Jose Mourinho is coming under increasing criticism for his side’s lack of attacking prowess after Manchester United played out a frustrating goalless draw against Sevilla on Wednesday.
While David de Gea produced another world-class performance in goal to keep Vincenzo Montella’s men at bay, it was United’s lack of any real goal-scoring threat that had both pundits and fans sharpening their knives once again.
The feeling is that a side as loaded with talent as Mourinho’s should be offering much more up front, and that something must be amiss from a coaching or tactical perspective for them to be so toothless.
Speaking after the 0-0 Champions League draw, former Arsenal striker Ian Wright said he would be “disgusted” by the performance if he was a Manchester United fan, and that there was no excuse for Mourinho’s lack of caution against a side that is in fifth place in La Liga.
“The Manchester United sides I used to play against tried to attack you,” Wright told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“If you look at the players they have – Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, Alexis Sanchez, Romelu Lukaku being backed up by Paul Pogba – wouldn’t that frighten you?
“United should be doing better with the players got they’ve got. I’m baffled with the sterile football. If I was a United fan I would be disgusted.”
Wright then said what most people already know: the current United side bears little resemblance to the ones former Red Devils boss Sir Alex Ferguson used to produce.
“Jose Mourinho talked about experts in football. You don’t have to be an expert for anyone involved with English football in the past 25 years to know that this team are nowhere near those past sides,” he said.
“I championed the Jose Mourinho appointment as I thought with the way he left Chelsea he would have a point to prove. It has just been more of the same.”
Meanwhile, former Germany international Matthaus believes United’s struggles are directly down to Mourinho’s tactical approach, which is neutralising some of their major attacking threats.
Writing in his Sun column, Matthaus said: “Jose Mourinho’s problem is picking the players who fit the system but at the moment I don’t have a feeling when I watch United that anybody is comfortable or that this team works.
“Pogba should be able to play in a team with Sanchez but it seems they should not be on the same side of the pitch.”
Matthaus believes the problem could be fixed if United adopt a 4-3-3 formation, as opposed to playing both Pogba and Sanchez in a similar area of the pitch.
“When they are on the same flank there is a defensive problem – Pogba leaves that side open,” he added. “The shape should be more compact, with one holder, two more advanced midfielders, men wide and one striker.”
For his part, Mourinho defended his tactics after the game, and he believes they are in a good position ahead of the second leg of the tie at Old Trafford.
“I think we finished the game with more space than we had in the beginning,” he said. “We were more close to the possibility of scoring a goal, so no, I think the only moment where we felt relieved was in the last couple of minutes of the first half, where by a couple of our mistakes in possession they had a couple of good instances and David made some great saves.
“The game was even, the stats are what they are. Sometimes you have 15 shots, but 13 of them were what I call ‘statistic shots’. So I really feel that the result reflects what the game was.”