Manchester United will host Liverpool in a rearranged clash on Thursday, May 13, meaning a run of three Premier League games in five days for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side.

Last Sunday's scheduled clash between the two most decorated sides in English football was called off after United fans protesting the ownership of the Glazer family prevented their players from leaving the Lowry Hotel pre-match and also stormed the stadium.

The limited wriggle room left in the schedule means the game will now come after United travel to Aston Villa on May 9 and host Leicester City on May 11.

Liverpool could argue they have been dealt a similarly punishing hand, with three games in six days – all of which are away from home – as they battle to snatch a top-four spot.

The Premier League has moved its penultimate round of fixtures to midweek slots on May 18 and 19 to allow fans to attend, in line with the next stage of coronavirus restrictions being lifted.

Manchester United remaining fixtures 2020-21
Roma (a) - Europa League, May 6
Aston Villa (a) - Premier League, May 9
Leicester (h) - Premier League, May 11
Liverpool (h) - Premier League, May 13
Fulham (h) - Premier League, May 18
Wolves (a) - Premier League, May 23
Possible Europa League final, May 26

Liverpool remaining fixtures 2020-21
Southampton (h) – Premier League, May 8
Man Utd (a) – Premier League, May 13
West Brom (a) – Premier League, May 16
Burnley (a) – Premier League, May 19
Crystal Palace (h) – Premier League, May 23

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer does not know whether Mason Greenwood fancies the hard knocks of being a career centre-forward.

Greenwood is in line to make his 100th Manchester United appearance when Solskjaer's side look to complete the job in their Europa League semi-final against Roma, taking a hefty 6-2 lead to the Stadio Olimpico.

The 19-year-old forward came off the bench to complete the rout at Old Trafford last week before being denied the chance to continue that form when fan protests saw last weekend's scheduled meeting with Liverpool postponed.

Greenwood has played most of his football over the past two seasons as a right-winger, but Solskjaer cautioned a keen eye for goal is not the only attribute needed when it comes to being a specialist striker.

"The Liverpool game was going to be his 100th game and we spoke about getting the winner in that," he said.

"We've spoken about whether he's going to be wide right or be a number nine, because you've got to stick your head in there.

"He's a pretty boy and I'm not sure if he's going to do that.

"Keep doing what he does, he's got a very bright future, I'm sure of that."

Greenwood scored 17 goals in all competitions for United in 2019-20, equalling the best season by a teenager in the club's history – level with George Best (1965-66), Brian Kidd (1967-68) and Wayne Rooney (2004-05).

The going has been tougher this time around, with 10 goals in 46 games across all competitions.

A look at Opta's expected goals (xG) figures for Greenwood show a sharp drop-off in his Premier League finishing.

Last term, his 10 league goals came from efforts with a combined xG value of 2.9 (39 shots), a huge over-performance.

In 2020-21, he has five top-flight goals – a shade over an xG of 4.6 (56 shots).

United great Gary Neville believes Edinson Cavani committing to another year at Old Trafford would be beneficial for Greenwood and Marcus Rashford, and Solskjaer gave a cautiously positive update on talks with the experienced Uruguayan.

"We've had some good chats lately and even though the decision is still in his court, I'm still hopeful," he said, Cavani's masterful showing of two goals and two assists to demolish Roma still fresh in the memory.

"And maybe even more so when you saw him on Thursday against Rome and telling him 'when you do that in front of the Stretford End [with fans in attendance], that's magic'."

United's attacking options will be slightly diminished in the Italian capital, with Dan James "still out for a little while", according to his manager.

Solskjaer added that Anthony Martial could feature again for United this season, despite initial fears a knee injury suffered on international duty with France would bring a premature end to his campaign.

"Anthony's looking good. He's just about started outside jogging, which is the first step on the rehab," he explained.

"He's done most of the work in the gym and to see him out there getting some fresh air is good. Hopefully we will see him before the season is out.

"He's supporting the team, he wants to be a part of the final and he's working hard to be available before that."

Jose Mourinho has been backed to do a great job at Roma by Paulo Fonseca, the man he will be replacing at the Serie A club.

Roma announced on Tuesday that Fonseca will step down from his role at the end of the season to make way for the arrival of Mourinho.

It marks a swift return to management for the Portuguese, who was sacked by Tottenham on April 19 after a disappointing 17 months in charge. He left Spurs with a 51 per cent win ratio in all competitions - only with Leiria (45 per cent) at the start of his managerial career had he posted a worse return.

However, Mourinho won two league titles, the Coppa Italia twice and a Champions League during his only previous spell in Italian football, which was with Inter between 2008 and 2010.

Fonseca expects his successor to do well during his time in the Italian capital.

"He is a great coach, we all know that. I think he will do a great job," Fonseca said at a news conference on Wednesday previewing his side's Europa League clash with Manchester United.

Asked if the decision to step down at the end of the season was mutual, Fonseca replied: "Speaking honestly, I thought it was time to follow different paths with Roma.

"It is not one of the most difficult tests of my career, I live this moment with normality, as a professional focused on my work until the last day.

"For me, professionalism is a sacred value. I am here today as on the first day: motivated. I want to make the best of Rome until the last day."

Fonseca guided Roma to a fifth-placed finish in the 2019-20 season but they sit seventh this campaign, 14 points adrift of the Champions League qualification places.

An impressive run to the Europa League semi-finals appears likely to come to an end on Thursday, however, as United lead 6-2 heading into the second leg in Rome.

Yet Roma famously overturned a 4-1 first-leg deficit to knock Barcelona out of the Champions League quarter-finals in 2018 and Fonseca is not ruling out another miracle result.

"It's not easy to beat Manchester 4-0, but I've seen a lot of things in football. I believe in everything," he said.

Roma have not lost both legs of a two-legged knockout tie in major European competition (excluding qualifiers) since the 2015-16 Champions League last-16 meeting with Real Madrid.

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes supporters' protests against the club's owners went "too far" as they led to the postponement of Sunday's Premier League clash with Liverpool.

The club's involvement in the breakaway European Super League, which swiftly collapsed, had reignited lingering resentment of the ownership at Old Trafford.

The Glazers, who acquired the club through a leveraged buyout in 2005, have long been unpopular but became the subject of increased criticism in recent weeks.

Fans surrounded The Lowry Hotel, where United stay before home matches, on Sunday, letting off red smoke bombs and leading anti-Glazer chants.

The demonstration did not end there, however, with some supporters gaining access to the stadium and then the pitch, with flares hurled towards the directors' box and press area.

Although United and Liverpool confirmed their respective starting XIs, the match was postponed roughly an hour after the intended kick-off time.

A minority of United fans clashed with police officers outside the ground, and Solskjaer feels that – coupled with the trespassing at Old Trafford – meant some took their actions too far.

"It was a difficult day for us," Solskjaer said ahead of Thursday's Europa League semi-final second leg against Roma.

"Of course we wanted to play and beat Liverpool, for the fans, even. Our job has to be getting good results on the pitch, that's the players' focus, my focus, but as I said before the game, we have to listen, hear the fans' voices, it's everyone's right to protest.

"But it has to be in a peaceful manner. Unfortunately, when you break in, when police get injured, scarred for life, that's one step too far, and when it gets out of hand like this, it's a police matter, it's not about opinions anymore."

Other clubs involved in the attempted breakaway are trying to build bridges with supporters, with Chelsea announcing plans to have three fan representatives at board meetings from July.

Solskjaer accepts the communication with fans has to be better, and he understands United are already taking such steps.

"Of course, my focus has to be on the results, but you don't have to be a rocket scientist to see we have challenges to be dealt with, there's friction.

"Others have started discussing with fan groups already, which will be massive for us going forward.

"I would be sad if all the good work the players have done got disrupted. Our focus is on playing well and getting to a final now."

United co-owner Joel Glazer issued a public apology to United fans in the wake of the Super League's collapse, and Solskjaer has now revealed he received a personal message from the owners.

"I've been communicating with owners, I got a personal apology, they apologised to fans for how this came out," he continued. "I know they've started communications with other individuals.

"As I said, it's a difficult position for me to be in because I've got to focus on the football and I've always had a good relationship and they listen to me, they listen to the fans and I'm sure there'll be better communication coming."

But Solskjaer's focus is building on the 6-2 defeat of Roma last week and securing a first final appearance as United boss, which he hopes can at least temporarily serve as a welcome distraction.

"Sometimes frictions and challenges can move things forward," he said. "The last few weeks have been tough.

"I've had backing, I have to say. I've been put in charge and I'm responsible for the footballing matters, and I understand fans want to see trophies and progress.

"Hopefully we can get to a final tomorrow, that's the short-term fix, then we'll take it from there."

The Premier League has confirmed away fans will not be allowed to attend fixtures staged in the final two rounds of the 2020-21 season.

With a further relaxing of coronavirus restrictions scheduled in the United Kingdom on May 17, up to 10,000 supporters will be allowed inside grounds to watch games again.

The penultimate set of top-flight fixtures had been pushed back to midweek dates as a result, thereby making sure all clubs have one home outing under the new guidelines.

However, visiting fans will not be permitted inside the stadiums, a decision taken to make sure there is consistency across the board for all 20 teams.

"The Premier League last week confirmed fixtures have been rescheduled to provide an opportunity for each club to host one home game with supporters before the end of the season," a statement from the governing body said.

"Match round 37 will now be played on Tuesday 18 and Wednesday 19 May with the final matches of the season kicking off at 16:00 BST on Sunday 23 May, as planned.

"Following consultation with clubs, it was agreed matches would not be open to away supporters due to varying operational challenges across the league and the need to deliver a consistent approach, while maximising the opportunity for home-fan attendance.

"The safety and security of supporters is of paramount importance. Clubs have a proven track record of providing Covid-safe environments and have operational plans in place ready to safely welcome supporters back to their stadiums.

"Fans have been greatly missed at Premier League matches and this marks a key step towards full stadiums, including away fans, from the start of the 2021-22 season."

Old rivals Antonio Conte and Jose Mourinho will come face-to-face once more next season.

Mourinho did not stay out of the spotlight for long after his sacking by Tottenham and has been confirmed as the new Roma head coach.

He will join the club ahead of the 2021-22 season on a three-year deal to compete in a league where Conte and his former club Inter have just ended a historic run of Juventus domestic dominance.

A bitter war of words erupted between the high-profile bosses when they were at Manchester United and Chelsea respectively in the Premier League.

Tensions had simmered between the pair since Conte's appointment as Mourinho's long-term successor at Stamford Bridge in 2016.

The Portuguese's proximity as a direct rival at United was never likely to encourage detente.

Mourinho and Conte have met seven times before as managers.

After their first meeting was a draw in 2010 as Inter took on Atalanta, Conte has taken four victories from the six meetings to take place since 2016, with just two wins going to the new Roma boss.

Here we have a look back what both men said during their rivalry at Chelsea and United, reviewing how the row rapidly escalated.
 

Prelude - Defensive teams and Mourinho seasons

Initially, as Chelsea marched to the Premier League title and United collected the EFL Cup and Europa League to compensate for a sixth-place finish in the top flight, the jibes between the two amounted to a sparring session, as opposed to an all-out verbal scrap.

The seeds were sown when Mourinho complained to Conte about his animated celebrations on the touchine – more on those later – as Chelsea thrashed United 4-0 at Stamford Bridge in October 2016.

Mourinho's favoured method of damning with faint praise was to the fore in February 2017, when he labelled the Premier League's leading side "a very good defensive team", while Conte warned Chelsea to avoid "the Mourinho season" – a handy shorthand for the perils of a dreadful title defence, such as the one endured at Stamford Bridge in 2015-16.

In addition, Mourinho suggested Conte was one of his rivals who, "they cry, they cry, they cry when a player is injured". In the Italian's opinion, the United boss was overly concerned with matters at his former club. The stage was set.

"I don't behave as a clown on the touchline"

While offering assurances over his United future in January 2018, having appeared increasingly morose around matches, Mourinho identified an aspect of his behaviour he believes sets him apart from his colleagues.

"Because I don't behave as a clown on the touchline it means I lost my passion?" he said. "I prefer to behave the way I am doing it, much more mature, better for my team and myself.

"You don't have to behave like a crazy guy on the touchline to have that passion."

Mourinho could arguably have been referencing Conte, Pep Guardiola or Jurgen Klopp. All three men were asked about his comments at the time; only one took the bait.

"Demenza Senile"

Speaking a day later, Conte was quick to accuse Mourinho of hypocrisy in a rather eye-catching manner.

"I think that he has to see himself in the past, maybe he was speaking about himself in the past, yeah?" he said.

"Maybe sometimes, I think that someone forgets his behaviour and sometimes I think there is, I don't know the name, 'demenza senile' when you are a bit... when you forget what you do in the past."

Despite the literal translation being "senile dementia", Chelsea were forced to clarify Conte had been searching for the Italian word for "amnesia".

Either way, this was now an argument in the gutter. Mourinho seemed happy with that state of affairs and was determined to hit Conte where it hurt most.

"I will never be suspended for match-fixing"

Responding after United's 2-0 FA Cup win over Derby later that day, Mourinho set Conte up with faux-sympathy and empathy – this is all the media's fault, you see – before concluding with a non-veiled dig

 "Look, I don't blame him. Honestly, I don't blame him," he began.

"I think the press should apologise to me and to him because the question that comes to him is completely wrong and because of that he had that out-of-control reaction. But I don't blame him at all."

There followed apparent contrition for past indiscretions. It was all an elaborate set-up.

"The only thing I want to say to end the story is that yes, I made mistakes in the past on the touchline," Mourinho added.

"Yes, I will make less, but I think I will still make a few. What never happened to me and will never happen is to be suspended for match-fixing. That never happened to me and will never happen."

Conte was implicated in a 2011 scandal while in charge of Siena and later served a four-month ban, but always denied any wrongdoing and was acquitted by an Italian judge in May 2016. 

"A little man with a very low profile"

Conte had spoken previously about his personal ordeal throughout the match-fixing affair. Following a 0-0 FA Cup draw for Chelsea at Norwich City, he was understandably in a barely concealed fury.

"I consider him a little man, I consider him a man with a very low profile," Conte said of Mourinho, before airing a recently learned word.

"You have to know the story very well before hurting another person. In the last period, he's suffering a bit of amnesia."

Conte went on to lambast Mourinho for his criticism of Claudio Ranieri before last season seeking to show solidarity with the deposed Leicester City boss.

"I remember for example, a stupid example with Ranieri, when he offended Ranieri for [the standard of] his English," Conte seethed.

"Then when Ranieri was sacked he put on a shirt for Ranieri. You are a fake.

"If you want to fight a person, you try to kill the person, and then after two years you try to help this person, because maybe it's good for you, your profile."

Contempt and no regrets

In the days following that year's FA Cup third-round weekend, Conte underlined that he had "no regrets" over the episode. "He said serious words and used serious words. I won't forget this," he said.

Mourinho then told reporters in no uncertain terms that he had "contempt" for Conte, as a dubious means to draw a line under the issue.

All eyes were on the dugout, then, when the foes met at Old Trafford – a prospect Conte was already eyeing as he glowered at Carrow Road.

"Me and him, face to face," he said of the Premier League match at the Theatre of Dreams. "I'm ready. I don't know if he is ready."

United came from behind to win 2-1, with Romelu Lukaku and Jesse Lingard getting the goals.

The two managers were heavily scrutinised - Mourinho was the first to emerge from the tunnel and the pair did shake hands even after a wait for Conte to make his appearance.

Mourinho and Conte again shook hands after the match and the mood seemed conciliatory.

A truce?

In the months after the match and shortly before the FA Cup final between United and Chelsea in 2018, Mourinho revealed a truce had broken out between the pair.

"He [Conte] stretched out, I stretched, we got bored [arguing]," Mourinho said to Record.

"After the game here in Manchester, I invited him to come to my office. We talked, nothing is wrong."

Conte would go on to have the last laugh in their final meeting in England, beating Mourinho and United 1-0 to lift the FA Cup in his last match in charge of Chelsea before a bitter exit from Stamford Bridge.

Will the truce last? We'll find out next season and potentially for many years to come in Italy.

Old rivals Antonio Conte and Jose Mourinho will come face-to-face once more next season.

Mourinho did not stay out of the spotlight for long after his sacking by Tottenham and has been confirmed as the new Roma head coach.

He will join the club ahead of the 2021-22 season on a three-year deal to compete in a league where Conte and his former club Inter have just ended a historic run of Juventus domestic dominance.

A bitter war of words erupted between the high-profile bosses when they were at Manchester United and Chelsea respectively in the Premier League.

Tensions had simmered between the pair since Conte's appointment as Mourinho's long-term successor at Stamford Bridge in 2016.

The Portuguese's proximity as a direct rival at United was never likely to encourage detente.

Mourinho and Conte have met seven times before as managers.

After their first meeting was a draw in 2010 as Inter took on Atalanta, Conte has taken four victories from the six meetings to take place since 2016, with just two wins going to the new Roma boss.

Here we have a look back what both men said during their rivalry at Chelsea and United, reviewing how the row rapidly escalated.
 

Prelude - Defensive teams and Mourinho seasons

Initially, as Chelsea marched to the Premier League title and United collected the EFL Cup and Europa League to compensate for a sixth-place finish in the top flight, the jibes between the two amounted to a sparring session, as opposed to an all-out verbal scrap.

The seeds were sown when Mourinho complained to Conte about his animated celebrations on the touchine – more on those later – as Chelsea thrashed United 4-0 at Stamford Bridge in October 2016.

Mourinho's favoured method of damning with faint praise was to the fore in February 2017, when he labelled the Premier League's leading side "a very good defensive team", while Conte warned Chelsea to avoid "the Mourinho season" – a handy shorthand for the perils of a dreadful title defence, such as the one endured at Stamford Bridge in 2015-16.

In addition, Mourinho suggested Conte was one of his rivals who, "they cry, they cry, they cry when a player is injured". In the Italian's opinion, the United boss was overly concerned with matters at his former club. The stage was set.

"I don't behave as a clown on the touchline"

While offering assurances over his United future in January 2018, having appeared increasingly morose around matches, Mourinho identified an aspect of his behaviour he believes sets him apart from his colleagues.

"Because I don't behave as a clown on the touchline it means I lost my passion?" he said. "I prefer to behave the way I am doing it, much more mature, better for my team and myself.

"You don't have to behave like a crazy guy on the touchline to have that passion."

Mourinho could arguably have been referencing Conte, Pep Guardiola or Jurgen Klopp. All three men were asked about his comments at the time; only one took the bait.

"Demenza Senile"

Speaking a day later, Conte was quick to accuse Mourinho of hypocrisy in a rather eye-catching manner.

"I think that he has to see himself in the past, maybe he was speaking about himself in the past, yeah?" he said.

"Maybe sometimes, I think that someone forgets his behaviour and sometimes I think there is, I don't know the name, 'demenza senile' when you are a bit... when you forget what you do in the past."

Despite the literal translation being "senile dementia", Chelsea were forced to clarify Conte had been searching for the Italian word for "amnesia".

Either way, this was now an argument in the gutter. Mourinho seemed happy with that state of affairs and was determined to hit Conte where it hurt most.

"I will never be suspended for match-fixing"

Responding after United's 2-0 FA Cup win over Derby later that day, Mourinho set Conte up with faux-sympathy and empathy – this is all the media's fault, you see – before concluding with a non-veiled dig

 "Look, I don't blame him. Honestly, I don't blame him," he began.

"I think the press should apologise to me and to him because the question that comes to him is completely wrong and because of that he had that out-of-control reaction. But I don't blame him at all."

There followed apparent contrition for past indiscretions. It was all an elaborate set-up.

"The only thing I want to say to end the story is that yes, I made mistakes in the past on the touchline," Mourinho added.

"Yes, I will make less, but I think I will still make a few. What never happened to me and will never happen is to be suspended for match-fixing. That never happened to me and will never happen."

Conte was implicated in a 2011 scandal while in charge of Siena and later served a four-month ban, but always denied any wrongdoing and was acquitted by an Italian judge in May 2016. 

"A little man with a very low profile"

Conte had spoken previously about his personal ordeal throughout the match-fixing affair. Following a 0-0 FA Cup draw for Chelsea at Norwich City, he was understandably in a barely concealed fury.

"I consider him a little man, I consider him a man with a very low profile," Conte said of Mourinho, before airing a recently learned word.

"You have to know the story very well before hurting another person. In the last period, he's suffering a bit of amnesia."

Conte went on to lambast Mourinho for his criticism of Claudio Ranieri before last season seeking to show solidarity with the deposed Leicester City boss.

"I remember for example, a stupid example with Ranieri, when he offended Ranieri for [the standard of] his English," Conte seethed.

"Then when Ranieri was sacked he put on a shirt for Ranieri. You are a fake.

"If you want to fight a person, you try to kill the person, and then after two years you try to help this person, because maybe it's good for you, your profile."

Contempt and no regrets

In the days following that year's FA Cup third-round weekend, Conte underlined that he had "no regrets" over the episode. "He said serious words and used serious words. I won't forget this," he said.

Mourinho then told reporters in no uncertain terms that he had "contempt" for Conte, as a dubious means to draw a line under the issue.

All eyes were on the dugout, then, when the foes met at Old Trafford – a prospect Conte was already eyeing as he glowered at Carrow Road.

"Me and him, face to face," he said of the Premier League match at the Theatre of Dreams. "I'm ready. I don't know if he is ready."

United came from behind to win 2-1, with Romelu Lukaku and Jesse Lingard getting the goals.

The two managers were heavily scrutinised - Mourinho was the first to emerge from the tunnel and the pair did shake hands even after a wait for Conte to make his appearance.

Mourinho and Conte again shook hands after the match and the mood seemed conciliatory.

A truce?

In the months after the match and shortly before the FA Cup final between United and Chelsea in 2018, Mourinho revealed a truce had broken out between the pair.

"He [Conte] stretched out, I stretched, we got bored [arguing]," Mourinho said to Record.

"After the game here in Manchester, I invited him to come to my office. We talked, nothing is wrong."

Conte would go on to have the last laugh in their final meeting in England, beating Mourinho and United 1-0 to lift the FA Cup in his last match in charge of Chelsea before a bitter exit from Stamford Bridge.

Will the truce last? We'll find out next season and potentially for many years to come in Italy.

In December 2018, Manchester United fans were adamant that Jose Mourinho's sacking meant he was finished at the "top" in club football.

A drab style of play, a similarly joyless demeanour in news conferences and seemingly incessant desire to belittle his own players marred his time in Manchester.

Disagreements with Luke Shaw, Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial were hardly private, while his relationship with Marcus Rashford appeared uneasy at times as well.

Tottenham paid no mind to the issues – whether that was down to Daniel Levy being convinced Mourinho wasn't finished yet or if he just wanted an entertaining figurehead for his Amazon documentary, who knows. Suffice to say, it ended prematurely on April 19 when Spurs announced his dismissal.

That was two successive high-profile jobs in club management that have, at the end of the day, yielded little – even if Mourinho insists finishing second with Manchester United was one of his greatest achievements.

It left many pondering what might be next. Given the damage to his reputation and the managerial stability of most of the biggest clubs in Europe, international management with Portugal after the Euros seemed the likeliest destination.

Yet here we are: just a few weeks on from being dismissed, he's got himself a new job lined up for next season when he will replace compatriot Paulo Fonseca at Roma. Mourinho's going back to Italy, the setting of arguably his greatest achievement in football: Inter's 2009-10 treble.

But football has changed a lot in the 11 years since then – on the evidence of his time at Tottenham and Manchester United, Mourinho hasn't.

A look at his data in the Premier League since last winning it in 2015 with Chelsea shows real decline.

A failure to evolve

Let's not forget, during Mourinho's first spell as Chelsea boss he was regarded as the best coach in the world at times. Even initially in his second period at Stamford Bridge he did well, taking them to the 2014-15 Premier League trophy.

But things quickly unravelled in 2015, and it's difficult to claim he's been on anything other than a downward spiral ever since.

He was sacked by Chelsea after winning just four games from 16 at the start of the 2015-16 season, and although he did preside over United's best season – points wise – since Ferguson's retirement, he didn't leave much of a legacy at Old Trafford.

Mourinho was then tasked with ending Spurs' 11-year trophy drought. That has since stretched to 13 years, and he left Tottenham having won just 46.6 per cent of his league games in charge.

His record in the English top flight before 2015-16 saw him boast a success rate of 69.4 per cent – since then it is just 48.5 per cent.

But why?

There are numerous theories about Mourinho's demise, but arguably chief among them is the idea he has failed to evolve with modern football, focusing on negating the threats of opponents rather than using the attacking talents available to him to take the initiative.

This fear was reportedly one reason for Spurs players apparently growing frustrated with Mourinho, and the data backs up the idea Mourinho is less forward thinking than earlier in his career, with his teams averaging 1.6 goals per game since 2014-15 finished, as opposed to 1.8 beforehand.

While not a massive difference, that change is exacerbated by the fact Mourinho no longer appears to be the shrewd pragmatic innovator he was once regarded, with his teams in the past few years rather porous.

Again, since 2015-16 started, Mourinho's teams have been conceding at a rate of 1.1 per game, whereas previously they conceded just 0.6 goals every 90 minutes.

Mourinho's teams were once tireless competitors built on a solid foundation – that no longer appears to be the case.

Spurs letting it slip

Perhaps it was expected Mourinho would at least get until the end of the season with Spurs, but with Champions League qualification looking increasingly unlikely, maybe we shouldn't be surprised that Levy acted when he did.

In terms of the reasoning for his sacking, there's probably not much more to it – but if we delve a little further into the numbers, unsettling trends appear.

Granted, the 95 points won by Spurs during Mourinho's time at the club was the fourth highest in the Premier League. However, that was 21 fewer than Manchester United – Liverpool had 117 and Manchester City were out in front on 130.

Mourinho's teams are supposed to be hard to beat, that had essentially been his unique selling point for years, yet Spurs lost 13 times in 2020-21 under him – it's the worst season he's ever had in that regard and he didn't even see it all the way through.

Similarly, the 10 Premier League losses Spurs suffered is a career worst for Mourinho in a single season.

The frequency of defeats led to questions being routinely asked of Spurs' mentality throughout Mourinho's time there, with the 27 points they dropped from winning positions in the Premier League since his initial appointment being behind only Southampton (30) and Brighton and Hove Albion (31) before he was dismissed.

But it makes for even grimmer viewing when looking at this season alone as the 20 points they threw away was the joint-worst in the division at the time of his sacking.

Spurs were particularly concerning when it came to closing games out, losing 11 points to goals conceded after the 80th minute. It's no wonder their collective mental strength had been called into question so often.

While the fact he didn't collect more points per game than Tim Sherwood (1.91) might attract ridicule on social media, the latter's record is actually the best of any Spurs boss to preside over more than 10 Premier League games at the club.

More importantly, Mourinho's 1.64 points per game was a significant drop-off on Pochettino's (1.89), and therein lies a key issue.

Roma have been struggling to meet the expectations of a demanding fanbase for years, a situation not too disimiliar to Spurs.

He couldn't do the business in London – Roma will hope Mourinho's pragmatism can still stake a claim for relevance in Serie A.

In December 2018, Manchester United fans were adamant that Jose Mourinho's sacking meant he was finished at the "top" in club football.

A drab style of play, a similarly joyless demeanour in news conferences and seemingly incessant desire to belittle his own players marred his time in Manchester.

Disagreements with Luke Shaw, Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial were hardly private, while his relationship with Marcus Rashford appeared uneasy at times as well.

Tottenham paid no mind to the issues – whether that was down to Daniel Levy being convinced Mourinho wasn't finished yet or if he just wanted an entertaining figurehead for his Amazon documentary, who knows. Suffice to say, it ended prematurely on April 19 when Spurs announced his dismissal.

That was two successive high-profile jobs in club management that have, at the end of the day, yielded little – even if Mourinho insists finishing second with Manchester United was one of his greatest achievements.

It left many pondering what might be next. Given the damage to his reputation and the managerial stability of most of the biggest clubs in Europe, international management with Portugal after the Euros seemed the likeliest destination.

Yet here we are: just a few weeks on from being dismissed, he's got himself a new job lined up for next season when he will replace compatriot Paulo Fonseca at Roma. Mourinho's going back to Italy, the setting of arguably his greatest achievement in football: Inter's 2009-10 treble.

But football has changed a lot in the 11 years since then – on the evidence of his time at Tottenham and Manchester United, Mourinho hasn't.

A look at his data in the Premier League since last winning it in 2015 with Chelsea shows real decline.

A failure to evolve

Let's not forget, during Mourinho's first spell as Chelsea boss he was regarded as the best coach in the world at times. Even initially in his second period at Stamford Bridge he did well, taking them to the 2014-15 Premier League trophy.

But things quickly unravelled in 2015, and it's difficult to claim he's been on anything other than a downward spiral ever since.

He was sacked by Chelsea after winning just four games from 16 at the start of the 2015-16 season, and although he did preside over United's best season – points wise – since Ferguson's retirement, he didn't leave much of a legacy at Old Trafford.

Mourinho was then tasked with ending Spurs' 11-year trophy drought. That has since stretched to 13 years, and he left Tottenham having won just 46.6 per cent of his league games in charge.

His record in the English top flight before 2015-16 saw him boast a success rate of 69.4 per cent – since then it is just 48.5 per cent.

But why?

There are numerous theories about Mourinho's demise, but arguably chief among them is the idea he has failed to evolve with modern football, focusing on negating the threats of opponents rather than using the attacking talents available to him to take the initiative.

This fear was reportedly one reason for Spurs players apparently growing frustrated with Mourinho, and the data backs up the idea Mourinho is less forward thinking than earlier in his career, with his teams averaging 1.6 goals per game since 2014-15 finished, as opposed to 1.8 beforehand.

While not a massive difference, that change is exacerbated by the fact Mourinho no longer appears to be the shrewd pragmatic innovator he was once regarded, with his teams in the past few years rather porous.

Again, since 2015-16 started, Mourinho's teams have been conceding at a rate of 1.1 per game, whereas previously they conceded just 0.6 goals every 90 minutes.

Mourinho's teams were once tireless competitors built on a solid foundation – that no longer appears to be the case.

Spurs letting it slip

Perhaps it was expected Mourinho would at least get until the end of the season with Spurs, but with Champions League qualification looking increasingly unlikely, maybe we shouldn't be surprised that Levy acted when he did.

In terms of the reasoning for his sacking, there's probably not much more to it – but if we delve a little further into the numbers, unsettling trends appear.

Granted, the 95 points won by Spurs during Mourinho's time at the club was the fourth highest in the Premier League. However, that was 21 fewer than Manchester United – Liverpool had 117 and Manchester City were out in front on 130.

Mourinho's teams are supposed to be hard to beat, that had essentially been his unique selling point for years, yet Spurs lost 13 times in 2020-21 under him – it's the worst season he's ever had in that regard and he didn't even see it all the way through.

Similarly, the 10 Premier League losses Spurs suffered is a career worst for Mourinho in a single season.

The frequency of defeats led to questions being routinely asked of Spurs' mentality throughout Mourinho's time there, with the 27 points they dropped from winning positions in the Premier League since his initial appointment being behind only Southampton (30) and Brighton and Hove Albion (31) before he was dismissed.

But it makes for even grimmer viewing when looking at this season alone as the 20 points they threw away was the joint-worst in the division at the time of his sacking.

Spurs were particularly concerning when it came to closing games out, losing 11 points to goals conceded after the 80th minute. It's no wonder their collective mental strength had been called into question so often.

While the fact he didn't collect more points per game than Tim Sherwood (1.91) might attract ridicule on social media, the latter's record is actually the best of any Spurs boss to preside over more than 10 Premier League games at the club.

More importantly, Mourinho's 1.64 points per game was a significant drop-off on Pochettino's (1.89), and therein lies a key issue.

Roma have been struggling to meet the expectations of a demanding fanbase for years, a situation not too disimiliar to Spurs.

He couldn't do the business in London – Roma will hope Mourinho's pragmatism can still stake a claim for relevance in Serie A.

Gareth Bale's future is uncertain as his loan spell at Tottenham from Real Madrid draws to an end.

Bale has said he intends to return to Madrid for the final year of his contract.

Spurs' interest in keeping the Wales star beyond this season is not clear as they are in the market for a new head coach after Jose Mourinho's dismissal.

 

TOP STORY – NEW SPURS BOSS TO DECIDE ON BALE

The Daily Mail reports that Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy will let the club's new head coach decide whether or not to re-sign Bale.

The option remains for a second loan deal for the Welshman to re-join Spurs from Madrid next season.

Spurs have first option on a second loan but they would require Bale's agreement, although he appears out of favour in Madrid.

Triggering the clause will cost Tottenham £12million.

 

ROUND-UP

- Borussia Dortmund's asking price for Jadon Sancho is down to £87m (€100m) according to ESPN, which may interest Manchester United and Liverpool. Dortmund previously demanded more than £100m (€115m) for the England midfielder.

- Arsenal are interested in signing Rangers midfielder Glen Kamara, with a five-year deal on the table, according to Football Insider.

- The Athletic claims Brentford striker Ivan Toney is drawing interest from Leicester City and Everton as well as a "host of clubs" preparing bids for his services.

- Newcastle United are considering a move for Vitesse defender Danilho Doekhi, reports De Telegraaf.

- Bayer Leverkusen are in the mix to sign Santos' teenage forward Kaio Jorge, claims Kicker.

Manchester United have denied reports club staff let supporters into Old Trafford during Sunday's protest, while the club are working with police "to identify those involved in criminal activity".

United's game against Liverpool was postponed after demonstrations outside the team's hotel and then inside the stadium.

Fans are not currently permitted to enter Old Trafford due to the coronavirus pandemic, but a number of individuals gained access to the ground and then the pitch.

Protests were centred around United owners the Glazer family, who have long been unpopular and have come under increased scrutiny in recent weeks.

The Glazers were credited with key roles in the attempts to launch an unpopular European Super League last month.

United said on Monday they welcomed "peaceful protestors" but claimed entry to Old Trafford came as a result of "criminal damage", which will now be punished.

"Following events yesterday, while many fans wanted to exercise their right to protest and express their opinion peacefully, some were intent on disrupting the team's preparation and the game itself, as evidenced by activity at the Lowry Hotel and at the stadium," a statement read.

"Reports in mainstream and social media that protesters were able to access the stadium and pitch via a gate opened by club staff are completely incorrect. 

"After breaking through barriers and security on the forecourt, some protestors climbed the gates at the end of the Munich tunnel, then forced access to a side door in the stand, before opening an external door that let others through to the concourse area and the pitch.

"A second breach occurred when a protestor smashed the door of a disability access lift, enabling a group to enter the stand.

"The majority of our fans have and will condemn criminal damage, along with any violence towards club staff, police or other fans, and these now become a police matter.

"The club has no desire to see peaceful protestors punished, but will work with the police to identify those involved in criminal activity, and will also issue its own sanctions to any season ticket holder or member identified, per the published sanctions policy."

Mike Parrott, editor of The United Muppetiers, told Stats Perform News he condemned the "few minor criminal acts", before adding: "Outside of that, I feel like [the protest] went really well.

"It's got their message across that they want change and they're not waiting around anymore.

"It's been, what, 16 years now since the Glazers took over. They've had protests now since before 2010.

"So, I feel like them getting the game postponed as well was definitely in our favour because now everyone's talking about it.

"They got their desired effects and it worked very well it seemed, especially when 99 per cent of it was a peaceful process."

Neither United nor the Premier League have yet confirmed a new date for the Liverpool match.

Paul Pogba joked he would understand if Ole Gunnar Solskjaer left him out of his starting line-up more regularly as Manchester United boast a better win rate without the midfielder.

Pogba has been in good form for United of late, scoring one and assisting four more in his last seven appearances in all competitions.

The France international has six goals to his name overall this season, including three in the Premier League and the same number of assists.

That puts Pogba level with Luke Shaw in terms of direct goal involvements for United in all competitions this season and behind Mason Greenwood (seven), Anthony Martial (seven), Edinson Cavani (10), Marcus Rashford (18) and Bruno Fernandes (27).

However, despite Pogba's clear influence on the side, the statistics show United tend to fare better without the 28-year-old in their starting line-up.

The Red Devils have won nine of the 15 matches Pogba has not been included from the first whistle in the top flight this term, compared to 10 wins in 18 games with him in the XI – 2.2 points-per game compared to 1.9 respectively.

United's average of 2.3 goals per game without the ex-Juventus man in their starting line-up falls to 1.6 when he starts, meanwhile, and they concede fewer goals (0.7) when he is not included from the beginning than when he is (1.4).

When the win-rate figure was pointed out to him in an interview with Canal+, Pogba – who has been linked with Juve and Real Madrid – said: "Well then you will have to bench me! I didn't know that. 

"If the team is doing better without me, I would understand completely if the coach puts me on the bench and that is totally normal. 

"I will keep that one in my mind, I will. That is a good challenge for me."

Pogba's figures have improved in terms of average number of interceptions (up from 0.52 to 1.27) and tackles (1.49 to 1.72) this season compared to last, owing to the deeper position he has been asked to play in.

And the World Cup-winning midfielder is happy to play his part if it means others helping United to achieve their targets.

"I try to be as decisive as possible, despite being further from the goal," he said. "I have other qualities than those of being a match winner. 

"I'm deeper on the pitch and more defensive. It's an N'Golo Kante role, let's say. I feel good. Physically I feel better."

Roy Keane believes Manchester United fans have "had enough" and predicted further protests after Sunday's game with Liverpool was postponed due to scenes at Old Trafford and in the city.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side were due to face the reigning Premier League champions at home at 16.30 local time, but kick-off was delayed due to demonstrations against the club's owners, the Glazer family.

After protestors assembled outside the ground, some gained access to Old Trafford and entered the pitch, while others gathered outside the Lowry Hotel where the United squad stay prior to home matches.

Around an hour after the game had been due to kick off, United announced it had been postponed "due to safety and security considerations around the protest". The clubs will agree to a new date with the Premier League.

United fans have long been vehemently opposed to the Glazer ownership due to the significant levels of debt added to the club following their leveraged takeover in 2005, but the failed attempt by the Red Devils and the Premier League's 'big six' to join a breakaway European Super League has fuelled animosity in recent weeks.

While the Super League appears dead in the water for now after the six English clubs withdrew from the plans, anger towards executives such as the Glazers and Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke has abated little among supporters.

Former United captain Keane believes Sunday's protests were just the start, telling Sky Sports: "The United fans have had enough and they're doing it because they love the club.

"It's not just as a result of what's happened the last two weeks with the Super League... it's been building for a number of years. They've come to the end and feel enough is enough. It's a huge statement for the game to be called off. 

"There's been a build-up in tension, whether it be about ticketing, poor communication, things going on in the background.

"The leadership of the club has not been good enough. When they look at the owners, they feel it's just about making money. The United fans have looked at the Glazers and thought 'enough is enough'. 

"They're doing it because they love the club. Some people won't agree with it but sometimes you have to put a marker down for people to take notice.

"This will go out all over the world, and hopefully the owners of Manchester United will sit up and take note. These fans are deadly serious and there's more to come, and this is just the start of it from United fans – I guarantee it."

Fellow former captain Gary Neville, who was scathing over the proposed formation of the Super League, said: "I think it's a warning to the owners of the football club that, ultimately, they're not going to accept what they've done in the last couple of weeks.

"Beyond today, it should be about reform. Protesting is the right of every single person in this country, we must retain that, but beyond today, it's about making sure that fans across the country unite to make sure there's reform in English football, or else [these protests] will be a waste of time.

"There are people protesting in London today against the government trying to stop protests! We have to allow protests, but there is always the potential of there being a flashpoint because there will always be one or two people who may have had a drink, they might just be coming to antagonise, or they might be coming for ulterior motives. That will always happen.

"The reality is that what happened two weeks ago has ignited the United fan base into life again. It's brought them back to life.

"Fifteen years ago, there were a lot of fans who were upset, and every one I speak to are absolutely disgusted by what happened a fortnight ago. United were leading this thing, as were Liverpool, two weeks ago. They are the biggest clubs in this country."

Manchester United's home match against Liverpool was postponed after Red Devils fans earlier entered Old Trafford in an anti-Glazer protest.

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