If there is any week that Manchester United’s Jose Mourinho will do anything to forget then it surely will be this week after the demeaning loss (4-0) away at his former side Chelsea where he is regarded as an iconic mystique having won Chelsea’s first league title in 50 years (2004-2005 season) and then an FA Cup, three League Cups a further two League titles coupled with making the Semi-final thrice in UEFA Champions League in his two spells at the club (six and half years at the club).
Although United have been struggling under the Portuguese who spent an excess of £150 million in the summer it was still shocking to see them lose 4-0 against Antonio Conte’s Chelsea as they were totally outplayed in a game that should have ended with a more emphatic score line for Chelsea (maybe 7-0) had it been the West London club took their chances.
Mourinho will later redeem his image in a must win game against arch-rival Pep Guardiola in Old Trafford as Juan Mata’s goal set up a quarter final game with West Ham (who beat Chelsea 2-1 at the Olympic Stadium on the same night) in the League Cup. One of Mourinho’s greatest problems is his inability to tinker with his squad and try new tactics and formation despite the flaws in his style of late. Though this is not to say that United’s players are not to blame as they have quite played badly but the reasons for that are more than glaring for fans to see.
One of such reasons is the lack of fitness by United which has seen them cover less grounds and run less compared to their opponents in most games. Yes covering grounds doesn’t guarantee you the maximum three points in a game but it sure puts your opponent on the back foot as it pins them down making you more dangerous and able to cover in both defence and attack. To understand better, a look at such teams like Tottenham, Bournemouth, Liverpool and Chelsea of late will explain better. This was also the main reason Chelsea’s Mourinho struggled all last season as the players revealed they didn’t have appropriate pre-season which resulted in their lack of fitness, loss of games and confidence which saw Mourinho sacked in December with Chelsea 16th in the table one point above relegation.
United’s second reason, is the immobility upfront as 35-year- old Zlatan Ibrahimovic appears lethargic and tired. This has made it easier for opposition defenders to defend against him as his movements have been too slow and laboured. It is not as if this is shocking as United knew mobility is Ibrahimovic’s greatest strengths. The surprising thing is that instead of accepting that they midfielders do not create enough chances for the Swede, United fans are crying for his head. Accepted Ibrahimovic has Missed glaring chances in games against Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool but one will also notice he is starved of the ball and often forced to come deep to get the ball which is not where he is dangerous. Marcus Rashford in particular plays all to himself, unwilling to float in crosses for his partner rather running on defenders and cutting in to shoot whenever in sight of goal which leaves Ibrahimovic isolated.
Finally United need to start playing attacking football rather than their cautious approach which has made them reactive rather than pro-active starting from the game against Burnley this afternoon.