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Monday Musings

After a nightmare start to the season, Jose Mourinho now faces absurd FA charge

Wed, 17 Oct 2018 11:26:00 PDT

Gab Marcotti calls the FA's charges against Jose Mourinho 'needless' after the Man United manager's comments were caught on camera against Newcastle. Jon Champion says Jose Mourinho makes himself an easy target for criticism and explains why the Man United boss' antics make him uncomfortable. Paul Mariner reacts to Wayne Rooney's defence of Jose Mourinho, in which the Man United legend called for player accountability at Old Trafford. You would think the English Football Association have more important things to do but, no, someone in the bowels of the FA decided on Tuesday that Jose Mourinho ought to be charged for allegedly mouthing "abusive, insulting or improper language" in view of the cameras following Manchester United's 3-2 comeback victory over Newcastle United on Oct. 6. As far as we know, he was not charged for waving a little finger in the air while mouthing at the camera, a gesture some took so seriously -- as if...

Germany's slump shouldn't result in Low's exit, Italy show signs of regeneration

Mon, 15 Oct 2018 08:01:00 PDT

How quickly things change. Germany went into the World Cup as reigning world champions, Confederations Cup champions and European U21 champions. It wasn't just the present that was rosy, but the future too. And Joachim Low got a big contract extension through 2022. Fast-forward to the present day. Saturday's 3-0 defeat away to the Dutch -- a team that failed to qualify for the last two major tournaments, featured two debutants (Denzel Dumfries and Steven Bergwijn) and had Ryan Babel in attack...

It's time for FIFA to fix the international calendar and reduce player fatigue

Thu, 11 Oct 2018 11:49:00 PDT

Every year it hits you like the ultimate buzzkill: The new club season begins, you're all excited, the air of possibility hangs in the air, you play the first few games ... and then it all shuts down. International break. No matter. We get started again, everything is great for another five weeks or so ... and then it all grinds to a halt again. Another international break, this one in October. Another four weeks of football and it's time to shut it down once more. Here comes the November...

Why Guardiola should feel better than Klopp about Sunday's draw, Kovac in big trouble at Bayern

Mon, 8 Oct 2018 07:24:00 PDT

We were expecting entertainment but got very little. Still, you don't need to spin too much for both Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola to turn the scoreless draw at Anfield into a positive. Klopp can say the result, after a very poor performance in Naples, shows his side have the mental strength to bounce back. And being on 20 points after eight games -- including matches against Chelsea and Spurs away, plus City at home -- is not a bad place to be. Particularly when you consider they're also in...

Real Madrid aren't in 'crisis' despite five-hour scoring drought, CSKA defeat

Wed, 3 Oct 2018 05:52:00 PDT

The sky is falling. Real Madrid have two defeats and one draw in their last three games. They have gone 329 minutes without scoring; if you frame it as being more than five hours (which it is), the run sounds even worse. The last time they went this long before celebrating a goal was in 2007, when Fabio Capello was in charge and David Beckham had yet to move to Los Angeles. Furthermore, Real failed to score in a Champions League game for the first time in nearly two years, a run of 29 games,...

Chelsea vs. Liverpool benefit from fun football, Man United should prep for life after Mourinho

Mon, 1 Oct 2018 08:05:00 PDT

One of the best bits of Saturday's clash between Chelsea and Liverpool came at the very end. The cameras showed Maurizio Sarri with a wide, child-like smile (about as child-like as a guy who looks like Sarri can appear) turning towards Jurgen Klopp, whose own grin was ear-to-ear and embracing him. It was a great game, it was fun, it was entertaining and it was wonderfully refreshing to witness. No psychodramas, no hissy fits, no recrimination. Daniel Sturridge's wonder-strike salvaged a point...

Mourinho's battle with Pogba shows the Special One is not so special anymore

Thu, 27 Sep 2018 12:00:00 PDT

The FC crew have their suspicions on the training ground footage that continued the conversation surrounding Paul Pogba and Jose Mourinho's troubled relationship. Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon of PTI take a dip into the world of soccer as they debate the ongoing feud between Paul Pogba and Jose Mourinho. The FC crew answer your tweets on Jose Mourinho's future coaching prospects, if Zinedine Zidane would even consider managing Man United and more. As tensions escalate between Paul Pogba and Jose Mourinho, the FC crew assess the issues at Man United and debate who's more at fault for the rift. Jose Mourinho once told me that if you are unhappy with a player, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Instead, you have to know their personality and know what buttons to push. "If it's John Terry, then I might get in his face, shout at him and tell him he's a [expletive]," he said to me and Gianluca Vialli when we were writing "The Italian Job." "But if it's William Gallas, I can't do that. I will lose him if I do that. I might need to put my arm around him, be supportive, reach him in a different...

Sanchez presents another headache for Man United, Dybala stars for Juve

Mon, 24 Sep 2018 08:07:00 PDT

Manchester United were held to a 1-1 draw at home by Wolves, but this time it's not Jose Mourinho who is on trial. Reactions were split between praising Wolves -- deservedly so, Nuno Espirito Santo had the upper hand tactically and in Ruben Neves, they have perhaps the best player outside the top six in England -- and questioning Alexis Sanchez. The Chile international lasted just over an hour before being substituted, and flashed only intermittently over that time, raising the question of whether...

Revealed: FIFA wants to fix transfers, deal with shady agents and address the loan system. Here's how.

Thu, 20 Sep 2018 09:42:00 PDT

In an interview with ESPN FC's Gab Marcotti, FIFA President Gianni Infantino details possible changes that could improve football's transfer system. FIFA's stakeholder committee, which brings together representatives from federations, clubs, professional leagues and the players' union, FIFPro, met for the first time in March 2017. Almost exactly 18 months later, on Sept. 24, they will meet to discuss a raft of measures that, if approved, will represent the biggest overhaul to the transfer system since the Bosman ruling in 1996 (a European Court ruling that required clubs to allow players over the age of 25 to move freely between clubs once their...

Liverpool pass biggest test yet; Ronaldo gets off the mark in Italy

Mon, 17 Sep 2018 06:47:00 PDT

Another test passed for Liverpool, this time away to Tottenham Hotspur, but you can see where Jurgen Klopp is coming from when he complained that the 2-1 victory did not match the performance, which was top-notch. Indeed, when you dominate as comprehensively as Liverpool did, conceding a goal in injury time and suffering through the final few seconds is not where you want to be. That said, it shouldn't be doom and gloom, either. Three points is three points, and when they are accompanied by...

Behind the scenes at Arsenal: Why is chief exec Ivan Gazidis to leave the Emirates for AC Milan?

Mon, 17 Sep 2018 05:31:00 PDT

Editor's Note: Ivan Gazidis' departure from Arsenal was confirmed less than 24 hours after Gab Marcotti's article on the CEO's impending departure from the Emirates. Unai Emery is reinventing Arsenal on the pitch, but the man who set the wheels of change in motion -- and who was at the heart of the last few seasons' palace intrigue -- is on his way out. Arsene Wenger departed after nearly 22 seasons as manager in May. In August, Alisher Usmanov agreed to sell his 30 percent stake in the club...

Stop taking football awards so seriously: It's a popularity contest

Wed, 5 Sep 2018 09:33:00 PDT

Deep breath. It's awards season. We had the UEFA Men's Player of the Year award last week, FIFA's "The Best" awards are on their way later this month and the Ballon d'Or, the granddaddy of them all, will be coming up in December. This also means that it's conspiracy season. Cristiano Ronaldo's agent, Jorge Mendes, moaned when his client didn't win the UEFA award. So too did Juventus chief executive Beppe Marotta. (Ronaldo himself didn't moan: He simply didn't show up when he found out he...

Jose Mourinho vs. Ed Woodward: Man United's odd couple need to get along. PLUS: Don't worry about Ronaldo

Mon, 3 Sep 2018 06:12:09 PDT

A Manchester United supporters group calling themselves "A Voice from the Terrace" paid for the banner that flew over Turf Moor on Sunday when United defeated Burnley 2-0. It read "Ed Woodward: Specialist in Failure" and the language was obviously not coincidental, channelling Jose Mourinho who famously called Arsene Wenger "a specialist in failure." If you didn't know better, you'd almost think the banner was a false flag operation designed to further splinter United. Not because criticizing...

Cristiano Ronaldo's Champions League awards U-turn: What really happened in Monaco

Fri, 31 Aug 2018 05:52:00 PDT

MONACO -- It was all set up. A private helicopter to whisk him and his entourage from Turin to Monaco in around 40 minutes. Half a dozen seats reserved for his entourage, including his girlfriend, Georgina Rodriguez, who had rushed back from the Venice Film Festival. Wealthy Monegasques (and those who merely summer there) for once reduced to waiting patiently behind barriers at the Grimaldi Forum, like mere civilians. His agent, Jorge Mendes, and his wife, dutifully in attendance in between...

Forget Ronaldo: Modric deserved UEFA Men's Player of the Year award

Thu, 30 Aug 2018 12:00:00 PDT

MONACO -- Maybe it should not have been a surprise that Luka Modric was voted UEFA Men's Player of the Year by a jury of 55 journalists from across Europe. As the saying goes, awards aren't things you win; they're things that are given to you. Ostensibly, they're given to you for what you've achieved, sometimes for your popularity and visibility. In a weird way, each of the three major awards has its own place and each is in some way connected. The Ballon d'Or dates back to 1956 and is handed...

Arsenal, Emery have to deal with Ozil mess; Juve clicking into gear; more

Mon, 27 Aug 2018 07:20:00 PDT

Arsenal won their first game of the season this weekend, beating West Ham 3-1 at the Emirates, but Unai Emery didn't get to gloat after the match. Instead, he was dealing with a Mesut Ozil "situation." The German midfielder was not in the matchday squad -- Emery said he was ill, citing "catarrh" -- but others, including my ESPN Brazil colleague Joao Castelo-Branco, suggested he pulled out after finding out he was destined for the bench. It's still unclear as to what's going on but it's evident...

Cristiano Ronaldo conundrum: How should Max Allegri use Juventus' star?

Wed, 22 Aug 2018 08:19:00 PDT

The FC guys delve into the theory Serie A clubs are out to prove they can do what other leagues could not; slow down Cristiano Ronaldo. Let's get the disclaimer out of the way first: Juventus were a very good team without Cristiano Ronaldo, and they will almost certainly be an even better one with him. They are overwhelming favourites to win Serie A, and while the Champions League -- like all knockout competitions -- is tricky to predict, they have to be among the favourites to win that too. The question, though, is how much better they will be and, crucially, what manager Massimiliano Allegri -- with the collaboration of Ronaldo...

La Liga's plan to play matches in the U.S. isn't going to ruin football -- it's smart business

Tue, 21 Aug 2018 06:13:00 PDT

Relevent Sports chairman Charlie Stillitano explains his vision to build and promote the La Liga brand through games played in the U.S. When the notion of playing a 39th game was first raised about a decade ago, it turned into one of the few times Premier League boss Richard Scudamore badly misjudged public opinion. Such was the opposition that you would have thought Scudamore wanted clubs not just to play an extra game abroad, but to do so while clad in baby seal fur. The idea was so toxic that only one owner -- David Gold (then at Birmingham, now at West Ham) -- was willing to speak out in favour of the idea. Everybody else...

Man United need to get on same page, Ronaldo's mixed Juve debut, more

Mon, 20 Aug 2018 09:01:00 PDT

It's all about spin, I guess. Spin, and how you view the person doing the talking. Paul Pogba came out after Manchester United's 3-2 defeat at Brighton and,  as I saw it, took the loss on the chin. "The attitude that we had was not like we wanted to beat them," he said. "They had more hunger than us and that showed on the pitch. I put myself first. My attitude wasn't right enough. We'll keep trying and pushing and obviously it's a lesson for us." I read that as a team captain saying the...

World Cup ref chief Pierluigi Collina dishes on VAR impact at Russia 2018

Tue, 14 Aug 2018 11:00:00 PDT

Former Premier League referee Peter Walton explains why the use of VAR in Russia exceeded his expectations. Various ESPN FC correspondents and fans weigh in on VAR and its impact at the World Cup in the latest episode of Project Russia. A month has passed since the end of the World Cup in Russia, hailed by many as one of the best ever. Gab Marcotti caught up with Pierluigi Collina, chairman of FIFA's referees committee and the man in the middle for the 2002 final between Brazil and Germany, to talk about officiating, video assistant referees (VAR) and the future. When you look back at 2018 and the fact that relative to previous World Cups, it had perhaps the least amount of refereeing controversy, to what do you attribute it? Could...

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