0-0. The all too familiar scoreline struck Manchester United again as they were held to another frustrating draw with Hull City, as they yet again failed to take their chance to gain points on their rivals. As the season heads into it’s final stretch, United are bit by bit losing their chance to catch up. The frustration is getting old, as they were booed off the pitch at Old Trafford on Wednesday night.
For some reason, they haven’t learned that playing complacent first half football will not do. They attacked throughout and that was fine, but waiting 45 minutes to kick into gear is not good enough when teams are parking the bus against them. A lack of inventiveness is hurting them, and nobody took a stranglehold on the game.
Falling Flat In Attack
Jose Mourinho is still searching for a combination of players that work, and it has to be said he got his first XI wrong on Wednesday. Three central midfielders were not necessary, and Wayne Rooney probably wasn’t the right substitution for Michael Carrick when United needed a bit more invention and trickery to come into the game.
Anthony Martial’s most loyal supporters will no doubt be feeling aggrieved as he did not see any pitch time despite a very impressive performance against Wigan. Henrikh Mkhitaryan and the rest of the attack failed to break down Hull, and something is not quite gelling right now.
United are creating plenty, but are ultimately wasteful. Juan Mata missed an open net against Stoke and should have done better when presented a chance at the back post. Had he hit differently or better placed, he would have scored. It’s the tale of the tape for United though, as their hopes to climb the table continue to stumble in their tracks.
This season, much like under Louis Van Gaal United do not come of the blocks fast. The first half was mostly disappointing with only a couple of chances, and they lack urgency unless they fall a goal behind or after they return for the second half. It isn’t good enough.
Too many points have been dropped and chances wasted, and United are not learning their lesson. Changing a club’s mentality after three poor seasons doesn’t happen overnight, but the team are putting themselves in too many good positions to keep doing this.
With the Christmas period over and a relatively easier schedule coming up, they have to start capitalising. Excuses and patience are wearing thin.
Mourinho Goes Loco Post Match
Jose Mourinho let his frustrations be known post match, asking journalists to tell the truth over his treatments by referees.
“I don’t understand why you ask me since the beginning of the season. If I was in your position, I wouldn’t ask the manager. I would just say and write what I see, what I think. Game after game, I would just write what is happening every game with us. If not every game, almost every game. If I speak, I am punished. I don’t want to be punished.
Maybe your industry is going in another direction but, for me, journalism is to tell the truth. If you see what happened against Manchester City, Burnley, West Ham, Stoke — almost everywhere — you do your job and you do a public service. Tell the truth. Don’t ask me questions I cannot answer. You know I am different. The rules for me are different. I watch my team play in a hotel, forbidden to go in a stadium, my assistant had a stadium ban.
Yesterday, one manager was told by the fourth official, ‘I love your emotion and, because I love your emotion, no problem.’ Today I was told to sit down or I have to sit in the stands.”
Considering the amount of bad luck (and by bad luck, I actually mean horrible decisions) against United this season, Mourinho can hardly be blamed for expressing himself. There’s no doubting that decisions have also gone the club’s way, by no means does it outweigh the sheer amount of points cost at the hands of referees decisions or lack there of.
The Red Devils have cost themselves plenty of points and it goes without saying that is the case – but there’s also no denying that officials have made that quest far harder by failing to act when called upon to do so. Mourinho is at breaking point – and it might actually be overdue.
If only Jose Mourinho showed the same passion & screamed in fourth officials faces instead of kicking water bottles. pic.twitter.com/4mpGFGg6FF
— Adam Joseph (@AdamJosephSport) February 1, 2017
Meanwhile, other managers do this – with praise.
Incomplete Squad On Show
Mourinho has previously spoken how rebuilding the squad will take multiple transfer windows, and United’s struggles show they are far from the finished product. Their defence needs work with or without Eric Bailly, the midfield needs a long term Michael Carrick replacement and there is something Antoine Griezmann shaped missing from the attack.
It doesn’t quite come together quite yet, the vision is there but the finish and panache is not. The summer signings have helped, but the sometimes pedestrian attitude and demeanour of the players can be worrisome. But it is good knowing United’s best football is ahead of them.
Patience is a tough exercise, but it appears there is no other choice.
Players Need To Help Mourinho
Hull are not Barcelona, or a strong English domestic rival. Whilst the sides have gotten used to each other from playing each other so much lately, it is not an excuse for a poor draw. The selection wasn’t ideal, but Jose Mourinho cannot do much more from the sidelines.
His players need to start stepping up and taking hold of games. Not one did it on Wednesday, and it cost United two points. They are a better side than Hull and lesser teams have beaten them playing worse. Whilst they need a little luck, they have more than enough talent.
Excuse time is over in Manchester, it’s time to deliver.