What to make of Manchester United? Handsome victory over Feyenoord in the Europa League followed by yet another deeply frustrating home draw with West Ham in the Premier League. The domestic result leaves United 11 points behind the league leaders, with qualification for next season’s Champions League all but a rapidly fading dream.
Perhaps the most shocking data point from Manchester United’s last three Premier League home games is the more than 70 shots taken for just two goals scored. United 1-1 Stoke City, United 0-0 Burnley and United 1-1 Arsenal all carried a good deal of frustration. The six points lost in draws where United should have won might just be critical by May and could have taken José Mourinho’s side to just three points behind leaders Chelsea. It wasn’t so and for the most part the blames lies with the Reds’ inability to turn chances into goals. Not so on Thursday, with United vibrant in attack and efficient in scoring four against Feyenoord. The question is whether United can sustain the level of performance when the serious business of domestic football resumes this weekend?
Four points – the difference between Manchester United’s elimination from this season’s Europa League and the humiliation of having to play in Europe’s second tier competition past the New Year. José Mourinho’s side could collect three of the four points required to qualify from Group A on Thursday night with Feyenoord visiting Old Trafford. The real question, of course, is whether any of the players are really up for it?
Another game, another solid home performance in the Premier League, another draw. It’s becoming a pattern. José Mourinho’s side performed well against Arsenal at the weekend, but a failure to take chances and the Gunners‘ late goal means that the Reds have dropped six points in the past three home league games.
It’s international week so very little football of consequence is going on. In other news José Mourinho eviscerated two of his players while planning the sale of, perhaps, half-a-dozen others. Good work. Oh, and there’s a game against Arsenal at the weekend!
Chris Smalling, Luke Shaw, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Memphis Depay, Morgan Schneiderin, Henrikh Mkhitaryan: six players, almost £100 million in transfer fees, and one big falling out. For differing reasons each of the sextet could be headed out of the club, caught in José Mourinho’s demand for total commitment. Once again the Portuguese has demonstrated a single-minded drive to do things his way, one that will cost the club millions in depreciating player values. It had better be worth it.
Was José Mourinho’s side much better or Swansea City the worst team Manchester United has faced this season? Either way the Reds gained three absolutely vital points in Wales, Zlatan Ibrahimovic two goals and Paul Pogba a worldie strike. For once, supporters went home happy!
There were times during Louis van Gaal’s regime at Manchester United when the Dutchman’s team couldn’t record 37 shots in a month, let alone a game. Fast forward a few months and the current vintage has few problem creating chances; it’s the finishing that is letting the team down. Indeed, it seems churlish to complain about United’s draw with Burnley at the weekend despite all those failed efforts on goal. After all, José Mourinho’s team actually produced a fine attacking display, save for the lack of chances taken.
José Mourinho’s side took 37 shots against Burnley at Old Trafford and failed to score. THIRTY SEVEN. Zlatan Ibrahimovic was responsible for a good chunk of them. Ed & Paul discuss the misfiring Swede and United’s failure to keep pace with rivals at the top of the Premier League after the disappointing home draw with the Clarets.
Three months, 14 matches and a quarter of the way into a new season. Isn’t it time that new manager Jose Mourinho found an identity for his Manchester United’s side, if not the songsheet for a successful future. It’s a question on the lips of many supporters after the Reds’ decidedly inconsistent start to the campaign.