Friday 24 May 2019

Disharmony is palpable in mess of Mourinho's own making

Jose Mourinho at the London Stadium yesterday. Photo: Getty Images
Jose Mourinho at the London Stadium yesterday. Photo: Getty Images

Jason Burt

In the executive seats, alongside Patrice Evra, was Ed Woodward, wearing a big pair of sunglasses. Beneath those shades, surely, the Manchester United executive vice-chairman will have been wincing. This was as far from what he would expect from United and Jose Mourinho as was possible.

As well as West Ham played, United were, quite frankly, too easy to beat and too quick to lose heart. They were too negative, as was shown the moment the teamsheets were delivered - with a back three, which included Scott McTominay on the right, Nemanja Matic and Marouane Fellaini in midfield and Alexis Sanchez not even in the squad. It was a mess. Where was the creativity? Where was the pace? Where was the motivation, the leadership, the game plan?

Mourinho's frustration with his team was clear but he has to look at himself. As vast as the technical area at the London Stadium is, he strayed beyond it as he tried to cajole and turn around his failing side, but this is a pale shadow of United; as insipid as those off-colour pink shirts they wear.

Not only have they now lost three of their seven Premier League games - including defeats at Brighton and West Ham - they now also have a negative goal difference and seem solely reliant on trying to score from long balls, crosses or set-pieces. For all the hundreds of millions of pounds spent, there is no incision.

What must hurt most of all is that Mourinho appears to not only have no idea how he wants his team to play but what that team should be. He chops and changes and chops and changes back again, throwing players under the bus along the way.

It has become a repetitive, tiresome shtick, a case of history repeating itself also, and it is hard not to think that is the reaction of some in the United dressing room. They just look so dispirited, which stems from Mourinho's own negativity. It has become a self-fulfilling prophecy from the summer of discontent from the manager.

For Woodward and the club there will be a decision to make if it carries on like this. There is a Champions League tie at home to Valencia on Tuesday and a home league game against Newcastle United - and Mourinho's old enemy Rafa Benitez next Saturday - before the international break.

Woodward and the board want to keep Mourinho and certainly no change is imminent. They will, at least, want to see through this season before deciding what to do and despite awarding Mourinho a new contract earlier this year. But even the manager's staunchest supporters will struggle to predict with confidence that he will be there beyond Christmas if this decline continues. The disharmony is there for everyone to see - on and off the pitch.

Something will have to give sooner or later.


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