the 2016 edition of the tournament although the Japanese outfit gave them a real scare, taking the match to extra time before succumbing to a 4-2 defeat.

Santiago Solari’s side will be hoping to avoid any such nerves this week as they bid to win this competition for a third successive year.

Latest odds

The previous meeting two years ago finished 2-2 after 90 minutes and William Hill offer another draw at 11/2 (6.50). Real Madrid are priced at 1/5 (1.20) to win in 90 minutes with Kashima available at 11/1 (12.00).


Team news

Casemiro and Nacho have both been missing for six weeks, yet both could be available for Real. Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema picked up knocks in Saturday’s win over Rayo Vallecano and while the Welshman could be rested on Wednesday, Benzema should be fine.

Kashima were without striker Yuma Suzuki for their previous game in the competition against Chivas Guadalajara and he remains a doubt with a muscle problem.


Of the 13 competitive matches that Real Madrid have played away from the Bernabeu this season, they have only managed six victories.

Real Madrid Kashima graphic

They have also kept just four clean sheets and conceded 20 goals, which is in stark contrast to their defensive record at home in La Liga which is the best in the division.

Kashima scored three times in the previous round and found the net plenty of times on their way to lifting the Asian Champions League in November.

Whilst Suzuki may be Antlers’ top scorer domestically, he only scored one of their 18 goals in continental play so even if he is absent on Wednesday, the Japanese side will feel they can find the back of the net.

Tips and predictions

The price of 17/20 (1.85) for both teams to score, therefore, looks interesting and of course this selection comfortably paid out when the two sides met in 2016.

Betting Banner - Best BetBoth teams to score at 17/20 (1.85) for a 1pt stake with William Hill

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African All Stars Transfer News & Rumours: Sadiq Umar to join Serie B club Perugia on loan

Umar set to join Serie B club

Following the abrupt end of his loan spell at Ranger, Roma loanee Sadiq Umar is set to join Serie B side Perugia on loan for the remainder of the season.

Scottish Sun claims the Nigeria youth international is expected to complete his move to Italian club in the next 24 hours.

Man Utd scout Koulibaly ahead of January bid

Manchester United have sent scouts to watch Napoli defender Kalibou Koulibaly, according to the Sun.

United recently had people in the stands watching the Senegalese centre-back in action for Napoli during their Champions League defeat to Liverpool last week.

Having conceded as many goals already this season as they did in the entirety of the last campaign, the Red Devils are in search for defensive reinforcements this January and Koulibaly tops their wishlist.

Palace monitor Tammy Abraham

Crystal Palace are targeting a January swoop for Chelsea loanee Tammy Abraham, claims the Telegraph.

Abraham who is on loan at the Villa Park has been in blistering form for Dean Smith’s side with 11 goals in 15 league matches this campaign.

His form has attracted Roy Hodgson’s side who have struggled to score 14 goals so far in the English top-flight.

Sadiq Umar responds to Rangers’ exit

Rangers have given Roma loanee Sadiq Umar the green light to return Italy after just six months and the 21-year-old has dropped a message on social.

Umar had an underwhelming campaign in the Scottish side and did not score a goal in his five appearances for Steven Gerrard’s side.

His departure is claimed to make way for the Light Blues to prepare a loan bid for Liverpool’s Dominic Solanke.

Read more here on Goal

Ranieri targets Slimani’s reunion at Fulham

Fulham manager Claudio Ranieri is looking to reunite with Leicester City loanee Islam Slimani at the Craven Cottage.

Daily Mail claims that Ranieri is ready to strengthen his squad with the Algerian forward and help him rediscover his goalscoring touch.

The 67-year-old brought Slimani to the Premier League from Sporting Lisbon as Leicester’s record signing in 2016 but the attacker has struggled for form scoring three goals in 16 games at Fenerbahce this season.

Ancelotti to make decision on Diawara future

Napoli boss Carlos Ancelotti is set to decide on Amadou Diawara’s future at the club, Tutto Napoli reports.

Diawara, keen on regular first-team football, has attracted interest from Tottenham Hotspur and Wolverhampton and the Italian gaffer has been asked to decide if the 21-year-old leaves permanently or go out on loan in January.

The Guinean midfielder has made five starts and three substitute appearances in the Serie A this season.

Chelsea willing to sell £12m-rated Moses

Victor Moses could end his six-year stay at the Stamford Bridge in January with Chelsea set to consider offers of at least £12million for the Nigeria international, according to the Sun .

Crystal Palace and Fulham are said to be interested in the services of the 27-year-old who has fallen out of favour under Maurizio Sarri.

Moses has managed just 26 minutes of Premier League football this season.

Ismaily put El-Hadary on transfer list

Egyptian Premier League club are ready to part ways with veteran goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary by placing him on their transfer list.

The action added with a fine come as punishment for El-Hadary who skipped the club’s Caf Champions League trip to Burundi.

El-Hadary who joined Ismaily for his third stint last summer was also stripped of the captain’s armband.

Read more here on Goal

Bassogog dreams of Arsenal move

Henan Jianye attacker Christian Bassogog has revealed his childhood desire to play for Arsenal in the English Premier League.

WIth the 2018 Chinese Super League season over, Bassogog who scored six goals in 27 matches during the campaign is hopeful of a return to Europe with Unai Emery’s side his favourite.

Read more here on Goal

Galatasaray plot Bony’s move

Galatasaray are looking to sign Swansea City forward Wilfried Bony when his contract expires at the end of the season, Fanatik reports.

Bony recently returned from sidelines after a nine-month injury he suffered against Leicester City in February and has featured in three matches thus far.

The Lions are interested in taking the Ivorian star on loan for free in January until the end of the 2018-19 campaign as he is said to be earning £100,000 a week in the Championship club. 

Napoli set Koulibaly price

Manchester United have been told to pay more than world-record £90million to sign Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly, Sunday Times claims.

Koulibaly is considered as Jose Mourinho’s top target in the January transfer window as he seeks to improve his team’s defence.

As a step in making the transfer possible, United officials have reportedly already held talks with the Serie A side and were quoted £90 million.

Changchun Yatai slap £20m price tag on Ighalo

Following their relegation to the second-tier of the Chinese League, Changchun Yati have put a £20m price tag on talisman Odion Ighalo, Football Live claims.

Ighalo was in a blistering goalscoring form with 21 goals in 28 league games but it was not enough to save Chen Jingang’s men who finished the 2018 Chinese Super League season 15th in the 16-team table.

And in his bid to secure top-flight football, the Changchun outfit are set to recoup the money spent on luring the Nigeria international to China from Watford in 2017.

Niasse to join Cardiff on loan

Premier League side Cardiff City are considering a loan move for out-of-favour Everton striker Oumar Niasse.

The Mirror reports that the Bluebirds boss Neil Warnock is desperately looking to bolster his attacking options next month as they prepare for a relegation battle.

And Niasse having not started a Premier League game all season for Marco Silva is on his hit-list.

Espanyol plot ambitious Bailly move

Espanyol are plotting a move to bring Manchester United defender Eric Bailly back to the Spanish LaLiga, according Manchester Evening News .

The Catalan outfit are reportedly ready to swoop for their ex-youth player Bailly if current centre-back Mario Hermoso is snapped up by Real Madrid in January.

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This season, the Cote d’Ivoire international has been forced out of first team action at Old Trafford owing to injury and tactical reasons.

Leeds United ready to improve bid for Bounedjah

After seeing their initial offer turned down by Al Sadd, Leeds United are ready to return with an improved bid valued at around €15million for Algerian striker Baghdad Bounedjah, according to Le Buteur .

The Championship club are interested in bolstering their squad with Bounedjah who has scored 28 goals in 14 league matches so far in the Qatar Stars League.


Leicester vs Man City: TV channel, live stream, team news & preview

Manchester City visit Leicester in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday, though the competition is unlikely to figure too prominently in the mind of manager Pep Guardiola.

City face a battle to retain the Premier League title, having fallen behind Liverpool in the standings , and though they won 3-1 against Everton  at the weekend, the busy Christmas period is one in which the Catalan knows his side must thrive.

Leicester, meanwhile, are comfortably ensconced in the middle of the Premier League table, despite failing to win any of their last three matches, including a 1-0 loss to Crystal Palace on Saturday.

Claude Puel’s men, therefore, are eyeing up the prospect of a major upset at the King Power Stadium.

Game Leicester vs Man City
Date Tuesday, December 18
Time 7:45pm GMT / 2:45pm ET

TV Channel, Live Stream & How To Watch

In the United States (US), the game can be streamed via ESPN+.

US TV channel Online stream

In the United Kingdom (UK), the game can be watched live on Sky Sports Football and Sky Sports Main Event. It can be streamed via Sky Go.

UK TV channel Online stream
Sky Sports Football / Sky Sports Main Event Sky Go

Squads & Team News

Position Leicester players
Goalkeepers Schmeichel, Ward, Jakupovic
Defenders Simpson, Chilwell, Soyuncu, Morgan, Evans, Pereira, Maguire, Fuchs, Benalouane, Knight
Midfielders Gray, Maddison, Albrighton, Amartey, Iborra, James, Silva, Mendy, Ndidi, Ghezzal, King, Choudhury
Forwards Iheanacho, Vardy, Okazaki, Diabate

Jonny Evans is banned for this encounter, while Daniel Amartey and Ben Chilwell are both sidelined.

There are doubts over Matty James and Jamie Vardy.

Claude Puel has been tipped to use a strong squad in this encounter, deploying many first-team regulars.

Possible Leicester starting XI: Schmeichel; Pereira, Soyuncu, Maguire, Fuchs; Mendy, Ndidi, Iborra; Ghezzal, Gray; Iheanacho

Position Man City players
Goalkeepers Ederson, Muric
Defenders Stones, Laporte, Otamendi, Sandler, Walker, Danilo, Mangala, Zinchenko
Midfielders Fernandinho, Gundogan, Delph, Foden, Diaz, B. Silva, Mahrez
Forwards Jesus, Sterling, Sane, Aguero

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola will have to do without long-term injury concerns Claudio Bravo, Benjamin Mendy and David Silva. 

There are, meanwhile, doubts over Danilo.

Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne are both tipped for game time , while Phil Foden could give Bernardo Silva a breather.

Aro Muric, who has played in both Carabao Cup matches this season, is poised to start in goal.

Possible Man City starting XI: Muric; Danilo, Stones, Kompany, Zinchenko; De Bruyne, Gundogan, Foden; Mahrez, Aguero, Sterling

Betting & Match Odds

Man City are priced at odds of winning 1/3 according to  bet 365 , while a draw is available at 19/4. A win for Leicester is priced at 17/2.

Click here to see all of bet 365’s offers for the game, including goalscoring markets, correct score predictions and more.

Match Preview

Kevin De Bruyne Manchester City 2018-19

Gabriel Jesus was the man who took centre stage for Manchester City at the weekend as they ran out 3-1 victors over Everton in the Premier League to move temporarily back to the summit of the standings.

They have since been displaced by Liverpool, but on Tuesday their attentions turn to the Carabao Cup, in which they will tackle Leicester City.

Jesus is liable to be given a break after his heroics at the weekend and instead Riyad Mahrez is set to be the man in the spotlight, having tried to engineer a move to the Etihad from the Foxes last January. He ultimately got his wish in the summer and has since scored seven goals and laid on six more.

Leicester boss Claude Puel hopes there will not be too much animosity towards the Algeria international star during this encounter.

“Riyad gave his best for the club and the club and his team-mates gave a lot for him too,” the Frenchman said on the eve of the game. “I hope he can come back and remain on the bench and can keep a good feeling with all the people.

“He was an important part of the success with the title and we cannot forget all he gave for the club. I hope he can have a good welcome.”

City, though, have a myriad of players that Leicester will need to be mindful of, including Kevin De Bruyne, whose campaign has been plagued by injury problems to date. 

Manager Pep Guardiola said previously that these could be a blessing in disguise for his side as the Belgium star was “exhausted” last term – a claim that the 27-year-old has rejected.

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“I wasn’t exhausted,” he said. “I had a rest of about three weeks after 12 months of playing. Is that short? Probably, yes, but I felt OK to come back.

“I played the most of anyone last year – in the whole world – and I played the World Cup without a problem. I think the most important thing is having a summer break, if you have that you can feel OK.”

After earning 15 minutes of game time against Everton, this is set to be his chance to prove his fitness, as well as an opportunity for City to show off their remarkable depth as they aim to challenge successfully on four fronts.


Next Manchester United Manager Odds: Laurent Blanc well-backed for Old Trafford vacancy

The first big move in the next Manchester United manager market has emerged.

Laurent Blanc was initially priced up as a 10/1 (11.0) chance by SportPesa but is now just 8/13 (1.62) with the same firm.

Jose Mourinho’s departure has triggered the search for a new manager at Old Trafford but a club statement suggests the next appointment will only be an interim one until the end of the current season.

However, any manager taking charge of 10 matches as United boss would be deemed the winner of this market according to most odds compilers. As always, it’s crucial that punters check the rules of their chosen sportsbook prior to getting involved.

josé mourinho laurent blanc

Blanc certainly fits the bill as a short-term replacement for Mourinho. The Frenchman is a free agent at the time of writing, has top-class managerial experience and spent the final two years of his playing career at Old Trafford.

The 53-year-old’s most recent role was in charge of Paris Saint-Germain, whom United will face in the next round of the Champions League.

Michael Carrick has been tasked with taking over from Mourinho in the short term, but that role is expected to only be a stop-gap one until the aforementioned interim boss arrives. Nevertheless, Carrick is priced at 9/2 (5.50) albeit that would take quite a U-turn from the club based on their initial statement.

Next Manchester United Manager Odds Update

Zinedine Zidane was the initial frontrunner but the ex-Real Madrid boss has drifted to 6/1 (7.0) as support continues for Blanc being the man chosen to steady the ship.

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino has been cut to 8/1 (9.0) but it seems unlikely that the Spurs boss would leave his position mid-season, albeit he’d surely be towards the top of United’s summer shortlist.

Antonio Conte (10/1) and Guus Hiddink (11/1) are also free agents who would be able to take over at Old Trafford at short notice, but they’re deemed as relative outsiders compared to Blanc.

Several more ex-United players are priced up including Ryan Giggs (12/1), Nicky Butt (14/1) and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (40/1).

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