Pedro Caixinha is celebrating after marking his first year back in Mexican football by winning the Copa MX Apertura on Wednesday evening. Portuguese coach Caixinha led Cruz Azul to a 2-0 victory over hosts Monterrey to secure the club’s first trophy since 2014.
Elsewhere, there was good news for Rony Lopes and Ricardo Vaz Tê, while André Gomes has been speaking about his strong start in England with Everton, and José Mourinho and Nuno Espírito Santo spoke to the press about their teams.
The biggest story of the week is Caixinha’s triumph in Mexico, with the former União de Leiria and Nacional boss putting the disappointment of his short-lived stint in Scotland with Rangers behind him. Caixinha won the Copa MX for the second time in his career, having won the trophy during a successful previous spell in Mexico with Santos Laguna between 2012 and 2015.
Caixinha was not willing to share his joy with local reporters, however, refusing to speak with the press following his triumph. “I won't say anything, I was suspended for the game,” he said. “Please give me some respect and leave me alone to allow me to celebrate with my players and supporters.
"I have principles and I demand that the press respect me. Please get out of my space. I have already said I cannot speak. Do you want me to get mad at you?"
Rony Lopes nearing return
Good news for Monaco and Portugal this week as Monaco indicated that midfielder Rony Lopes is returning to training following a hamstring injury. Lopes has not played since he was forced off during Portugal’s match with Croatia in early September, and the 22-year-old’s absence was felt by coach Leonardo Jardim who was sacked last month.
Lopes was a revelation for Monaco last season, netting 15 goals in Ligue 1 having appeared in every league match, although the Brazilian-born man was left out of Portugal’s World Cup squad. With new coach Thierry Henry searching for his first win with Les Monegasques, Lopes will be hoping to return to help his club’s cause as soon as possible.
Vaz Tê shines in China
A huge performance from Ricardo Vaz Tê in China on Friday, as the former Portugal U21 international scored both goals to help his relegation-threatened Henan Jianye win 2-0 away at 6th-placed Shanghai Shenhua. Vaz Tê opened the scoring in the second minute from close-range, before adding a second in injury time with a well-placed header.
The goals have put Vaz Tê on 10 league goals from just 18 starts in the CSL, and more importantly mean his team, although occupying one of the two relegation places, are level on points with the two teams above them ahead of what promises to be a tight battle to avoid the drop.
Gomes enjoying life at Everton
André Gomes has enjoyed an excellent start to life in the Premier League with Everton, impressing supporters and observers with his performances since joining on loan from Barcelona. Gomes, who is working under Portuguese coach Marco Silva, told Sky Sports that he does not know if the move will be made permanent at the end of the season.
"We need to discuss that at the end of the season of course with Everton, with Barcelona and see if Everton are happy with me. That is really important, “ he said.
"But I'm enjoying it here with my new team-mates, with the team, with the fans and with the staff. I'm really happy right now and I want to keep it like that until the end of the season and give my best. Then at the end of the season we will decide.
"Marco [Silva] was really important because he's the manager," he said. "If you feel like the manager trusts you and he wants to help you, you feel good with that.”
On his widely-praised performances, the former Benfica man added: "Normally I criticise myself a lot but for now, it's only two games. I want to play really good the next opportunity I have to play. I want to keep going, improving and getting better.
"It's also only my first two games, my first three or four weeks with the team working at 100 per cent so I'm getting better and fitter. I just want to enjoy the game, enjoy the fans and enjoy with my team-mates. I hope to do everything that I can to help the team win the next game."
Mourinho: We will be back in top 4
Manchester United manager José Mourinho has been speaking about his team’s chances this season, with the Red Devils so far disappointing in the Premier League and finding themselves in mid-table ahead of Saturday’s trip to in-form Bournemouth.
Although keen to distance his side from title aspirations, the Portuguese boss appeared confident about United’s chances of finishing in the top 4. "When you are outside the top four I don't believe you should speak about the title," Mourinho said.
"When you are in the top four - which I believe we are going to be - you can look up, see the distance, see the fixtures, you can look at the situation at that moment with injuries, suspensions and form, then you can feel it.
“At this moment we have to focus on ourselves and do better. Until the end of December we have to focus on ourselves - in the potential we have, in the problems we have and in the qualities, we have - and try to go.
"In this moment we are outside the top four and we have to push hard and work hard to improve and try to get into this top-four position."
Nuno focused on goals
Finally, fellow Premier League boss Nuno Espírito Santo is preparing his Wolverhampton Wanderers side to host Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday evening. Wolves have lost their last two matches in the Premier League, with much of the focus coming on Nuno’s team and their inability to convert strong spells of pressure into goals.
The ex-Porto coach says his side are working hard to correct the issue: “What the team has produced is enough chances, but we have to convert them. It’s not a question of confidence, but a better touch, a better decision and sometimes you have to give credit to your opponents because they defended well, they are organised and put their bodies in the line.
“We’ve practised, repeated and insisted. We’ve adjusted, found solutions and worked hard, that’s the only recipe. When you train, you don’t only practise the physical and technical part of it, you work also on the mental part. If an action is not good enough, you have to repeat it and improve on it.
“The hardest part of football is putting the ball in the back of the net. It’s very important to score goals, we have been solid sometimes, but you always have to keep organisation. A clean sheet is the first stage to compete until the end of the game and we’ll try to repeat it.”
By Sean Gillen