English Premiership

United old boys accept Mourinho tactics

2016-10-19 22:43
Jose Mourinho (Getty)

Cape Town - Former Manchester United players have queued up to pass judgment on their old team under Jose Mourinho, whose negative game plan in a disappointing 0-0 draw at Liverpool on Monday sparked a lively debate over the club's direction.

While Gary Neville predicted that United would not win the league this season, Ryan Giggs said he would accept the manner of Monday's performance in which they had just 35 per cent possession, the lowest in any of their games since statistics were first collected in 2003.

Although, bizarrely, Mourinho disputed that figure - insisting United had in fact enjoyed 42 per cent possession at Anfield - he also said it reflected his masterplan to control the game.

Mourinho may find it harder to explain away another new low, however, because United's tally of 14 points from eight games represents the Portuguese coach's worst start to a campaign in 15 years.

That total is also two points worse than United managed under Louis van Gaal at the same stage last year and is probably not what the club had in mind when they spent £145 million on his recommendations in the summer.

Another former United player, Ray Wilkins, said the pressure of expectation on Mourinho is relentless. "He has to keep winning while changing the side," Wilkins told Sky Sports. "It is not always easy when you are trying to establish yourself at a huge club. But he will be delighted by that point."

Mourinho has not been helped by the limited impact made by record signing Paul Pogba, who had another quiet game at Anfield, and Henrikh Mikhitaryan, who once again did not make the team as Mourinho opted for the strength and solidity of Marouane Fellaini.

Apart from one half against Leicester City, in which he scored his only goal for United, Pogba has struggled to justify his world-record fee, and Mourinho still seems unsure how to employ him.

On Monday it was another United midfielder, Ander Herrera, who won Man-of-the-Match for a killjoy performance that saw him prevent a far more talented player, Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho, from exerting more of an influence.

That says much about how far United have fallen since the derring-do days of Alex Ferguson, whose attacking intent often led to late United winners in high-profile games.

For now, United's old guard in the media are sticking with the current manager as he seeks to shape his new team. "There is no reason not to trust Jose Mourinho as a Manchester United fan," said Gary Neville. If he said we won't win the title this season, but next, which I think is what he said at Chelsea, I think most United fans would accept that... as long as he does win it next season."

But judgments are increasingly instant in football and, for United, the big games keep coming. On Thursday they play Fenerbahce in the Europa League at Old Trafford, followed by a difficult Premier League trip to Mourinho's former side, Chelsea, on Sunday. "He will get a rapturous round of applause," said Wilkins, in reference to the Chelsea supporters.

United's fans might be a little more subdued.

NEXT ON SPORT24X

What To Read Next

 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

Fixtures
03 December 2016
Manchester City v Chelsea, Etihad Stadium 14:30
Stoke City v Burnley, Britannia Stadium 17:00
Crystal Palace v Southampton, Selhurst Park 17:00
Sunderland v Leicester City, Stadium of Light 17:00
West Bromwich Albion v Watford, The Hawthorns 17:00
Tottenham Hotspur v Swansea City, White Hart Lane 17:00
West Ham United v Arsenal, London Stadium 19:30
04 December 2016
AFC Bournemouth v Liverpool, Vitality Stadium 15:30
Everton v Manchester United, Goodison Park 18:00
05 December 2016
Middlesbrough v Hull City, Riverside Stadium 22:00
Logs
Team P W PTS
Previous Results

Date Home Team Result Away Team
Vote

Who will claim the Premier League title at the end of the 2016/17 season?

 
 
Men
Women
Love 2 Meet
English Premiership flutter

Take Sport24's "expert" tips at your peril...

Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter

Featured

With the Absa Premiership in full swing, who will be crowned champions when all is said and done? Will Mamelodi Sundowns defend their title? Or can Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates or Bidvest Wits mount a serious challenge? Stay glued to Sport24 to find out!

Latest blogs
 

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

 
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.