Jose Mourinho has dismissed speculation about his future at Manchester United by restating his belief that he is “one of the greatest managers in the world”.
The 55-year-old, who introduced himself to English football in 2004 as “the special one”, told reporters on Friday that he would still be special even if he fails at United.
“I am the manager of the one of the greatest clubs in the world but I’m also one of the greatest managers in the world,” said Mourinho.
“I repeat, I have won eight titles (as a manager). I’m the only manager to win in Italy, Spain and England.
“Not small titles, proper titles, and my second last season was one of my greatest achievements in football.”
The Red Devils face Burnley away on Sunday and Mourinho was spotted scouting at Turf Moor during the Clarets’ Europa League qualifying clash against Olympiacos on Thursday night.
Newcastle United travel to the Etihad Stadium on Saturday dreading the unenviable task ahead of them.
The Magpies go up against the reigning Premier League champions after a poor start to the season during which they’ve gone winless in four including a 3-1 defeat to Nottingham Forest in midweek, eliminating them from the Carabao Cup.
Rafa Benitez, who was left frustrated by the club’s lack of investment in the squad during the summer transfer window, must somehow devise a plan for his injury-hit team to miraculously resist Manchester City‘s overwhelming attack.
The hosts on the other hand, look in ominous form and are favourites to retain their Premier League crown despite a hiccup away to Wolves last week. City were unfortunate at Molineux, having conceded a contentious goal that appeared to go in off Willy Boly’s hand, been denied a penalty and seen Sergio Aguero strike the woodwork twice.
The Argentine will nevertheless be brimming with confidence as he lines up against Newcastle. Having scored 14 goals against them in just nine outings, they are comfortably his favourite opponents over the course of his career. City relish Newcastle’s visits as well, scoring at least three goals against them in six of their last seven meetings at the Etihad across all competitions.
Sergio Aguero has scored 14 goals in his 11 PL games against Newcastle— Premier League Stat Man (@EPLStatman) August 30, 2018
8 of these goals have come in his last two home games against them 🏟
5️⃣ vs Newcastle (H) ⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️
3️⃣ vs Newcastle (H) ⚽️⚽️⚽️#MCFC #FPL pic.twitter.com/QwrAe9dpe5
The gulf in class is palpable but how easily the shoe could’ve been on the other foot.
Over a decade ago, the Abu Dhabi United Group owned by Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, were considering expanding their interests into England’s top flight and weighed up Newcastle as an option, as well as Everton, before settling on City.
It’s perhaps fitting that on the 10th anniversary of their £210 million takeover, the team faces Newcastle – a club riddled with underachievement and battles with relegation, encapsulating what City might have been – and indeed were – without the significant investment of the owners.
That overpowering financial muscle was immediately flexed in 2008 when City signed Robinho from Real Madrid for a then British transfer record £32.5m soon after the takeover was complete. Several marquee signings followed in the succeeding transfer windows. After their fair share of poor acquisitions as well, it was Roberto Mancini who put the final pieces of the puzzle together and won the club’s first league title in 44 years.
In the grand scheme of things though, that was not the most significant step for the club in 2012.
“We are building a structure for the future, not just a team of all-stars,” Sheikh Mansour declared in 2008 and after winning the league four years on, City appointed former Barcelona’s executive duo Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain to reshape the club’s business model and football strategy.
The Citizens began to steer away from a path that Chelsea have stubbornly persisted upon since Roman Abramovich’s takeover. The Londoners’ model based on immediate success is a risky one and requires copious, and continuous, amounts of investment in the squad to sustain – not to mention a revolving door at Stamford Bridge to facilitate the comings and goings of several head coaches. City, had other ideas.
Having already been set on the right course, investing £200m in a cutting edge training complex and academy, their decisions – football and business related – in recent years have defined the club and their desire to build a dynasty.
The appointment of Pep Guardiola was inspired and could well be remembered as one of the most significant moments in the club’s history. The Spaniard was already a renowned visionary and built a stellar reputation during his trophy-laden spells at Barcelona and Bayern Munich.
In Guardiola, they attained a revolutionary manager capable of delivering on both fronts. Not only has he assembled a team equipped to sweep all before them, but he’s also laid the foundation for the club to dominate English football for years to come.
City were undeterred by his trophyless first season in charge, and instead backed him heavily ahead of the next campaign, spending over £133m solely on his requirement of three new full-backs and it has paid dividends.
Guardiola has silenced critics who suggested that his possession-based style of play would not thrive amid the physicality of the English game. In doing so, he has contributed heavily to the club’s identity going forward, one they should persevere to maintain long after his eventual departure.
Another in a long line of emphatic home victories is there for the taking at the Etihad on Saturday, and with it, a celebration of the behemoth this football club has transformed into.
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Most managers who performed well in the opening two weeks of this season’s Fantasy Premier League were handed a reality check in gameweek three.
Many of the early big-hitters didn’t deliver and while there are a couple of adjustments to make, there’s no need to panic just yet.
Here’s a few tips to help guide you ahead of GW4.
CAPTAIN – SERGIO AGUERO | MANCHESTER CITY | 11.3M
Manchester City’s all-time leading goalscorer blanked in GW3 away to Wolves as Pep Guardiola’s side were given a tough test by the newly promoted side.
However, the striker still looked very sharp and hit the woodwork twice, even demanding to take a late free-kick which crashed off the crossbar.
When a striker of his calibre is in the kind of form he is now, you have to back him and make the most of his good run.
Moreover, Newcastle United, who were dumped out of the Carabao Cup in midweek to Nottingham Forest, are among the Argentine’s favourite opponents.
Aguero has scored eight goals in his last two meetings with the Magpies who have a daunting trip to the Etihad this weekend. Rafa Benitez may instruct his side to sit deep like they did against Chelsea, but expect Guardiola to play a 3-5-2 formation and simply batter the visitors into submission.
MOHAMED SALAH (13.0m) was among the most popular captain picks last week who came through with points. His goal against Brighton made for healthy return of eight points but Leicester City away could be a tougher test. However, there’s still a lot more to come from the Egyptian. No midfielder has had more shots from inside the box (11) than him and only Callum Wilson managed more overall (13). He’s also attempted 12 assists so far.
THEO WALCOTT (6.7m) may just thrive for Everton in the absence of Richarlison. After the Brazilian’s red card, Walcott’s goal helped the Blues to a point against Bournemouth. Everton are creating chances under Marco Silva and more will fall to the Englishman in Richarlison’s absence. The former Arsenal man should score again against Huddersfield at home.
MARCOS ALONSO (6.7m) is an FPL sensation. Concerns that he wouldn’t be as attacking under Maurizio Sarri have quickly been rubbished by the defender already, having scored double figures in each of the three weeks so far. Bournemouth at home is another great opportunity for him to add to his tally.
TWO TO WATCH
ALEKSANDAR MITROVIC | FULHAM | 6.6M
With three goals and an assist to his name already, Aleksandar Mitrovic is hard to ignore. His four big chances so far are exceeded only by Wilson (6) among strikers. Fulham travel to Brighton next and even though they face City the following week, having scored away to Tottenham, Mitrovic is proving to be a striker capable of delivering against any opposition.
N’GOLO KANTE | CHELSEA | 5.0M
This may be a slightly controversial pick and even though N’Golo Kante is by no means a must-have, he is more than likely to exceed expectations given his price. He’s definitely getting into dangerous positions and his place in the side is secured. His finishing has let him down but he’s bound to chip in with a few and is a good option if you need to free up money for another signing.
TWO TO AVOID
JOHN STONES | MANCHESTER CITY | 5.5M
Someone whose place in the starting XI isn’t secure, is John Stones. The England international was left on the bench against Wolves. With Aymeric Laporte, Vincent Kompany and Nicolas Otamendi to compete with, he may not start every week and that’s unacceptable for a premium defender.
RICHARLISON | EVERTON | 6.7M
Given his incredible start and the way he performed under Silva at Watford last season, the temptation to hold on to Richarlison and ride out his suspension is understandable. However, he misses two of Everton’s more comfortable games and returns away to Arsenal after which their fixtures are no longer as appealing.