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Jose Mourinho Has Lost The Plot As He’s Turned Extraordinary Players Into A Very Average Manchester United Side

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WHEN Jose went haring down the touchline at Old Trafford in 2004, he was forging some pretty ordinary Porto players into an extraordinary Champions League-winning team.

Fourteen years later, Mourinho is moulding some extraordinary footballers into one distinctly average Manchester United side.

Reuters Alexis Sanchez has yet to make a major impact at Manchester United since his high-profile switch from Arsenal

At a combined cost of £660.8million, Mourinho now presides over the third-most-expensive squad the world has ever seen.

Only Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain, funded by the wealth of nation states, cost more.

Of course, this season’s City are historically good.

Mourinho would not have been castigated for giving it a good go and finishing within spitting distance of Pep Guardiola’s magnificent men.

Jose Mourinho super fan Vivien Bodycote gets new tattoo for Valentines Day

Reuters Jose Mourinho has guided Utd to second place but they are 16 points behind City

PA:Press Association Jose Mourinho has been in the shadows of City boss Pep Guardiola this season

But it’s not just Saint Pep who is making Mourinho look average.

Defeats at Tottenham and Newcastle have laid bare the fact that players are not improving individually or collectively under Mourinho, a manager who no longer seems to learn from his mistakes.

ALE STORM Manchester United star Alexis Sanchez once left keys and mobile phone in a locked car… and RAN the 8km home

At dressing-room and boardroom level, United are making it up as they go along.

While Alexis Sanchez may have been a statement signing, a warning shot across the bows of the good ship City, he wasn’t a player they particularly needed.

Going into January, the club told leading agents they wanted a left-back and a holding midfielder, adding that they would consider a world-class centre-back or right-back.

Getty – Contributor Alexis Sanchez has yet to get up and running since joining Man Utd

Instead, they ended up with a 29-year-old attacker on the highest wage — £505,000 a week — the Premier League has ever seen.

They threw in an extended contract for a manager failing to make significant progress.

A manager whose team were lucky not to be hammered by Spurs — but who picked the same side for United’s next away fixture.

Newcastle 1-0 Manchester United: Matt Ritchie boosts Toon’s survival hopes and all but ends United’s faint title dream

One proviso of Mourinho agreeing to that extension, tying him down until 2020, was the guarantee of a holding midfielder and at least three new defenders arriving in the summer — when the value of United’s squad will be approaching £1billion.

So this is the grandest of building projects — but it has seemingly been undertaken without an architect’s plan.

United’s commercial department will trumpet the fact that Sanchez and Paul Pogba have sold more shirts than any other player in the Premier League this season.

AFP or licensors Alexis Sanchez and Paul Pogba have sold more shirts than any other Prem players

They are becoming the English Galacticos, almost seeming to value celebrity over silverware.

But on the pitch, Sanchez’s arrival seems to be stunting the progress of Pogba, who ought to be central to everything United hope to achieve.

Although the Frenchman simply did not see enough of the ball to pull any strings at St James’ Park on Sunday.

Across the team there are similar stories.

AP:Associated Press Dele Alli and especially Harry Kane have progressed well at Spurs – while some big names at Man Utd seem to have gone backwards under boss Jose Mourinho

A year ago, Romelu Lukaku was compared favourably with Harry Kane. Now the Belgian is not even close.

Chris Smalling, one player who improved markedly under Louis van Gaal, now looks a liability — his partnership with Phil Jones is way off title-winning class.

And despite that gargantuan spend, it’s still Ashley Young as a makeshift left-back.

At the Etihad on April 7, there is every chance this bang-average United team will be forming a guard of honour to welcome City’s new champions before the Manchester derby — six weeks before the end of the Premier League season.

Getty Images – Getty Utd striker Romelu Lukaku has faded after comparisons with Harry Kane last year

When United hired Mourinho, they must have thought they were recruiting the same charismatic team-builder who once shocked them with Porto.

But that was a very long time ago and this is a very different Mourinho.

Jaded, careworn, paranoid — and failing.

Weng poser

WITH Arsenal’s top-four hopes virtually kiboshed by defeat in the North London derby, there have been calls for Arsene Wenger to prioritise the Europa League.

AFP or licensors Arsene Wenger will not find his task easier if he focuses on the Europa League

That’s nice in theory. But Arsenal will be up against three A-list sides in Atletico Madrid, Dortmund and Napoli.

Then plenty of others — AC Milan, RB Leipzig, Dynamo Kiev, Athletic Bilbao, Real Sociedad, Villarreal, Lyon and Marseille — well capable of beating a Gunners team who are awful away from home.

So, will an absence of the Champions League for a second successive season instigate the meaningful mid-term review of Wenger’s £18million two-year deal we were promised?

You already know the answer to that.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger wants to get Henrikh Mkhitaryan back up and running after move from Manchester United

Icy ‘n dicey

EARLY impressions of covering the Olympics: 

1 It’s really cold. Yep, we know it’s winter and it’s supposed to be cold, but these are the coldest Games ever.

2 Short-track speed-skating is as thrilling a live sporting spectacle as you could witness, but it’s also nuts.

3 Snowboarders are nuts. Boarding in these winds is utterly nuts.

4 Cross-country skiing is nuts but not as nuts as biathlon, which is gruelling cross-country skiing to get the ticker racing plus rifle shooting necessitating a low heart-rate.

5 There is nothing more nuts than ski jumping. When you’ve seen how huge those hills really are you’ll never scoff at Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards again.

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Manchester City Vs Arsenal: Raheem Sterling Is Major Injury Doubt For Carabao Cup Final Against Gunners, Reveals Pep Guardiola

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RAHEEM STERLING is an injury doubt for the Carabao Cup final Arsenal against Arsenal on Sunday.

The England winger missed the FA Cup defeat at Wigan on Monday night after reporting a tight hamstring in training.

Reuters Pep Guardiola has revealed Raheem Sterling is a doubt for the Carabao Cup final

Reuters The Manchester City winger is currently battling a minor hamstring problem

And Pep Guardiola revealed on Friday he is unsure whether he will be ready to face the Gunners.

That would be a blow for the 23-year-old – who was brought up in North London and loves playing at Wembley.

Guardiola said: “He had a problem with muscle, he had a problem against Basel.

“I don’t know if he’s ready for Sunday.”

EPA The 23-year-old failed to feature in the FA Cup defeat against Wigan last Monday

Reuters Raheem Sterling has been in inspired form for the Citizens this season, banging in 20 goals in all competitions

However Gabriel Jesus is set to return to the City squad after almost two months out with a knee ligament problem.

The Brazilian has been training for the past few days and will have a fitness test before they travel to London on Saturday.

GUARD’S HONOUR Pep Guardiola ready to agree Manchester City contract extension until 2021 worth £19.5m-a-year

Guardiola said: “With Gabriel we’ll see on Saturday, he made a third sessions with the team so every day he is better.

“He’s so important, when people say about four titles, you have to be everything going well, when your full-back is injured six months.

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France Vs Italy Six Nations Rugby: Kick-off Time, Tv Channel, Live Stream And Team News For Guiseppe Garibaldi Trophy

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FOLLOWING two narrow defeats in their opening two matches, France aim to begin a resurgence as they face bottom side Italy in the first fixture of the this week’s Six Nations.

Jacques Brunel’s team suffered a 13-15 loss to Ireland on the opening weekend, before another close encounter with Scotland in match week two – that also ended with them being beaten.

Reuters France are looking for their first win in 11 months as they face Italy

Italy have been hammered by England and Ireland in their first two matches but have turned on the attacking style, scoring five tries so far this tournament.

The Italians’ last victory in the Six Nations came in 2015, when they beat Scotland at Murrayfield 22-19.

What times does France vs Italy kick-off?

THIS match will take place on Friday, February 23 at the Stade Velodrome, Marseille.

The game will kick-off at 8:00pm.

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Manchester City Boss Pep Guardiola Charged By Fa For Wearing Yellow Ribbon, Breaching ‘political Message’ Rules

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MANCHESTER CITY boss Pep Guardiola has been charged by the FA over a “political message” for wearing a yellow ribbon.

The Spaniard explained his reasoning for wearing the token in December, saying it was in support of imprisoned Catalan politicians.

AFP Pep Guardiola has been charged by the FA for wearing his yellow ribbon

At the time, Guardiola revealed he was happy to face a fine or suspension for the stunt – for the good cause.

The City chief claimed: “If they want to suspend me – Uefa, Premier League, Fifa. It’s OK”.

MORE TO FOLLOW…

Peter Reid has to step in as Pep Guardiola and Paul Cook row at half-time of Manchester City’s FA Cup clash with Wigan

PA:Press Association The use of a yellow ribbon broke rules on ‘political messages’ on clothing

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