Manchester United pulled off a huge comeback at Old Trafford when they got back from two goals down to win 3-2 against Newcastle United. Juan Mata, Anthony Martial and Alexis Sanchez found the net for the Red Devils on the day when the attention was fully on Jose Mourinho.
Contributing writer, Nathan Quao, followed the game and has put his observations down.
Pathetic first half from players
This column’s repetition of the theme of poor starts was again reaffirmed to day at Old Trafford but it was executed on a scale never seen before.
It was sickening seeing how many of the players looked out of sorts at the start of the match. Levels were close to zero and there was no fight, determination and hunger to get something out of the game and that led to galling errors.
First, it was Eric Bailly. The Ivorian defender turned his back on a through pass from Newcastle United and the sequence ended in the Magpies’ first goal.
He was again in the mix in the build-up for Newcastle’s second goal of the day and his substitution in the first half was one borne out of annoyance and disappointment from the manager.
Next culprit was Ashley Young. For a player of massive experience, his output was simply not good enough. He kept fouling up crosses on the offensive and his defending was so suspect. He kept making bad decisions in dealing with opponents and he was very exposed as he was turned inside out by Kennedy for Newcastle’s first goal.
The rest of the playing body was just out of it and it was very evident that they were either not interested or Newcastle were so good in the opening half.
Good 2nd half response
No one knows what was said in the dressing room during the first half break but the playing body looked better and more interested in getting something from the tie.
There was more effort and the attempts at goal were better and more threatening. There was more responsibility on the field and players wanted to now come out of their shells and take the ball and try to create moments.
The fiery atmosphere and urgency that was seen at Old Trafford in times past seemed to return as the goals went in.
Juan Mata’s free kick charged the air, Martial’s goal brought more hope and Sanchez’ header completed a roller-coaster experience.
For a fleeting moment, fans could afford to cheer and forget all the rumours and negativity surrounding the future of the manager, Jose Mourinho.
It was very striking seeing that three of the players usually listed as the manifestations of the manager’s wrong decisions and poor judgement were the ones who found the net.
Even at 3-2 up, there was the push to score one more to put an exclamation mark on the result.
The biggest question remains this: where was this fight and hunger all this while?
Decision time now
When the euphoria of the win dies down, the conversation surrounding the future must be had.
Will Jose Mourinho still leave per the rumours that emerged in the last day or two?
Does he get a reprieve until the next bad result?
Who will replace him? What about the players?
Will they realise how culpable they been in all this?
And the board? What about Ed Woodward? What about the owners?
These are critical questions that need answers because the saga the club is experiencing now is not only to be kept at the level of matters on the pitch. There are huge things going on at a higher level and a direction is needed to guide the football team.
No one knows what the future holds but a lot of critical thinking must be done before any call is made whether it is firing Jose Mourinho or keeping him.