Three things we learned from Manchester United’s dominant victory at home to Fulham

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In the early minutes of the game, the visitors were showing that they meant business as they looked active on and off the ball. Since the arrival of Claudio Ranieri to Craven Cottage a couple of weeks ago, the side are now showing more stability in the back whilst also pressing and creating chances here and there. Once the goals start to roll in constantly, so will the valuable points and the wins.

However, it was the home side who took the lead and on the 13th minute mark, as Ashley Young completed an impressive solo goal from the left flank as his shot went flying into the top right corner of the net. Just over ten minutes later, United doubled their lead through Juan Mata, who completed off a really good play which included the vital involvement of Marcus Rashford and Romelu Lukaku.

Just a couple of minutes before the half-time break, the hosts managed to score another goal and it came from a quick corner routine which allowed Lukaku to score and finally break his Old Trafford goal drought. Many of the Red Devils will be hoping that goal will be a confidence booster for the Belgian international, especially ahead of the Valencia and Liverpool fixtures that are coming up.

The second half of the fixture was completely opposite to the first half, where the game was done and dusted, which led the hosts to play with less urgency and intensity whilst the visitors were looking to gain more time on the ball. Due to this, Fulham were finally able to produce more passes in the final third and were also allowed to have their midfield and attack further up the pitch.

Fulham were given a huge opportunity to pick up a consolation goal from the penalty spot, which was well-taken by Aboubakar Kamara, who sent David De Gea the wrong way. Though, things went from bad to worse for the West London club, as Andre Zambo Anguissa picked up his second yellow card of the match and Ranieri’s side went down to ten men for the final 22 minutes of the game.

With eight minutes left until the full-time whistle, Marcus Rashford deservingly got his goal and also the side’s fourth goal of the afternoon, which summed up the fine performance many saw from the youngster yesterday. In the end, Manchester United will be really glad to complete a perfect display from start till end after a long time whilst Fulham will have to really improve if they want to stay up.

Here are the three valuable factors we learnt from Manchester United’s latest league game…

Diogo Dalot has instantly become a fans favourite

Manchester United have had issues with playing out from the back as well as ongoing problems with utilising full-backs for them to be a dangerous threat going forward. On the other hand, Diogo Dalot has recently entered the side’s starting line-up and is already showing what he can offer to the team on and off the ball, which cannot be easily stated for the likes of Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young.

Although he is yet to show his composure and quality defensively, the 19-year-old is evidently proving that he has the dribbling and crossing ability to unlock the oppositions that come to Old Trafford and sit deep in their own half. The Red Devils finally look to have an impressive gem that has the huge and key potential to make the right-back position his own for next five to ten years.

Ander Herrera and Juan Mata are now undroppable

Yesterday, United’s midfield and attack showed they can play football on both sides of the pitch and can also do that at a fast and speedy level. From pressing as a solid unit high up the pitch to attacking down the flanks on both areas of the field, the evidence and proof was simply there that the side have not forgotten how to play football it’s just that they lack urgency and actual desire.

Focusing back onto the match, both Ander Herrera and Juan Mata played an influential part in helping the side to a convincing and dominant victory. With the way how both Spaniards play around each other as well as the chemistry and understanding they have with the rest of the team, they must continue to play and remain in the line-up if the manager wants to go on a winning run.

The Red Devils finally complete a thrashing at Old Trafford

Over the last year, Manchester United have not shown the ideal aggression and ruthlessness against the weaker sides, which is one of the reasons to why they sometime drop points to the newly promoted clubs. On top of that, the lack of consistency and planning going into the final third of the pitch, is why the team tend to end the season with a low goal difference compared to the rest.

On the other hand, the four goals scored yesterday against Fulham is actual evidence that this Manchester United side can attack effectively and that they can take their chances. Although the supporters have not seen four goals scored at home in the league on a regular basis, the recent result would make them believe and feel that this can hopefully now happen week in and out.

Victor Lindelof is Manchester United’s best central defender but needs a partner to become the finished article

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The supporters of a football club will always be protective when it comes to criticism of their own players. Generally expecting a positive picture of their rising stars within the English media, they can also be very quick to reveal their opinions and thoughts on individuals from other clubs. Meanwhile, now and again there is always a player who can be regarded as overrated or underrated by the press on a weekly basis. Manchester United’s Victor Lindelof is an example of one those types of players.

It’s not to highlight that Lindelof has not been an impressive signing for Manchester United, but more to the fact he has become an easy player to blame for when the side concede a goal in the league. With Eric Bailly and Marcos Rojo only featuring recently for the Red Devils so far this campaign, the Swedish international has adapted to the Premier League with ease and is continuing to impress everyone week by week.

Although Lindelof had a rough and forgettable start to his early first months in England, he is now showing that he is the ideal ball-playing centre-back that Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United badly needs. Currently on the sidelines reportedly for the rest of the month with a thigh injury, it can easily be stated that the side are now having issues of playing out from the back without his key presence.

Meanwhile, there are still a number of areas for the player to improve on before he can be regarded as one of the best centre-backs within the league. Along with his ability to play out from the back and his intelligence of reading the game effectively, he needs to start dominating the physical strikers in the air and off the ball, as he can become a very easy player to target in United’s backline.

Despite the little amount of errors he has made, it has probably not cost Manchester United any points in the league, but if they had done so, a lot of pundits would have been his back, similar to what the likes of David Luiz, Jan Vertonghen and Shkodran Mustafi have experienced over the last couple of months. However, this has become a normal factor for centre-backs, as they are criticised for the small errors they produce but hardly receive the appreciation for when they perform well.

Without a doubt, Lindelof is the type defender who likes to be committed and wants to take risks, which can also involve doing more than just defending and helping the team to go forward in attack. Whilst playing at the half-way line as a centre-back, it leaves you clearly open to get caught out on the counter-attack, which is something that the 24-year-old needs to improve on as time goes on.

Once the side actually have an effective gameplan to utilise on a regular basis or a coached by the manager to develop and improve their skills, whether that is with Mourinho or not, then Lindelof along with the team’s defence will become a dominant and solid force that will be very hard to beat.

Overall, since his move from Portugal, Victor Lindelof has already been regarded as one of the most consistent centre-backs within the squad by many Premier League pundits and the Manchester United supporters. Once Mourinho himself can work out who is the right partner to play along with the Swede at the back, it would surely leave the Red Devils with an unbreakable partnership at the heart of defence which hasn’t been witnessed since the days of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand.

Manchester United’s talking points ahead of Fulham clash

It has been a few difficult months for José Mourinho’s team, but their performance against high-flying Arsenal struck a chord with the Manchester United fans that had been missing for some time.

There was passion and commitment shown by the players, plus entertainment. There wasn’t a ridiculously high amount of quality on offer by both teams, but the intensity that has been lacking in the Premier League was present.

Here are a few talking points from United’s latest fixture moving forward:

Diogo Dalot’s starting debut

The young Portuguese right back made his first start for Manchester United in the Premier League against Arsenal, in which there were mixed reviews.

Dalot impressed with his runs down the right flank, trying to take on players and get the ball into the box. The one attribute that clearly sticks out is his ability to successfully beat his first man with the cross – something United fans have forgotten existed.

The former Porto starlet was caught out throughout the match from his more experienced counterpart Sead Kolasinac, but Dalot stood his ground and recovered. There is certainly a lot more to come, but against top opposition who were 19 games unbeaten, Dalot made a good account of himself to the Old Trafford crowd.

Dalot is only 19-years-old and will improve with every game he plays in. Mourinho must stick with him and allow him to develop in the Premier League. The signs are promising.

Marcos Rojo gives United bite 

It seems as if Marcos Rojo features more on the injury table than he does for Manchester United in recent seasons, but the Argentinean defender did make a rare appearance against Arsenal to mark this week’s comeback.

Rojo is an impulse defender and one for taking risks, most of them not being calculated. Although he was caught off guard that gifted Arsenal the lead in the second half, Rojo provided United with a bit of bite that has been badly missed.

The central defender’s performance was topsy-turvy, as they usually are, but at least he gives the team some sense of commitment and urgency to get up the pitch. His tackling is as absurd as he is, but Rojo was welcomed back by the Man United faithful.

Eric Bailly should not be left out

If there was one talking point after the fixture against the Gunners, it was the fact that Eric Bailly had been needlessly rotting on the sidelines for far too long. Most fans can recognise Bailly’s importance to the team, but it took Mourinho more than enough time to come to the same conclusion.

The Ivory Coast international, even with months on the bench, slotted right back into the first-team and made some crucial interceptions. He kept Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang largely at bay for the 90 minutes, which was no easy task given the Gabonese is the league’s leading goalscorer.

Mourinho simply has to involved Bailly in future games. While fans are not privy to what goes on behind closed doors, and there might have been issues in the past, the Portuguese manager simply has to put those inconsistencies behind him and allow his best defender to do his job.

Anthony Martial strikes again

The Frenchman has come to Manchester United’s rescue on more than one occasion this season. His seven goals in the Premier League have helped the Red Devils retain some sort of dignity, although his teammates aren’t pulling their weight in comparison.

Martial’s form continues to grow and he now has a scoring return rate of 122 minutes per-goal in the league – better than the likes of Sergio Agüero, Harry Kane and Aubameyang.

Without Martial’s goals, United would be in an even direr state of affairs compared to where they are now. This weekend, against Fulham, United have the chance to put on a show for the United crowd and should do so against the lowest-ranked team in the division.

Through Martial, United have a forward player that is so confident with the ball at his feet. The Frenchman dazzles past defenders and has the agility to shift his body weight and deceive his opposition.

The Red Devils simply must get Martial in the game and allow the France international to do what he does best: score.

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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Is Christian Pulisic the right winger Manchester United long for?

Manchester United are in a dire state this season. With José Mourinho finally admitting that his hope of reaching the top four by Christmas was unrealistic, the Red Devils are struggling emphatically to record any sort of consistency week in, week out.

Last weekend, against Southampton, who have been nothing short of shambolic this year, Mourinho’s team conceded two goals in quick succession and had it all to do in order to go back to Manchester with any points. Through Romelu Lukaku and Ander Herrera they found two goals, but it was a performance that embodied them under Mourinho’s reign.

There are so many problems around United currently, but one that has maintained throughout the three managers following Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement has been the right wing. Juan Mata, who was signed as an attacking midfielder in January of 2014, has largely been put out on the right, given the lack of other viable choices in the team.

For one reason or another – that remains befuddling to many fans – the board have just not bothered to strengthen one of their flanks. Transfer window after transfer window the opportunity comes and goes for United to finally bring someone in, but they prioritise other positions and neglect their right wing.

Manchester United have long been admirers of Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale, but ever since the Welshman opted for Spain’s sunny capital over the North West of England, that ship has sailed and would never come back around. And yet, Man United continue to try and prize Bale away, wasting their time on him instead of attempting to find a suitable alternative – which there are plenty of.

The Red Devils have got into the habit of going for world-class stars who want to receive an enormous paycheque, over players who would sacrifice themselves for the good of the team. Alexis Sánchez, for example, has been immensely disappointing since arriving at the turn of the year and is holding the club accountable for wages of £500,000 per-week, including bonuses.

United need to start targeting players who are not yet in their prime and are willing to work for the team, as well as themselves. Instead of opting for 29 year olds who are looking for one last mega contract, there are plenty of younger players who have come through a generation which preaches team cohesion and unity.

One player that springs to mind is the fantastic Christian Pulisic. The American has taken life in Germany by storm ever since arriving at the age of 16 into Borussia Dortmund’s academy and has risen straight through into the first-team. His natural progression is what he had hoped for when opting for a German football club, rather than the allures of Spain’s big two.

At just 17-years-old, Pulisic made his debut for BVB off the bench and in just one month later, became the youngest American to play in the Europa League. In 2016 it was rise of the Pulisic as he went from strength to strength and immersed himself into the first-team at Dortmund.

What was remarkable was how natural Pulisic looked on the big stage of the Bundesliga, especially for someone so young. The U.S. starlet had become the fourth-youngest goalscorer in Bundesliga history and the youngest ever with two goals to his name. Pulisic was beginning to make waves across Europe.

By the end of the 2017/18 campaign, Pulisic racked up 42 appearances and had contributed to 12 goals. Even to this day, the American’s underlying numbers have not been astounding, but it’s his selflessness in the Black and Yellows’ attacking play that makes him such a catch, especially for Manchester United.

Although he has lost his place in part to Jadon Sancho this season, Pulisic remains a target for most elite clubs in Europe’s top five leagues. He has seven goal contributions (three goals and four assists) in 14 appearances this season in all competitions, mainly coming from the right wing.

It has been reported by German media that Chelsea and Liverpool lead the way for the American, having discussed a potential deal taking place in January with Dortmund’s official representatives. With Pulisic’s contract expiring in 2020, the Black and Yellows need to make a decision on when to sell him if they feel that the 20 year old will not renew within the next six months.

Manchester United are in desperate need of some raw pace, ingenuity and intuition on their right wing, as well as someone with hunger and desire to take their game – and United’s – to the next level. After losing out on game time to Sancho this season, Pulisic’s character has been tested. He looks hungry and motivated to develop further, but needs the opportunity to do so.

Dortmund are likely to hold out for a fee near £75 million given the market rate for hot prospects, as well as what he can bring to the table now. United’s cash flow is there to see for everyone, and although the American is expensive, he should be a player that tests himself and fulfil his potential.

Manchester United will face stiff competition from many clubs around Europe, but if they are to go in for Pulisic, they must sign him for the right reasons of bolstering their attack and not just because he is an immense marketing tool commercially, as well as preventing him going to any rival.

The American is one of the best talents of his generation and has the ability to transform United’s right wing.

Arsenal can show Man Utd what they are missing

It was the best performance of Unai Emery’s time as Arsenal manager so far. Indeed, the Gunners’ display in the North London derby against Spurs on Sunday was everything the club’s fans wanted to see from their team in the post-Arsene Wenger era. It was fast and furious. There was a game plan. And most importantly, there was a victory.

One wonders what those Manchester United supporters who just so happened to catch the game thought of what they saw. 24 hours earlier, their team had struggled to a 2-2 draw against Southampton- the bottom team in the Premier League. It was in stark contrast to what Arsenal served up.

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Now, the two teams will face each other on Wednesday night. For both teams, this could be a season-defining clash. Man United are in desperate need of a win to give their chances of finishing in the top four a shot in the arm, while Arsenal also need a victory to shore up the progress they have made in recent weeks.

In terms of a sporting identity, there are plenty of parallels between Arsenal and Manchester United. They were fierce of rivals for years, when Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson locked horns for major honours, but in retrospect, there was more to unite them than there was to divide them.

Both sets of fans expect their team to play attractive, dynamic and attacking football. They also expect their team to challenge for silverware having grown accustomed to success. In recent years, the parallels have become even clearer, with Arsenal and Man United left looking upwards at teams like Chelsea, Manchester City, Liverpool and even Leicester City.

But while United have festered and allowed malaise to grow at the club, Arsenal have taken measures to overhaul themselves. The replacement of Wenger with Emery in the summer was the most public- most significant part of that overhaul- but changes have also taken place behind the scenes.

This has manifested itself in what we have seen on the pitch from Arsenal so far this season. They have a transfer strategy, a clear and coherent notion of what they want the club to be, and of what they want the club to represent. This led them to the hiring of Emery through a comprehensive recruitment process in line with this approach.

United, on the other hand, are utterly dependent on one man, Jose Mourinho. And that one man is charged with imposing an identity on the club. This is an infrastructure that rarely works in the modern game, and we are seeing that in the way United have struggled this season.

Arsenal can show Manchester and their fans what they are missing on Wednesday night. They can show the Old Trafford club what happens when there is a plan and when that plan is implemented properly.

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Three things we learned from Manchester United’s stalemate away to Southampton

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The game began with the hosts starting on a positive note, which led to them taking the lead as a successful dribble and pass from Michael Obafemi was followed by a perfect shot into the far corner of the net by attacking midfielder Stuart Armstrong. The goal summed up the poor defending from United’s point of view as none of the defenders decided to take charge of the opposition’s attack.

Seven minutes later, Southampton found themselves with a free-kick in a good position and surprisingly it was the right-back Cedric Soares that stepped up to take it, who shockingly hit the ball over the United wall and into the top left corner of the net. Immediately, the Southampton supporters were more than certain that they would pick up their second win of the campaign.

However, United were given a life line as Marcus Rashford made a fast break through the middle and his loose ball after taking on two Southampton defenders landed at the feet of Romelu Lukaku, who made no mistakes as he smashed the ball into the net. Five or so minutes after, Rashford came up with another crucial dribble and assist, which led to Ander Herrera scoring the vital equaliser.

The second half of the fixture was completely opposite to the first half, where both sides did not attack enough to go for the winner and neither of them completed many shots on target as they would have intended. The Red Devils had majority of the possession and were looking to create clear-cut chances, but Southampton were able to defend tight and aggressively when required.

In the end, Southampton would have seen the result as two points dropped whilst United would have felt unsatisfied that they could not complete the full comeback to take the three points back to Manchester. Now, both Mark Hughes and Jose Mourinho are under a lot of pressure, as another few unconvincing results in the Premier league could lead to them being sacked by their respective club.

Here are the three valuable factors we learnt from Manchester United’s latest league game…

United’s defensive issues keep on increasing

Although the likes of Chris Smalling, Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof were unavailable for the Southampton fixture due to injury problems, it did not mean that Mourinho was forced with no other option but to start Nemanja Matic as a centre-back. Due to this, the side were struggling to keep up with the opposition’s attacking players and could not close them down quickly enough.

Meanwhile, defender Marcos Rojo was selected in the match-day squad but was not utilised at all, which does raise serious questions to why the manager did not play him when the side needed a centre-back badly to pair up with Phil Jones. Overall, United’s defence were caught napping from time to time and they had to rely on David De Gea to come up with a couple of important saves.

If Pogba doesn’t play well, the side simply doesn’t too

Yesterday, United’s defensive-minded midfield showed how easy it is for Paul Pogba to drift away from the team and most importantly from the match, especially when the game is being played slowly and there is not enough movement on both sides of the pitch. It could actually be stated that the French international arguably had one of the worst performances in a Manchester United kit.

Those who watch Manchester United on a regular basis, will know that Pogba is someone that has the ability to drop deep and help the team to play out from the back to helping the team to be effective in the final third of the pitch. When he is not in the starting line-up, the side are awfully slow at recycling the ball and they do not have the ideal intelligence to create constant chances.

Mourinho’s time at the club should be up soon rather than later

Since being appointed as the manager of Manchester United in May 2016, Mourinho has managed to splash out a huge figure of over £350million on transfer signings, and he is yet to deliver a major trophy such as the Champions League or the Premier League to the Old Trafford faithful. Instantly, the question is raised of whether his time at the club has been unlucky or is he now past his best.

Looking through his time at the club, he has relied on the signings that were made by previous managers in David Moyes and Louis Van Gaal whilst the players he has brought have not improved or been taken to the next level. Weighing the positives and negatives, it is more than fair to say that the 56-year-old Portuguese international’s time at the football club has to come to an end very soon.

Manchester United unconvincingly reach the Champions League knockout stages

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For big clubs in Europe, it’s a must to be dominant and ruthless in the Champions League and importantly to qualify for the knockout stages of the competition. Manchester United completed the second half of that requirement by beating Young Boys on Tuesday to guarantee at least second place in Group B. However, their campaign in Europe has been unconvincing yet fruitful due to individual brilliance and lucky moments.

If not for Marouane Fellaini’s late winner at Old Trafford, the Red Devils would have formed an embarrassing record of going through three Champions League home games without a goal, a statistic that would reflect back on the poor job that Jose Mourinho is currently doing. However, he was once again saved by a player that has come up with a number of crucial goals in recent years.

On the other hand, if Young Boys had one clinical and dangerous striker that was in full confidence, they would have certainly punished a United defence that was playing a very high line whilst they were in possession of the ball. Not only that, but the home side’s full-backs fortunately escaped early bookings in the match which could have led to worse situations as the match went on.

Looking at United’s Champions League campaign so far this season with one group match remaining, there simply has not been enough evidence or memorable performances/results that makes a person feel or think the side can progress far in the competition. Many will simply believe that the victory over Young Boys to secure qualification will paper over all the cracks.

With no disrespect to the Swiss side, but a manager and a club that has spent just over £400 million in the transfer window over the last couple of years, and are relying on a last-minute winner at home really sums up the rather disappointing direction which the club is heading. From the lack of business planning off the pitch to the abysmal and boring football on it, a number of changes are required in order for Manchester United Football Club to be regarded as a serious football team once again.

As the side’s odds of winning the Premier League have been written off in the early stages of the season, it would not be a surprise to see the board and Ed Woodward hold on to Mourinho as the club’s manager until their chances of featuring in next year’s Champions League goes away. The hierarchy will have to make a crucial footballing decision in the coming months if things don’t go down as planned, in order to make sure they don’t fall behind from the other big European clubs.

Overall, given the club’s inconsistent and poor form in the league, Mourinho’s United will have to give their all in the Champions League this season in order to take part in the competition next campaign. With the likes of Barcelona, Juventus and Manchester City being regarded as the favourites to lift the trophy, the Red Devils, realistically, have no chance of winning it.

Will Mourinho last the season as Man Utd manager?

For a short while it looked – on paper at least – as though Manchester United had recovered from their poor start to the new season and Jose Mourinho was back on track. Wins in tricky matches, such as the 2-1 at Bournemouth before the international break and a 2-1 win in Turin against Juventus, had the hallmarks of vintage Mourinho.

Successive league games without victory, along with a wholly unconvincing last-minute win against Young Boys, has reopened the debate. It should never have been closed.

Mourinho’s complaints against his own players and general hostility in the media have long portrayed a man desperately trying to preserve his own image rather than protect the club or its players. A few wins should not have stopped pundits from questioning his methods and certainly should not have made anyone assume the Portuguese had the support of the United players.

Even when winning United have been unconvincing, their performances coming in bursts of quality or emotional comebacks – a sure sign the players are not being coached effectively. There is far too much volatility within each 90 minutes for the dressing room to be feeling genuinely affectionate towards their manager. And why should they? Mourinho has thrown his players under the bus countless times over the last two years with no clear game plan. It hasn’t worked.

Man Utd are lucky to be as high as seventh in the Premier League table. Having started matches so poorly and rarely (if ever this season) looking like the better team, it was only poor opposition finishing that prevented them from losing several matches they ultimately won – including Bournemouth, Watford, Everton, and Leicester. It is simply good luck that separates their points tally this season from Chelsea’s abysmal points tally in 2015/16.

But this is a results business – and Manchester United is increasingly little more than a business. The owners won’t care about performances until it begins to affect their commercial revenue, which is why Mourinho’s tediously dull football is tolerated – for now. Surely eventually, and sooner rather than later, the monotony of their football matches will impact how the club is viewed globally, negatively affecting their commercial interests.

That’s the main reason why pundits assume Mourinho won’t last beyond the current campaign, something the manager also seems to think (judging by his self-preservation tactics after every United game). However, it is certainly possible Ed Woodward will pull the trigger much sooner.

United currently sit seven points off the Champions League places. That is the one fact that Woodward will not be able to ignore. Mourinho would be due a huge compensation package should he be sacked this season, and yet this financial loss pales in comparison to the money they would lose from failing to qualify for Europe’s premier competition. Money governs everything United do these days – and Mourinho could be about to cost them tens of millions.

Anything less than victory at Southampton will pile the pressure on Mourinho and onto Woodward to act. Should the gap between United and the top four widen between now and Christmas then it seems unlikely Mourinho will last the whole season.

There are lots of people at Man Utd to blame for the malaise since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement, and yet Mourinho must take the brunt for a dreadfully dull couple of years at Old Trafford. His time is surely coming to an end.

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Is Mauricio Pochettino the right man for the job at Manchester United?

Before the last-gasp win over BSC Young Boys in the Champions League, Manchester United’s previous two results in Europe read 0-0 and 0-1, against Valencia and Juventus. Such has José Mourinho’s spark vanished at home, fans are now starting to boo at the end of home matches. That was the state of play at the end of the 0-0 draw against Crystal Palace last weekend.

When the Portuguese manager was appointed in 2016, there was a sense of the tide turning once more for United. After failed stints from David Moyes and Louis van Gaal, Mourinho was brought in to do one thing and do it well: win. There was not such an emphasis on playing ‘attractive’ football like their Manchester counterparts, or bringing through youth on an unprecedented scale, but Mourinho had to make sure he would get the Red Devils seriously competing for major honours.

After his first year in charge, he won two trophies. The League Cup and the Europa League, both finals had some sense of fortune against lesser opposition of Southampton and Ajax being played against. However, it is Cup football and that’s the roll of the dice. Man United looked strong and they looked healthy. It was time to kick on for what the fans longed for: the Premier League.

And yet, even after such a promising first season, Mourinho’s second year in charge dwindled and there was no competitive aspect to it. They might have finished second, but 19 points behind league winners City tells the full story. United were nowhere near it.

It is this season, though – Mourinho’s famous third season – that has really rubbed the salt into the wounds of the Manchester United fans. There’s very little good football to be enthusiastic about; Mourinho’s not coaching the players to a good enough standard; there’s a clear divide between the board and the coach; the most recent signings have not been given a chance; the players look disinterested on the pitch and are not fighting fo the shirt; and, most importantly, Mourinho is not winning.

The list can go on and on, but those are the salient facts. And so it begs the question as to who United point the finger to and try to get in to replace him, which will likely be at the end of the season given it would take a whopping £14 million pay-off to push him out now.

Mauricio Pochettino is the outstanding candidate, given how he has turned Tottenham into a serious threat that can go toe-to-toe with any club in Europe on its day. The question marks will be around not having won a major honor with the Lilywhites so far, but no one can dilute the success he has had in North London.

Since taking over from Tim Sherwood, the Argentinean has revamped the whole club and, somehow, managed to raise performances level with the limited funds he has received as well as the sub par squad he inherited. Pochettino is a traditional coach that will squeeze ever drop of talent out of his players before deciding to go to the market.

Of course, he would like to be backed more than he has been under Chairman Daniel Levy, but Pochettino has excelled in coaching his players and raising their standards tenfold. Last summer came to a surprise to all when Spurs didn’t sign one player for their first-team, making them the first club to do so since the inception of the summer transfer window.

With Spurs building a new stadium that is yet to be completed, Levy allocated the funds into the off-field project, rather than bolstering the first-team squad and allow Pochettino a real chance of dethroning Manchester City. While it is understandable that the former Espanyol manager was disappointed, he has hidden his frustrations and still managed to keep his cool in the face of adversity.

Manchester United do not possess bad players. Some have gone past their sell-by date and should be moved on accordingly, but the root of the problem at Old Trafford is not the players. They simply need a manager who can coach them and have an identity to their game, rather than going with which the way the wind blows every few days.

Pochettino’s admiration of bringing through youth players can only help with his application given United’s long-standing tradition of blooding academy graduates into the first-team. The Argentine has shown his credentials with Spurs after leading them into the top four and are now routine participants in the Champions League.

The wait for a trophy goes on for Pochettino and he might not get his hands on one this season, but there is no one better suited for the job at Old Trafford than him right now. It is going to take a lot of money to prize him away from the clutches of Levy, but if United are serious about escaping the rut they find themselves in, they simply must go all in for Pochettino.