The soccer news starts with a full day of punditry letting us know precisely what happened to cause Manchester United to part ways with manager Jose Mourinho. Since the idea of the manager in English soccer has eroded away, it's fair enough to call the job coach. That's also the main reason Mourinho is not in charge. The coaching was the problem, with all that means for any team in any sport.
In America, losing the locker room is a truism regularly trotted out when a team makes a coaching change. It applies here as well, at least according to some of those media reports. What really happened behind the scenes is always an open question in English soccer. There's no requirement for players to regularly do media, so the conversations are one-sided. The manager is the one normally doing the talking on behalf of everybody else. Even in this era of instant access and social media, Premier League players are noticeably quiet.
So it was always going to be Mourinho as the public face of a club struggling by its lofty standards. 6th-place doesn't count for a super club. At least it doesn't count enough, something that might as well be in the job description. The Real Madrid scenario that led to a coaching change earlier this season might as well be proof of concept. There's no tether at this level. The business model doesn't allow for it.
What happens to Manchester United over the rest of this season probably won't prove much of anything. A team briefly finding a spark under an interim coach is also nothing new. United's schedule plays to that scenario. They have a five-game stretch where they should climb the table regardless of who happens to be diagramming the set pieces.
The bigger question is conceptual. Most of us can name the small group of elite coaches normally attached to these kinds of jobs. Whether or not Mourinho is still high up that list is an open question. Some have already answered it, but desperation and super club status tend to go hand-in-hand. There's almost always a job about to come open.
Also in the soccer news, the Bundesliga was in action with John Brooks's Wolfsburg shutting out Stuttgart 2-0 at home. Josuha Guilsvogui scored in the 24th minute with Wout Weghorst doubling the lead in the 44th. Fabian Johnson subbed out in the 74th minute for Gladbach's 2-0 home win over Nurnberg. Thorgan Hazard opened the scoring in the 47th with Alassane Plea adding a goal in the 86th.
Christian Pulisic's Borussia Dortmund lost 2-1 at Fortuna Dusseldorf. Dodi Lukebakio scored for Fortuna in the 22nd with Jean Zimmer making it 2-0 in the 56th. Dortmund pulled a goal back through Paco Alcacer in the 81st. Alfredo Morales wasn't in the squad for Fortuna.
MLSsoccer.com's Matthew Doyle recaps the 2018 MLS season.
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