The streak is over, Manchester United’s unbeaten streak has ended at the hands of Hull City on Thursday Night as the Tigers beat a complacent Red Devils side 2-1. United were horrendous for long periods, and didn’t really deserve a win anyway. Jose Mourinho though, wasn’t accepting defeat:
“We didn’t lose. It was only 1-1. I only saw two goals. The game was totally under control. Something happened to open up the game — then the game was open.”
“I don’t want to speak about the penalty.” He added on Sky Sports 1: “I just want to say congratulations to my players because it was a difficult road to be in the final and we’re in the final. I don’t want to say anything else because it’s enough. I’m calm, I behaved on the bench, no punishment so no more words.”
Yet again Manchester United and horrible officiating were adjoined in a game of football, as Jon Moss’ incompetence shrouded an already poor game. When a collision between two Hull players occurred, Moss inexcusably awarded a penalty against Marcos Rojo.
This came after two identical incidents at either end involving Phil Jones and David Meyler resulted in no booking for Meyler, but a yellow for Jones. It was utterly baffling. Then later on Smalling was pulled down in the box, but Moss stayed silent.
Getting absolutely Jon Mossed by all these BS decisions. Could see the penalty from Australia. pic.twitter.com/4wrtIWZvGj
— Adam Joseph (@AdamJosephSport) January 26, 2017
But hey, as detractors say “Manchester United get all the decisions!”
Worst Performance In Months
Manchester United were boring, lacking width, invention and motivation but were incredibly complacent. Luckily their 2-0 advantage from the home leg was enough to see them through into the Final as they didn’t join Liverpool as ousted favourites. Paul Pogba’s equaliser was enough to give United the advantage they needed to progress onto Wembley.
They registered only 8 shots (2 on target) compared to Hull’s 14 (5 on target), and were generally lacklustre and uninspired. An average run of form with draws against Stoke and Liverpool have led to a poor run of three games without a win, and this will be a timely reminder that there’s no room for error in the tightest top 4 race in years.
It’s wake up time for Jose Mourinho’s men, let’s hope they heard it.
Bring Back Bailly.. Immediately
Eric Bailly’s return from the African Cup of Nations couldn’t be more timely, as United’s defence looks more and more shaky without him lately. Marcos Rojo struggled on the left as he has more often than not, whilst it wasn’t Phil Jones strongest outing by any means. Chris Smalling was ok, but the backline looks so vulnerable when he is in it.
Bailly is by far United’s best central defender now, and tonight was a good demonstration of why the club are so desperate to find his long term partner. Jones and Rojo have been great in their three month spell together, but neither are long term options in the first XI. Rotation players? Sure, but not beyond that.
Smalling meanwhile is fighting for his future. He hasn’t convinced in a while and in a rebuild of the defence he might be an odd man out. Matteo Darmian already appears heading for the exit. The Italian’s barnstorming start to his Old Trafford career feels like a lifetime ago, as his former manager appears to have destroyed any confidence the right back had. He is not long for Manchester.
Rotation Still An Issue
Jose Mourinho deployed a strong side with Wigan in mind in the FA Cup when he can rotate further, but it appears against Premier League calibre opponents Mourinho is still finding ways to rotate the squad adequately and still find a balance at both ends.
The full backs struggle if Antonio Valencia does not play, whilst rotating the attackers is causing a lack of continuity and balance for the front three. Jesse Lingard missed another crucial chance, and that adds to quite a few misses this season. He made up for it when he won the ball in the lead up to the equaliser, however.
It’s a reminder that Mourinho still has work to do to round out the squad in the coming transfer windows. That’s also a form of excitement though, as United are only going to get better as time goes on. Though there are growing pains still to be had, of course.
Mid-Disaster Can Benefit United
A league defeat against Hull would have been catastrophic, but a 2-1 loss in a cup fixture where United progress anyway does not have to be. Jose Mourinho is an awful loser, and will be raging with his men after one of their worst performances under his reign. Progressing will not have been enough.
He can use this as an example of a near miss for United, where a performance like that could have been so much more costly. They have dropped enough points already, and there is still a clear mentality problem from previous reigns that the Portuguese boss has to work to eradicate.
With another week before Premier League hostilities resume, Mourinho and his players have their work cut out to turn around their little slump. It could benefit them in the long run though.
Made in Manchester is available for just £5. It includes 30 articles from the country's best football writers about graduates from the Manchester United academy. All profit goes to Trafford Macmillan so please support this fantastic cause.