PSV Eindhoven

PSV Eindhoven slideshow

'Chelsea do not need a big target man - keep the ball on the floor,' says Eden Hazard

Perhaps it is time to call off the search. As Chelsea’s increasingly curious hunt for a target man continued this week, with attentions turning from Andy Carroll to Christian Benteke to Peter Crouch, it was the little men, and Eden Hazard in particular, who showed there may be no need to convert Stamford Bridge into the land of the giants. This victory over Brighton was, by some distance, Chelsea’s best attacking performance of the year. And as Hazard and Willian jinked and danced around the petrified Brighton defence, there was no argument to be made for sticking a lumbering target man in their way. Hazard, the scorer of the first and third goals, certainly did not think so. “Football is simple,” he said. “Keep the ball on the ground and try [to play] like we did.” In the absence of the suspended Alvaro Morata, it was the lesser-spotted Michy Batshuayi, heavily linked with a move away, who impressed as the third member of an electric front three that produced one of the finest goals of the season. Willian’s strike, Chelsea’s second, was a triumph of speed: the speed of thought, the speed of the passing and the speed of the shot that eventually seared into the corner of the Mathew Ryan’s net. “I think we have two very good strikers in Alvaro and Michy,” said Hazard. “If they are not ready to play I can play striker, so I don’t think we need [another striker]. “Because we are missing chances, people are saying we need another striker, but if we are scoring goals we are the best attack in the league and no one can say we need a striker. It depends on the form of the team and I think we are happy with the team we have. Michy Batshuayi was handed his first start by Antonio Conte in the league since Oct 14  “Who is the best team this year? Manchester City. The strikers, [Gabriel] Jesus and [Sergio] Aguero, are not big. It’s simple. It depends how you want to play. If you want to play with long balls you need a target man, if you want to keep the ball on the floor you need a small guy.” The Brighton rearguard had been resoundingly savaged by these small guys long before Victor Moses added a late fourth for the visitors. At times, Brighton manager Chris Hughton looked as bewildered as his three central defenders. “We were not sure what they would do up front,” said Hughton. “They have players in Pedro, Hazard and Willian who, if they are not playing a classic number nine, can do wonderful jobs and be as effective because it is a different type of game. In some ways those type of players are more difficult to mark than your classic number nines.” Antonio Conte, the Chelsea manager, was unsurprisingly delighted with his forward players, even if he did not give the impression that he was desperate to ensure Batshuayi remains part of his squad. The Belgian striker was in a typically boisterous mood on social media afterwards, but the rumours of an imminent transfer will not go away. “In my idea of football, we need a striker who must be a point of reference,” said Conte. “Batshuayi played a really good game. He did not score, but he worked well for the team. January 2018 transfer window “For me, Michy is a Chelsea player and in my mind there is the will to continue to work with him and try to improve. Then I don’t know if the player decides to take other solution or if he wants to play with regularity. You don’t know, it can happen.” Despite the twinkling performances of Hazard and Willian, the scoreline felt harsh on a Brighton side who had caused problems for Chelsea and were unfortunate to be denied a penalty. Their struggles in front of goal continue, though, and only Swansea have scored fewer than Brighton’s 17 goals this season. The pressure will therefore be on £14m signing Jurgen Locadia, who joined last week from PSV Eindhoven, to quickly adjust to life on the south coast. “What Jurgen will give us is hopefully that ability to stretch teams,” said Hughton. “He’s been in good form this season. The levels will be completely different but hopefully he can take some of that good form into what he sees here.”

'Chelsea do not need a big target man - keep the ball on the floor,' says Eden Hazard

Perhaps it is time to call off the search. As Chelsea’s increasingly curious hunt for a target man continued this week, with attentions turning from Andy Carroll to Christian Benteke to Peter Crouch, it was the little men, and Eden Hazard in particular, who showed there may be no need to convert Stamford Bridge into the land of the giants. This victory over Brighton was, by some distance, Chelsea’s best attacking performance of the year. And as Hazard and Willian jinked and danced around the petrified Brighton defence, there was no argument to be made for sticking a lumbering target man in their way. Hazard, the scorer of the first and third goals, certainly did not think so. “Football is simple,” he said. “Keep the ball on the ground and try [to play] like we did.” In the absence of the suspended Alvaro Morata, it was the lesser-spotted Michy Batshuayi, heavily linked with a move away, who impressed as the third member of an electric front three that produced one of the finest goals of the season. Willian’s strike, Chelsea’s second, was a triumph of speed: the speed of thought, the speed of the passing and the speed of the shot that eventually seared into the corner of the Mathew Ryan’s net. “I think we have two very good strikers in Alvaro and Michy,” said Hazard. “If they are not ready to play I can play striker, so I don’t think we need [another striker]. “Because we are missing chances, people are saying we need another striker, but if we are scoring goals we are the best attack in the league and no one can say we need a striker. It depends on the form of the team and I think we are happy with the team we have. Michy Batshuayi was handed his first start by Antonio Conte in the league since Oct 14  “Who is the best team this year? Manchester City. The strikers, [Gabriel] Jesus and [Sergio] Aguero, are not big. It’s simple. It depends how you want to play. If you want to play with long balls you need a target man, if you want to keep the ball on the floor you need a small guy.” The Brighton rearguard had been resoundingly savaged by these small guys long before Victor Moses added a late fourth for the visitors. At times, Brighton manager Chris Hughton looked as bewildered as his three central defenders. “We were not sure what they would do up front,” said Hughton. “They have players in Pedro, Hazard and Willian who, if they are not playing a classic number nine, can do wonderful jobs and be as effective because it is a different type of game. In some ways those type of players are more difficult to mark than your classic number nines.” Antonio Conte, the Chelsea manager, was unsurprisingly delighted with his forward players, even if he did not give the impression that he was desperate to ensure Batshuayi remains part of his squad. The Belgian striker was in a typically boisterous mood on social media afterwards, but the rumours of an imminent transfer will not go away. “In my idea of football, we need a striker who must be a point of reference,” said Conte. “Batshuayi played a really good game. He did not score, but he worked well for the team. January 2018 transfer window “For me, Michy is a Chelsea player and in my mind there is the will to continue to work with him and try to improve. Then I don’t know if the player decides to take other solution or if he wants to play with regularity. You don’t know, it can happen.” Despite the twinkling performances of Hazard and Willian, the scoreline felt harsh on a Brighton side who had caused problems for Chelsea and were unfortunate to be denied a penalty. Their struggles in front of goal continue, though, and only Swansea have scored fewer than Brighton’s 17 goals this season. The pressure will therefore be on £14m signing Jurgen Locadia, who joined last week from PSV Eindhoven, to quickly adjust to life on the south coast. “What Jurgen will give us is hopefully that ability to stretch teams,” said Hughton. “He’s been in good form this season. The levels will be completely different but hopefully he can take some of that good form into what he sees here.”

Brighton nabs club record signing Jurgen Locadia

The 24-year-old has spent his entire career so far with PSV Eindhoven.

Brighton nabs club record signing Jurgen Locadia

The 24-year-old has spent his entire career so far with PSV Eindhoven.

Jose Mourinho confirms Michael Carrick will join coaching staff in the summer and heaps praise on Luke Shaw

Jose Mourinho has revealed that Michael Carrick has signalled his intention to join his first-team coaching staff once the Manchester United midfielder retires from playing at the end of the season. Carrick has played just 90 minutes this season after undergoing a cardiac ablation last year to correct an irregular heart rhythm. Mourinho said Carrick was now on the verge of a return after training fully over the past fortnight and was confident the 36-year-old could play a valuable role over the remainder of the campaign. But Mourinho has indicated that the former England midfielder plans to bring down the curtain on his illustrious 19-year professional career at the end of the season and had accepted the offer to join his six-strong back-room team. Asked if Carrick – who has won five Premier League titles and the Champions League during his 12 years at Old Trafford – had agreed to take up his offer, Mourinho said: “Yes.” Until then, Mourinho expects Carrick to play an important role on the pitch. “A few months without even training so now he is in his second week of training with the team,” the United manager said. “He’s a very important player for us. I think the decision [to move into coaching] to be at the end of the season and not last week is a good decision for the team and a good decision for him to finish playing football and not injured or with some problem. Carrick will join Mourinho's staff at the end of the season Credit: Matthew Peters/Man Utd via Getty Images “So, we are all happy and at the end of the season I expect him to join, unless he changes his mind, but the club would be very happy for him to do that. I would be very happy also for him to do that.” Carrick’s retirement and the possibility of Marouane Fellaini refusing to sign a new contract and leaving at the end of the season when his existing deal expires would leave Mourinho needing to sign two central midfielders this summer. However, the need to sign a new first-choice left-back is fast receding, with Mourinho impressed by the strides, physically, mentally and tactically, Luke Shaw has made in recent weeks, to the point where he claimed there are few left-backs in the world better than the 22-year-old on current form. Shaw’s career at Manchester United appeared in jeopardy last year after Mourinho questioned his commitment, focus, ambition and football brain. But Mourinho admitted he had been impressed by the dramatic turnaround in the England defender, who has started eight of United’s past 11 games. Luke Shaw has impressed his manager in recent weeks Credit: getty images Ashley Young is available to face Burnley at Turf Moor after completing a three-match suspension for elbowing Southampton’s Dusan Tadic but Shaw is likely to keep his place. “He’s played very well,” Mourinho said. “He was already improving and playing well when I start playing him after that long spell without minutes. I remember the first time, in the Champions League [against CSKA Moscow], he was coming step by step. “And now with a good run of matches and continuity also, playing like he did against Everton two days after a previous match – he’s been good, solid, physically much better, mentally much stronger, tactically understanding the game much better and what we need in different phases and circumstances. “I’m really happy. You like the transfer market. I can say that in this moment I don't see many left-backs better than this Luke Shaw.” How would Alexis Sanchez fit in at Manchester United? Mourinho had been keen to sign a new first-choice left-back this year, but those plans appear to have been shelved for now with the Portuguese pleased with the strides Shaw is making. Shaw claimed this week that he feels in the best shape of his career and rejuvenated under Mourinho and said he was hoping to force his way into Gareth Southgate’s World Cup plans. “A bad injury like I had always stays with you a little bit afterwards but it’s in the past and I feel really good and really fit and my leg feels perfect,” Shaw said. “Body-wise and fitness-wise I probably feel the best I’ve ever felt. Mentally I feel strong as well and I’m enjoying my football. It’s now about pushing on and helping the team. January 2018 transfer window “I’m really determined for the second half of the season. There are so many games coming up. There is a lot to play for with the World Cup as well. A lot of players want to impress their national managers and, personally, I want to play as many games as possible to help United. If I can then hopefully I will state my case to go to the World Cup. I had a taste of it in Brazil [in 2014] and it was amazing. “I can’t wait for the Champions League to start again too. I broke my leg in my first Champions League game [against PSV Eindhoven] so it’s a competition I’m determined to help the team do well in.” Asked about Mourinho’s recent praise, Shaw added: “It’s really nice to hear. The manager has been really good with me and has given me extra confidence. “He’s just told me to go out and enjoy the games and that is what I’ve been doing. I’m just focussed on working really hard for the manager, and for the team, because I want to keep on playing and hopefully more games will come.”

Jose Mourinho confirms Michael Carrick will join coaching staff in the summer and heaps praise on Luke Shaw

Jose Mourinho has revealed that Michael Carrick has signalled his intention to join his first-team coaching staff once the Manchester United midfielder retires from playing at the end of the season. Carrick has played just 90 minutes this season after undergoing a cardiac ablation last year to correct an irregular heart rhythm. Mourinho said Carrick was now on the verge of a return after training fully over the past fortnight and was confident the 36-year-old could play a valuable role over the remainder of the campaign. But Mourinho has indicated that the former England midfielder plans to bring down the curtain on his illustrious 19-year professional career at the end of the season and had accepted the offer to join his six-strong back-room team. Asked if Carrick – who has won five Premier League titles and the Champions League during his 12 years at Old Trafford – had agreed to take up his offer, Mourinho said: “Yes.” Until then, Mourinho expects Carrick to play an important role on the pitch. “A few months without even training so now he is in his second week of training with the team,” the United manager said. “He’s a very important player for us. I think the decision [to move into coaching] to be at the end of the season and not last week is a good decision for the team and a good decision for him to finish playing football and not injured or with some problem. Carrick will join Mourinho's staff at the end of the season Credit: Matthew Peters/Man Utd via Getty Images “So, we are all happy and at the end of the season I expect him to join, unless he changes his mind, but the club would be very happy for him to do that. I would be very happy also for him to do that.” Carrick’s retirement and the possibility of Marouane Fellaini refusing to sign a new contract and leaving at the end of the season when his existing deal expires would leave Mourinho needing to sign two central midfielders this summer. However, the need to sign a new first-choice left-back is fast receding, with Mourinho impressed by the strides, physically, mentally and tactically, Luke Shaw has made in recent weeks, to the point where he claimed there are few left-backs in the world better than the 22-year-old on current form. Shaw’s career at Manchester United appeared in jeopardy last year after Mourinho questioned his commitment, focus, ambition and football brain. But Mourinho admitted he had been impressed by the dramatic turnaround in the England defender, who has started eight of United’s past 11 games. Luke Shaw has impressed his manager in recent weeks Credit: getty images Ashley Young is available to face Burnley at Turf Moor after completing a three-match suspension for elbowing Southampton’s Dusan Tadic but Shaw is likely to keep his place. “He’s played very well,” Mourinho said. “He was already improving and playing well when I start playing him after that long spell without minutes. I remember the first time, in the Champions League [against CSKA Moscow], he was coming step by step. “And now with a good run of matches and continuity also, playing like he did against Everton two days after a previous match – he’s been good, solid, physically much better, mentally much stronger, tactically understanding the game much better and what we need in different phases and circumstances. “I’m really happy. You like the transfer market. I can say that in this moment I don't see many left-backs better than this Luke Shaw.” How would Alexis Sanchez fit in at Manchester United? Mourinho had been keen to sign a new first-choice left-back this year, but those plans appear to have been shelved for now with the Portuguese pleased with the strides Shaw is making. Shaw claimed this week that he feels in the best shape of his career and rejuvenated under Mourinho and said he was hoping to force his way into Gareth Southgate’s World Cup plans. “A bad injury like I had always stays with you a little bit afterwards but it’s in the past and I feel really good and really fit and my leg feels perfect,” Shaw said. “Body-wise and fitness-wise I probably feel the best I’ve ever felt. Mentally I feel strong as well and I’m enjoying my football. It’s now about pushing on and helping the team. January 2018 transfer window “I’m really determined for the second half of the season. There are so many games coming up. There is a lot to play for with the World Cup as well. A lot of players want to impress their national managers and, personally, I want to play as many games as possible to help United. If I can then hopefully I will state my case to go to the World Cup. I had a taste of it in Brazil [in 2014] and it was amazing. “I can’t wait for the Champions League to start again too. I broke my leg in my first Champions League game [against PSV Eindhoven] so it’s a competition I’m determined to help the team do well in.” Asked about Mourinho’s recent praise, Shaw added: “It’s really nice to hear. The manager has been really good with me and has given me extra confidence. “He’s just told me to go out and enjoy the games and that is what I’ve been doing. I’m just focussed on working really hard for the manager, and for the team, because I want to keep on playing and hopefully more games will come.”

Jose Mourinho confirms Michael Carrick will join coaching staff in the summer and heaps praise on Luke Shaw

Jose Mourinho has revealed that Michael Carrick has signalled his intention to join his first-team coaching staff once the Manchester United midfielder retires from playing at the end of the season. Carrick has played just 90 minutes this season after undergoing a cardiac ablation last year to correct an irregular heart rhythm. Mourinho said Carrick was now on the verge of a return after training fully over the past fortnight and was confident the 36-year-old could play a valuable role over the remainder of the campaign. But Mourinho has indicated that the former England midfielder plans to bring down the curtain on his illustrious 19-year professional career at the end of the season and had accepted the offer to join his six-strong back-room team. Asked if Carrick – who has won five Premier League titles and the Champions League during his 12 years at Old Trafford – had agreed to take up his offer, Mourinho said: “Yes.” Until then, Mourinho expects Carrick to play an important role on the pitch. “A few months without even training so now he is in his second week of training with the team,” the United manager said. “He’s a very important player for us. I think the decision [to move into coaching] to be at the end of the season and not last week is a good decision for the team and a good decision for him to finish playing football and not injured or with some problem. Carrick will join Mourinho's staff at the end of the season Credit: Matthew Peters/Man Utd via Getty Images “So, we are all happy and at the end of the season I expect him to join, unless he changes his mind, but the club would be very happy for him to do that. I would be very happy also for him to do that.” Carrick’s retirement and the possibility of Marouane Fellaini refusing to sign a new contract and leaving at the end of the season when his existing deal expires would leave Mourinho needing to sign two central midfielders this summer. However, the need to sign a new first-choice left-back is fast receding, with Mourinho impressed by the strides, physically, mentally and tactically, Luke Shaw has made in recent weeks, to the point where he claimed there are few left-backs in the world better than the 22-year-old on current form. Shaw’s career at Manchester United appeared in jeopardy last year after Mourinho questioned his commitment, focus, ambition and football brain. But Mourinho admitted he had been impressed by the dramatic turnaround in the England defender, who has started eight of United’s past 11 games. Luke Shaw has impressed his manager in recent weeks Credit: getty images Ashley Young is available to face Burnley at Turf Moor after completing a three-match suspension for elbowing Southampton’s Dusan Tadic but Shaw is likely to keep his place. “He’s played very well,” Mourinho said. “He was already improving and playing well when I start playing him after that long spell without minutes. I remember the first time, in the Champions League [against CSKA Moscow], he was coming step by step. “And now with a good run of matches and continuity also, playing like he did against Everton two days after a previous match – he’s been good, solid, physically much better, mentally much stronger, tactically understanding the game much better and what we need in different phases and circumstances. “I’m really happy. You like the transfer market. I can say that in this moment I don't see many left-backs better than this Luke Shaw.” How would Alexis Sanchez fit in at Manchester United? Mourinho had been keen to sign a new first-choice left-back this year, but those plans appear to have been shelved for now with the Portuguese pleased with the strides Shaw is making. Shaw claimed this week that he feels in the best shape of his career and rejuvenated under Mourinho and said he was hoping to force his way into Gareth Southgate’s World Cup plans. “A bad injury like I had always stays with you a little bit afterwards but it’s in the past and I feel really good and really fit and my leg feels perfect,” Shaw said. “Body-wise and fitness-wise I probably feel the best I’ve ever felt. Mentally I feel strong as well and I’m enjoying my football. It’s now about pushing on and helping the team. January 2018 transfer window “I’m really determined for the second half of the season. There are so many games coming up. There is a lot to play for with the World Cup as well. A lot of players want to impress their national managers and, personally, I want to play as many games as possible to help United. If I can then hopefully I will state my case to go to the World Cup. I had a taste of it in Brazil [in 2014] and it was amazing. “I can’t wait for the Champions League to start again too. I broke my leg in my first Champions League game [against PSV Eindhoven] so it’s a competition I’m determined to help the team do well in.” Asked about Mourinho’s recent praise, Shaw added: “It’s really nice to hear. The manager has been really good with me and has given me extra confidence. “He’s just told me to go out and enjoy the games and that is what I’ve been doing. I’m just focussed on working really hard for the manager, and for the team, because I want to keep on playing and hopefully more games will come.”

PSV Eindhoven's Jurgen Locadia celebrates his goal against Wolfsburg during their Champions League group B soccer match in Eindhoven

FILE PHOTO - PSV Eindhoven's Jurgen Locadia celebrates his goal against Wolfsburg during their Champions League group B soccer match in Eindhoven, Netherlands November 3, 2015. REUTERS/Michael Kooren

PSV Eindhoven v Atletico Madrid - UEFA Champions League Round of 16 First Leg

Football Soccer - PSV Eindhoven v Atletico Madrid - UEFA Champions League Round of 16 First Leg - PSV stadium, Eindhoven, Netherlands - 24/2/16 Atletico Madrid's Juanfran in action against PSV Eindhoven's Jurgen Locadia (R). REUTERS/Michael Kooren

PSV Eindhoven's forward Jurgen Locadia (R) evades Atletico Madrid's defender Juanfran during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg football match between PSV Eindhoven and Atletico Madrid in February 2016

PSV Eindhoven's forward Jurgen Locadia (R) evades Atletico Madrid's defender Juanfran during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg football match between PSV Eindhoven and Atletico Madrid in February 2016

PSV Eindhoven's forward Jurgen Locadia (R) evades Atletico Madrid's defender Juanfran during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg football match between PSV Eindhoven and Atletico Madrid in February 2016 (AFP Photo/EMMANUEL DUNAND)

'Few left-backs in the world are better than Luke Shaw right now,' says Jose Mourinho

Jose Mourinho believes there are few left-backs in the world better than Luke Shaw on current form. Shaw’s career at Manchester United appeared in jeopardy last year after Mourinho questioned his commitment, focus, ambition and football brain. But Mourinho admitted he had been impressed by the dramatic turnaround in the England defender, who has started eight of United’s past 11 games. Ashley Young is available to face Burnley at Turf Moor after completing a three-match suspension for elbowing Southampton’s Dusan Tadic but Shaw is likely to keep his place. “He’s played very well,” Mourinho said. “He was already improving and playing well when I start playing him after that long spell without minutes. I remember the first time, in the Champions League [against CSKA Moscow], he was coming step by step. “And now with a good run of matches and continuity also, playing like he did against Everton two days after a previous match – he’s been good, solid, physically much better, mentally much stronger, tactically understanding the game much better and what we need in different phases and circumstances. “I’m really happy. You like the transfer market. I can say that in this moment I don't see many left-backs better than this Luke Shaw.” How would Alexis Sanchez fit in at Manchester United? Mourinho had been keen to sign a new first-choice left-back this year, but those plans appear to have been shelved for now with the Portuguese pleased with the strides Shaw is making. Shaw claimed this week that he feels in the best shape of his career and rejuvenated under Mourinho and said he was hoping to force his way into Gareth Southgate’s World Cup plans. “A bad injury like I had always stays with you a little bit afterwards but it’s in the past and I feel really good and really fit and my leg feels perfect,” Shaw said. “Body-wise and fitness-wise I probably feel the best I’ve ever felt. Mentally I feel strong as well and I’m enjoying my football. It’s now about pushing on and helping the team. January 2018 transfer window “I’m really determined for the second half of the season. There are so many games coming up. There is a lot to play for with the World Cup as well. A lot of players want to impress their national managers and, personally, I want to play as many games as possible to help United. If I can then hopefully I will state my case to go to the World Cup. I had a taste of it in Brazil [in 2014] and it was amazing. “I can’t wait for the Champions League to start again too. I broke my leg in my first Champions League game [against PSV Eindhoven] so it’s a competition I’m determined to help the team do well in.” Asked about Mourinho’s recent praise, Shaw added: “It’s really nice to hear. The manager has been really good with me and has given me extra confidence. “He’s just told me to go out and enjoy the games and that is what I’ve been doing. I’m just focussed on working really hard for the manager, and for the team, because I want to keep on playing and hopefully more games will come.”

Luke Shaw says he feels 'best I've ever felt' as he targets World Cup spot

Luke Shaw is hoping to force his way into Gareth Southgate’s World Cup plans after claiming he feels in the best shape of his career and rejuvenated under Jose Mourinho. Shaw has started eight of United’s past 11 games and his latest appearance in the 3-0 win over Stoke City at Old Trafford last night was his fifth start in a row for Mourinho. It marks a huge turnaround in fortunes for the left back, whose Old Trafford career appeared in serious jeopardy last year after Mourinho questioned his commitment, focus, ambition and football brain and the player was far down the pecking order in the wake of a slow recovery from a double leg fracture in 2015 that kept him out for 11 months. Shaw still has work to do to convince Mourinho he should be part of his long-term plans and to deter the manager from entering the transfer market for a new left back next summer. But the 22-year-old  is convinced he is on an upward curve and has even set his sights on a World Cup place with England in Russia if he can maintain his fitness and form. Shaw still has some way to go to convince Mourinho he has a long-term future at United Credit: Getty Images “A bad injury like I had always stays with you a little bit afterwards but it’s in the past and I feel really good and really fit and my leg feels perfect,” Shaw said. “Body-wise and fitness-wise I probably feel the best I’ve ever felt. Mentally I feel strong as well and I’m enjoying my football. It’s now about pushing on and helping the team. “I’m really determined for the second half of the season. There are so many games coming up. There is a lot to play for with the World Cup as well. A lot of players want to impress their national managers and, personally, I want to play as many games as possible to help United. If I can then hopefully I will state my case to go to the World Cup. I had a taste of it in Brazil [in 2014] and it was amazing. “I can’t wait for the Champions League to start again too. I broke my leg in my first Champions League game [against PSV Eindhoven] so it’s a competition I’m determined to help the team do well in.” Shaw has not had the easiest relationship with Mourinho but he believes he has come out on the other side a stronger player under the Portuguese. Shaw has not had the easiest of relationships with Mourinho Credit: Getty Images Asked about Mourinho’s recent praise of his performances, Shaw said: “It’s really nice to hear. The manager has been really good with me and has given me extra confidence. “He’s just told me to go out and enjoy the games and that is what I’ve been doing. I’m just focussed on working really hard for the manager, and for the team, because I want to keep on playing and hopefully more games will come. “I’ve been feeling good. It’s been really nice to be back on the pitch and I’m really enjoying having game-time. “Personally, the last few weeks have been good but as a whole and as a team, we’ve been disappointed with some of the results. But I hope there are many more games for many and many more good results for the team this season. January 2018 transfer window “It’s always about working hard, that’s always something I’ve always tried to do throughout my career and will always try to do. I just kept my head down, kept working hard with the manager and the coaching staff and I knew in the end the benefits of that would come and, right now, everything is on track. I want to keep that going. “The Christmas period was actually the best thing for me, having lots of games close together. I felt really good after three games in a week because that’s what I needed.” Shaw made his first start of the campaign in the 2-1 Champions League win over CSKA Moscow in December and believes he has kicked on since then. “I’ve always felt really confident especially recently, and I knew I was in a good moment fitness-wise with the work that I had been doing,” he said. “And I knew when my chance came I’d be ready. It was really nice to be recognised by the fans in that game and from there I wanted to build on that performance and now it’s been [seven] more full games that I’ve had. I just want to kick on now. I’m not looking back, I’m only looking forward.”

Luke Shaw says he feels 'best I've ever felt' as he targets World Cup spot

Luke Shaw is hoping to force his way into Gareth Southgate’s World Cup plans after claiming he feels in the best shape of his career and rejuvenated under Jose Mourinho. Shaw has started eight of United’s past 11 games and his latest appearance in the 3-0 win over Stoke City at Old Trafford last night was his fifth start in a row for Mourinho. It marks a huge turnaround in fortunes for the left back, whose Old Trafford career appeared in serious jeopardy last year after Mourinho questioned his commitment, focus, ambition and football brain and the player was far down the pecking order in the wake of a slow recovery from a double leg fracture in 2015 that kept him out for 11 months. Shaw still has work to do to convince Mourinho he should be part of his long-term plans and to deter the manager from entering the transfer market for a new left back next summer. But the 22-year-old  is convinced he is on an upward curve and has even set his sights on a World Cup place with England in Russia if he can maintain his fitness and form. Shaw still has some way to go to convince Mourinho he has a long-term future at United Credit: Getty Images “A bad injury like I had always stays with you a little bit afterwards but it’s in the past and I feel really good and really fit and my leg feels perfect,” Shaw said. “Body-wise and fitness-wise I probably feel the best I’ve ever felt. Mentally I feel strong as well and I’m enjoying my football. It’s now about pushing on and helping the team. “I’m really determined for the second half of the season. There are so many games coming up. There is a lot to play for with the World Cup as well. A lot of players want to impress their national managers and, personally, I want to play as many games as possible to help United. If I can then hopefully I will state my case to go to the World Cup. I had a taste of it in Brazil [in 2014] and it was amazing. “I can’t wait for the Champions League to start again too. I broke my leg in my first Champions League game [against PSV Eindhoven] so it’s a competition I’m determined to help the team do well in.” Shaw has not had the easiest relationship with Mourinho but he believes he has come out on the other side a stronger player under the Portuguese. Shaw has not had the easiest of relationships with Mourinho Credit: Getty Images Asked about Mourinho’s recent praise of his performances, Shaw said: “It’s really nice to hear. The manager has been really good with me and has given me extra confidence. “He’s just told me to go out and enjoy the games and that is what I’ve been doing. I’m just focussed on working really hard for the manager, and for the team, because I want to keep on playing and hopefully more games will come. “I’ve been feeling good. It’s been really nice to be back on the pitch and I’m really enjoying having game-time. “Personally, the last few weeks have been good but as a whole and as a team, we’ve been disappointed with some of the results. But I hope there are many more games for many and many more good results for the team this season. January 2018 transfer window “It’s always about working hard, that’s always something I’ve always tried to do throughout my career and will always try to do. I just kept my head down, kept working hard with the manager and the coaching staff and I knew in the end the benefits of that would come and, right now, everything is on track. I want to keep that going. “The Christmas period was actually the best thing for me, having lots of games close together. I felt really good after three games in a week because that’s what I needed.” Shaw made his first start of the campaign in the 2-1 Champions League win over CSKA Moscow in December and believes he has kicked on since then. “I’ve always felt really confident especially recently, and I knew I was in a good moment fitness-wise with the work that I had been doing,” he said. “And I knew when my chance came I’d be ready. It was really nice to be recognised by the fans in that game and from there I wanted to build on that performance and now it’s been [seven] more full games that I’ve had. I just want to kick on now. I’m not looking back, I’m only looking forward.”

Luke Shaw says he feels 'best I've ever felt' as he targets World Cup spot

Luke Shaw is hoping to force his way into Gareth Southgate’s World Cup plans after claiming he feels in the best shape of his career and rejuvenated under Jose Mourinho. Shaw has started eight of United’s past 11 games and his latest appearance in the 3-0 win over Stoke City at Old Trafford last night was his fifth start in a row for Mourinho. It marks a huge turnaround in fortunes for the left back, whose Old Trafford career appeared in serious jeopardy last year after Mourinho questioned his commitment, focus, ambition and football brain and the player was far down the pecking order in the wake of a slow recovery from a double leg fracture in 2015 that kept him out for 11 months. Shaw still has work to do to convince Mourinho he should be part of his long-term plans and to deter the manager from entering the transfer market for a new left back next summer. But the 22-year-old  is convinced he is on an upward curve and has even set his sights on a World Cup place with England in Russia if he can maintain his fitness and form. Shaw still has some way to go to convince Mourinho he has a long-term future at United Credit: Getty Images “A bad injury like I had always stays with you a little bit afterwards but it’s in the past and I feel really good and really fit and my leg feels perfect,” Shaw said. “Body-wise and fitness-wise I probably feel the best I’ve ever felt. Mentally I feel strong as well and I’m enjoying my football. It’s now about pushing on and helping the team. “I’m really determined for the second half of the season. There are so many games coming up. There is a lot to play for with the World Cup as well. A lot of players want to impress their national managers and, personally, I want to play as many games as possible to help United. If I can then hopefully I will state my case to go to the World Cup. I had a taste of it in Brazil [in 2014] and it was amazing. “I can’t wait for the Champions League to start again too. I broke my leg in my first Champions League game [against PSV Eindhoven] so it’s a competition I’m determined to help the team do well in.” Shaw has not had the easiest relationship with Mourinho but he believes he has come out on the other side a stronger player under the Portuguese. Shaw has not had the easiest of relationships with Mourinho Credit: Getty Images Asked about Mourinho’s recent praise of his performances, Shaw said: “It’s really nice to hear. The manager has been really good with me and has given me extra confidence. “He’s just told me to go out and enjoy the games and that is what I’ve been doing. I’m just focussed on working really hard for the manager, and for the team, because I want to keep on playing and hopefully more games will come. “I’ve been feeling good. It’s been really nice to be back on the pitch and I’m really enjoying having game-time. “Personally, the last few weeks have been good but as a whole and as a team, we’ve been disappointed with some of the results. But I hope there are many more games for many and many more good results for the team this season. January 2018 transfer window “It’s always about working hard, that’s always something I’ve always tried to do throughout my career and will always try to do. I just kept my head down, kept working hard with the manager and the coaching staff and I knew in the end the benefits of that would come and, right now, everything is on track. I want to keep that going. “The Christmas period was actually the best thing for me, having lots of games close together. I felt really good after three games in a week because that’s what I needed.” Shaw made his first start of the campaign in the 2-1 Champions League win over CSKA Moscow in December and believes he has kicked on since then. “I’ve always felt really confident especially recently, and I knew I was in a good moment fitness-wise with the work that I had been doing,” he said. “And I knew when my chance came I’d be ready. It was really nice to be recognised by the fans in that game and from there I wanted to build on that performance and now it’s been [seven] more full games that I’ve had. I just want to kick on now. I’m not looking back, I’m only looking forward.”

Exclusive interview: Jacob Murphy on life at Newcastle without his twin - 'The toughest thing was leaving Josh'

When Jacob Murphy left Norwich to sign for Newcastle United last summer he left something very important behind. Someone who had been there through it all, the good times and the bad, the one person he had never lived without. He left his twin brother Josh. For the first time in 22 years, Jacob has not had his twin - older by just two minutes - beside him as he took his first tentative steps as a Premier League footballer. For once, he could not rely on a comforting look from his brother, an unspoken word of encouragement. This was something they could not share, an experience they would not enjoy together. They still speak every day, but it is not the same. Murphy described the bond between them as “unbreakable” but it has never been stretched like this before. By his own admission Jacob struggled at first. Living alone in Darras Hall, Northumberland, popular with footballers he found the adjustment challenging on and off the pitch. At £12m he was Rafa Benitez’s most expensive signing, as Newcastle prepared for their return to the Premier League, but he could not get into the team. For a few weeks he struggled to adapt to a higher level of football, while his brother continued to play regularly for Norwich in the Championship. Jacob is subbed on for Josh during their time together at Norwich Credit: Reuters His father, John, had warned him this could happen. But his mother, Maxine, had argued he had to go; to return to the city where both parents were born, in order to advance his career. It was an opportunity that could not be turned down. That was what Josh told him too. “We are competitive, but not with each other,” said Murphy, who is slighter than most footballers, polite and softly spoken. He asks a member of staff to let team-mate Jonjo Shelvey know he will have to wait for a lift home before settling into his first one-on-one interview as a Newcastle player. “We both want each other to do well. There isn’t any sort of sibling rivalry. We want to elevate each other, not bring the other one down. “Me and Josh have always wanted the best for each other, there has never been any jealousy. There were times when he was getting called up for England youth squads and I wouldn’t, but I’d still go to the games and be buzzing for him. There were times I went, and he didn’t. Each of us is the other one’s biggest supporter. When I left, all he could say was how proud he was. “The toughest thing about coming up here was leaving Josh. Obviously, there was the odd time when we were apart, when we were sent on loan or away with England, but that was always temporary. It never felt as permanent as this. After a slow start Murphy feels he is now adjusting to life at Newcastle Credit: Getty images “We’d always lived in the same house and now we’re at opposite ends of the country. It’s hard and strange, but we speak every day, often several times a day. We are always making sure the other one is OK. “Unless you have a twin, you don’t really know what that kind of connection is like. We are so in sync, we both love the same things, from toys to music and clothes. There were times last season when we lived together that we would get up for training, walk out of our bedrooms and we’d be wearing the same outfits, same shoes, same tops and same bottoms. “We’d meet on the landing and laugh. We don’t finish each other’s sentences, but we know what the other one is going to say before they say it. He can be sat on the sofa and I’ll know what he is thinking. “On the pitch we are telepathic. At Norwich, it was good. We really noticed when we won the FA Youth Cup together [in 2014]. We didn’t really understand why people thought it was strange. It was just normal practice for us. We just knew where the other would be or where they would move to. “It worked well, at least until we got to the first team. We got loads of stick from the boys because we kept on passing to each other all the time. “Moving to Newcastle, it did take some adjusting to. I’m living on my own for the first time. I’ve had loan moves before, so I’ve had that experience before, but this is the longest I’ve been away from my family. “It is helped by the fact that my extended family live in Gateshead, which is only 20 minutes away from my house. I didn’t see much of them when we were living in Norfolk, but they are relationships I’m enjoying building.” January 2018 transfer window Murphy was born in Wembley, north-west London, but moved to rural Norfolk, 20 minutes from Kings Lynn, when he was 11 as “my parents did not want us to go to high school in London”. Newcastle, though, were always the team he supported because that was where his parents were from. Geordies do not abandon their team because of geography. “When I first found out Newcastle wanted me, I was buzzing,” Murphy said, a huge smile breaking out as he remembered the moment. “They were the team we all supported, we didn’t have a choice. My nanna sent us the new strip every Christmas. My first game was against PSV Eindhoven in the Uefa Cup, Gary Speed scored the winner. When I climbed up the steps and saw St James’ Park for the first time, I was like wow, just wow. “My agent told me Newcastle were interested. My mum said: ‘Right, this has got to happen.’ My dad, he was like, ‘Well what happens if you stay at Norwich for one more season, get more games and more experience?’ But it was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down and he saw that. He was just a bit more cautious. Jacob says the twins share a 'telepathic' understanding on the pitch Credit: Empics sport “All I need to do now is have a word with Rafa to get him to sign my brother. No, I have a lot of faith in Josh. If he doesn’t get to the Premier League with Norwich, a Premier League club will come in for him.” It has taken some time for Murphy to show Newcastle supporters what he is capable of, but Benitez has handled him carefully. The signs are good. Not least because Murphy is not easily distracted, not even by Newcastle’s infamous nightlife. Perhaps the biggest revelation of this interview is the 22-year-old has not had a single night out in the city during the six months he has lived there. “I was desperate to impress, it was my dream move and maybe that didn’t help in a funny way,” Murphy explained. “I would try things, dribbling at players and when you lose the ball, there is a reaction, disappointment. You hear it when there are 52,000 people in the stadium. “It was annoying more than anything, because I knew what I was capable of and it didn’t work out at first. I was mainly being used as a sub, coming on for a few minutes. I tried too hard. I would try to do too many elaborate things and they wouldn’t come off and that would frustrate the fans. I was aware of it, but when I started games, I started to find my rhythm and I feel I’m putting the performances in.” He would love Josh to join him at Newcastle one day (Benitez contemplated bidding for both last year), but if Norwich beat Chelsea in their FA Cup replay next week, he will end up playing against Jacob in the fourth round. Their telepathic understanding could be a problem then.

Exclusive interview: Jacob Murphy on life at Newcastle without his twin - 'The toughest thing was leaving Josh'

When Jacob Murphy left Norwich to sign for Newcastle United last summer he left something very important behind. Someone who had been there through it all, the good times and the bad, the one person he had never lived without. He left his twin brother Josh. For the first time in 22 years, Jacob has not had his twin - older by just two minutes - beside him as he took his first tentative steps as a Premier League footballer. For once, he could not rely on a comforting look from his brother, an unspoken word of encouragement. This was something they could not share, an experience they would not enjoy together. They still speak every day, but it is not the same. Murphy described the bond between them as “unbreakable” but it has never been stretched like this before. By his own admission Jacob struggled at first. Living alone in Darras Hall, Northumberland, popular with footballers he found the adjustment challenging on and off the pitch. At £12m he was Rafa Benitez’s most expensive signing, as Newcastle prepared for their return to the Premier League, but he could not get into the team. For a few weeks he struggled to adapt to a higher level of football, while his brother continued to play regularly for Norwich in the Championship. Jacob is subbed on for Josh during their time together at Norwich Credit: Reuters His father, John, had warned him this could happen. But his mother, Maxine, had argued he had to go; to return to the city where both parents were born, in order to advance his career. It was an opportunity that could not be turned down. That was what Josh told him too. “We are competitive, but not with each other,” said Murphy, who is slighter than most footballers, polite and softly spoken. He asks a member of staff to let team-mate Jonjo Shelvey know he will have to wait for a lift home before settling into his first one-on-one interview as a Newcastle player. “We both want each other to do well. There isn’t any sort of sibling rivalry. We want to elevate each other, not bring the other one down. “Me and Josh have always wanted the best for each other, there has never been any jealousy. There were times when he was getting called up for England youth squads and I wouldn’t, but I’d still go to the games and be buzzing for him. There were times I went, and he didn’t. Each of us is the other one’s biggest supporter. When I left, all he could say was how proud he was. “The toughest thing about coming up here was leaving Josh. Obviously, there was the odd time when we were apart, when we were sent on loan or away with England, but that was always temporary. It never felt as permanent as this. After a slow start Murphy feels he is now adjusting to life at Newcastle Credit: Getty images “We’d always lived in the same house and now we’re at opposite ends of the country. It’s hard and strange, but we speak every day, often several times a day. We are always making sure the other one is OK. “Unless you have a twin, you don’t really know what that kind of connection is like. We are so in sync, we both love the same things, from toys to music and clothes. There were times last season when we lived together that we would get up for training, walk out of our bedrooms and we’d be wearing the same outfits, same shoes, same tops and same bottoms. “We’d meet on the landing and laugh. We don’t finish each other’s sentences, but we know what the other one is going to say before they say it. He can be sat on the sofa and I’ll know what he is thinking. “On the pitch we are telepathic. At Norwich, it was good. We really noticed when we won the FA Youth Cup together [in 2014]. We didn’t really understand why people thought it was strange. It was just normal practice for us. We just knew where the other would be or where they would move to. “It worked well, at least until we got to the first team. We got loads of stick from the boys because we kept on passing to each other all the time. “Moving to Newcastle, it did take some adjusting to. I’m living on my own for the first time. I’ve had loan moves before, so I’ve had that experience before, but this is the longest I’ve been away from my family. “It is helped by the fact that my extended family live in Gateshead, which is only 20 minutes away from my house. I didn’t see much of them when we were living in Norfolk, but they are relationships I’m enjoying building.” January 2018 transfer window Murphy was born in Wembley, north-west London, but moved to rural Norfolk, 20 minutes from Kings Lynn, when he was 11 as “my parents did not want us to go to high school in London”. Newcastle, though, were always the team he supported because that was where his parents were from. Geordies do not abandon their team because of geography. “When I first found out Newcastle wanted me, I was buzzing,” Murphy said, a huge smile breaking out as he remembered the moment. “They were the team we all supported, we didn’t have a choice. My nanna sent us the new strip every Christmas. My first game was against PSV Eindhoven in the Uefa Cup, Gary Speed scored the winner. When I climbed up the steps and saw St James’ Park for the first time, I was like wow, just wow. “My agent told me Newcastle were interested. My mum said: ‘Right, this has got to happen.’ My dad, he was like, ‘Well what happens if you stay at Norwich for one more season, get more games and more experience?’ But it was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down and he saw that. He was just a bit more cautious. Jacob says the twins share a 'telepathic' understanding on the pitch Credit: Empics sport “All I need to do now is have a word with Rafa to get him to sign my brother. No, I have a lot of faith in Josh. If he doesn’t get to the Premier League with Norwich, a Premier League club will come in for him.” It has taken some time for Murphy to show Newcastle supporters what he is capable of, but Benitez has handled him carefully. The signs are good. Not least because Murphy is not easily distracted, not even by Newcastle’s infamous nightlife. Perhaps the biggest revelation of this interview is the 22-year-old has not had a single night out in the city during the six months he has lived there. “I was desperate to impress, it was my dream move and maybe that didn’t help in a funny way,” Murphy explained. “I would try things, dribbling at players and when you lose the ball, there is a reaction, disappointment. You hear it when there are 52,000 people in the stadium. “It was annoying more than anything, because I knew what I was capable of and it didn’t work out at first. I was mainly being used as a sub, coming on for a few minutes. I tried too hard. I would try to do too many elaborate things and they wouldn’t come off and that would frustrate the fans. I was aware of it, but when I started games, I started to find my rhythm and I feel I’m putting the performances in.” He would love Josh to join him at Newcastle one day (Benitez contemplated bidding for both last year), but if Norwich beat Chelsea in their FA Cup replay next week, he will end up playing against Jacob in the fourth round. Their telepathic understanding could be a problem then.

Exclusive interview: Jacob Murphy on life at Newcastle without his twin - 'The toughest thing was leaving Josh'

When Jacob Murphy left Norwich to sign for Newcastle United last summer he left something very important behind. Someone who had been there through it all, the good times and the bad, the one person he had never lived without. He left his twin brother Josh. For the first time in 22 years, Jacob has not had his twin - older by just two minutes - beside him as he took his first tentative steps as a Premier League footballer. For once, he could not rely on a comforting look from his brother, an unspoken word of encouragement. This was something they could not share, an experience they would not enjoy together. They still speak every day, but it is not the same. Murphy described the bond between them as “unbreakable” but it has never been stretched like this before. By his own admission Jacob struggled at first. Living alone in Darras Hall, Northumberland, popular with footballers he found the adjustment challenging on and off the pitch. At £12m he was Rafa Benitez’s most expensive signing, as Newcastle prepared for their return to the Premier League, but he could not get into the team. For a few weeks he struggled to adapt to a higher level of football, while his brother continued to play regularly for Norwich in the Championship. Jacob is subbed on for Josh during their time together at Norwich Credit: Reuters His father, John, had warned him this could happen. But his mother, Maxine, had argued he had to go; to return to the city where both parents were born, in order to advance his career. It was an opportunity that could not be turned down. That was what Josh told him too. “We are competitive, but not with each other,” said Murphy, who is slighter than most footballers, polite and softly spoken. He asks a member of staff to let team-mate Jonjo Shelvey know he will have to wait for a lift home before settling into his first one-on-one interview as a Newcastle player. “We both want each other to do well. There isn’t any sort of sibling rivalry. We want to elevate each other, not bring the other one down. “Me and Josh have always wanted the best for each other, there has never been any jealousy. There were times when he was getting called up for England youth squads and I wouldn’t, but I’d still go to the games and be buzzing for him. There were times I went, and he didn’t. Each of us is the other one’s biggest supporter. When I left, all he could say was how proud he was. “The toughest thing about coming up here was leaving Josh. Obviously, there was the odd time when we were apart, when we were sent on loan or away with England, but that was always temporary. It never felt as permanent as this. After a slow start Murphy feels he is now adjusting to life at Newcastle Credit: Getty images “We’d always lived in the same house and now we’re at opposite ends of the country. It’s hard and strange, but we speak every day, often several times a day. We are always making sure the other one is OK. “Unless you have a twin, you don’t really know what that kind of connection is like. We are so in sync, we both love the same things, from toys to music and clothes. There were times last season when we lived together that we would get up for training, walk out of our bedrooms and we’d be wearing the same outfits, same shoes, same tops and same bottoms. “We’d meet on the landing and laugh. We don’t finish each other’s sentences, but we know what the other one is going to say before they say it. He can be sat on the sofa and I’ll know what he is thinking. “On the pitch we are telepathic. At Norwich, it was good. We really noticed when we won the FA Youth Cup together [in 2014]. We didn’t really understand why people thought it was strange. It was just normal practice for us. We just knew where the other would be or where they would move to. “It worked well, at least until we got to the first team. We got loads of stick from the boys because we kept on passing to each other all the time. “Moving to Newcastle, it did take some adjusting to. I’m living on my own for the first time. I’ve had loan moves before, so I’ve had that experience before, but this is the longest I’ve been away from my family. “It is helped by the fact that my extended family live in Gateshead, which is only 20 minutes away from my house. I didn’t see much of them when we were living in Norfolk, but they are relationships I’m enjoying building.” January 2018 transfer window Murphy was born in Wembley, north-west London, but moved to rural Norfolk, 20 minutes from Kings Lynn, when he was 11 as “my parents did not want us to go to high school in London”. Newcastle, though, were always the team he supported because that was where his parents were from. Geordies do not abandon their team because of geography. “When I first found out Newcastle wanted me, I was buzzing,” Murphy said, a huge smile breaking out as he remembered the moment. “They were the team we all supported, we didn’t have a choice. My nanna sent us the new strip every Christmas. My first game was against PSV Eindhoven in the Uefa Cup, Gary Speed scored the winner. When I climbed up the steps and saw St James’ Park for the first time, I was like wow, just wow. “My agent told me Newcastle were interested. My mum said: ‘Right, this has got to happen.’ My dad, he was like, ‘Well what happens if you stay at Norwich for one more season, get more games and more experience?’ But it was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down and he saw that. He was just a bit more cautious. Jacob says the twins share a 'telepathic' understanding on the pitch Credit: Empics sport “All I need to do now is have a word with Rafa to get him to sign my brother. No, I have a lot of faith in Josh. If he doesn’t get to the Premier League with Norwich, a Premier League club will come in for him.” It has taken some time for Murphy to show Newcastle supporters what he is capable of, but Benitez has handled him carefully. The signs are good. Not least because Murphy is not easily distracted, not even by Newcastle’s infamous nightlife. Perhaps the biggest revelation of this interview is the 22-year-old has not had a single night out in the city during the six months he has lived there. “I was desperate to impress, it was my dream move and maybe that didn’t help in a funny way,” Murphy explained. “I would try things, dribbling at players and when you lose the ball, there is a reaction, disappointment. You hear it when there are 52,000 people in the stadium. “It was annoying more than anything, because I knew what I was capable of and it didn’t work out at first. I was mainly being used as a sub, coming on for a few minutes. I tried too hard. I would try to do too many elaborate things and they wouldn’t come off and that would frustrate the fans. I was aware of it, but when I started games, I started to find my rhythm and I feel I’m putting the performances in.” He would love Josh to join him at Newcastle one day (Benitez contemplated bidding for both last year), but if Norwich beat Chelsea in their FA Cup replay next week, he will end up playing against Jacob in the fourth round. Their telepathic understanding could be a problem then.

Exclusive interview: Jacob Murphy on life at Newcastle without his twin - 'The toughest thing was leaving Josh'

When Jacob Murphy left Norwich to sign for Newcastle United last summer he left something very important behind. Someone who had been there through it all, the good times and the bad, the one person he had never lived without. He left his twin brother Josh. For the first time in 22 years, Jacob has not had his twin - older by just two minutes - beside him as he took his first tentative steps as a Premier League footballer. For once, he could not rely on a comforting look from his brother, an unspoken word of encouragement. This was something they could not share, an experience they would not enjoy together. They still speak every day, but it is not the same. Murphy described the bond between them as “unbreakable” but it has never been stretched like this before. By his own admission Jacob struggled at first. Living alone in Darras Hall, Northumberland, popular with footballers he found the adjustment challenging on and off the pitch. At £12m he was Rafa Benitez’s most expensive signing, as Newcastle prepared for their return to the Premier League, but he could not get into the team. For a few weeks he struggled to adapt to a higher level of football, while his brother continued to play regularly for Norwich in the Championship. Jacob is subbed on for Josh during their time together at Norwich Credit: Reuters His father, John, had warned him this could happen. But his mother, Maxine, had argued he had to go; to return to the city where both parents were born, in order to advance his career. It was an opportunity that could not be turned down. That was what Josh told him too. “We are competitive, but not with each other,” said Murphy, who is slighter than most footballers, polite and softly spoken. He asks a member of staff to let team-mate Jonjo Shelvey know he will have to wait for a lift home before settling into his first one-on-one interview as a Newcastle player. “We both want each other to do well. There isn’t any sort of sibling rivalry. We want to elevate each other, not bring the other one down. “Me and Josh have always wanted the best for each other, there has never been any jealousy. There were times when he was getting called up for England youth squads and I wouldn’t, but I’d still go to the games and be buzzing for him. There were times I went, and he didn’t. Each of us is the other one’s biggest supporter. When I left, all he could say was how proud he was. “The toughest thing about coming up here was leaving Josh. Obviously, there was the odd time when we were apart, when we were sent on loan or away with England, but that was always temporary. It never felt as permanent as this. After a slow start Murphy feels he is now adjusting to life at Newcastle Credit: Getty images “We’d always lived in the same house and now we’re at opposite ends of the country. It’s hard and strange, but we speak every day, often several times a day. We are always making sure the other one is OK. “Unless you have a twin, you don’t really know what that kind of connection is like. We are so in sync, we both love the same things, from toys to music and clothes. There were times last season when we lived together that we would get up for training, walk out of our bedrooms and we’d be wearing the same outfits, same shoes, same tops and same bottoms. “We’d meet on the landing and laugh. We don’t finish each other’s sentences, but we know what the other one is going to say before they say it. He can be sat on the sofa and I’ll know what he is thinking. “On the pitch we are telepathic. At Norwich, it was good. We really noticed when we won the FA Youth Cup together [in 2014]. We didn’t really understand why people thought it was strange. It was just normal practice for us. We just knew where the other would be or where they would move to. “It worked well, at least until we got to the first team. We got loads of stick from the boys because we kept on passing to each other all the time. “Moving to Newcastle, it did take some adjusting to. I’m living on my own for the first time. I’ve had loan moves before, so I’ve had that experience before, but this is the longest I’ve been away from my family. “It is helped by the fact that my extended family live in Gateshead, which is only 20 minutes away from my house. I didn’t see much of them when we were living in Norfolk, but they are relationships I’m enjoying building.” January 2018 transfer window Murphy was born in Wembley, north-west London, but moved to rural Norfolk, 20 minutes from Kings Lynn, when he was 11 as “my parents did not want us to go to high school in London”. Newcastle, though, were always the team he supported because that was where his parents were from. Geordies do not abandon their team because of geography. “When I first found out Newcastle wanted me, I was buzzing,” Murphy said, a huge smile breaking out as he remembered the moment. “They were the team we all supported, we didn’t have a choice. My nanna sent us the new strip every Christmas. My first game was against PSV Eindhoven in the Uefa Cup, Gary Speed scored the winner. When I climbed up the steps and saw St James’ Park for the first time, I was like wow, just wow. “My agent told me Newcastle were interested. My mum said: ‘Right, this has got to happen.’ My dad, he was like, ‘Well what happens if you stay at Norwich for one more season, get more games and more experience?’ But it was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down and he saw that. He was just a bit more cautious. Jacob says the twins share a 'telepathic' understanding on the pitch Credit: Empics sport “All I need to do now is have a word with Rafa to get him to sign my brother. No, I have a lot of faith in Josh. If he doesn’t get to the Premier League with Norwich, a Premier League club will come in for him.” It has taken some time for Murphy to show Newcastle supporters what he is capable of, but Benitez has handled him carefully. The signs are good. Not least because Murphy is not easily distracted, not even by Newcastle’s infamous nightlife. Perhaps the biggest revelation of this interview is the 22-year-old has not had a single night out in the city during the six months he has lived there. “I was desperate to impress, it was my dream move and maybe that didn’t help in a funny way,” Murphy explained. “I would try things, dribbling at players and when you lose the ball, there is a reaction, disappointment. You hear it when there are 52,000 people in the stadium. “It was annoying more than anything, because I knew what I was capable of and it didn’t work out at first. I was mainly being used as a sub, coming on for a few minutes. I tried too hard. I would try to do too many elaborate things and they wouldn’t come off and that would frustrate the fans. I was aware of it, but when I started games, I started to find my rhythm and I feel I’m putting the performances in.” He would love Josh to join him at Newcastle one day (Benitez contemplated bidding for both last year), but if Norwich beat Chelsea in their FA Cup replay next week, he will end up playing against Jacob in the fourth round. Their telepathic understanding could be a problem then.

Challengers Mobilize to Unseat Tigres, Monterrey in 2018 Liga MX Clausura

Liga MX returns to action this Friday as Tigres, fresh off its Apertura title, faces struggling Puebla to kick off the 2018 Clausura season.

When it comes to analyzing the favorites and who will win it all in May, there are no surprises: the path to the Clausura title must go through the two most talented squads coached by the best managers in the league: Tigres and Monterrey. It’s as simple as that.

Given the short preseason period between Apertura and Clausura tournaments–and the looming matches of CONCACAF Champions League play–however, it will be interesting to evaluate the fitness of last season’s finalists since their preseasons were far shorter than other clubs. It’s been three weeks since Ricardo Ferretti’s squad lifted the trophy against Los Rayados, meaning less time to prepare for the Clausura tournament and allowing other contenders such as Club America, Chivas and Cruz Azul to re-energize and bring in new faces.

All these teams had intensive preseasons, which included several friendlies in a short period of time. America was undefeated, with two victories against Zacatepec and Toluca, while Cruz Azul won three of its four warm-up matches under the team’s new manager, Pedro Caixinha. The Portuguese head coach joined La Maquina after being fired by Scottish club Rangers last October.

Tigres, meanwhile, deals with other problems thanks to its winger Jurgen Damm. The 25-year-old is out of action for two weeks due to first-degree burns to the right side of his face during a firework display over the holiday period. It's not exactly the kind of news Ferretti was hoping for.

The hope for the champions is that Andre Pierre-Gignac, who was disappointing by his own standards last season, comes back to form this time around. And if he does, that’s a scary thought for everybody else in the league, as his partnership with Enner Valencia would strengthen the club's chances of an Apertura-Clausura sweep.

As for Monterrey, everything was there for the taking last season. Antonio Mohamed’s squad looked invincible thanks to its rugged, direct approach and the firepower of the league’s most lethal striker, Aviles Hurtado. But against Tigres, the Colombian was non-existent, mainly due to an injury he suffered prior to the two-legged final. But it was his penalty miss in the 80th minute of the second leg that will haunt him for years to come. It was a sore sight for such a prolific player.

Hurtado, however, redeemed himself by scoring against Pachuca in the Copa MX final and helping Rayados win 1-0. We’ll see if he can continue his form for this season.

The arrival of Uruguayan winger Jonathan Urretaviscaya from Pachuca helps matters on the wide areas, as creativity going forward was a major issue against Tigres in the final.

There is much to discuss as the new season kicks off, especially since this specific Clausura precedes the World Cup, and in a league that features a heavy dose of South and Central American young talent that lives on the bubble of national team recognition, fans will hopefully be treated to some great individual performances throughout the campaign.

Here are three things to watch in the new Liga MX season:

Will Pachuca succeed?

After failing to qualify for the 2017 Apertura playoffs and losing to Monterrey in the Copa MX final, Pachuca won back some redemption in the FIFA Club World Cup by beating Al Jazira in the third-place match last month.

Since that victory, Los Tuzos made some smart acquisitions in the transfer market, as they looked to improve creatively by acquiring the services of pacey striker Kekuta Manneh from MLS on a free transfer, in addition to talented attackers Walter Gonzalez (Olimpia) and Sebastian Palacios (Talleres) and the return of Christian "El Chaco" Gimenez, who played for the club between 2006-2009. Defensively, Diego Alonso’s team has always been effective, but with the arrival of Colombian left back Dairon Mosquera (from Independiente de Santa Fe), this unit looks even stronger.

The main focus, however, will be on Keisuke Honda. It's taken some time for the Japanese star to adjust to the league after arriving from AC Milan last summer, but it’s my belief that this is the tournament where will see a lot more from the 31-year-old creative midfielder, and help Pachuca return to the playoffs.

Can Miguel Herrera make Club America great again?

America’s 2017 Apertura campaign wasn’t disastrous. Herrera after all helped the team reach third place, but as soon as the Liguilla started, scoring goals became a big problem.

As a result, Las Aguilas are reacting during the transfer window as recent reports suggest a transfer move for PSV Eindhoven’s Luuk de Jong is imminent.

“De Jong is the [player] that most interests us," said Herrera, speaking to ESPN on Tuesday evening. "We've followed it up and [the opportunity] has been laid on the table. I'm looking for a player with a bigger name than Gignac."

After failing to impress for Newcastle United in 2014, de Jong returned to the Netherlands and has been an extremely influential player for PSV, where he is a teammate of former Liga MX star Hirving Lozano. Last season he scored 26 goals in 33 league appearances.

De Jong could be the extra firepower Herrera needs, especially since Oribe Peralta has not been as effective as of late. America is also reportedly hoping to bring another experienced forward in former PSG striker Jeremy Menez, who is currently with Antalyaspor.

If successful, Herrera could finally have all the pieces to challenge Tigres and Monterrey for the title.

An important season for Mexican players looking to go to the World Cup

This is the season that precedes the World Cup, and since 40% of Mexico’s national team is made from domestic based players, many will hope to have a successful season in order to attract the attention of manager Juan Carlos Osorio.

Some players to watch out for include Cesar Montes, the young talented center back from Monterrey, and Alan Pulido, the prolific Chivas striker who is back after suffering an injury during last summer’s Gold Cup.

This needs to be a great season for Peralta if he wants to go to Russia and be part of Osorio’s attack. When it comes to his forwards, the Colombian manager is a firm believer of flexibility, and players like Javier Aquino might take Peralta's spot given that he offers goals as well as creativity from the wide areas. Peralta is more of a direct threat inside the box, but if the 33-year-old can have a strong Clausura, it could be the push that helps him book his ticket to Russia. De Jong’s potential arrival, however, might hamper his chances.

Then there is the case of Oswaldo Alanis, the Chivas center back who is currently training with the club’s third division team due to contract disputes with the club's board.

Alanis’s current deal expires in June and during the offseason he was hoping for a new deal, but Chivas was only prepared to offer a contract for another six months.

Alanis refused and as a result was demoted, stayed back in Guadalajara while the first team trained in Cancun.

"It's an institutional posture, nothing personal," Chivas CEO Jose Luis Higuera said in an interview with Radio Marca Claro. "We've treated him with great respect, but he decided not to renew with us. He asked for something that was too much."

What makes things even more complicated is that Liga MX, unlike with the Bosman ruling so prevalent in Europe, has a pacto de caballeros (gentlemen’s pact) between owners, where players are not allowed to sign for another club while their contract is essentially coming to an end. Alanis, therefore, is stuck with Chivas until a resolution materializes. That resolution doesn't look like it's imminent.

Matias Almeyda, the club's technical director, said on Wednesday that despite the fact Alanis remains with Chivas, he won't play a single minute in the Clausura.

Last month, the Mexican player’s association released a statement criticizing the situation and defending Alanis.

"[We're] tired of some Mexican club directors continuing practices that seeks to exert pressure to obligate players to sign contracts that they don't accept, including with future threats that put their career at risk," read some of the statement.

Due to the transfer window for domestic players already being closed, Alanis has two options: hold off and hope for a solution with his current club or move abroad. Either way, it’s not looking good for a player who is not only important for Chivas, but also a defender who has Osorio's admiration.

Challengers Mobilize to Unseat Tigres, Monterrey in 2018 Liga MX Clausura

Liga MX returns to action this Friday as Tigres, fresh off its Apertura title, faces struggling Puebla to kick off the 2018 Clausura season.

When it comes to analyzing the favorites and who will win it all in May, there are no surprises: the path to the Clausura title must go through the two most talented squads coached by the best managers in the league: Tigres and Monterrey. It’s as simple as that.

Given the short preseason period between Apertura and Clausura tournaments–and the looming matches of CONCACAF Champions League play–however, it will be interesting to evaluate the fitness of last season’s finalists since their preseasons were far shorter than other clubs. It’s been three weeks since Ricardo Ferretti’s squad lifted the trophy against Los Rayados, meaning less time to prepare for the Clausura tournament and allowing other contenders such as Club America, Chivas and Cruz Azul to re-energize and bring in new faces.

All these teams had intensive preseasons, which included several friendlies in a short period of time. America was undefeated, with two victories against Zacatepec and Toluca, while Cruz Azul won three of its four warm-up matches under the team’s new manager, Pedro Caixinha. The Portuguese head coach joined La Maquina after being fired by Scottish club Rangers last October.

Tigres, meanwhile, deals with other problems thanks to its winger Jurgen Damm. The 25-year-old is out of action for two weeks due to first-degree burns to the right side of his face during a firework display over the holiday period. It's not exactly the kind of news Ferretti was hoping for.

The hope for the champions is that Andre Pierre-Gignac, who was disappointing by his own standards last season, comes back to form this time around. And if he does, that’s a scary thought for everybody else in the league, as his partnership with Enner Valencia would strengthen the club's chances of an Apertura-Clausura sweep.

As for Monterrey, everything was there for the taking last season. Antonio Mohamed’s squad looked invincible thanks to its rugged, direct approach and the firepower of the league’s most lethal striker, Aviles Hurtado. But against Tigres, the Colombian was non-existent, mainly due to an injury he suffered prior to the two-legged final. But it was his penalty miss in the 80th minute of the second leg that will haunt him for years to come. It was a sore sight for such a prolific player.

Hurtado, however, redeemed himself by scoring against Pachuca in the Copa MX final and helping Rayados win 1-0. We’ll see if he can continue his form for this season.

The arrival of Uruguayan winger Jonathan Urretaviscaya from Pachuca helps matters on the wide areas, as creativity going forward was a major issue against Tigres in the final.

There is much to discuss as the new season kicks off, especially since this specific Clausura precedes the World Cup, and in a league that features a heavy dose of South and Central American young talent that lives on the bubble of national team recognition, fans will hopefully be treated to some great individual performances throughout the campaign.

Here are three things to watch in the new Liga MX season:

Will Pachuca succeed?

After failing to qualify for the 2017 Apertura playoffs and losing to Monterrey in the Copa MX final, Pachuca won back some redemption in the FIFA Club World Cup by beating Al Jazira in the third-place match last month.

Since that victory, Los Tuzos made some smart acquisitions in the transfer market, as they looked to improve creatively by acquiring the services of pacey striker Kekuta Manneh from MLS on a free transfer, in addition to talented attackers Walter Gonzalez (Olimpia) and Sebastian Palacios (Talleres) and the return of Christian "El Chaco" Gimenez, who played for the club between 2006-2009. Defensively, Diego Alonso’s team has always been effective, but with the arrival of Colombian left back Dairon Mosquera (from Independiente de Santa Fe), this unit looks even stronger.

The main focus, however, will be on Keisuke Honda. It's taken some time for the Japanese star to adjust to the league after arriving from AC Milan last summer, but it’s my belief that this is the tournament where will see a lot more from the 31-year-old creative midfielder, and help Pachuca return to the playoffs.

Can Miguel Herrera make Club America great again?

America’s 2017 Apertura campaign wasn’t disastrous. Herrera after all helped the team reach third place, but as soon as the Liguilla started, scoring goals became a big problem.

As a result, Las Aguilas are reacting during the transfer window as recent reports suggest a transfer move for PSV Eindhoven’s Luuk de Jong is imminent.

“De Jong is the [player] that most interests us," said Herrera, speaking to ESPN on Tuesday evening. "We've followed it up and [the opportunity] has been laid on the table. I'm looking for a player with a bigger name than Gignac."

After failing to impress for Newcastle United in 2014, de Jong returned to the Netherlands and has been an extremely influential player for PSV, where he is a teammate of former Liga MX star Hirving Lozano. Last season he scored 26 goals in 33 league appearances.

De Jong could be the extra firepower Herrera needs, especially since Oribe Peralta has not been as effective as of late. America is also reportedly hoping to bring another experienced forward in former PSG striker Jeremy Menez, who is currently with Antalyaspor.

If successful, Herrera could finally have all the pieces to challenge Tigres and Monterrey for the title.

An important season for Mexican players looking to go to the World Cup

This is the season that precedes the World Cup, and since 40% of Mexico’s national team is made from domestic based players, many will hope to have a successful season in order to attract the attention of manager Juan Carlos Osorio.

Some players to watch out for include Cesar Montes, the young talented center back from Monterrey, and Alan Pulido, the prolific Chivas striker who is back after suffering an injury during last summer’s Gold Cup.

This needs to be a great season for Peralta if he wants to go to Russia and be part of Osorio’s attack. When it comes to his forwards, the Colombian manager is a firm believer of flexibility, and players like Javier Aquino might take Peralta's spot given that he offers goals as well as creativity from the wide areas. Peralta is more of a direct threat inside the box, but if the 33-year-old can have a strong Clausura, it could be the push that helps him book his ticket to Russia. De Jong’s potential arrival, however, might hamper his chances.

Then there is the case of Oswaldo Alanis, the Chivas center back who is currently training with the club’s third division team due to contract disputes with the club's board.

Alanis’s current deal expires in June and during the offseason he was hoping for a new deal, but Chivas was only prepared to offer a contract for another six months.

Alanis refused and as a result was demoted, stayed back in Guadalajara while the first team trained in Cancun.

"It's an institutional posture, nothing personal," Chivas CEO Jose Luis Higuera said in an interview with Radio Marca Claro. "We've treated him with great respect, but he decided not to renew with us. He asked for something that was too much."

What makes things even more complicated is that Liga MX, unlike with the Bosman ruling so prevalent in Europe, has a pacto de caballeros (gentlemen’s pact) between owners, where players are not allowed to sign for another club while their contract is essentially coming to an end. Alanis, therefore, is stuck with Chivas until a resolution materializes. That resolution doesn't look like it's imminent.

Matias Almeyda, the club's technical director, said on Wednesday that despite the fact Alanis remains with Chivas, he won't play a single minute in the Clausura.

Last month, the Mexican player’s association released a statement criticizing the situation and defending Alanis.

"[We're] tired of some Mexican club directors continuing practices that seeks to exert pressure to obligate players to sign contracts that they don't accept, including with future threats that put their career at risk," read some of the statement.

Due to the transfer window for domestic players already being closed, Alanis has two options: hold off and hope for a solution with his current club or move abroad. Either way, it’s not looking good for a player who is not only important for Chivas, but also a defender who has Osorio's admiration.

PSV Eindhoven Put Together Amazing Football Manager Announcement for New Signing Maximiliano Romero

​Forget Bristol City's goal GIFs, or Besiktas' rather strange telephone conversations mixed with techno music, PSV Eindhoven have thought of a new way to capture social media, by unveiling their signing of Maximiliano Romero via Football Manager.  The Dutch side, who currently find themselves top of Eredivisie with a five-point buffer over the chasing pack, headed up by Ajax, released a 54-second clip on via their ​official Twitter page, showing the motions of securing the highly thought of...

PSV Eindhoven Put Together Amazing Football Manager Announcement for New Signing Maximiliano Romero

​Forget Bristol City's goal GIFs, or Besiktas' rather strange telephone conversations mixed with techno music, PSV Eindhoven have thought of a new way to capture social media, by unveiling their signing of Maximiliano Romero via Football Manager.  The Dutch side, who currently find themselves top of Eredivisie with a five-point buffer over the chasing pack, headed up by Ajax, released a 54-second clip on via their ​official Twitter page, showing the motions of securing the highly thought of...

Eindhoven (Netherlands), 16/12/2017.- PSV Eindhoven's goalkeeper Jeroen Zoet (2-L) in action during the Dutch Eredivisie soccer match between PSV Eindhoven and ADO Den Haag in Eindhoven, Netherlands, 16 December 2017. (Países Bajos; Holanda) EFE/EPA/JOEP LEENEN

Eindhoven (Netherlands), 16/12/2017.- Hirving Lozano (C) of PSV Eindhoven in action during the Dutch Eredivisie soccer match between PSV Eindhoven and ADO Den Haag in Eindhoven, Netherlands, 16 December 2017. (Países Bajos; Holanda) EFE/EPA/JOEP LEENEN

Eindhoven (Netherlands), 16/12/2017.- Marco van Ginkel (L) of PSV Eindhoven celebrates with his teammate Hirving Lozano (R) after scoring the 3-0 lead from the penalty spot during the Dutch Eredivisie soccer match between PSV Eindhoven and ADO Den Haag in Eindhoven, Netherlands, 16 December 2017. (Países Bajos; Holanda) EFE/EPA/JOEP LEENEN

Eindhoven (Netherlands), 16/12/2017.- Luuk de Jong (R) of PSV Eindhoven celebrates after scoring a goal during the Dutch Eredivisie soccer match between PSV Eindhoven and ADO Den Haag in Eindhoven, Netherlands, 16 December 2017. (Países Bajos; Holanda) EFE/EPA/JOEP LEENEN

Eindhoven (Netherlands), 16/12/2017.- Luuk de Jong (R) of PSV Eindhoven scores a goal during the Dutch Eredivisie soccer match between PSV Eindhoven and ADO Den Haag in Eindhoven, Netherlands, 16 December 2017. (Países Bajos; Holanda) EFE/EPA/JOEP LEENEN

Jose Mourinho accuses Pep Guardiola of mind games about David Silva's fitness

Jose Mourinho has fired up Sunday’s potentially explosive Manchester derby by taking a swipe at Pep Guardiola over the fitness of David Silva. Mourinho has accused Guardiola of using mind games after the Manchester City coach claimed Silva is doubtful for the Premier League clash at Old Trafford.  Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger was also caught in the Portuguese’s crossfire over comments made about Alexandre Lacazette, who started the game against United on Saturday, despite being apparently ruled out 48 hours before.  But it is the uncertainty over Silva’s involvement which has riled Mourinho, after the winger failed to travel to Ukraine for City’s Champions League game against Shakhtar Donetsk. Guardiola insisted he did not know whether Silva would be fit to play, but when asked which of his own players could return, Mourinho replied: “When we have a problem, we have a problem.  “When players are injured, they are injured. I tell you the truth. The truth is Eric Bailly has no chance for the weekend, Phil Jones a chance, [Marouane] Fellaini a chance, Zlatan [Ibrahimovic] a big chance and [Nemanja] Matic is injured but will play for sure. [Michael] Carrick, no chance.  “No stories of Lacazette or David Silva. All the truth. Our opponents have all these issues. They have a big issue but, in the end, everybody is ready to play. They have phenomenal organisations. We are a bit more humble.” Mourinho was in typically spiky mood after United secured top spot in Group A after their 2-1 win over CSKA Moscow.  Mourinho couldn't resist commenting on Guardiola and David Silva Credit: Action Images  It means they have reached the last 16 of the Champions League for the first time since 2014, after goals from Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford. “I think that teams will not be jumping with happiness to play against us,” he said.  “I am not the luckiest guy with draws, so it is better I shut up and forget it because we only play in February. Until then I have to ­concentrate on the English ­competitions.” There was also praise for United defender Luke Shaw, making his first start in 219 days and playing 90 minutes. Shaw was also playing his first game in the Champions League since September 2015, when he suffered a double leg fracture against PSV Eindhoven. Mourinho has had a fractious relationship with the 22-year-old, but hinted he will be given more opportunities. “It was a very positive performance, especially with the ball going forwards,” he said. “He was really dangerous, creating a lot, there was a lot of intensity in his game.  “It was no surprise that he was feeling the consequences of that intensity. He was deserving of that opportunity for quite a long time and he is going to get more because the performance was positive.” 

Jose Mourinho accuses Pep Guardiola of mind games about David Silva's fitness

Jose Mourinho has fired up Sunday’s potentially explosive Manchester derby by taking a swipe at Pep Guardiola over the fitness of David Silva. Mourinho has accused Guardiola of using mind games after the Manchester City coach claimed Silva is doubtful for the Premier League clash at Old Trafford.  Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger was also caught in the Portuguese’s crossfire over comments made about Alexandre Lacazette, who started the game against United on Saturday, despite being apparently ruled out 48 hours before.  But it is the uncertainty over Silva’s involvement which has riled Mourinho, after the winger failed to travel to Ukraine for City’s Champions League game against Shakhtar Donetsk. Guardiola insisted he did not know whether Silva would be fit to play, but when asked which of his own players could return, Mourinho replied: “When we have a problem, we have a problem.  “When players are injured, they are injured. I tell you the truth. The truth is Eric Bailly has no chance for the weekend, Phil Jones a chance, [Marouane] Fellaini a chance, Zlatan [Ibrahimovic] a big chance and [Nemanja] Matic is injured but will play for sure. [Michael] Carrick, no chance.  “No stories of Lacazette or David Silva. All the truth. Our opponents have all these issues. They have a big issue but, in the end, everybody is ready to play. They have phenomenal organisations. We are a bit more humble.” Mourinho was in typically spiky mood after United secured top spot in Group A after their 2-1 win over CSKA Moscow.  Mourinho couldn't resist commenting on Guardiola and David Silva Credit: Action Images  It means they have reached the last 16 of the Champions League for the first time since 2014, after goals from Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford. “I think that teams will not be jumping with happiness to play against us,” he said.  “I am not the luckiest guy with draws, so it is better I shut up and forget it because we only play in February. Until then I have to ­concentrate on the English ­competitions.” There was also praise for United defender Luke Shaw, making his first start in 219 days and playing 90 minutes. Shaw was also playing his first game in the Champions League since September 2015, when he suffered a double leg fracture against PSV Eindhoven. Mourinho has had a fractious relationship with the 22-year-old, but hinted he will be given more opportunities. “It was a very positive performance, especially with the ball going forwards,” he said. “He was really dangerous, creating a lot, there was a lot of intensity in his game.  “It was no surprise that he was feeling the consequences of that intensity. He was deserving of that opportunity for quite a long time and he is going to get more because the performance was positive.” 

Was this the game which got Luke Shaw's Manchester United career back on track?

This felt like a momentous night for Luke Shaw, in what was a 50th United appearance but his first in the Champions League since the evening which has defined his career at Old Trafford. It was that game over two years ago against PSV Eindhoven when he suffered a horrendous double leg fracture, and it seems as if he has been playing catch-up ever since. Jose Mourinho admitted before the game it was “not now or never” for the 22-year-old defender, but it is surely getting to the stage where Shaw’s future needs to be resolved once and for all. Shaw impressed here, almost scoring in the 20th minute with a far-post volley, and was clearly in better shape than recent months after a dedicated fitness programme. It was a timely reminder, if it were needed, why United paid nearly £30m for a player hailed as potentially the finest English left-back in the country when he moved from Southampton. Shaw looked typically dangerous going forwards Credit: getty images There were occasional defensive lapses in his positioning, perhaps down to rustiness, but from an attacking point of view Shaw was certainly a threat on the left for much of the night. Completing the entire 90 minutes will also have given him immense satisfaction, after two years in which his career has hit the pause button. Yet if we are being brutally honest, nobody expects him to be anywhere near United’s squad for Sunday’s crucial Manchester derby. Hopes of appearing at the World Cup with England also appear remote at this stage, after such limited opportunities. This was effectively a dead rubber against CSKA Moscow and Shaw’s first start since the Premier League game against Swansea in April – an absence of 219 days. Before this, he had managed just 48 minutes this season as a substitute. His future remains unclear, despite anticipated interest from Premier League clubs in the January transfer window, and predicting Mourinho’s next move is usually futile. Will Mourinho allow Shaw back in? Credit: reuters  “It is not about impressing, I don't want to put any pressure on to anyone,” said Mourinho before the match. “Luke Shaw plays and it is a good opportunity but it is not now or never and if you don't play well you don't get a second chance.” Shaw certainly did enough here to warrant more games, whether it is with United or at another club. In the next month or so, he will discover what the remainder of the season holds – but this was a statement of sorts, from a player who deserves a slice of fortune. Moment which changed the match Romelu Lukaku’s equaliser was a reward for United’s sustained pressure and it was quickly followed by Marcus Rashford’s well-taken goal 66 seconds later. United were then in cruise control and securing top spot of Group A was never in doubt. Most influential player Juan Mata Mata’s enduring qualities remain crucial to United, even with the return of Paul Pogba, and this was a menacing performance from the Spaniard. Some of his touches and passing were truly sublime. Juan Mata impressed again Credit: Reuters Crowd rating There were many empty seats around Old Trafford, with qualification virtually assured before kick-off, and the atmosphere was fairly flat. The tone was set by a CD malfunction which prevented the Champions League anthem from being aired before kick-off. 6/10 Referee rating Gianluca Rocchi (Italy) The big moment came for the Italian official when CSKA Moscow forward Alan Dzagoev was clearly standing in an offside position for the opening goal – but he got the decision right, much to the annoyance of United’s players. 6/10

Was this the game which got Luke Shaw's Manchester United career back on track?

This felt like a momentous night for Luke Shaw, in what was a 50th United appearance but his first in the Champions League since the evening which has defined his career at Old Trafford. It was that game over two years ago against PSV Eindhoven when he suffered a horrendous double leg fracture, and it seems as if he has been playing catch-up ever since. Jose Mourinho admitted before the game it was “not now or never” for the 22-year-old defender, but it is surely getting to the stage where Shaw’s future needs to be resolved once and for all. Shaw impressed here, almost scoring in the 20th minute with a far-post volley, and was clearly in better shape than recent months after a dedicated fitness programme. It was a timely reminder, if it were needed, why United paid nearly £30m for a player hailed as potentially the finest English left-back in the country when he moved from Southampton. Shaw looked typically dangerous going forwards Credit: getty images There were occasional defensive lapses in his positioning, perhaps down to rustiness, but from an attacking point of view Shaw was certainly a threat on the left for much of the night. Completing the entire 90 minutes will also have given him immense satisfaction, after two years in which his career has hit the pause button. Yet if we are being brutally honest, nobody expects him to be anywhere near United’s squad for Sunday’s crucial Manchester derby. Hopes of appearing at the World Cup with England also appear remote at this stage, after such limited opportunities. This was effectively a dead rubber against CSKA Moscow and Shaw’s first start since the Premier League game against Swansea in April – an absence of 219 days. Before this, he had managed just 48 minutes this season as a substitute. His future remains unclear, despite anticipated interest from Premier League clubs in the January transfer window, and predicting Mourinho’s next move is usually futile. Will Mourinho allow Shaw back in? Credit: reuters  “It is not about impressing, I don't want to put any pressure on to anyone,” said Mourinho before the match. “Luke Shaw plays and it is a good opportunity but it is not now or never and if you don't play well you don't get a second chance.” Shaw certainly did enough here to warrant more games, whether it is with United or at another club. In the next month or so, he will discover what the remainder of the season holds – but this was a statement of sorts, from a player who deserves a slice of fortune. Moment which changed the match Romelu Lukaku’s equaliser was a reward for United’s sustained pressure and it was quickly followed by Marcus Rashford’s well-taken goal 66 seconds later. United were then in cruise control and securing top spot of Group A was never in doubt. Most influential player Juan Mata Mata’s enduring qualities remain crucial to United, even with the return of Paul Pogba, and this was a menacing performance from the Spaniard. Some of his touches and passing were truly sublime. Juan Mata impressed again Credit: Reuters Crowd rating There were many empty seats around Old Trafford, with qualification virtually assured before kick-off, and the atmosphere was fairly flat. The tone was set by a CD malfunction which prevented the Champions League anthem from being aired before kick-off. 6/10 Referee rating Gianluca Rocchi (Italy) The big moment came for the Italian official when CSKA Moscow forward Alan Dzagoev was clearly standing in an offside position for the opening goal – but he got the decision right, much to the annoyance of United’s players. 6/10

Was this the game which got Luke Shaw's Manchester United career back on track?

This felt like a momentous night for Luke Shaw, in what was a 50th United appearance but his first in the Champions League since the evening which has defined his career at Old Trafford. It was that game over two years ago against PSV Eindhoven when he suffered a horrendous double leg fracture, and it seems as if he has been playing catch-up ever since. Jose Mourinho admitted before the game it was “not now or never” for the 22-year-old defender, but it is surely getting to the stage where Shaw’s future needs to be resolved once and for all. Shaw impressed here, almost scoring in the 20th minute with a far-post volley, and was clearly in better shape than recent months after a dedicated fitness programme. It was a timely reminder, if it were needed, why United paid nearly £30m for a player hailed as potentially the finest English left-back in the country when he moved from Southampton. Shaw looked typically dangerous going forwards Credit: getty images There were occasional defensive lapses in his positioning, perhaps down to rustiness, but from an attacking point of view Shaw was certainly a threat on the left for much of the night. Completing the entire 90 minutes will also have given him immense satisfaction, after two years in which his career has hit the pause button. Yet if we are being brutally honest, nobody expects him to be anywhere near United’s squad for Sunday’s crucial Manchester derby. Hopes of appearing at the World Cup with England also appear remote at this stage, after such limited opportunities. This was effectively a dead rubber against CSKA Moscow and Shaw’s first start since the Premier League game against Swansea in April – an absence of 219 days. Before this, he had managed just 48 minutes this season as a substitute. His future remains unclear, despite anticipated interest from Premier League clubs in the January transfer window, and predicting Mourinho’s next move is usually futile. Will Mourinho allow Shaw back in? Credit: reuters  “It is not about impressing, I don't want to put any pressure on to anyone,” said Mourinho before the match. “Luke Shaw plays and it is a good opportunity but it is not now or never and if you don't play well you don't get a second chance.” Shaw certainly did enough here to warrant more games, whether it is with United or at another club. In the next month or so, he will discover what the remainder of the season holds – but this was a statement of sorts, from a player who deserves a slice of fortune. Moment which changed the match Romelu Lukaku’s equaliser was a reward for United’s sustained pressure and it was quickly followed by Marcus Rashford’s well-taken goal 66 seconds later. United were then in cruise control and securing top spot of Group A was never in doubt. Most influential player Juan Mata Mata’s enduring qualities remain crucial to United, even with the return of Paul Pogba, and this was a menacing performance from the Spaniard. Some of his touches and passing were truly sublime. Juan Mata impressed again Credit: Reuters Crowd rating There were many empty seats around Old Trafford, with qualification virtually assured before kick-off, and the atmosphere was fairly flat. The tone was set by a CD malfunction which prevented the Champions League anthem from being aired before kick-off. 6/10 Referee rating Gianluca Rocchi (Italy) The big moment came for the Italian official when CSKA Moscow forward Alan Dzagoev was clearly standing in an offside position for the opening goal – but he got the decision right, much to the annoyance of United’s players. 6/10

Was this the game which got Luke Shaw's Manchester United career back on track?

This felt like a momentous night for Luke Shaw, in what was a 50th United appearance but his first in the Champions League since the evening which has defined his career at Old Trafford. It was that game over two years ago against PSV Eindhoven when he suffered a horrendous double leg fracture, and it seems as if he has been playing catch-up ever since. Jose Mourinho admitted before the game it was “not now or never” for the 22-year-old defender, but it is surely getting to the stage where Shaw’s future needs to be resolved once and for all. Shaw impressed here, almost scoring in the 20th minute with a far-post volley, and was clearly in better shape than recent months after a dedicated fitness programme. It was a timely reminder, if it were needed, why United paid nearly £30m for a player hailed as potentially the finest English left-back in the country when he moved from Southampton. Shaw looked typically dangerous going forwards Credit: getty images There were occasional defensive lapses in his positioning, perhaps down to rustiness, but from an attacking point of view Shaw was certainly a threat on the left for much of the night. Completing the entire 90 minutes will also have given him immense satisfaction, after two years in which his career has hit the pause button. Yet if we are being brutally honest, nobody expects him to be anywhere near United’s squad for Sunday’s crucial Manchester derby. Hopes of appearing at the World Cup with England also appear remote at this stage, after such limited opportunities. This was effectively a dead rubber against CSKA Moscow and Shaw’s first start since the Premier League game against Swansea in April – an absence of 219 days. Before this, he had managed just 48 minutes this season as a substitute. His future remains unclear, despite anticipated interest from Premier League clubs in the January transfer window, and predicting Mourinho’s next move is usually futile. Will Mourinho allow Shaw back in? Credit: reuters  “It is not about impressing, I don't want to put any pressure on to anyone,” said Mourinho before the match. “Luke Shaw plays and it is a good opportunity but it is not now or never and if you don't play well you don't get a second chance.” Shaw certainly did enough here to warrant more games, whether it is with United or at another club. In the next month or so, he will discover what the remainder of the season holds – but this was a statement of sorts, from a player who deserves a slice of fortune. Moment which changed the match Romelu Lukaku’s equaliser was a reward for United’s sustained pressure and it was quickly followed by Marcus Rashford’s well-taken goal 66 seconds later. United were then in cruise control and securing top spot of Group A was never in doubt. Most influential player Juan Mata Mata’s enduring qualities remain crucial to United, even with the return of Paul Pogba, and this was a menacing performance from the Spaniard. Some of his touches and passing were truly sublime. Juan Mata impressed again Credit: Reuters Crowd rating There were many empty seats around Old Trafford, with qualification virtually assured before kick-off, and the atmosphere was fairly flat. The tone was set by a CD malfunction which prevented the Champions League anthem from being aired before kick-off. 6/10 Referee rating Gianluca Rocchi (Italy) The big moment came for the Italian official when CSKA Moscow forward Alan Dzagoev was clearly standing in an offside position for the opening goal – but he got the decision right, much to the annoyance of United’s players. 6/10

PSV win at Excelsior to maintain gap at top

PSV Eindhoven edged out Excelsior 2-1 at the Stadion Woudestein on Sunday, to maintain their eight-point lead at the top of the Eredivisie.

PSV win at Excelsior to maintain gap at top

PSV Eindhoven edged out Excelsior 2-1 at the Stadion Woudestein on Sunday, to maintain their eight-point lead at the top of the Eredivisie.

PSV win at Excelsior to maintain gap at top

PSV Eindhoven edged out Excelsior 2-1 at the Stadion Woudestein on Sunday, to maintain their eight-point lead at the top of the Eredivisie.

Hirving Lozano Breaks Out on the European Stage

Mexico rising star Hirving “Chucky” Lozano is trending in the right direction as the World Cup approaches, lighting up opposing defenses for PSV Eindhoven.

Hirving Lozano Breaks Out on the European Stage

Mexico rising star Hirving “Chucky” Lozano is trending in the right direction as the World Cup approaches, lighting up opposing defenses for PSV Eindhoven.

Hirving Lozano Breaks Out on the European Stage

Mexico rising star Hirving “Chucky” Lozano is trending in the right direction as the World Cup approaches, lighting up opposing defenses for PSV Eindhoven.

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