The start of the 2018/19 Premier League campaign has not started exactly how Manchester United players, fans and manager Jose Mourinho, would of wanted. Two wins from four games is not the “Usain Bolt” style sprint start, which would pile on the pressure from the off, on Pep Guardiola’s Champions, from across the City.
On the pitch, Jose Mourinho is defiant, despite only being afforded the signings of Brazilian midfielder, Fred, the young Porto full back, Diogo Dalot and experienced custodian Lee Grant, signed on a free from Stoke City. At least one experienced central defender was needed to be brought through the door during the summer.
This failed to materialise with Ed Woodward reportedly saying that the players available were of no better standard than that already at the club. This beggars belief as the heart of United’s defence is currently in the hands of Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Victor Lindelof, Eric Bailly and Marcos Rojo. He clearly doesn’t watch many games! Mourinho, currently struggling to pick his first choice two.
The media obsession with Paul Pogba has rumbled on beyond the closing of the transfer window and with his recent penalty miss against Burnley, not helping his cause, United will hope that the week-long international break dampens down the flames that are currenlty fanning around the Frenchman.
There is also the conundrum of Alexis Sanchez. A poor performance against Leicester City, on opening night, followed by an injury, has left the boss with another puzzle to solve. Sanchez’s goals per game record was just under every other game while at Arsenal, yet at present the Chilean couldn’t hit a barn door with a banjo. A slightly better performance against Burnley, but nothing to write home about.
And don’t even get me started on the Tottenham Hotspur game on Bank Boliday Monday! Playing Ander Herrera as a man marking centre back was absolute suicide. We were at home and should have made Spurs worry about us. Instead, Jose decided to revert to type after the defeat to Brighton. Just like when Chelsea come to town, Herrera is asked to do a man marking job on Eden Hazard, at the expense of a player going forward. Except Lucas Moura and Harry Kane decided that they were going to take Ander into areas that they knew he wouldn’t have felt comfortable in.
Granted, the Romelu Lukaku miss in the first half really could have changed the game. Instead it led to a collapse worse than the England cricket team. Speaking of Brighton, the Seagulls have only won twice in their last twelve competitive matches… Both against United! Stats eh.
Off the pitch, Manchester United are looking in great shape. Trading at billions on the New York Stock Exchange, signing club sponsorships left, right and centre, and recently being named the joint most valuable sports club, alongside the Dallas Cowboys. So why was the manager only backed to the tune of around £70 million? A plane with a banner showing its disgust towards Ed Woodward, was flew over Turf Moor last week. Will the owners worry about fan unrest? I very much doubt it. All the time the ex-Banker Woodward keeps bringing in the big dollars. Funny as some fans were calling him a banker on social media, well at least i think that was what it sounded like. I digress.
One thing is for certain, the manager has the backing of the real Manchester United fans. I myself have cast doubts over his tenure last season, but despite my gripes, Mourinho still delivered a second place finish and a Cup Final, which was only decided by a calamity Jones special. Whether Mourinho has the backing of the board, only time will tell. He clearly was not backed in the summer.
Jose stated that finishing second last time around was one of his biggest achievements; the manager believing that the players really aren’t good enough, or just a smoke screen to play down the big gap in points between the two Manchester clubs. Questions are being asked of the United boss. The infamous third season slump, which means that by rule of thumb, Jose Mourinho should be dismissed or resign, at some point during the campaign. Some insiders believe that the boss has the full backing of the squad and that he is plotting a Porto type, underdog march to victory.
All eyes will be on United when they return away to high flying Watford. A team as well as Chelsea and Liverpool, who have achieved maximum points so far. You can’t win the title in September, but you can lose it.