Falling Out Of Love With Mou?

By The Way - Weekly Columns


I think it was Jimmy Greaves who first coined the phrase ‘Football, it’s a funny old game’ and the fortunes of Manchester United over the last few days certainly encapsulates that statement. From the superb tactics employed to nullify a free scoring Liverpool attack to the disastrous limp display on Tuesday versus Sevilla just what is Jose and his boys up to? As his predecessor once famously mentioned what is their philosophy? I’m stumped but let’s try and dig a little deeper to find out why.

Square pegs, round holes - I mentioned on the last podcast that the arrival of Alexis Sanchez is to a lesser extent United’s Faustino Asprilla moment. While I have every expectation that the tenacious Chilean will come good for United his introduction to the team has seemingly unsettled others similar to when the talismanic Colombian arrived at St. James Park back in the snowy winter of 1996. His team were comfortably atop the league but a United led by Alex Ferguson, Eric Cantona and co reeled them in and it all ended when Kevin Keegan lost the plot and said he would ‘love it, love it if we beat them’. There is of course no chance that Mourinho will catch cross town rivals City this season but in the Champions League and the FA Cup there were at least two opportunities for silverware and now its only one. Sanchez has started every game since his move but only scored the one goal and despite his energy and endeavour opponents have quickly worked out he likes to cut inside and all they do is simply flood the middle of the park and invariably he gives the ball away. I think he needs to start in a more central position but that then creates an issue for another enigma at United a certain Paul Labile Pogba.

He didn’t look at the races last night when he came on for the hapless Belgian lamp-post (More of him later) Is he fit is he bothered? Seemingly no one outside the club can tell but he certainly can’t play in a two-man midfield for starters. The lad has immense talent, but it appears he needs the entire galaxy to be aligned for him to put in a performance that matches his value. Its also telling that his absence versus Liverpool was barely noticed as players like Mata & Lingard combined to play off big Rom and cause problems for their back line….Not that it takes much to confuse Dejan Lovren! Sanchez was also a happier bunny without the Frenchman. Mourinho now has two big signings that are competing but not competing for space in the starting XI. He needs them to gel together and with their team-mates for things to improve next season.

As for aforementioned Maraoune Fellaini I still to this day can’t believe he is a Manchester United player and his inclusion last night ahead of Scott McTominay (and Pogba) was completely baffling. I think Jose thought he would score a towering header and then keep the ball in the corner until the end of time and continue to claim what a tactical genius he is. His cameo versus Liverpool after being out injured clearly got inside Jose’s head but he was in a minority of one of him starting last night. I could go on but he needs to be in seat 1A on the plane out of Manchester come the summer.

After the weekend I begrudgingly gave our full backs some faint praise. Young kept Salah quiet and his 24 league goals prior to kick off were rendered irrelevant as our Ashley had the Egyptian in his pocket all day long. This however masked that with him and the equally ageing Valencia on the other flank these two also need to put out into semi-retirement in the summer. Their positional play and defensive qualities are often laid bare by teams and certainly Correa & Sarabia of Sevilla cut them apart. These stems from the blatant fact that they are converted wingers and old ones at that. The solution in my opinion is to give Luke Shaw the opportunity to make the left back spot his own and then buy some quality on the other side to compete with a returning Fosu-Mensah. Shaw is a complete mystery at times and clearly lacks self-confidence but with a regular run in the side I see no reason why he can’t make the left back spot his own for years to come

Finally a word on the man himself Jose Mourinho. He will have always have his detractors but I for one want him as United manager. What I would like to see his for him to instill more fight and determination into the side and of course the ability to occasional release the shackles on the undoubted quality of his charges (especially in Europe). He has the will to win but for some reason wants to do it with the minimum of effort and with the narrowest of margins. He seems to relish getting a result against a superior side but then seems at a loss when he needs to go on the offensive against lesser teams. These 180 minutes against a bang average Sevilla side has exposed those flaws and I for one will be fascinated to see his reaction on Saturday when we play Brighton in the FA Cup quarter final, a match which is now vital to make a success of the season with our top 4 spot virtually sealed.

If we don’t win the cup this year will he go the same way as LVG and the disaster that was David Moyes. Only time will tell…... COME ON UNITED!