A week is a long time in Football and it’s fair to say that the one just passed has to be one to forget for Jose Mourinho. After a turgid draw at Anfield it was then followed up with a miserable return to Stamford Bridge as he saw his Manchester United side lose 4-0 to Chelsea.
The two results in isolation are bad enough the league table paints a worse picture with the Red Devils now sitting in 7th place after the first quarter of the season. For a man who was being heralded as the man to return United back to the glory days then it’s fair to say that the club owners aren’t quite getting the return on their investment that they expected.
Mourinho would have made few new fans as the nation was bored into submission when they played out a forgettable stalemate with Liverpool. A point well earned? Perhaps but it once again points to the strategy where would rather not lose to his closest rivals than opposed than going for the jugular and aiming for all three points.
We all expected the same when United came to Stamford Bridge on Sunday but even the best laid plans can be out into tatters and that is exactly what happened when Pedro scored after just 30 seconds. Thankfully it meant that the bus couldn’t be parked and we were to have a game on our hands on West London.
Only United’s day went from bad to worse, Chelsea’s advantage was doubled by Gary Cahil after 20 minutes and even at that point you felt that the game had already got away from Mourinho’s men. It’s not being harsh when you say that the four goals that they conceeded is nothing short of what they deserve.
Mourinho ever the media manipulator once again tried to make sure that the defeat itself wouldn’t be the headline heading the back pages of Monday ‘s papers. After his not too pleasant chat with Antonio Conte at the end, the focus now shifts to what was said between those two and not the heavy defeat threat the Blues just carried on.
Questions will be asked as to what Alasdair but questions will also be asked as to why Luke Shaw didn’t feature and why Henrikh Mkhitaryan can’t get anywhere near even a matchday squad. We know ‘The Special One’ has a habit of eventually losing the dressing room but surely he hasn’t lost it this early, has he?
Again much will be made about Paul Pogba failing to live up to the billing that a £89m transfer fee commands but the focus now must move onto their ever big name signing this Summer. That being Zlatan Ibrahimovic, it’s no Premier League goal in 5 matches now with his last goal coming in September’s Manchester derby.
The fact that he hasn’t scored in over a month will no doubt frustrate fans but what will arguably frustrate them more is the fact that he was seen smiling and laughing at the full time whistle while exchanging pleasantries with the opposition. As a fan that’s not what you want to see when you’ve just witnessed your side lose 4-0 to an arch rival.
The most pertinent question that needs to be asked is how long do we envisage Mourinho staying at United. After two relative flops post Fergie, United can’t afford a third so that will suggest that Ed Woodward will afford Mourinho the time he needs but will the United job and all the pressure that comes with it be even too big for the two time Champions League winner.
Ever since Physiogate at the start of last season Mourinho just hasnt been his usual bullish self. His demeanour has changed but with that he has also lost part of what made him special. He sees his side 6 points off the top and although that gap is far from irreversible the easy this aside are playing its going to be a challenge to get in the Top 4 let alone win the league.
The only light at the end of the tunnel his that they now have a run of winnable games to try and restore some confidence. They certainly can’t afford home draws to the likes of Stoke which we saw a few weeks ago. If United are to bounce back then nothing short of a run of wins will do, they need to make sure the season doesn’t slip away from them before we’ve even got to Christmas.
They may have looked impressive against Fenerbahce last Thursday but does that highlight that perhaps they are a Europa League level side at the moment, Mourinho might not say it publically but too him the tournament is seen as somewhat of a burden. The thing is though if the league form doesn’t improve then he might come to rely on that as the only bright spot of the season.
I think this week has shown that The Special One has become The Humbled One