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Jose Mourinho’s comments about Chris Smalling’s feet as former Man Utd boss takes Roma job

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Jose Mourinho will be reunited with Chris Smalling after being confirmed as the next Roma boss – and the defender will no doubt be keen to show he has improved with his feet.

Smalling played under Mourinho at United before being sent to Europa League rivals Roma by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

He has become a fans’ favourite in the Eternal City, after some impressive performances saw an initial loan switch turned into a permanent deal last summer.

Now Mourinho is to become the centre-back’s manager once again after being appointed to the Stadio Olimpico hotseat following his sacking by Tottenham last month.

And Smalling will surely be looking to prove his incoming boss wrong after Mourinho previously said the centre-back didn’t have the feet to play out from the back.

After United beat Ajax to win the Europa League in 2017, the manager known for his defensive set-up revealed he had instructed his rearguard players not to try passing it out – especially Smalling.

“We wanted to create instability. We would let them play out from the back while blocking De Ligt, their right centre-back, making them play through Davinson Sanches who had more trouble,” Mourinho said, according to Tribuna Expresso.

“We’d make our full back close down well that central space and if the ball entered a wide area for their winger, the full-back would close him down and Herrera would be the one covering that space in midfield. ‘

“But what matters is that my players understand we cannot have doubts there – defensive creativity only in emergency situations.

“We prepare a game better when we’re aware of our own weaknesses. Everyone said Ajax played beautiful football and that the beauty of the game matters. I told my players that, for me, beautiful is not giving our opponents what they want.

“I even joked with Smalling – ‘With your feet, we’re for sure not playing out from the back! That’s where we won the game.

“During the initial stage of build-up we never played from our centre-backs to our midfielders, because they are great at recovering possession pressing high. ‘In our midfield they didn’t recover the ball once. If the ball isn’t there, what are they going to press?”

Mourinho will take charge of Roma from next season after leaving Tottenham last month – so fans of the Serie A side should perhaps not expect any “defensive creativity”.

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Serie A

AC Milan and Chelsea agree to €2m total fee for Giroud deal

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AC Milan are pushing to complete a move for Olivier Giroud as they have agreed to a fee with Chelsea to edge closer to a deal for the wantaway striker.

The 34-year-old saw the Blues trigger an option that extended his contract by a further year, ending Milan’s hopes of signing him on a free transfer.

However, Chelsea and Milan have now agreed on a fee that will allow the striker to move to Italy.

Since exiting Euro 2020 after France’s shock round-of-16 defeat to Switzerland, Giroud has been able to put focus on his future and has reiterated his desire to leave west London.

The former Arsenal forward increasingly found himself playing a bit-part role under Thomas Tuchel last season and didn’t start a match for his club after March 21.

And he’s now bound for Milan, with the Serie A side paying €1 million (£860,000/$1.2m) upfront and another €1m next year as an add-on.

Giroud is now set to sign a two-year deal with his new club, as the striker will now depart Chelsea ahead of what could be another busy window for the Blues.

Indeed, the Blues are targeting the signing of a new striker in the summer transfer window, with Erling Haaland and Tottenham and England star Harry Kane at the top the shortlist.

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Serie A

Cristiano Ronaldo facing Andrea Pirlo humiliation after latest “unforgivable” mistake

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Cristiano Ronaldo could be ordered not to stand in the Juventus wall any more after he again cowered as an effort that was struck towards him ended up in the net.

 

The Juventus star was seen ducking underneath a shot struck by Parma’s Gaston Brugman as the Serie A strugglers took a shock lead in Turin in Wednesday evening.

 

Juve eventually fought back to win 3-1 thanks to a brace from Alex Sandro and a goal from centre-back Matthijs de Ligt, with the result seeing them move up to third in the Serie A table, still 11 points behind leaders Inter Milan.

But despite the win, Juve boss Andrea Pirlo was left to answer questions about Ronaldo at full-time.

 

The Brugman free-kick free-kick went over the head of cowering Ronaldo in the wall, and followed on from the crucial goal scored by Porto’s Sergio Oliveira in last month’s Champions League last-16 tie, when his low free-kick went through the legs of Ronaldo and found the net.

That error was slammed by former Juve boss Fabio Capello and club legend Alessandro Del Piero, with Capello calling it “unforgivable”.

After the Parma match, Pirlo was asked by Sky Sport Italia whether he’ll now have to consider removing the 36-year-old Ronaldo from any defensive wall in future, and admitted “unfortunately these things happen, we will evaluate what to do in the next matches and whether to put him in the wall.”

The match was the first Juve had played since the collapse of the European Super League, an idea that was very much supported by their chairman Andrea Agnelli.

Pirlo says his boss did speak to him about the plans, and he supported the need for change in European football.

“Agnelli explained what was happening, but that the most important thing was to secure a place in the top four to qualify for the Champions League,” he said.

“Something has to be changed on the European level, because the ideas that were proposed were good ones, but we are also open to other suggestions and will respect the rules.”

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Serie A

Andrea Pirlo Confirms Cristiano Ronaldo Blow Ahead of Juventus’ Showdown with Atlanta

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Juventus boss Andrea Pirlo has confirmed that Cristiano Ronaldo will play no half in his facet’s assembly with Atalanta on Sunday.

The Bianconeri are set to return to motion in just a little beneath 24 hours’ time.Pirlo and co. will make the journey to Bergamo, for a doubtlessly essential Serie A showdown with Atalanta.

 

As issues stand, the 2 sides are separated by only a solitary level within the Italian top-flight, with Juve in possession of the benefit, in third. This after all comes amid a uncommon down season for the perennial champions, which has seen new boss Pirlo wrestle to translate his concepts into constant performances on the pitch.

In flip, Juventus look sure to give up their prolonged maintain over Serie A over the approaching weeks, as Antonio Conte’s Inter Milan march in direction of a first title since 2010.

Lacking out on a Champions League berth, although, would show nothing wanting a catastrophe for the Old Lady, making a optimistic end result towards Atalanta tomorrow afternoon of the utmost significance.

CR7 ruled out

Juve’s hopes of getting the higher of an at all times harmful Oribici outfit, nonetheless, as outlined above, have right now been dented. This comes after it was confirmed that the Turin giants’ star man is ready to play no half on the Gewiss Stadium on Sunday.

Talking in a press convention this afternoon, Andrea Pirlo was requested for a health replace on his squad. And, altogether out of the blue, the Bianconeri boss went on to disclose that Cristiano Ronaldo has picked up what was described as ‘a flexor downside’:

Paulo Dybala, in flip, is anticipated to take his place alongside Alvaro Morata in Juventus’ frontline in Bergamo.

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