Mourinho isn’t the man to fix Manchester United
It’s a difficult season for Manchester United as they’ve seen arch-rivals Manchester City enjoy a magnificent campaign, putting Pep Guardiola’s side amongst the best Premier League teams ever, and it’s left the Red Devils battling to simply be the best of the rest.
However, Jose Mourinho’s side have struggled to find the consistency to do that and now find themselves just four points above fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur, whilst a goalless draw in a Champions League trip to Andalusia against Sevilla hasn’t fanned the flames.
A growing sense of frustration has emerged at Old Trafford with Mourinho’s negative approach being widely criticised, with many pointing out that former boss Louis Van Gaal was subject to intense scrutiny for his defensive approach.
For what it’s worth, Mourinho is the latest manager to be handed a Manchester United side that’s screaming out for a revival as they look to get back to the top after the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson. However, the Portuguese boss isn’t the right man to provide a fix.
The Pogba problem
It should come as no surprise to supporters that Mourinho has reportedly fallen out with club record signing Paul Pogba, as the manager has a history of clashing with big names- from Cesc Fabregas at Chelsea to Sergio Ramos and Iker Casillas at Real Madrid.
Mourinho thrives on being the talk of the town, as he’s always determined to ensure it’s his name in the back pages and wants the attention taken off his team. For the most part it’s worked, particularly in his first spell with Chelsea, but football has changed since- and it’s never going to work with Pogba.
From the ‘Pogback’ social media campaign that was launched upon Pogba’s return to Old Trafford to the emoji launched prior to the game against Liverpool last season, Pogba is the modern David Beckham- a player whose brand is important to both the French international and Manchester United as a whole.
It’s not the player’s fault that he’s been thrusted into the limelight, though he certainly thrives with that, as Manchester United have continuously pushed Pogba’s presence- and Mourinho is the only player not to get on board.
Whenever Pogba doesn’t make the side, social media is awash with questions and criticisms regarding his exclusion. When he does play, he isn’t utilised in the best way and it’s limited his involvement for the club.
Lack of transfer policy
Amidst the Pogba problems is a fairly strange transfer policy adopted by Mourinho and Manchester United, with the Red Devils boss not afraid to spend heavily but certainly raising questions regarding his activity in the market.
Eyebrows were raised when Zlatan Ibrahimovic was signed on a free transfer, after a spectacular breakthrough year from Marcus Rashford, and the England international was pushed further down the pecking order last summer following the capture of Romelu Lukaku.
That led to Rashford being pushed into a wide area, facing competition with Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial for starting opportunities, but the arrival of Alexis Sanchez in January gave the 20-year-old more hurdles to overcome.
The concern is now that Rashford could follow in the footsteps of Danny Welbeck and indeed Pogba himself, forced out of the door due to a lack of consistent opportunities and continued frustrations- especially in the post-World Cup era where he looks to establish himself as a key player for the Three Lions.
Again, this shouldn’t be too much of a surprise on Mourinho’s part considering he’s never been a manager that is renowned for developing young talents and he’s earned a reputation for letting players go too soon- Lukaku, Kevin De Bruyne and Mohamed Salah being examples of that from his time at Chelsea.
For all the talk about Manchester City’s domination in the Premier League, one thing that’s often overlooked is the Citizens approach. Whilst they do splash millions in the transfer market, Pep Guardiola has also inherited a side that is being built for greater success- and links with the youth team are key.
Manchester United had that for years with Sir Alex Ferguson, who managed the club valiantly from top to bottom, and the departure of the great Scotsman left numerous holes to be plugged- and Mourinho was never going to be the man to oversee those changes.
Mourinho is a manager that’s very good and fixing the small problems at a club, then leading them to success. That can easily be seen very reflected in the bookies odds. What he’s unable to do is provide sweeping changes across the board, oversee a complete redevelopment of the transfer strategy and lead to swift, attacking play on the field.
Manchester United should have known this when they approached Mourinho and they now find themselves in a sticky situation. Anything from now until the end of the season will simply be damage limitation and major problems could emerge next year, when the Portuguese boss enters his cursed third year in charge.
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