The damning statistics that condemn Jose Mourinho and Wayne Rooney
Premier League weekend review
Another round of Premier League drama has come to a close and some of the more alarming statistics from the fifth weekend of fixtures belong to Manchester United.
A third defeat in a week for Jose Mourinho has well and truly ended his honeymoon period as United boss and his misery is the only place to start in our Independent.ie round-up.
THE STATS ARE MISERABLE FOR MOURINHO AND ROONEY
Where do you start a trying to analyse Manchester United’s miserable demise at Watford?
The 3-1 win for the Hornets on Sunday completed a desperately miserable few days for United that included defeat in the Manchester derby against City and a Europa League setback against Feyenoord, but those two initial losses were nothing compared to the shockwaves created by their Vicarage Road calamity.
Let’s kick-off with Mourinho, who has lived through the kind of week that revives memories of his disastrous demise at Chelsea in the first half of last season.
While the seemingly not so special one did his best to portray an image of authority in his first few weeks as United manager, the shaken reputation of this one-time winning machine is now back on the agenda.
Taking into account his time at Chelsea and United, Mourinho has now lost 11 times in his last 21 Premier League games.
He has won just seven of those games and after doing all he could to avoid controversy in his first few weeks at Old Trafford, he has returned to his old ways in recent days.
Jesse Lingard, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Luke Shaw have received public dressing downs from Mourinho are their lacklustre efforts and somehow, his skipper Wayne Rooney seems absolved of blame.
The stats from Rooney’s effort against Watford provide a compelling case to suggest the fading United skipper may soon have to accept his time at the top is up.
After months of criticism and under-par displays, Rooney managed just SIX forward passes on Sunday, while failing to make a single tackle in the game. He had no shots on target, did not create a chance from open play and somehow, he managed to stay on the field for the full 90 minutes.
Rooney is the clearly a burden United needs to off-load sooner rather because with games against Leicester, Liverpool and Chelsea on United’s horizon, their mini early season crisis could soon develop into the kind of mess that cost Mourinho his job at Chelsea last season.
FRIDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL DEBATE
My spirited debate with Alan Cawley on RTE 2FM’s excellent Game On show last week suggested that the jury remains out on Friday Night Premier League football for a variety of reasons.
The Premier League will not care that big games on Friday’s are likely to put a huge dent in attendances at League of Ireland games, but the bigger picture must by that over-exposure of the game is in danger of killing enthusiasm to an already saturated marketplace.
That is before we get to the confused Sky Sports presentation of the newest addition to their billion pound soccer collection, with Jeff Stelling and Rachel Riley fronting up a show that has been less than well received to date:
More Carragher, more Souness.— Stan Collymore (@StanCollymore) September 16, 2016
Less gimmicks and mockneys.
Sky have proved themselves to be the masters of sports broadcasting, but as screaming fans in pubs and strange contributions from ‘comedy’ presenter Chris Kamara were complemented by Chelsea’s use of dry ice and dramatic music to bring the players onto the pitch ahead of the Liverpool game on Friday, it felt as if everyone was trying a little too hard to force feed a game that doesn’t need the kind of hype you might associate with American sports.
Chelsea v Liverpool turned out to be a great game on Friday, but there is a feeling that another night of football is in danger of becoming overkill of a sport that is already grossly overexposed.
Have my doubts about Friday night games. There should be one day when football just backs off? But Chelsea 1 Liverpool 2 was a good 'un.— Paul Hayward (@_PaulHayward) September 16, 2016
SACK RACE HEATING UP ALREADY
It is the most unwanted race to win in each Premier League season, but a clear favourite is emerging in the rush to be the first manager to lose his job this season.
Brendan Rodgers claimed the crown last season as he was sacked by Liverpool in the first week of October and as we are rapidly approaching the first anniversary of that change, pressure is being piled onto this season’s failing managers.
Stoke boss Mark Hughes is leading the pack in the race for the axe after his side’s crushing 4-1 defeat at a resurgent Crystal Palace on Sunday, yet the Britannia Stadium club are unlikely to be keen to make a change as Hughes has a little under three-years left to run on his current contract. That would add up to an expensive pay-off and should buy the former Wales boss time to turn things around.
West Bromwich Albion’s Tony Pulis may have got a big win against West Ham on Saturday, but he is still firmly in the mix to leave his post imminently, after his disappointment over his club’s transfer window activity lingers.
West Ham’s Slaven Bilic is a surprise contender after his side’s miserable start to the season, while Sunderland’s David Moyes is flat lining once again after making his return to English football with Sunderland.
Sunderland have homes games against Crystal Palace and West Bromwich Albion on their horizon and they need to find their first win from those two games of Moyes is to ease the pressure that is already simmering under him.
SACK RACE ODDS
Mark Hughes (Stoke) - Evens
Tony Pulis (WBA) - 10/3
Slaven Bilic (West Ham) - 5/1
Francesco Guidolin (Swansea) 8/1
David Moyes (Sunderland) 9/1
Alan Pardew (Crystal Palace) 12/1
INDEPENDENT.IE TEAM OF THE WEEK
Jordan Pickford (Sunderland)
Seamus Coleman (Everton)
Joel Matip (Liverpool)
Scott Dann (Crystal Palace)
Jordan Henderson (Liverpool)
Kevin De Bruyne (Man City)
Adam Lallana (Liverpool)
Nacer Chadli (West Bromwich Albion)
Andros Townsend (Crystal Palace)
Raheem Sterling (Man City)
Islam Slimani (Leicester)