Following the defeat to Sevilla, in the last 16 round of the Champions League, Manchester United fans turned to social media to announce their despair. Jose Mourinho was being made the scapegoat for a defeat which had left a sour taste in the mouth of supporters.
Players were being hypothetically sold on the internet, but yet it’s the same names being mentioned by fans all over the globe. More on them shortly.
The boss came out firing during his recent press conference. A twelve minute rant about heritage, supporters, when we win, we win together but when we lose I lose alone, and so on. Now this was ranked higher on a poll during the TalkSport Drive show, than both Rafa Benitez’ facts rant and the historical “I’ll love it if we beat them, love it” from a certain Mr Kevin Keegan. If there is one thing that Jose Mourinho is a master at, it’s deflection. Deflecting all the bad press away from his performance, the players performance and the fact that he absolutely stunk out the place with his poor tactical approach against the team from Spain. United were said to of had one of the easier draws, but lets not take anything away from Sevilla. This is a side who in the last six seasons have absolutely dominated the Europa League and have also reached the final of this seasons Coppa del Rey.
Now depending on your generation, your level of support for United can vary. I mean don’t get me wrong, even the “newest” of the Red Army, can be the most fiercely loyal, but my point is that some of the older supporters will have a lot more patience with the manager as opposed to some who have only ever lived during the Sir Alex Ferguson era. I was born in 1980 and can remember my Dad sulking at a quarter to five on a Saturday afternoon when United had more then likely not won. The 80’s heralded a few good cup runs but it was the inconsistency in the league which really narked fans, despite having a really good side. Some of the supporters who lived through the relegation to the old Second Division, will no doubt of been exasperated by the latest performance, but will remember the dark days of Denis Law and that famous back heal, in front of the J stand, to send United spiralling into the second tier of English football.
I have no doubt that Jose Mourinho is still the man for the job. It just really frustrates me even though we have a decent side, capable of competing with anyone, the boss just wont let the team off the reins. August saw this United team swat away sides like they wasn’t there, until the defeat to Huddersfield and the game at Anfield, against a Liverpool team who at the time were on no form at all. Then Mourinho reverted to type. The attacking flair in the team is possibly one of the best units that I have seen as a supporter in my time. Martial, Rashford, Mata, Sanchez, Lingard, Pogba and Lukaku, all matchwinners in their own right, yet played in a way in which they seem to have their hands tied behind their back… I digress.
The squad is still carrying far too much dead wood in my opinion. Players who are decent Premier League players, but no where near the calibre required to pull on the famous Red shirt, once worn by the likes of Edwards, Charlton, Law, Best, Robson, Hughes, Giggs, Cantona, Keane, to name but a few. Now I understand that you cant have a team of Galactico’s. You need squad players who are willing to step in when required, a John O’Shea type player who can drop in seamlessly when required, even if its in goal!
Defensively we are all over the shop and if we didn’t have a world class keeper, we would be bang in trouble. Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Daley Blind and Matteo Darmian are all on my list of players who need to be moved on in the summer. Blind, despite his versatility, just doesn’t be able to hold a regular spot in any position. When United had signed Darmian, I was looking forward to seeing him in a red shirt. His performance for Italy in the World Cup in 2014 was very impressive but yet he has never been able to shine at Old Trafford. His passing is awful and he gets booked after about three minutes of every game.
Now for calamity Jones and Smalling. Remember when Sir Alex signed Jones and said something along the lines of he was going to be as good as Duncan Edwards? Well if I am being honest, I wouldn’t even put him in the same bracket as Dave Edwards, Wales and ex Wolves defender. Always injured, makes mistakes in the big games. Nope, not for me. Chris Smalling is an absolute disgrace of a defender. How he has been at United for so long baffles me. I am sitting here now writing this actually thinking about what he is good at… erm… Nope, nothing. The fact that he is often made captain just goes to show that United have absolutely no leaders in the team at present. Like a ship with no rudder.
Moving into midfield. Fellaini has to go. Although at times he has made me smile with the odd goal, usually about 30 seconds after I have berated him for doing something unbelievably crap, he is still not Manchester United standard, and I will argue that point with anyone who begs to differ. Ander Herrera is on thin ice. His performances last season were improving yet with the emergence of Scott McTomminay, has found his selection very limited this season.
I am going to be a bit controversial now. For me he has to get rid of the two full backs. Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young are both failed wingers who are even poorer full backs. They get caught too high up the pitch, and when they do get that high, cant deliver a cross which then reminds everyone why they now play so far back. I would 100% get rid of Young, Valencia could possibly stick around as a squad player. You can quote me on this. Manchester United will never win the Premier League with a defence which contains Valencia, Young and Smalling.
Michael Carrick and Zlatan Ibrahimovic will both be moving on in the summer, albeit Carrick will be staying on in some capacity at the club. With the sale of the above players, Jose would have plenty of wage bill space to rebuild the back line of the squad. The top half of the team looks fine and dandy to me so if the boss can get the defence right next season, it should look to be a little closer than this time around.