Is the Special One on borrowed time at Spurs?

By Mariah Ramharack April 18, 2021

On many a Sunday, I realize that people have looked at the stories they have seen throughout the week with different lenses. I have my own personal take on some of these trending issues and I will share them with you. Welcome to #INCASEYOUMISSEDIT the 2021 edition with Mariah.

Jose Mourinho on borrowed time

Tottenham Hotspur has been struggling in the Premier League and there is speculation Jose Mourinho’s days at the club are numbered. Their 20/21 season has been atrocious and looks likely to miss out on Champions League qualification for a second consecutive season, having previously played in the competition four times in a row.

With six games left in the Premier League, Spurs are five points off fourth-placed West Ham. The team’s decline has been evident after its 3-1 defeat at home to Liverpool on January 28. They have lost seven of the following 14 Premier League games after that, they won five matches and drew two, conceding 21 goals, one less than they scored.

To make matters worse, Mourinho’s side exited the FA Cup in the fifth round with defeat at Everton and then collapsed in Croatia throwing away a 2-0 first-leg lead to lose 3-2 on aggregate at Dinamo Zagreb in the Europa League.

What is clear is that Mourinho is failing to get the best out of his players. When asked about his team’s poor run his response, “Same coach, different players”, suggests that there is also discontent in the dressing room.

Paul Pogba, who was Mourinho’s world-record marquee signing following his 2016 appointment at Old Trafford accused the former Manchester United manager of casting players, including himself, aside without explanation.

Former English footballer Danny Mills claimed that Jose Mourinho is preoccupied with protecting Tottenham’s backline and it has affected his selection decisions farther up the pitch.

 “Mourinho has continued to chop and change his centre-back partnerships over the last few months, with all of Tottenham’s centre-halves being guilty of some poor mistakes at the back,” Mills opined.

As of now, it seems the Special One is not that special anymore.

 

Time for Harry Kane to win a Premier League title

Despite Tottenham Hotspur’s woes Harry Kane continues to stand out for his club. He is currently the leading goal scorer for the Premier League but is yet to win a title. He’s now scored 20 or more league goals in five different seasons, a feat accomplished only by Alan Shearer, Sergio Aguero and Thierry Henry.

 Despite his productivity, it is unlikely that Kane will win a title at Spurs. They are not going to make the Champions League next season and nobody knows for sure what the future holds.

At age 28, Kane must make the move before it is too late. There will be clubs interested in signing him including the likes of Manchester United and Manchester City, both good options.

  Manchester United needs a Europa League win

Manchester United is set to face Roma and is favourite to win the Europa League given the quality of their opponents and their form at this point in the season. United beat Granada 2-0 at Old Trafford on Thursday to complete a 4-0 aggregate success and set up a semi-final against Roma, who edged Ajax 3-2 on aggregate and are outsiders to lift the trophy.

United have not lifted silverware since 2017 but can end that drought if they are successful in the Europa League this season. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is hoping to make it fifth-time lucky after United fell short in four semi-finals across last season and this.

United beat Ajax in the 2017-final in Sweden and to many, they are a better side now than they were then and have shown consistently this season that they have what it takes this season to beat some of the top teams in Europe.

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    Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's working relationship with the club he loves is set to carry on until at least 2024 after he signed an extension with Manchester United.

    The deal, a pre-season boost as United prepare for a new campaign, came with a glowing endorsement from outgoing executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, who talked up the "foundations in place for long-term success on the pitch" in the official statement released by the club.

    There are obvious reasons to be so optimistic, too, considering the Red Devils finished runners-up to Manchester City in the Premier League and also reached the Europa League final.

    However, as has become a worrying trend of late, they still came up short in the quest for silverware. Solskjaer's new deal, plus the signing of Jadon Sancho, shows a high degree of faith in the current regime, but also shortens the list of excuses if the near-misses continue.

    Partnerships in football can sour swiftly if things do not pan out as hoped – the previous manager to occupy the home dugout at Old Trafford knows that only too well...

    A sign of better times after life under Mourinho

    Solskjaer has a win rate of 52.6 per cent in the Premier League since taking charge. His average of 1.86 points per game sits him third on the United list since the competition's inception, behind an undoubted club legend and a former boss who knows an extension is not always a guarantee of sticking around.

    Jose Mourinho triumphed in exactly 50 of his 93 league games in charge. In contrast to the man who replaced him, the Portuguese had early success with United as well, winning the EFL Cup and the Europa League in his first season.

    Those seemingly solid foundations subsided quickly, though. He was handed an extension in January 2018 yet was gone inside a year, dismissed amid dissatisfaction with not just results on the pitch but also the style of play. A defeat to Liverpool at Anfield proved to be the final straw.

    Mourinho fell seven games short of his Premier League century with the Red Devils, caught out by his entrenched views on how the team should be set up as he seemingly failed to grasp the club's traditions.

    Solskjaer now has his hundred within sight, a number that seemed highly improbable when he flew in from Molde to answer United's SOS (Save Our Season) call. The trip to Wolves on August 29, United's third outing in 2021-22, following on from games against Leeds United and Southampton, will see him reach three figures in the Premier League. 

    In doing so, he will become the first manager to make it to the milestone with United since Alex Ferguson. Matching his league success rate of 65.2 per cent may appear a tall order, but the team have been trending in the right direction after mixed times under the stewardship of more illustrious names.

    United's 73 league goals they scored last term were the highest tallied in the post-Ferguson era, while 12 away wins in the top flight were also the most since the Scot stepped aside. All they need to do now is work out a way to get over the hump, whether that be at home or abroad.

    Finding the balance in the quest for success

    Upon his arrival in December 2018, Solskjaer cited the "very talented squad" at his disposal. That group which struggled for points in the dying embers of Mourinho's reign went unbeaten in his first 12 league games, a run that helped the caretaker stick around in the job for a while longer.

    A Champions League away win over Paris Saint-Germain provided further ammunition to suggest the Norwegian should be retained on a permanent basis (he would receive a three-year deal). Marcus Rashford scored the winner from the penalty spot on that famous night in the French capital, one of his 52 goals under Solskjaer.

    No player has managed more than the England international, who also tops the list for appearances (128). Mason Greenwood – another product of the academy system that remains so highly valued by both club officials and supporters – has 29 goals in 105 appearances.

    There have been hugely successful signings, too, with Bruno Fernandes (40 goals in just 80 games) the pick of the bunch. Edinson Cavani, who scored 17 times in the 2020-21 season, proved an astute bit of business as well, a free transfer that paid off spectacularly as a much-needed focal point in the forward line.

    Rashford, Greenwood, Fernandes and Cavani demonstrate the "good balance" within the squad that Solskjaer mentioned in the announcement of his new contract. Sancho joining from Borussia Dortmund only adds even greater depth to the attacking options, having returned to Manchester – albeit the other side of the divide – after dazzling during his time in the Bundesliga.

    A centre-back, quite possibly Raphael Varane, would help bolster the back-line that gave up 44 league goals in the previous season, but Solskjaer has plenty to work with already.

    He spoke both prior to the end of the league season and also in the aftermath of losing on penalties to Villarreal in the Europa League showpiece about the need to strengthen the squad, calling for two or three high-profile signings.

    Sancho is certainly one of those, while Varane would tick that box as well, so it seems the much-maligned owners board are set to grant him his wish.

    United have shown faith in Solskjaer throughout and now he needs to repay them in the only way possible – by winning trophies.

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    The deal, a pre-season boost as United prepare for a new campaign, came with a glowing endorsement from outgoing executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, who talked up the "foundations in place for long-term success on the pitch" in the official statement released by the club.

    There are obvious reasons to be so optimistic, too, considering the Red Devils finished runners-up to Manchester City in the Premier League and also reached the Europa League final.

    However, as has become a worrying trend of late, they still came up short in the quest for silverware. Solskjaer's new deal, plus the signing of Jadon Sancho, shows a high degree of faith in the current regime, but also shortens the list of excuses if the near-misses continue.

    Partnerships in football can sour swiftly if things do not pan out as hoped – the previous manager to occupy the home dugout at Old Trafford knows that only too well...

    A sign of better times after life under Mourinho

    Solskjaer has a win rate of 52.6 per cent in the Premier League since taking charge. His average of 1.86 points per game sits him third on the United list since the competition's inception, behind an undoubted club legend and a former boss who knows an extension is not always a guarantee of sticking around.

    Jose Mourinho triumphed in exactly 50 of his 93 league games in charge. In contrast to the man who replaced him, the Portuguese had early success with United as well, winning the EFL Cup and the Europa League in his first season.

    Those seemingly solid foundations subsided quickly, though. He was handed an extension in January 2018 yet was gone inside a year, dismissed amid dissatisfaction with not just results on the pitch but also the style of play. A defeat to Liverpool at Anfield proved to be the final straw.

    Mourinho fell seven games short of his Premier League century with the Red Devils, caught out by his entrenched views on how the team should be set up as he seemingly failed to grasp the club's traditions.

    Solskjaer now has his hundred within sight, a number that seemed highly improbable when he flew in from Molde to answer United's SOS (Save Our Season) call. The trip to Wolves on August 29, United's third outing in 2021-22, following on from games against Leeds United and Southampton, will see him reach three figures in the Premier League. 

    In doing so, he will become the first manager to make it to the milestone with United since Alex Ferguson. Matching his league success rate of 65.2 per cent may appear a tall order, but the team have been trending in the right direction after mixed times under the stewardship of more illustrious names.

    United's 73 league goals they scored last term were the highest tallied in the post-Ferguson era, while 12 away wins in the top flight were also the most since the Scot stepped aside. All they need to do now is work out a way to get over the hump, whether that be at home or abroad.

    Finding the balance in the quest for success

    Upon his arrival in December 2018, Solskjaer cited the "very talented squad" at his disposal. That group which struggled for points in the dying embers of Mourinho's reign went unbeaten in his first 12 league games, a run that helped the caretaker stick around in the job for a while longer.

    A Champions League away win over Paris Saint-Germain provided further ammunition to suggest the Norwegian should be retained on a permanent basis (he would receive a three-year deal). Marcus Rashford scored the winner from the penalty spot on that famous night in the French capital, one of his 52 goals under Solskjaer.

    No player has managed more than the England international, who also tops the list for appearances (128). Mason Greenwood – another product of the academy system that remains so highly valued by both club officials and supporters – has 29 goals in 105 appearances.

    There have been hugely successful signings, too, with Bruno Fernandes (40 goals in just 80 games) the pick of the bunch. Edinson Cavani, who scored 17 times in the 2020-21 season, proved an astute bit of business as well, a free transfer that paid off spectacularly as a much-needed focal point in the forward line.

    Rashford, Greenwood, Fernandes and Cavani demonstrate the "good balance" within the squad that Solskjaer mentioned in the announcement of his new contract. Sancho joining from Borussia Dortmund only adds even greater depth to the attacking options, having returned to Manchester – albeit the other side of the divide – after dazzling during his time in the Bundesliga.

    A centre-back, quite possibly Raphael Varane, would help bolster the back-line that gave up 44 league goals in the previous season, but Solskjaer has plenty to work with already.

    He spoke both prior to the end of the league season and also in the aftermath of losing on penalties to Villarreal in the Europa League showpiece about the need to strengthen the squad, calling for two or three high-profile signings.

    Sancho is certainly one of those, while Varane would tick that box as well, so it seems the much-maligned owners board are set to grant him his wish.

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  • Pogba still in Man Utd contract talks and looking forward to new season – Solskjaer Pogba still in Man Utd contract talks and looking forward to new season – Solskjaer

    Paul Pogba remains in talks with Manchester United over a new contract and is looking forward to the coming campaign getting under way, according to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

    The France international's future has once again been called into question amid reports he has reached a stalemate in discussions over a deal to stay at Old Trafford.

    Pogba is due to become a free agent in a little under a year's time and is now rumoured to be a €50million (£43m) target for Paris Saint-Germain.

    However, Solskjaer remains confident the 28-year-old – who has spent five seasons with United in his second spell with the club – will remain in place beyond this window.

    "Talks are ongoing between Paul's representative and the club representatives," Solskjaer said. "All the dialogue I've had with Paul is that he's looking forward to the season.

    "There's always speculation about Paul, the talks between Paul and his representatives. I'm not in the detail of every single one. I've got nothing to say about that really.

    "Paul knows what we feel about it and I've enjoyed my time working with him and hopefully we can continue working together."

    Pogba has yet to link up with United for pre-season training, having being given an extended break after playing four times for France at Euro 2020.

    The ex-Juventus midfielder scored one goal and assisted another for France at the tournament, while his eight chances created were second only to Antoine Griezmann (10) among Les Bleus players.

    Speaking after United's 4-2 friendly defeat to Queens Park Rangers on Saturday, Solskjaer suggested Pogba could link up with his United team-mates in the next couple of days. 

    "Many will join in training on Monday so they've got a few weeks to catch up," he told MUTV of United's players involved at the Euros and Copa America. 

    "That's unfortunately the way it is; every year where there is a tournament, we have to catch up. Hopefully, they've done the work we've told them to do when they're away."

    New signing Jadon Sancho and fellow England internationals Luke Shaw and Harry Maguire, who reached the Euro 2020 final, along with Copa America finalist Fred will "return in about 10 days' time", however.

    Solskjaer had already confirmed ahead of United's defeat at the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium that full-back Alex Telles will miss "a few weeks" with an ankle injury sustained in training.

    United's next pre-season friendly is against Brentford at Old Trafford on Wednesday, followed by games with Preston North End and Everton before their Premier League opener at home to Leeds United on August 14.

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