Mourinho is the Napoleon of football; D’Arcy on Ireland great Jacob Stockdale

Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

Manchester United have parted company with manager José Mourinho with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer expected to come in temporarily. Stefano Rellandini/Reuters

Manchester United have parted company with manager José Mourinho with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer expected to come in temporarily. Stefano Rellandini/Reuters

No one likes to see anybody lose their job and particularly not just before Christmas but unfortunately that was the case for a certain Portuguese football manager in Manchester yesterday. And if getting the sack for the third time in the Premier League wasn’t enough for José Mourinho, he is also now saddled with a whopping £537,000 bill for his 895-night stay at one of the exclusive suites in the Lowry Hotel on Chapel Wharf in Salford. How ever will he survive?! Well, the £15 million pay-off he will get from the club should at least pay the hotel bill and keep the turkey and ham on the table for Christmas but we may well be seeing him back in football management sooner rather than later. As it is, United look set to appoint former striker and hero of Barcelona in 1999, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, as their caretaker manager to take the team to the end of the season by which time Ed Woodward and his crew of directors will have appointed a new permanent manager with the number one target being current Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino. It would certainly take a lot to prise the Argentine away from the joyous atmosphere of the north London club for the more dour feeling around the 20-times champions of England up north but it may well happen as Pochettino himself refused to rule it out yesterday. Also this morning we have Ken Early writing on the demise of Mourinho and how the Portuguese compares to another great historical leader in Napoleon. “Football is an aristocracy. The aristocrats are the ones who have played the game professionally, and the commoners are everyone else. The hierarchy is traditionally as hard for an outsider to penetrate as any hereditary nobility. It must have occurred to José Mourinho that he has had the most Napoleonic career in football,” he writes.

Moving on to rugby and this morning Gordon D’Arcy writes in his column this morning that Jacob Stockdale is one of many good points to come out of a historic year for Irish rugby and he is the one that puts the icing on the cake. The Ulster man is quickly ascending the ladder to greatness and 12 tries in 14 Tests so far in his career shows just how quickly he is scaling those rungs. “We have never seen his likes before. Sure, Irish rugby was blessed by Denis Hickie and Simon Geoghegan, but nothing like Jacob’s 6ft 4in, 105kg frame has worn the number 11 green jersey,” D’Arcy writes. In provincial news, Jamison Gibson-Park is waiting patiently for when he will qualify to play for Ireland under the three-year residency rule – a milestone that will come about next June. The Kiwi admits that he did not know he could actually play for Ireland when he landed here in 2016 but now he is fully ready to hop on board.

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