Jose Mourinho offered up tiredness as an excuse for Manchester United’s meek 3-1 defeat against bitter rivals Manchester City in their last Premier League game.
There is no doubt that securing last minute wins against Bournemouth and Juventus took it out of United, but Mourinho ignores the impact his own tactics has on that fatigue.
This current United side lives on the margins; they are not good enough to put teams to the sword, which means that the game is alive right until the end.
United must kill teams off
Mourinho pointed to the fixtures City had going into the derby; comprehensive thrashings of Southampton and Shakhtar Donetsk.
But you have to be good enough to make those games look easy; United’s most recent home game against Southampton ended 0-0.
That’s where United’s current tactics need to change. Swatting aside so called lesser sides not only generates goodwill from the supporters, but preserves the legs of the players.
Can Mourinho make the change?
This weekend, United face Crystal Palace in a match that, with all due respect, is as straight forward as Mourinho could wish for to get back on track after that City humbling.
But United must offer greater tempo, invention and ruthlessness in their attacking play if they are to make those assignments look as simple as their expensively-assembled frontline should allow them to.
Is Jose Mourinho the man to bring about that change? If he wants to avoid his players arriving to a big game exhausted again, he will need to be.