English Premier League

The clock ticks on José Mourinho and Manchester United

Only two games into the season, yet José Mourinho and Manchester United's hopes are apparently hanging by a thread. Will they pull the trigger so early in the season? Or will they persist with Mourinho and his antics?

By Marco Gerges

José Mourinho’s job has been getting harder since he joined Manchester United back in May 2016. Of late, criticism has been on the increase with the Portuguese manager taking the Red Devils in the wrong direction.

The 55-year-old has seemingly lost his touch since coming to the red side of Manchester and the media believe his job is under major scrutiny. Things have been heating up around the coach especially since Sunday’s 3-2 defeat against Brighton. The result left Manchester United fans in shock after their side, who were expected to be title contenders, fell to a side only promoted to the Premier League last season. What makes the defeat even more embarrassing is that Manchester United’s squad is worth around £767 million, while their opponent’s squad was worth only around £108 million.

Mourinho is mostly criticized for his very defensive style of play, yet results aren’t showing that his tactics are effective. Instead of using such a defensive system, the United boss should take advantage of the quality players in his squad. He has some of the best attacking options in the league, world-class attackers that should compete at the top level.

Even though Mourinho has won four best manager awards, he’s struggling to make his mark at United as the fans are thirsty for their first league title in five years. Humiliation is likely to come his way as the media and some fans have gone against him, whilst results need to be more consistent.

Mourinho has only one way to save his job now, winning trophies and proving that he can beat the top clubs and fight for the league title. Even though fans would love a change in style of play, titles are still to be expected. Fans were delighted when Mourinho won the League Cup, Community Shield, and Europa League all in the same season. His tactics weren’t much different from the previous season, but he’s currently failing to bring the best out of his players.

The transfer market shouldn’t be an excuse. Since Mourinho took charge at Old Trafford, around £400 million has been spent. With that, he should now possess a side that can compete for and even win the league. With the UEFA Champions League starting in nearly a month, the former Real Madrid boss could face the sack if he fails to do well at domestic level during the run-up.

If Mourinho is to be sacked, the most likely and favourable replacement would be Zinedine Zidane. The Frenchman won three Champions League titles in as many years with the Los Blancos. Even though he had a world class team with him, his tactics also led them to La Liga glory in the 2016/17 season.

Currently, the Manchester United board are still backing Mourinho, they believe he needs time to fully implement his tactics on the squad having seen World Cup duties hamper his pre-season preparation. Even after a rough start to the season, the Red Devils can still get to rivals Man City and other title contenders. They are still one of the favourites to win the title, though it will be very difficult, yet if the team performs well and if the coaches’ tactics are efficient, then why not?

Now there is one thing Mourinho should be cautious about this season; they are his rivals. His side might have had just one bad day against Brighton, but his defensive style of play will not be strong enough to stop attacking teams like Tottenham, Liverpool, Man City, Chelsea, and maybe even Arsenal. He has the players to form a dangerous front three, but he seems reluctant let them off the leash. Alexis Sanchez, Romelu Lukaku and Jesse Lingard has the potential to be a potent attacking front three, similar to Liverpool’s, with the ability to terrorise any defence it comes across. Add to the mix Paul Pogba’s mercurial, yet ever-inconsistent form, and the likes of Nemanja Matic and Fred – and Mourinho’s side has real potential.

Another flaw in the system is his defensive line. Even though he plays very defensive, his current back four have many problems. They are mostly unorganised, have problems communicating, and have difficulty tracking runs. Last Sunday wasn’t the only example of this, but also Vardy’s goal against United on match-day one. If Mourinho could solve these defensive problems, he might create a defence akin to his first two years at the club, where his side conceded only 29 in the 2016/17 Premier League and 28 last season.

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The Portuguese coach is seemingly on borrowed time to resolve his problems. Being a coach at Man United isn’t easy, the club need someone that can push the team forward week in week out. The question now is, will the criticism get to him? He has been long criticised, especially for his defensive and abrasive management style. Nevertheless, this doesn’t seem to affect him and this could be good and bad for fans. He could be working on something big within his current system, or it means he’s just a bit stubborn and wants to keep playing the way.

Hopefully things get better for Manchester United for the sake of the fans as some are getting tired of Mourinho’s antics. Since Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure, they are yet to find the right man to lead the club. Following consecutive failures with Louis Van Gaal and David Moyes, it currently looks like Jose Mourinho will join the list and United will need to search for yet another manager.

Now it’s only a matter of time before Mourinho’s future is decided. His next match is on Monday against Tottenham. This is the perfect opportunity to show the world that he has what it takes to take down top sides in the league. Mauricio Pochettino’s Spurs side are serious title contenders, so they will give everything for what might be a season defining win.

Mourinho is currently in deep fire, with many believing he’ll be out of Old Trafford by Christmas. Yet it’s still the beginning of the season, many things can change throughout the campaign. Mourinho should really change his style of play as he has some of the best attacking options in England. By not doing so, his job is getting harder and his stubborn ways may eventually lead to an ugly ending for him in the North West.

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