When Louis van Gaal was fighting to avoid the sack at Old Trafford a little over two years ago, his old pal José Mourinho didn’t exactly lend a hand. But reports that the manager wrote a six-page letter to Manchester United describing how he would make the club great again, should a vacancy arise, were dismissed as “ridiculous and totally absurd” by Mourinho’s agent. Van Gaal sure didn’t like how his dismissal eventually went down and has since said United’s “low and mean” behaviour during that time left him so embittered that after his jilting he rejected other jobs just so United would have to continue paying him compensation for being out of work.
The Mill mentions all this because the Sun says Zinedine Zidane has called Mourinho to reassure the Portuguese that he is not lobbying for his job, through letters or any other medium. And the Sun also claims this has convinced Mourinho that someone representing United has been sniffing around the Frenchman. Details of the reported call are sparse but the Mill likes to imagine that Mourinho asked Zidane if he would care to be put through to Ed Woodward to say he would not accept the job if offered it, whereupon the connection was unfortunately lost. Terrible signal, you see.
Meanwhile, reports just about everywhere claim that if United lose to Valencia on Tuesday and Newcastle this weekend, then Mourinho will be presented with the sort of golden boot that even Harry Kane would not put on display, which is to say a highly lucrative sacking, which others claim he might welcome.
If Mourinho turns United’s fortunes around and remains in charge heading into next year, however, then Paul Pogba’s desire to leave will increase, according to yet more reports, one of which claims the French midfielder would be keen to hit Barcelona as early as January. United may even let that happen in return for £200m. Barcelona’s board is said to be divided about whether the player is worth that much. Of course, for Mourinho to turn things around and save his job, he probably needs the help of Pogba. It’s a pickle alright.
Mourinho could also do with some help from Alexis Sánchez, who has been performing like a low-cost impressionist since arriving at United for astronomical lolly. The manager is so peeved at the Chilean’s displays so far that he has reportedly told him he may never play for United again if his performances do not improve. Sánchez is thought to have responded to that ultimatum by putting in a dazzling solo on his piano. Meanwhile, Mourinho is also said to be at loggerheads with Antonio Valencia, whose namesake, given all of the above, must fancy their chances of winning at Old Trafford.
In developments beyond the Theatre of Screams, Real Madrid and Liverpool are said to be keen on offering Aaron Ramsey a new home when he leaves Arsenal. Meanwhile, the Gunners have taken a keen interest in Lille’s winger Nicolas Pépé, an Ivorian international who has been tearing up Ligue 1 in the early stages of this season.
Chelsea are planning for the future by eyeing up Volendam’s 15-year-old midfielder Sam Lautenschutz, who is also admired by Manchester City and Barcelona.
One midfielder whom Barcelona are thinking of shedding is Rafinha, with Valencia willing to take him in January.
Finally, the Times says that Declan Rice has turned down the chance to be included in the Republic of Ireland’s squad for their forthcoming jousts with Wales and Denmark. Apparently he has still not made up his mind about his international future. It is thought that clarity may suddenly come if Gareth Southgate asks to include him in England’s squad.