It has been an awkward beginning to the season for Manchester United. A winning, if slightly shaky, start against Leicester gave us three points off the bat which was unpleasantly followed by two losses on the trot; a 3-2 embarrassment against Brighton and a 3-0 hammering by Spurs. The 2-0 victory over Burnley over the weekend gave the fans some hope and restored some of the faith in the players and the manager.
The two losses, to Brighton and Spurs respectively, were tough to watch. United seemed to be nervous in the back line for the whole of the Brighton game. The goals we scored were a penalty and a good piece of situational awareness by Lukaku, which gave some of us hope for the Tottenham game. That obviously didn’t pan out as he missed in front of an open goal after rounding Lloris brilliantly. The French goalkeeper was still absolutely steamin’ after he was caught drink driving. What a lout!
All jokes aside, the first half of the Tottenham game was OK. We attacked well and created opportunities, some of which should have been put away. That’s right, Rom, I’m talking about you again. Don’t @ me. However, within ten seconds of the restart, the defenders who had played so well in the first half, fell apart and allowed two easy goals past them. The third goal was painful to watch, especially as Moura eased past Smalling, who had played well by my estimations in the first half.
Following this loss, Twitter was abound with calls for Mourinho’s head and for Woodward to be burned alive at the stake. Many fans wanted him gone immediately and for someone with a more attacking style of play to be instated. Others wanted all the fans’ total backing of the manager and the players. It was vintage Premier League era views on the value of a manager and how high his success rate should be.
As I just said, United fans seem to be divided into a, “Sack him now’, or a,”Back him until he’s sacked’, point of view. Neither option glows favourably on Mourinho and how he is pervceived by the fans. I would tend to agree with the second option. It is perfectly fine to want a new manager if the quality of football is declining and if the results are against us. However, it is a whole other thing to keep harping on about the manager when certain players aren’t pulling their weight or are in a slump. I do believe that Mourinho will be gone by the end of the season (as I don’t see us challenging for the top 3, especially if this level of play keeps up) but if he isn’t, and if the results are good enough that warrant him staying, then I won’t care. If he is gone and the results warrant him going then I’ll be delighted to welcome a new manager to the club, preferably one with an attacking style. I will not be happy if Mourinho is gone so early in the season because of outcry over the fans due to lack of spending in the transfer market; a transfer market that we trust Ed Woodward with, and who should be blamed.
Despite all this talk about Mourinho and whether he will have a job come the end of this year or the season, there have been some positives in the first four games.
- Luke Shaw has been trememndous in the last three games for United. He has been bombing up and down the left wing, cutting in and getting the ball in dangerous areas, especially in the last two games. He seems to have responded well to Mourinho’s criticisms last year, and perhaps this success story will be what Mourinho needs to keep his job.
- Andreas Pereira has had a solid opening to the season. I was delighted that he didn’t get loaned out, and the fact that he is with the Brazil sqaud for the International Break is testament to his prowess in the last few years.
- Lukaku seems to have found his scoring boots in the last few games, even if he did forget them in the dressing room against Tottenham. Despite that glaring miss, I do hope he continues this run of scoring.
- Alexis has continued to be the most creative player on the pitch. Even though he does frustrate me with how much he loses the ball, he is always trying to create something. He is a pleasure to watch and I think this will be the season where he starts to produce much more for us, especially with Champions League football back on the horizon.
It has been an uncertain start and it looks like it will get more confusing before we begin to see consistent results. That doesn’t bode well for José but it mightn’t do us fans any bad. We’re so used to success, trophies and accolades that perhaps another year in the wilderness of mediocrity will humble us before our inevitable rise to the top of English and world football. Before I start to go into a Third Reich style speech I will end this brief analysis of our season so far. Our next match is against Watford, who are also not to be taken lightly, especially seeing as they are joint top of the table! A bad result there could bring the Special One’s teetering empire toppling down.