Manchester United defensive disaster stems from poor summer
When discussing Manchester United, fast, free-flowing football springs to mind. For years, the Red Devils' never-say-die attitude already had their opponents beaten before a ball had been kicked. Since Sir Alex Ferguson decided to hang up the managerial clipboard, the Theatre of Dreams has become the Theatre of Nightmares.
Let's be real, the club knew what they were getting themselves into when Jose Mourinho's number was called. His defensive mindset has delivered trophies galore throughout a glittering coaching career. That mantra was expected to continue at Old Trafford. It's fair to say it hasn't gone according to plan. In fact, far from it...
When associating the self-proclaimed Special One with a style, you think defensive, counter-attacking football. For years, Mourinho teams have been built from the back. Keeping clean sheets, breaking with pace, then protecting a slender advantage. His great Chelsea, Porto and Inter Milan teams were built in that mould. He's trying to reciprocate that upon Salford Quays. So far, he has been fighting with one arm tied behind his back.
United have won just one game at home in four attempts this term. They're yet to keep a clean sheet. The Red Devils' failures started in the summer. Mourinho desperately wanted to sign a new central defender. Edward Woodward had other plans. From that point forward, the manager had to work with centre-halves who knew that they weren't fully trusted. That's the problem when you publicly demand new signings in a specific area, and then those deals aren't pulled off. It's a dangerous game.
So much about the position is about confidence. When Mourinho comes out and admits he didn't trust Phil Jones to step up and slot his penalty away, does he genuinely expect things are going to get better? The connection, the player-coach partnership will only decline. Surely a man with his intelligence knows that?
Now, he's not the only contributing factor, make no mistake about it. I look at Edward Woodward. The United vice-chairman is great at his job. Making money, social media growth, general marketing. He's not a football man. He shouldn't be tasked with arranging transfers. No doubt that'll change soon... It was too late for the 2018 summer window, though.
Mourinho wanted a defender, fans baulked 'why give him more money after he spent big on Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof'. Well, look at it this way, Pep Guardiola made bad signings in Claudio Bravo and Nolito. He was immediately allowed to rectify those mistakes by acquiring Ederson and Bernardo Silva. Why shouldn't the third-most decorated coach in Premier League history be given that opportunity?
What it comes down to, is I believe United are in more trouble than their fans realise. Sure, sack the manager, bring someone else in. It may work in the short-term, but the problems at Old Trafford run deep. From top to bottom, the club is in a shambles. The summer transfer widow summed it up perfectly. But hey, as long as the Glazer cash-cow is still in the green, I have my doubts in regards to when things will change...