What Jose Mourinho must do to turn things around at Manchester United

A man under pressure

Death, taxes and a third season meltdown for Jose Mourinho are all well established facets of life and, whilst still being only three games into this campaign, prospects look especially bleak for Manchester United’s Portuguese manager. Many anticipated it would be that he finally restored the club to the prominence enjoyed under Sir Alex Ferguson’s tenure, yet already his future has been thrown into doubt. Losing two of their first three matches in the Premier League, they already have the same number of defeats that Manchester City suffered in the entirety of last season as they went on to win the Premier League title. The gap between those two clubs at present looks as wide as it’s ever been and there is plenty of work for Mourinho to do if he wishes to remain in charge at Old Trafford.

Restore exciting football to Old Trafford

It surely has to start with the brand of football his team are continuing to play. When fans are paying top money to watch their club each week as the United fans are, they will be expecting top entertainment to correlate with the ticket prices. From that standpoint, they certainly aren’t getting value for money at this moment in time. Despite a wealth of exciting players such as Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard, Marcus Rashford and Romelu Lukaku all being at the club, so often United flatter to deceive under Mourinho. It is a far cry from what teams of a bygone era would produce at Old Trafford, where the first thought was always to win the match, regardless of who the opponent was. Now, more often than not, United pay the biggest compliments to their opponents by setting up to counter the way they play, rather than focusing on utilising their own strengths from within. That was again evident on Monday night as Mourinho lined up with five central midfielders in an unorthodox three at the back system, which saw Ander Herrera line up in defence. In front of him were Nemanja Matic, Fred, Pogba and Lingard, whilst Rashford and Alexis Sanchez watched on from the bench.

Manchester United Lukaku Lingard
United have looked incredibly flat over the opening weeks of the campaign

Decide on a centre-back partnership

The ploy to use Herrera at the back may well have been a classic ploy from Mourinho, sending a message to the board by using a midfield at centre-back against the top striker in the Premier League. Mourinho has voiced his frustrations over the club failing to bring in a new defender over the transfer window, that has left them with Phil Jones and Chris Smalling (who both started against Spurs) along with Eric Bailly, Victor Lindelof and Marcos Rojo to choose from at centre-back. Main targets Toby Alderweireld and Harry Maguire have both faced them already this season, though there won’t be too many other managers showing great sympathy for his situation. Wherever Mourinho has gone, he has spent big money to bring in the players he wants, particularly in the spine of the team. He seems to be quick to forget that it was he that spent a combined £65m on both Bailly and Lindelof and neither has really established themselves at the club. Instead of complaining, why doesn’t he settle on a pair and coach them on the training ground until he begins to see signs of improvement?

Chris Smalling Lucas Moura Tottenham Manchester United
Chris Smalling endured a torrid evening against Lucas Moura on Monday night

Get his key players on board

Mourinho demanded respect from the media before storming out of his post-match press conference in the aftermath of the defeat to Tottenham, in another confrontational moment between he and the national press. His calls for respect are perhaps reflective of the current perception his players have of him in the dressing room. It’s well documented that both he and Pogba share a spiky relationship to say the least, while Anthony Martial looks determined to leave because of Mourinho. It could be argued Luke Shaw’s recent performances have come as a result of the player wanting to prove himself once again, as opposed to the belief that is was Mourinho who has given him the hunger to perform once again in a United shirt. David De Gea has conceded seven goals in his first three games - albeit with little help from those in front of him - and is one of a number of players that are underperforming from the level we are used to seeing. It is nearly impossible for a manager to succeed without having the backing of his players and for them to want to perform for him. In the opposite dugout on Monday night, Ed Woodward saw the value of man management with the Tottenham players all quick to embrace Mauricio Pochettino after the 3-0 win and they as a squad can’t speak highly enough about the Argentine.

Smile?

Pochettino looks like a manager who loves his job and working with the players day in, day out. The same can’t be said for Mourinho, whose apathetic body language and demeanour looks to have translated its way into Manchester United’s performances. Against Brighton, a lack of effort and fight saw Chris Hughton’s team simply outwork United for the win, rather than through an added level of quality. It would be fascinating to have the chance to watch a training session at Carrington and see how Mourinho currently interacts with his players, as there appears to be no real close bond between he or any individuals at present. The prolonged clapping of the supporters at the Stretford End before trudging off down the tunnel had an air of resignation about it. This is the biggest challenge he has faced in his managerial career to date and failure to turn it around soon could end in a Chelsea 2.0 scenario, where he is dismissed before the turn of the new year. A repeat of such circumstances would be yet another huge blow to his ego and begin to well and truly take some of the sparkle from his position in world football. Mourinho is beginning to look like yesterday’s man and something has to change drastically if they are to compete for silverware this term.

Mourinho Pochettino
Mourinho's antics are frustrating United supporters

🚀 £20 IN FREE BETS WHEN YOU PLACE A £5 BET 🚀
New customers only. First single & e/w bet only. Odds of 1/1 or greater. 2 x £10 bet tokens. Free bet stakes not included in returns. Free bets exclude virtuals. Free bets are non withdrawable. No free bet expiry. Eligibility restrictions. Further t&cs apply. 18+. Begambleaware.org
Claim Bonus
🔴 BET £10 & GET £30 IN FREE BETS! ⚫️
New customers only. Place a £10 fixed odds bet min odds 1/2, 2 x £10 free bets & 2x free spread bets. Free bets awarded on consecutive days. Full t&c’s apply.
Claim Bonus
♥️ GET £40 FREE PLAY PLUS A £10 FREE SPORTS BET! ♥️
1st time depositors only. Min. deposit £10. Use code FAPOKER. Free Play given as cash, Spin & Go tickets, and a Sports Free Bet over 6 days. Tickets expire after 24 hours. Withdrawal restricted during bonus period. Terms apply.
Claim Bonus
⚪️ Get £40 FREE BETS when you bet £10 (mobile only) ⚪️
New customers who register via Mobile only, min £10/€10 stake, win only, min odds 1/2, free bets paid as 4 x £10/€10 (30 day expiry), free bet/payment method/player/country restrictions apply
Claim Bonus
⚽️ £40 IN FREE BETS WHEN YOU PLACE A £10 BET ON FOOTBALL ⚽️
Place a £10 Sportsbook bet on any Football market between January 7th - February 6th, at min. odds 1/2 (1.5) — get £40 in free bets, valid 30 days. Your qualifying bet must settle before 23:59 February 6th. Only deposits via Cards will qualify. Free bets will be awarded after the qualifying bet has been settled. T&Cs apply. 18+.
Claim Bonus
⚽️ £60 IN FREE BETS WHEN YOU PLACE A £10 BET ON FOOTBALL ⚽️
Place a £10 bet on football (Jan 7 - 15), at min. odds 1/5 (1.2) — get £60 in free bets. £40 free bets will be awarded after the qualifying bet has been settled and £20 free bet the following day. Only deposits via cards will qualify, Apple pay not valid on this promotion. T&Cs apply.
Claim Bonus
🔥 ✅ BET £10 & GET £60 IN FREE BETS! ✅ 🔥
New UK customers only. Register using the promo code BETFRED60, deposit and place first bet of £10+ on Sports (cumulative Evens+). First bet must be on Sports. £20 in Free Bets to be used on Sports, £10 in Free Bets to be used on Lotto and 50 Free Spins (20p per spin) credited within 48 hours of bet settlement. Further £20 in Free Bets credited 5 days after settlement. Bonuses have a 7-day expiry. Payment restrictions apply. SMS verification and/or Proof of I.D and address may be required. Full T&Cs apply.
Claim Bonus
🔥 BET £10 ON ANY SPORT & GET £20 IN FREE BETS 🔥
18+, Welcome Bonus: New Players only, 1st Deposit, Min Deposit,: £10, max £20 free bets valid for 14 days, bets must be placed at odds of 1/1 or greater and be settled within 14 days of placement. begambleaware.org.
Claim Bonus
🤩 BET £10 AT MANSION BET AND GET A £10 FREE BET 🤩
New customers only. Min deposit and bet £10 (£20 if E/W bet) from UK debit card only. Min odds evens (1/5 per leg in multi selection). £10 Free Bet vaild for 7 days, stake not returned, no Cash Out, max winnings £5k. T&C’s apply. 18+.
Claim Bonus

🏆 Money Back as CASH up to £20 if your first bet loses! 🏆
New customers only. Place your FIRST bet on any Football market and if it loses we will refund your stake in CASH. Max refund for this offer is £20. Only deposits made using cards will qualify for this promotion. T&Cs apply.
Claim Bonus
🟢 Bet £10 & Get £50 in free bets! 🟡
Min deposit requirement. Free Bets are paid as Bet Credits and are available for use upon settlement of qualifying bets. Min odds, bet and payment method exclusions apply. Returns exclude Bet Credits stake. Time limits and T&Cs apply.
Claim Bonus
GET A £30 MATCHED FREE BET IF YOUR FIRST FOOTBALL ACCA LOSES!!!! 🙌🙌🙌
New UK customers only. Min Deposit: £5. Maximum Free Bet: £30. First bet on a Football multiple with 3+ selections. Overall odds: 3.00 (2/1) or higher. Free Bets available upon settlement of the qualifying bet. Debit card deposits only. This is offer is valid for 7 days from your new account being registered. 18+ BeGambleAware.org Full terms apply. 18+.
Claim Bonus
🌟 Bet £5 & get £30 in bonuses! 🌟
18+ New customers only. Opt in, bet £5 at odds 2.00+ within 7 days of registering, no cashout. Get 2x £10 Free Bets, set events at odds 2.00+. Plus £10 Game Show Bonus, selected games, wager 40x to withdraw max £250. 7 day bonus expiry. Card payments only. T&Cs apply. begambleaware.org | Please gamble responsibly
Claim Bonus