Jose Mourinho’s Exits and a Review of Last Week’s European Soccer

Jose Mourinho’s exit from Manchester United this morning was no surprise to football lover the world over. An announcement of the substantive coach is expected in the next forty-eight hours; former player Michael Carrick, now a member of the coaching staff, is expected to take charge in an interim role but United said a caretaker manager will be appointed until the end of the season.

Whoever gets appointed will be expected to turn around the fortunes of the club after the biggest match across Europe last weekend saw Manchester United comprehensively beaten 3-1 by Liverpool at Anfield. The result, which was inspired by a fine opening goal from Sadio Mane and secured by second-half strikes from substitute Xherdan Shaqiri, took Liverpool back to the top of the Premier League after they had been leapfrogged by Manchester City earlier in the weekend.

United, meanwhile, are way back in sixth place and a full 19 points off the pace of their arch rivals. Prior to Mourinho’s depart he had already written off United’s chances of winning the title (two rounds short of the halfway mark in the season) and saying their best hope is a top-four finish. Speaking to Sky Sports earlier this week when asked” can you fix United’s predicament”? Mourinho told Sky Sports: “What do you mean by fix? You mean win the title? I can’t fix this. “We can still finish fourth, I think it is not easy, for sure we are going to finish in the top six like all of the other historically top teams, but the best we can get is the fourth position. Now we have to look to the fifth position and then probably later the fourth.”

Reds manager Jurgen Klopp felt the victory was a result of one of the best performances in his tenure at Anfield. “The brilliant start was one of the best performances we had since I’m in Liverpool, to be honest, not only this season,” said the German. “The first half an hour was outstanding, outstanding. We scored only once but I don’t think anyone expects to score three, four, five times or whatever. How we played was just perfect, really.”

Other significant results in England included Southampton getting the better of Arsenal to end the Gunners’ lengthy unbeaten run, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur claimed narrow wins over Brighton and Burnley respectively, Manchester City eased past Everton 3-1, and Crystal Palace beat Leicester City 1-0 for their first win without Wilfried Zaha in more than two years.

In Italy, Juventus kept up their domination with a 1-0 away win over cross-town rivals Torino in the ‘Derby della Mole’ on Saturday night. Cristiano Ronaldo scored the only goal of the game to see the ‘Old Lady’ to victory and made some more history in process: it was the Bianoneri’s 5000th goal in Serie A. “It was a tricky match because it came just three days after our Champions League game, because it was the derby and because Torino are in great form at the moment,” Juve manager Massimiliano Allegri told a press conference after the match.

“It’s a great result for us and a big step forward. Despite playing on a poor pitch, we played well in the second half. We created lots of chances and gave nothing away.” Napoli and Inter remain distant in second and third place respectively, though they at least claimed 1-0 wins (away to Cagliari for the Neapolitans and at home to Udinese for the Nerazzurri), while the game of the weekend saw Roma twice from come behind to defeat Christian Kouame’s Genoa 3-2 in the ‘Eternal City’.

In La Liga it remains very much at status quo, with the top five teams all securing victories. Leaders Barcelona were the most impressive in dismissing Levante 5-0 away (with a hat-trick from Lionel Messi), while Atletico Madrid needed a brace from Antoine Griezmann to edge Real Valladolid 3-2.

Real Madrid got the better of Rayo Vallecano in their derby and Sevilla defeated Giron to remain in second place, while Real Betis and Getafe have moved up to fifth and sixth place respectively.

La Liga results & fixtures, 14-17 December

Friday 14 December
Celta de Vigo 0-0 Leganes

Saturday 15 December
Getafe 1-0 Real Sociedad
Real Valladolid 2-3 Atletico Madrid
Real Madrid 1-0 Rayo Vallecano
Eibar 1-1 Valencia

Sunday 16 December
Sevilla 2-0 Girona
Espanyol 1-3 Real Betis
Huesca 2-2 Villarreal
Levante 0-5 Barcelona

Monday 17 December
22:00: Deportivo Alaves v Athletic Bilbao

Serie A results & fixtures, 15-18 December

Saturday 15 December
Internazionale 1-0 Udinese
Torino 0-1 Juventus

Sunday 16 December
SPAL 0-0 Chievo
Fiorentina 3-1 Empoli
Frosinone 0-2 Sassuolo
Sampdoria 2-0 Parma
Cagliari 0-1 Napoli
Roma 3-2 Genoa

Monday 17 December
21:30: Atalanta v Lazio

Tuesday 18 December
21:30: Bologna v Milan

Premier League results, 15-16 December

Saturday 15 December
Manchester City 3-1 Everton
Crystal Palace 1-0 Leicester City
Huddersfield Town 0-1 Newcastle United
Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 Burnley
Watford 3-2 Cardiff City
Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-0 Bournemouth
Fulham 0-2 West Ham United

Sunday 16 December
Brighton 1-2 Hove Albion v Chelsea
Southampton 3-2 Arsenal
Liverpool 1-3 Manchester United

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