Once regarded as the premier coach in world football, these days Jose Mourinho resembles a shadow of his former self. Against Sevilla in the Champion’s League quarter-final on Tuesday night, Manchester United looked bereft of ideas, worn out and simply incapable of rising to the challenge. Sevilla, 27 points behind Primera Liga leaders Barcelona in 5th place, looked better in every single department.
The frustration for United fans wasn’t even as much in losing the tie – having only managed a draw in the first leg in Seville – but the manner of the performance. On paper, this United team should be playing a brand of football spearheaded by some of the most gifted players in Europe. Quite simply, they are profligate, clueless, and above all, disinterested. Having waited so long for the likes of Pogba, Sanchez, Lukaku, Rashford, Mata et al to click, most fans would be stuck to predict the manner of a game if they were betting in-play with a bonus, never mind their own money.
So where has it gone wrong?
Mourinho has to be held accountable for failing to get the best out of the players he has at his disposal. Paul Pogba looked to be severely lacking in confidence, while Alexis Sanchez seems completely out of touch with what he is supposed to be doing. Remember, less than a year ago, these two players were heralded as among the best on the planet. Mourinho’s tactics – which discourage any kind of autonomy or flair – are not just ruining the team’s morale, but are ruing the players as well.
“If you are a team at home, the onus is on you to go out and attack and make sure you take the game away from the opposing team,” said former legendary United centre-back, Rio Ferdinand. “Sanchez for one, he just looks a shadow of the player he was. When he was at Arsenal he was the one everyone looked to for inspiration. Here, he just looks like a stranger in this team.”
How such quality players can appear absolutely inept in a team with the pride and history of Manchester United smacks of poor management. Is the fact that these stars’ performances are a reflection of Mourinho’s negative tactics? Is there a sense of cohesion needed which the Portuguese cannot bring?
Money has been spent, so where are the results?
While United are currently second in the EPL, is this enough to save Mourinho’s job at the end of the season? It seems that the gaffer has lost the dressing room, and many fear that there will be mutiny among players similar to that seen at his second stint at Chelsea. If that does happen, it will not be long before second place looks like an unrealistic ambition.
If United are to display the type of football and style us as fans have come to expect, we need to see more from the manager. We need results, consistently. A 2-1 victory over Liverpool is sweet, but if the team cannot continually perform, who is to be held accountable?
Jose Mourinho may have the answer.