Manchester United are asleep… And what’s worse is they are all too frequently sending their fans to sleep too.
We’ve all heard the controversy’s surrounding the club in recent months as pretty much ever since the World Cup ended with French Victoire media focus here in the UK has drawn to the ramblings of Mourinho, the unsettlement of Pogba and the form of Alexis (amongst others) not to mention the trepid style of football that’s been on show at Old Trafford.
Whether Mourinho is to blame, or Pogba? Whether or not It is down to tactics, unhappy players, adolescence in the dressing room or just darn simply not being good enough, one thing for sure is that the fans of this great football institution expect much better.
I watched the United game verses Valencia in what was a dull 0-0 draw and saw a group of players, not a team playing football because playing football is there job. They kept shape, sometimes, passed the ball back and sideways, often, and rarely troubled their opposition without any structure, strategy or philosophy, don’t even mention ‘Fergie’ or the ‘United way’.
Had Valencia been more clinical on the break they could have easily snatched all three points, had United played with a game plan to beat Valencia, I’m sure they would have won quite easily themselves.
My take on the matter is that Mourinho is unhappy, and that rubs off on everyone else. Pogba is unhappy, Sanchez is unhappy, Rashford is unhappy, the board are unhappy, the fans are unhappy, and the whole black cloud hanging over the club is effecting morale, effecting performance, effecting achievement, and it has to stop.
Whilst it is clear to see United on present form are a long way from the likes of their most hated rivals Manchester City and Liverpool who play attractive winning football with a togetherness drilled in to them by their respective buoyantly charismatic Managers, they are a long from what the likes of Spurs, Chelsea, even Arsenal are trying to achieve, but tell me player for player are they really the tenth best club in England?
Up until the World Cup United would claim to have the worlds best goalkeeper in David de Gea. Whilst defensively they might have lacked the qualities of others, they only let 28 goals in last season which was one less than City who won the league by a mile. In 2017 they brought title winner Nemanja Matic in midfield to play next to the mercurial Pogba, despite what people say about him, clearly one of the world’s best which he proved whilst playing for France in Russia. In attack they have an abundance of class, Rashford, Martial, Lukaku, Sanchez, easily on their day up there as the best in the country. But that day has so far eluded them whilst Mourinho has been in charge.
United played against Valencia with no strategy to attack, with no willingness to get forward. More in fear to be cut let lose. In days gone by the full backs would overlap, the strikers would press and close down, the midfielders would look for penetrative passes, last night saw none of what United have done so well on many European nights in years gone by.
Football for me is very simple. If you have the best players, you should win, and United have some of the best players in the world game, but they are not winning. But more important then that, they are not playing the way they should, they are not playing their natural game and they are not playing to the best of their potential. The question is why?
Maybe they are waiting for the black cloud of Mourinho to exit before they loosen the shackles, maybe they have a right to be unhappy with a Manager who time and time leaves his players hanging out to dry? Maybe they should be more professional, no matter what they should perform to their best.. But they need guidance too, Rashford on corners often over hitting crosses or delivering the ball straight into the goalkeepers arms is not the one, anybody who they like taking free kicks should one miss isn’t really a strategy either. Is Mourinho telling his players to go out and play the ‘United way’? or is he over complicating matters, “don’t lose your shape”, “don’t get caught out”, “don’t let your marker get away”… Maybe United need to start concentrating on United before they worry about the opposition?
What next for a team that has all but lost it’s way? It’s ethos? United need now find their best strategy going forward. A Mourinho exit might be on the cards, it might be the best for the club at this present time, but just loosening the shackles and believing in his players enough to let them just play wouldn’t also be a bad thing?
United have players who in attack can produce devastating football so rather than complicate matters by telling them what they can and can’t do why not just give them a hug and let them play? Get Martial in the team, get Mata on the ball, get the best out of Lukaku play Rashford as a striker and get Sanchez & Pogba smiling again… Eventually you will see the rewards and everybody will notice the positive difference, because if you Mr Mourinho don’t believe in them then why would they ever believe in you??