“Unlucky” was the term used by Mourinho to justify his side’s poor start to the 2016/17 campaign. 12 games into the season, United find themselves 6th in the table 9 points adrift of league leaders, Chelsea.
Even before United arrived at Wembley to play the 2016 FA Cup final against Palace, the writing was on the wall for Louis Van Gaal. The club had failed to qualify for the Champions League for the 2nd time in three seasons & the fans were vocal in their displeasure at the Dutchman’s reign at the top. Despite going onto win their 1st FA Cup title after a span of 12 years, Van Gaal was sacked within 48 hours of their triumph.
The appointment of Jose Mourinho, who himself had been sacked by Chelsea midway through the season, was thought to be the perfect choice for the club. Whether it be Porto, Chelsea, Inter or Real, Jose Mourinho has been a manager who has tasted success where ever he has been.
With almost one-third of the season having been played out, many are left wondering whether Mourinho has lost his Midas touch. United currently find themselves 6th in table with just 19 points from 12 games. United got off to the best possible start to season by winning the FA Community Shield and then following it up with three consecutive league wins.
The season took a sour turn following their 2-1 defeat at home to City & the club haven’t been able fully recover till now. Over the course of the last three months, United have been largely inconsistent taking two steps backward for every step they take forward. While the 3-1 defeat at the hands of Watford was shocking their 4-0 defeat at the hands of Chelsea was embarrassing. It was the first time since 1999 that United had a lost an away game in the Premier League by 4 or more goals.
Europa League didn’t do the club any favors as they found themselves 3rd in their group after 4 games into the competition. The EFL trophy has been their only “triumph” so far this season having reached the quarter-finals beating Manchester City 1-0 in the process. Despite all the negatives we’ve listed till now it should be noted that the club are slowly but surely recovering from their slump.
The club has only managed to pick up 5 points from their last three leagues games but to be fair to Mourinho & his men they should have won against both Burnley & Arsenal. United have also almost ensured themselves qualification to the knock-out stages of the Europa League having beaten Feyenoord 4-0 at home in their 5th game of the group, the result was important but their performance as a team was almost perfect.
Apart from Eric Bailly, Antonio Valencia & Juan Mata none of the other United players have made a mark so far this season. Many of the players including Depay, Schneiderlin, Darmian, Phil Jones, Luke Shaw & Bastian Schweinsteiger have been frozen out of the side after failing to impress their manager. With names such as Griezmann, David Alaba & James Rodriguez being linked with the club right now it wouldn’t be a surprise if the club witnesses a mass exodus during the winter transfer window.
It would be a understatement to term Paul Pogba as a disappointment so far, the world’s most expensive player has certainly not lived up to his tag till now & has gone missing on one too many occasions this season. Zlatan despite having a strong start to the campaign has fallen off form & is missing sitters from 6 yards out. Arguably the biggest disappointment for United this season has been the form of Captain Wayne Rooney; the England international has failed to recover from his torrid time at Euro 2016 & has been relegated to the bench for both club & country.
Mourinho is someone who doesn’t alter his tactics according to his players, he insists on them playing his way & it may take time for them to adapt. If the club can build on their current run of form there is no reason as to why they can’t force themselves back into the top 4 & maybe even register a maiden Europa League win.
With qualification to the Europa League knockout stages almost confirmed, the club can focus on the Premier League & EFL Cup during the next two months. The do have a testing list of fixtures till the end of the year but if they can string some results together they should be able to stay in touch with the top 4 going into the 2nd half of the season.
Mourinho still expects his club to put in a title challenge however the bookies have relegated them to 5th favorites for the title with William Hill who has complete coverage of the football matches today from A-Z football teams – check who to bet on and giving them odds of 25/1 to win the title.