Things went from bad to worse at Manchester United on Saturday as they were beaten 3-1 by West Ham United at the London Stadium.
With just 10 points from seven games, Jose Mourinho’s side are in shambles. And with rumours of the Portuguese getting the boot and a certain Zinedine Zidane being lined up as the replacement, we look at three reasons why United should indeed shake things up.
1. No philosophy
Look at Manchester City. Look at Chelsea, Liverpool or even Arsenal! All of these teams have a trademark footballing style these days. Chelsea have the ‘Sarri Ball’, Liverpool have Klopp’s heavy metal football. City play one of the most attractive football in Europe under Pep Guardiola. And then you look at United and you find there’s no team philosophy. One might bring up ‘Parking the Bus’ for humour, but that’s not something a team would like to be associated with. United look as dull as a top European team can get. Paul Pogba doesn’t know how to link up with Romelu Lukaku while the Belgian himself knows little what to do when the team is down. The fullbacks, meanwhile, are becoming more futile each passing match.
Manchester United is off to their joint-worst Premier League start through 7 games.
How much longer will Mourinho keep his job?
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) September 29, 2018
All in all, United players look absolutely at a loss when they’re trailing or can’t get a goal. Not a single player is in good form which makes things even harder for Mourinho. Random team selections and experimental forwards or centre-back pairings aren’t helping them either. Mourinho still doesn’t know his best 11. We’re seeing Eric Bailly and Phil Jones alternating with Chris Smalling or Victor Lindelof. Every brilliant Mourinho team so far has had a solid centre-back pairing who had a proper understanding between them. And that is something this current United squad doesn’t have.
2. A broken dressing room
In his entire career, Mourinho has been prone to clashes with his players. Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Pepe, Cristiano Ronaldo and Eden Hazard are only a few names who would attest to that statement. And at United too, he has had fights with multiple stars. But the one that’s caught most fire is the one with French midfielder Paul Pogba. Mourinho infamously said he can’t control how Pogba plays for United. A statement like that is certain to dent the confidence of a player — even that of a World Cup winner.
And Pogba has most certainly taken it to heart. The pair hardly sees eye to eye. Even during last night’s defeat to West Ham, when Pogba was taken off, they didn’t look each other in the eye let alone shake hands. Stuff like these can affect the entire squad. And it definitely has. United players don’t seem to be comfortable with the gaffer’s attitude. Recently, Mourinho’s statement regarding Pogba never becoming United’s captain again went viral. But their training ground altercation about Pogba’s Instagram post was most likely the final nail in the coffin.
And it’s not just Pogba. Mourinho’s row with Luke Shaw also didn’t go unnoticed. The self-proclaimed Special One has been criticised thoroughly for his attitude towards his players. As a result of all these, United have a broken dressing room with little chance of revival with Jose still in charge.
3. The Old Trafford fear factor extinct
Old Trafford used to be an absolute fortress under Sir Alex Ferguson. Ever since he left, none of David Moyes, Louis Van Gaal or Jose Mourinho has been able to replicate that success. Teams now come to the famous old ground not thinking damage limitation or losing. They look the Red Devils in the eye and fight them toe to toe.
Frank Lampard has beaten Jose Mourinho in his first competitive managerial meeting between the two.
The apprentice overcomes the master. pic.twitter.com/oCEJeRPyAM
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) September 25, 2018
Take Wolverhampton Wanderers for example. The newly-promoted side came to Old Trafford showing no signs of fear. Nuno Espirito Santo’s men got the basics right and that was enough to pocket a United side. And they left Old Trafford with a point which would’ve most definitely tasted like a win for them given the massive gulf of class between them. This is what it has come down to. Not even newly promoted sides are wary of United.
Jose must find a solution to bring back the fear factor to Old Trafford sooner rather than later for the good of United. If he fails to do that and get the dressing room back together, the Portuguese might very well be the first manager in the Premier League to get the sack this season.