Manchester United have endured a stuttering start to the season and it appears all is not well at Old Trafford.
After an unconvincing win over Leicester on the opening day, the Red Devils crashed to a shock defeat against Brighton at the weekend.
Jose Mourinho was unimpressed by the club’s pre-season tour to the US, while they failed to sign some of his top transfer targets.
But what’s the main problem the Special One needs to address to change their fortunes? Our reporters have their say:
Strictly speaking, elite professional football is not a mere popularity contest, it is about winning.
They have not done too badly on that front since Jose Mourinho arrived but the main problem with Manchester United right now is the joylessness.
Quite simply, Mourinho needs to put a smile back on himself and on the face of United’s football.
From the moment he moaned about the pre-season tour, there has been a swirl of negativity around Old Trafford and that cannot help the players.
There is a vibrancy and sense of fun at the Etihad, at Anfield, wherever Spurts happen to be playing and even at Stamford Bridge that is missing from United.
This is a good Manchester United squad, one that amassed 81 points last season and has lost only eight times in its last 42 Premier League matches.
This season is only two matches old.
But while it is easier said than done, Jose needs to find the sort of positivity that is oozing from the like of Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp and the rest of his elite rivals.
Look, I’ve got nothing personal against Jose Mourinho, and his stash of trophies from working in four different countries speaks for itself.
But I wouldn’t usually cross the road to watch one of his teams play, especially away from home, and the damning evidence at Brighton seems to suggest his players are either not good enough or they are losing faith in him.
Take your pick, but right now Mourinho’s biggest problem is not on the pitch.
There’s a bloke called Zidane who has just won the European Cup three years running at Real Madrid and he’s available for hire. It must be sorely tempting for Manchester United to sound him out.
Unless he’s careful, the main issue for Mourinho to address will not be how to get the best out of Paul Pogba and his exotic forward line of Romelu Lukaku, Alexis Sanchez, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.
It will be how many bars of Toblerone and sachets of peanuts he’s consumed from the minibar in his suite at the Lowry when it comes to checking out.
Jose Mourinho looks unhappy, he is scowling, angry and blaming everyone but himself.
Whether it’s the transfer policy, the board, the players… it’s got that familiar third season feel to it when Mourinho has a meltdown – and that usually spells the end.
Mourinho’s management style means he will always fall out with players and executives. It can only last so long.
Unless Mourinho can change the habit of a lifetime then that’s United’s biggest problem.
Manchester United’s disgraceful defeat at Brighton highlighted so many flaws in their game it’s hard to know where to start. Too slow, too predictable, lacking leaders and, worst of all, a bunch of players who didn’t seem up for the fight.
Jose Mourinho might not be the most popular manager United’s dressing room has ever seen but if you aren’t going to play for him at least play for the shirt and personal pride.
Shockingly, not one United player appeared to do that at The Amex Stadium – and that’s unforgiveable.
It looked for all the world like a performance where the players were trying to get rid of their manager but the players need to take a long hard look at themselves as well.
The United team was littered with stars who appeared in the knockout stage of the recent World Cup in Russia. You’d never have guessed. They had no cohesion and looked clueless.
And Harry Kane and the rest of Tottenham’s stars will be rubbing their hands at travelling up to Old Trafford next week.
For United were a shambles in every single department. And before Mourinho starts taking a swing at Ed Woodward for failing to get him the central defender he’d been asking for it’s only fait to point out he signed both Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof for a combined £61 million.
The pair were appalling but none of United’s big players stood up. If Paul Pogba wants to be a captain he needs to act like one even when he has bad days like yesterday.
There were so many poor performances it’s hard to know whether it was a collective off-day or a much, much deeper issue that will need a radical fix.
Mourinho was never going to be a long-term fit at Old Trafford because his DNA has never matched the long standing traditions of Manchester United and it never will.
So there’s the dilemma for Woodward and the club’s American owners, the Glazer family. Do they stick with a manager at odds with their own attack-minded heritage or sever ties, find a head coach or manager and start again?
Some might say it’s only the second game of the season so foot on the ball. But United are miles behind Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea and Spurs and haven’t a hope in hell of winning the title so what’s to lose?
The main problem for at Manchester United is not one Mourinho is in a position to solve. Namely, they have no coherent transfer policy, because they are always trying to satisfy short-term need rather than pursue long term planning.
So they end up spending £100m in fees and wages on Sanchez in January, and targeting another forward in the same position this summer. The same with spending £65m on centre halves and then spending most of the summer trying to sign another.
Mourinho, rightly, will push for the players he thinks he needs to win trophies and keep his job. But this short-termism has seen United spend more than £700m since Sir Alex Ferguson stepped down, with no obvious strategy, and no clear benefit.
If the Old Trafford board look at City, Liverpool or Spurs, they will see a clearly defined policy of buying young players who are then developed to fit the clearly defined philosophy of the coach. It takes time – three years with Klopp and counting – but the clubs know exactly what they are doing.
The time has come for United to do the same. They need to implement a policy similar to City, with hungry young players who can be moulded into an effective team for the long term. It may take time, it may be painful, and it may even require a more progressive coach at the helm, but it needs to be done.
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