Manchester United are feeling the effects of signing Alexis Sanchez

It has been over a year since Alexis Sanchez joined Manchester United from Arsenal on a free transfer, and yet the Chilean has only managed 29 appearances in all competitions for the club. 

Out of those 29 appearances, perhaps only a handful have been worth remembering. Through injuries, a lack of confidence and irregular minutes on the pitch, Sanchez has been nothing short of a disappointment by Manchester United fans. By all accounts, he is not justifying his immense £350,000 per-week deal (plus bonuses).

It was well documented back in January 2018 that to beat Manchester City to the acquisition of the Chile international, the Red Devils would have to increase their offer and make it as lucrative as possible. The club succumbed to the demands and offered Sanchez an overall package that thumped not only every other player at the club, but also in the Premier League and most of Europe.

With his pedigree and reputation, however, and with the fact that there was no transfer fee to pay, Manchester United thought they would receive his stellar, match-winning performances that he had shown in the years previous at Arsenal.

But, as of present day, that has not been the case. Injuries have plagued the 30 year old and he has yet to ignite in a Red Devils jersey. There were issues with style of play under Jose Mourinho which evidently did not help, but even when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer came in as interim manager and gave everyone a lift, Sanchez remained unaffected.

Whether the Chilean is moved on at the end of the season or not is another story – and it will not be easy – but what is more prevalent than his on-pitch performances is how his pay packet is now affecting how the club operates. Given the extortionate sums Sanchez is receiving, his teammates, who are well within their rights to ask, are wondering why they cannot increase their contracts by a considerable figure.

Ander Herrera, for example, is the latest player to ask for a sizeable increase on his contract, which currently expires at the end of the season. With interest looming large from Paris Saint-Germain, the Spain international is using Sanchez’s situation, as well as the attraction from other clubs, to his advantage.

The Spanish midfielder is a classy player and has served United well over the years. He might be considered a squad player more than an essential starter, but there is no denying that he has acted accordingly and fans have grown fond of him since arriving in Manchester in 2014.

Sanchez’s teammates are now expecting similar luxury treatment after understanding the full extent of the Chilean’s contract. Especially given the fact that he has barely played for the club, the likes of Herrera and Luke Shaw feel it is well within their rights to ask for what they think they deserve with the performances they have shown.

If the Chilean never came to Man United in early 2018 and decided to opt for Pep Guardiola’s Man City instead, it would be an immensely difficult sell for Herrera to receive the £200,000 per-week he is asking for.

But alas, given the indentation that Sanchez has done to the books at Old Trafford, the average wages are going to soar with players asking for the ridiculous. There is now no sense of control over what the club can be signing these players up for, because the new ‘normal’ has increased dramatically.

So not only has Sanchez wildly underperformed during his 13 months at Manchester United, but he has also put the club in a difficult situation when trying to re-negotiate contracts with important members of the squad. It will be interesting to see how this pans out with Herrera especially, but the Red Devils have to, at some point, say enough is enough.

Manchester United’s Alexis Sanchez needs to return to Arsenal or leave the Premier League


Despite the odd good game for Manchester United it is fair to say that Alexis Sanchez will never be remembered as one of the Old Trafford greats and even though he has only been at the club for one season perhaps it is the right time to quit the club.

United are good, Sanchez is good but for whatever reason the two entities just don’t fit. When Jose Mourinho bought Sanchez from Arsenal last summer it was seen as a fantastic deal. Because Sanchez was far and away Arsenal’s best player of the past few seasons. It seemed almost bizarre in fact that Arsenal would sell to a Premier League rival but sell they did.

Once at United Sanchez just didn’t perform most blamed Mourinho’s tactics and let’s be honest the whole team were not performing. But what has been surprising is that Sanchez has not picked up his form under new manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer despite the rest of the squad doing so.

Even Solskjaer has admitted that there isn’t anything they can do with the player- but he will give him time and has commented that the player is a quality one who needs to find himself. The truth is that Sanchez does not seem happy at United and has simply not settled into life up in Manchester- it happens and perhaps the Chilean should not be too harshly judged about it.

Could he return to Arsenal? There were rumours that he wanted to play for Manchester City, but he has become the shadow of the player that everyone knew and it is unlikely now that City manager Guardiola would go for his signature. But at Arsenal as long as Unai Emery wanted him, he would be welcomed back. It was clearly an environment that Sanchez enjoyed and revelled in, but of course everyone needs to be on the same page for that to happen.

Otherwise perhaps the simple solution for Sanchez would be to leave the Premier League- maybe a return to Spain is on the cards? It just might be a culture that suits Sanchez more anyway. Although a return to Barcelona does not seem possible, but Sanchez is still good enough to play for any of the top six sides in La Liga.

Sanchez is a quality player that there is no doubt, but has there been a more unhappier high profile Premier League player of  the past six months?

FA Cup: Manchester United 2-0 Reading

Ole Gunnar Solskjær made it five wins from five matches after overcoming Reading in what was, perhaps, the most underwhelming performance of his tenure so far. 

Goals from Juan Mata and Romelu Lukaku sealed the game, but Manchester United’s overall output was lacking intensity and the same, relentless pressure as seen in the other four matches so far was not present.

While not every game is going to make fans sit on the edge of their seats, Solskjær will be hoping that when his first-team starting players return to action next weekend against Tottenham they elicit a better response than what was seen out there for 90 minutes.

Here are some talking points from Manchester United’s FA Cup third round fixture:

Sergio Romero comes up trumps again

It is difficult for any goalkeeper with the ability to be a team’s number one to remain on the bench, patiently waiting for their chance and opportunity. The Argentina international, who played in last year’s World Cup for his country, has predominantly been used as United’s Cup goalkeeper and has excelled enormously.

Romero kept yet another clean sheet in a season where goals had been flying in before Solskjær’s arrival. The defence in front of him was makeshift, with Matteo Darmian slotting in as a right-sided centre back, but the former Sampdoria ‘keeper rose to the occasion and delivered another top performance that has rightly been on the receiving end of some praise.

The Argentina international has had opportunities to leave Manchester United in the past, with clubs from all over Europe offering him the chance to become their first choice, but Romero has stuck with it at Man United. While he is unlikely to ever usurp David de Gea, Romero plays such an important role at Old Trafford for when he is called upon.

There are not many clubs who have the same type of sheer quality in reserve as Manchester United do with Romero, which is why the fans should be extremely thankful for the Argentine’s services over the course of the last three-and-a-half-years.

Alexis Sánchez and Romelu Lukaku return 

Manchester United are patiently hoping for Alexis Sánchez to turn 2019 into his year after a disappointing 2018 that caused a bit of distrust between the fans and the Chilean.

Sánchez, who has now assisted twice in his two appearances under the Norwegian, looked sharp against Reading and had the foresight to see the runs of Lukaku appearing in behind the last defender. While he came off with what looked like a hamstring issue, Solskjær sounded confident that it was just precautionary and that he should be fit for the game against Spurs next weekend.

Romelu Lukaku has sprung to life under the caretaker manager with three goals to his name in as many appearances. While his overall game still needs a fair amount of work on – as does his first touch – Lukaku is putting away the goals when in front of goal and in promising positions. The Belgian is no Rashford when it comes to attacking space and interchanging with teammates, but he has certainly found his shooting boots.

It will be interesting to see who Solskjær opts for to lead the line for the Red Devils at Wembley with both Rashford and Lukaku now in a rich vein of form.

Tahith Chong is the future 

Manchester United embody the philosophy of promoting academy graduates into the first-team and it was Tahith Chong’s turn to make his senior debut for the Red Devils this time out.

Chong, who has been on fire for Manchester United’s U23 team in the reserve league, as well as in the UEFA Youth League, has been on the periphery for some time, training constantly with the first-team. The Dutch U21 winger looked at ease when entering the cauldron of Old Trafford with some applause and opted to taking on his opposite man at every given moment.

Of course, Chong is still in the early stages of his development into men’s football, but the willingness to run forward and not be fazed by the stage will have filled the fans and manager with confidence that he has a bright future ahead of him. Chong is certainly one to keep an eye on.

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Is 2019 the year of Alexis Sánchez?

When Alexis Sánchez arrived at Manchester United in the January transfer window, there was a great sense of optimism over what this signing could bring. Under José Mourinho, the Red Devils’ attack was stifling and very few chances being created let alone scored. They needed something to revitalise their attack and Sánchez was a real possibility of doing just that. 

After beating Manchester City to the signing of the Chile international, fans were incredibly excited to see what he could bring to the team. He might have signed on ginormous wages, but he would certainly live up to expectation and be of value if he was to replicate his immense form under Arsène Wenger for Arsenal.

However, life in Manchester was not plain sailing for Sánchez. While there were a few games in which he excelled in – against Tottenham in the FA Cup semi final – it was a case of huge inconsistencies in his performances that gave the overwhelming sense of disappointment. Injuries took their toll and it appeared Sánchez was failing to gel into Manchester United’s attack.

After a solid pre-season in which it was his first summer in half a decade where international football did not take precedent, Sánchez looked sharp and raring to go for the start of the Premier League. But just as he was ready to take the campaign by storm, another injury curtailed his progress and he did not look at peak physical performance.

A run in and out of the team, mainly from the bench, caused great concern among United fans, who were yet to see the player they were promised back in January. Everyone knows what a fantastic forward the Chilean is, but Mourinho simply could not find it in him nor keep him fit enough to put games together.

Sánchez suffered the same fate as the rest of United’s attackers with being shackled to a regimented system that was not allowed to breathe. The former Arsenal striker is a fluid player that interchanges a lot with his other attackers and it is his movement that is one of his best characteristics and is why he can get into positions others cannot. Mourinho was not prepared to change his whole philosophy for that and so Sánchez rarely got the chance to express himself – just as his teammates did not.

Another hamstring injury has ruled Sánchez out since the beginning of December and he is only just returning to first-team training. Under new manager Solskjær, as seen with other forwards, Sánchez might just be in a position of strength heading into 2019 with a completely fresh coach who does not have an agenda.

The Chilean might be 30 but he can still add a lot to United’s attack. Providing he can maintain his fitness and remain injury free, Sánchez is a wonderful option to have either from the bench or to start alongside the Red Devils’ other vibrant, flexible forwards.

Under Mourinho there was a period in which Sánchez was played through the middle, just as he was on United’s pre-season tour to America. Even though he was not in the best of form, he looked threatening against Premier League defences and was in promising positions to strike. One of the main attributes in Sánchez’s locker is his ability to ghost in and out of dangerous areas on the pitch – something that many try and fail to achieve.

Whether Sánchez starts on the left, right or through the middle, under Solskjær’s guidance and permission, the Chilean will be allowed to rotate with his other teammates and interchange positions freely. As seen in his last full season at Arsenal, Sánchez reaps the rewards when given a free role and the freedom to move across the forward line – that is where he is so threatening.

In the Gunners’ 2016/17 season, Sánchez notched up 30 goals and 18 assists in 51 appearances. Nearly one goal contribution per-match and one of the main reasons why top flight clubs all over Europe were chasing the Chilean’s signature. Playing through the middle and occasionally off the left, he was surrounded by players in a flexible system that delivered service to him.

Now, under Solskjær, in his opening three games, it has been evident to see that the Norwegian plans to implement a similar style. The interim manager has said in depth at how Manchester United have to be on the front foot and attacking constantly, which will play into the hands of Sánchez.

It was a year to forget for Sánchez in 2018, but 2019 could be the year of his rebirth. Only time will tell.

Jose Mourinho’s 3rd season syndrome strikes again as he is sacked from Manchester United


Jose Mourinho has been sacked as manager of Manchester United and it should come as no surprise that this has happened, especially as he had just begun his 3rd season in charge of the club.

That’s right 3rd season syndrome has hit the Portuguese manager once again just as it did with Chelsea and Real Madrid in the past and even at Inter Milan, where he won the treble in his 3rd season it still ended up being his last, as he jumped ship. This time just like his second nightmarish experience at Chelsea that ship came calling for him.

At the end of the day losing 3-1 to a great rival like Liverpool and then having it confirmed that your club is 19 points behind them was just too much for the Manchester United hierarchy. Let it be known when he could have been sacked as early as September that the board did seem to give ‘the special one’ more and more time to prove them wrong, but he couldn’t.

Mourinho is sadly now yesterdays man. He can’t seem to stand any confrontation, but players have changed in the past 10 years when he could do very little wrong. The likes of Paul Pogba for example will post things on social media and time and again Mourinho has taken something very innocent out of context, he is in fact like the school teacher who is set in his ways. The result is that he isn’t like Pep Guardiola or Jurgen Klopp who can get the best out of their players. Truth is the new generation of manager also needs to be there for the players and act like a friend at least inside of work.

Mourinho is simply uncapable of that, in some ways he is  a devoted professional and sees the role of a football manager very differently, but it doesn’t work, and if he can’t change then Manchester United should be his last coaching job. Of course for someone who wants to be professional, two things strike to mind that let Mourinho down at his time in Old Trafford. The first was blaming players through the media- what does this do to a footballer? They will simply lack more confidence and not want to play for you. The second was showing no commitment to United. What other manager moves into a hotel for 3 years?

Mourinho’s signings were also  very questionable. Why bring back Pogba for £90m? His signing of Arsenal player Alexis Sanchez looked like a good one, but then he didn’t know how he was going to play him, result, Sanchez has looked like one of the poorest players to have ever graced the Premier League, and yet we know he isn’t. There was a battle to sign Fred, with the United board not wanting to spend, result, Mourinho gets his own way and then hardly plays him.

It will be fascinating where Mourinho ends up next, and one has to wonder if any major club in Europe will want to touch him, although Inter Milan must have fond memories of him. As for United it is expected they will take in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer until the end of the season and then offer the job to Zinedine Zidane. Solskjaer is on a win -win situation if he takes the job for the next five months and the fans love and respect him.

Manchester United have not been the club we once knew, perhaps now with this change which was needed we will see a possible re-emergence.


José Mourinho’s negativity is not welcome at Manchester United

To say it’s been a difficult season so far for Manchester United is an understatement of magnificent proportions. For a club that is used to challenging for major honours, sitting in seventh place, eight points from fourth after 14 games, United’s fans are wondering where it all went wrong.

It’s not as if the club possess bad players. Quite the opposite, in fact. Mourinho has signed 11 first-team players since arriving in 2016, including Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku who cost a combined £165 million in transfer fees.

The signing to trump all in terms of failures so far has been Alexis Sánchez, who was brought in from Arsenal last January. The Chilean was supposed to invigorate United’s front line and add a different dimension to their stagnating attack, but has yet to live up to expectation. Spending £500,000 per-week on wages now looks to be a massive mistake and one that Manchester City are thankful they did not commit to.

There is no sense of consistency in United’s game, especially after conceding two goals against Southampton last weekend in quick succession. A team that has been nothing short of shambolic for the past few months; and yet they found a way to carve United apart with ease to find the back of the net. Such are Mourinho’s woes, this is now the new reality.

While the team is suffering this season and the players have not performed to the standard that is expected of them, Mourinho’s incessant negativity around the club is certainly not easing matters. Fans have had enough of his negative football being portrayed on the pitch, and certainly don’t want to have to hear him profess how it’s not his fault.

Mourinho’s go-to tactic has always been to blame the situation around him and remind people of the major honours he has won in his glittering career. No one cant take that immense success away from him, but it’s tiresome to hear Mourinho separate himself from the current mess that is being played out in public for all to see.

It’s clear that the Portuguese coach wants to isolate himself in order to save a reputation that has quickly been declining ever since his last season in charge at Chelsea. At this moment in time, it appears that the £14 million payoff that Mourinho is due if United decide to sack him is too much for even the self-proclaimed ‘richest club in the world’.

So, unless matters deteriorate even further, which would not be a total surprise, Manchester United are likely to keep with him until the end of the season. Fans are not expecting miracles, but they do long for football that entertains them.

The constant leaks coming from the football club is not helping, either. There is no better embodiment of Manchester United post-Ferguson than to see how much information is constantly being played out in the public. Ferguson used to keep a tight control over what was and what wasn’t said, but Mourinho simply doesn’t possess the same authoritative figure that can demand similar.

This time it was the Portuguese manager explaining to the first-team players that Pogba is a ‘virus’, just before they took on Southampton. It is bemusing as to how that can help any set of players go out and win a match, but this relationship, or lack of, has been bubbling away since February, when Mourinho asked Pogba to play a lot deeper against Tottenham at Wembley.

Since then, their relationship has worsened and there have been many notable moments played out for all to see which says they don’t get on. However, if Mourinho wants to survive in this job, he has to start building bridges and stop ostracising players, just as he has done ever since he step foot in Old Trafford.

There is going to be little chance for major honours this season given the level of competition and how far off the Red Devils are. But what the fans want to see, at the very least, for the remaining part of the season, is some high level football that entertains them.

They might not get what they want in celebrating success, but if Mourinho cannot deliver some entertainment at the supposed ‘Theatre of Dreams’, his time will be coming to an end sooner rather than later.

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Jose Mourinho needs to choose his best attackers and stick with them

Jose Mourinho Romelu Lukaku

Anthony Martial said this week that his recent run of form is down to Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho giving him a prolonged run of games in the starting XI.

The Frenchman has scored six goals in seven league games since establishing himself as a regular starter at the end of September, having previously started just one match out of a possible seven.

“The key to it is playing games,” Martial explained. “For me, when you play in a game, that’s when you get back your enjoyment and you start to pick up your form once again.

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Is it time to trial Alexis Sánchez as Manchester United’s striker?

It is no secret that Romelu Lukaku has struggled in a Manchester United jersey this season. The Belgium centre forward might have four Premier League goals to his name, but he has failed to find the back of the net in his last nine appearances in all competitions.

Lukaku, who enjoyed an astute first season in Manchester last year, has had a lack of confidence in front of goal this campaign so far and looks out of sorts with his overall play. José Mourinho finally made the decision against Lukaku’s former club, Everton, to drop the striker to the bench for the very first time which really sent out a statement to the Belgian. Marcus Rashford took his place leading the line and United’s attack flowed more fluidly when transitioning from defence into attack.

After scoring 27 goals in all competitions and recording nine assists for the Red Devils last year, it was expected that Lukaku would kick on this season and improve on those numbers – especially on his 16 goals in the Premier League. However, for one reason or another, Lukaku’s form has plummeted somewhat and he seldom looks the same striker. As the old saying goes, form is temporary and class is permanent, but it is a cause for concern among the United faithful that their £75 million centre forward is going through such a dry patch.

This has led to discussions regarding who would take his place as the spearhead of United’s attack. Rashford, as he did against the Toffees, is a candidate to lead the line, but his vulnerabilities in a one-on-one situation does not promote belief in the Stretford End.

At this moment in time, and he is only 20-years-old with a lot more experience to be gained, the England international is not clinical in front of goal – he has squandered too many chances and lacks the same edge when faced with a golden opportunity as his team-mate Anthony Martial.

Rashford, under Mourinho, has found himself on the wing more often than not, and he has looked comfortable. Against Chelsea, at Stamford Bridge, Rashford put in his best performance of the season on the right wing, linking up well with Juan Mata in the playmaker’s role and Lukaku.

Similarly to Lukaku, Rashford, though, has had a goal drought at Old Trafford and last found the back of the net at home back in May just before the end of the season. The Englishman also has only scored once in all competitions this season, which does not fill you with the greatest belief that he can be tasked with the opportunity to become the main goalscorer in the team – especially when the club is under pressure.

The other candidate is Alexis Sánchez. The Chilean is currently injured and has not been in the best form since arriving from Arsenal on a free transfer in January, but he returned to goalscoring ways against Newcastle United by finding the winner. When trialled in the centre forward’s role throughout pre-season, Sánchez looked adept and was flourishing running in behind the last man and constantly stretching the opposition’s defence.

With more experience to his name and having done it at Barcelona and Arsenal, Sánchez is capable of leading the line for Manchester United. He will need to rekindle his old scoring ways as he did for the Gunners, but his goal against the Magpies should fill him with confidence. As soon as he returns from injury, it is important to involve him in Cup competitions and give him that opportunity.

While he is not the biggest or tallest, Sánchez possesses raw speed and ingenuity when getting around defenders. Lukaku’s size is constantly talked about a positive, but it can also be a negative due to his clumsiness at times as well as taking him longer to get up to full speed.

With Paul Pogba on the ball in a deeper role in midfield, he will always look for the pass over the defence for the striker to run through on goal. With Lukaku, this rarely comes off, but with Sánchez’s acceleration, it certainly stands more of a chance of happening.

In Sánchez’s 25 games playing as the centre forward for Arsenal throughout the 2016/17 season, the Chile international scored 19 goals and assisted his team-mates 11 times. A whopping 30 goal contributions in 25 matches in all competitions is an unbelievable rate that Manchester United fans will be envious of due to his underwhelming performances so far.

Mourinho has opted for Sánchez on the left wing ever since coming to Old Trafford, but with Martial’s resurgence in form, at no point should the Portuguese continue to play Sánchez there. As seen in majority of the Chilean’s performances, he is continually looking to cut inside and play through the middle, taking on players and finding solutions to get into advantageous areas. Mourinho needs to give him his chance as the club’s centre forward.

There might be a cause for rotation to begin with due to Sánchez and Rashford’s inconsistencies, as well as Lukaku being involved, but Mourinho should seriously consider playing the once prolific Chilean through the middle to add a different dimension to Manchester United’s attack.

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José Mourinho needs to remove the shackles and allow Manchester United to breathe

Manchester United might have staged an impressive, if not desperate, comeback against Newcastle United before the international break, but systematic changes are needed before any real progress can be made under José Mourinho.

What fans saw in the final 20 minutes of that match was desire and a sense of urgency, as well as a communal belief that they could turn this deficit around. For the best part of the season, those characteristic traits had been lacking from Man United’s players. It took a dire situation for those to finally come to the forefront of the players’ performances, but spectators were pleased to finally witness it and relieved that they are capable of producing such match-winning moments.

Mourinho has long been a pragmatist and Ed Woodward, the executive vice-chairman, knew what he was getting when he decided to sign Mourinho and then subsequently give him a contract extension earlier this year until 2020. The Portuguese coach has won a decorated amount of silverware and was, at one point, considered the best manager on the planet.

However, to survive at Old Trafford, there must be redeeming qualities about how your team takes to the field. Winning trophies are important, but when you don’t have that success on your side, and Manchester United don’t right now, the style of football played before fans must be enjoyable. The spectators must see progression and entertaining football that makes them look forward to watch each weekend.

That, quite simply, is not the case under Mourinho. Even against what should be considered lesser opposition, the Red Devils are waiting for the opponent to make a mistake and lull them into a false sense of security. Only once this season, against Leicester City, has it worked successfully where United have walked away with the three points – and even that was rather fortuitous.

Against Brighton, Mourinho’s men sat too deep, allowed Chris Hughton’s players to come on to them relentlessly, and buckled magnificently at the Amex Stadium. There was no penetration from United’s attackers as they recorded another loss away from home to Brighton.

At too many times throughout Mourinho’s tenure have fans witnessed dull football that restricts the innovative talent from his own players, and instead makes them stick to a very constraint system that promotes a negative approach. While not every game are Manchester United expected to ‘attack, attack, attack’, the wider audience would appreciate Mourinho to shift his philosophy slightly in order to thwart the teams that are beneath them.

The likes of Anthony Martial, Paul Pogba and Alexis Sánchez have endured poor form throughout Mourinho’s reign – which was not all the manager’s doing – but all three played a crucial part in United’s comeback against the Magpies. The interchanging passes between Martial and Pogba set-up the equalising goal scored by the former Monaco winger; while Sánchez netted the winner with a brilliant header just before full time that broke his duck of not scoring for the club since April.

There are good, talented players at Manchester United who are simply not achieving the level of performances they should be with the ability they possess. It’s not all Mourinho’s fault or management, but especially for the attacking players, it makes matters more difficult when the brand of football being played stifles those who use freedom of expression as tool to get the better of their opposition.

If Mourinho is to last in this job – and history suggests that he will not be hanging around for too much longer – then he needs to relax his pragmatist approach and allow some of his players the ability to become more creative. Instead of a very rigid and strict system, the Portuguese coach could deploy a different formation which enables Pogba to be given more time on the ball to dictate possession.

When the masterstroke of a tactic was played at half time against Newcastle which saw the French World Cup winner move deeper, practically alongside two centre backs, Pogba was given more space and time to pick out passes for his attackers. Of course, the Frenchman does not always want to play from so far back, but allowing him to play his game saw United stage a famous comeback.

Mourinho deserved credit for that second half performance and he would be wildly more popular and revered if he was to show that side of his management on a regular basis.

Manchester United enter a run of games that are going to test their resolve after the international break, with an away game at Stamford Bridge fast approaching. After Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea, United play: Juventus, Everton, Bournemouth, Juventus and Manchester City in less than a month.

No one is expecting Mourinho to abandon his philosophy completely that made him so successful, but especially in these matches, he should experiment in playing a more offensively-inclined team. There is no need to be so expansive that they continue to be picked off, but there is also no merit in sitting so deep in your own half that you warrant the opposition continually attacking you. With the quality these teams have in their ranks, it will be a question of when not if they score.

Mourinho has salvaged his job for the mean time, but this run of fixtures has all sorts of bumps on the way. If the former Real Madrid manager wants to, more importantly, turn his reputation around and, in turn, save his job for the long term, he needs to promote a positive brand of football that excites United’s fans.

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Alexis Sánchez is a shadow of his former self

When Manchester United signed Alexis Sánchez from Arsenal in a deal where Henrikh Mkhitaryan joined the Gunners, fans of the Mancunian club thought they had signed a special player that would help change United’s stifling attack for the better.

However, nine months down the line, Sánchez’s performances have told a different story in which the Chilean has been on the receiving end of heavy criticism over the past few weeks. There was always going to be setting-in period where the winger would need to acclimatise himself to José Mourinho’s very different style of football, but given Sánchez has had a summer off for the first time in half a decade and joined United on their pre-season tour to America, many would not have expected such a laboured start to the campaign.

Manchester United’s tour to America can be seen as chaotic and, overall, a failure, but one of the bright sparks that emanated from pre-season was Sánchez’s form.

In a team full of youth prospects or players placed on the transfer market, the Chilean actually excelled and repeatedly found the back of the net, while looking incredibly fresh heading into the new season. His runs off the ball, as well as panache on it, gave a small glimmer of excitement to United’s fans where frustration was their overriding emotion due to sloppy recruitment over the summer. There was a renewed sense of optimism for Sánchez to finally kickstart his United career the way many fans initially envisaged.

Having not scored in the Premier League since March, Sánchez has found it difficult to truly show his qualities in this United team. The whole reason the Chilean was brought in, under the noses of rivals Manchester City, was to give Mourinho a match-winner.

As seen in his 166 appearances for Arsenal, Sánchez routinely found the back of the net – 80 times in all competitions – and, at times, single-handedly won three points for Arsène Wenger. While his form deteriorated in his last season for the Gunners, many put that down to his willingness to leave the club and find pastures new.

Signed on a whopping £350,000 per-week contract, Sánchez has struggled to put in more than two memorable performances in a Red Devils jersey. While there has been brief spells of magic from the former Barcelona star, more often than not, Sánchez has seen the game been played around him. The air of untouchability that used to surround him is now diminishing, with many fans wanting Mourinho to give Anthony Martial a proper chance to express himself down the left wing, rather than watching Sánchez give the ball away one more time and lose possession.

Perhaps the biggest blow to date so far has been Mourinho’s decision to drop Sánchez from the Champions League team and start the Frenchman ahead of him. Martial, who has had his own problems at United since the arrival of the Portuguese boss, found the back of the net against BSC Young Boys and delivered an impressive second half performance that warranted his place in the team.

With such an aggressive nature when trying to sign Sánchez, it would have been expected to see the Chilean as one of the first names on Mourinho’s team sheet week in, week out. However, so far this season, Sánchez has only managed to finish one Premier League match – the opener against Leicester City – due to his ineffectiveness and all-round sloppy play. He might have set up one of Romelu Lukaku’s two goals against Burnley, but that is his only noteworthy contribution he has made this season.

Perhaps the most damning stat of all is the fact that Chris Smalling, United’s central defender, has scored three goals since the last time Sánchez found the back of the net in the Premier League. For a player who used to score at ease, the Chilean has struggled magnificently since making the move to the North West. And it is not because of a lack of opportunity.

It has to be said that Sánchez is most effective in a free-flowing system that allows its forwards to interchange at will. With Mourinho’s very structured regime at United, the Chilean has struggled to link up with his teammates and create chances in front of goal, but his overall vibrancy around the field has certainly reduced.

For some reason or another, Sánchez’s output has deserted him, having only scored on three ocassions for Manchester United and assisting six times. Such low numbers are not usually associated with him, and yet he finds himself in a position where what he is attempting to do on the pitch – which has worked for him for a number of years since gracing the Premier League – is now not working. Sánchez does not look the same aggressive, hungry forward he once was.

All Sánchez’s underlying stats, such as: shots on-target, passes made, dribbles attempted and dribbles completed are at an all time low per-90 minutes, compared to his four previous seasons. The season is long and full of ups and downs, but Sánchez cannot be given an easy ride by Mourinho.

Sánchez might be the team’s best paid player, but the Chilean needs to find his key attributes which enabled him to reach the top of his game at Arsenal for Manchester United and find them quickly. For United’s fans will not wait forever for him to prove his worth.