Manchester United are in disbelief after losing their first away fixture of the year to Brighton and Hove Albion extending their losing streak to two games to The Seagulls dating back to last season and now, they must find a way to correct their problems and do it fast.
Jose Mourinho has failed to win on his second season at the helm of Manchester United; thus breaking his streak of winning the league on his second term compared to stops at Porto, Chelsea, Inter, and Real Madrid. Now his third term is off to a poor start, losing to expected relegation strugglers Brighton and Hove Albion.
Used to it. pic.twitter.com/d09St5rP7r
— B/R Football (@brfootball) August 19, 2018
The good news for the Portuguese is that the season has just started and he has time on his side to correct things. Here’s a few things he can change to ensure third time’s the charm.
1. Fix the calamitous defense in front of De Gea.
United has had a problem at the back since the disbandment of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic’s partnership. Chris Smalling and Phil Jones have played the most minutes together in the heart of United’s defense. But the pair is plagued by inconsistencies and the occasional blunder.
Victor Lindelof , Marcos Rojo, and Eric Bailly have all been brought in the past windows to challenge the English pair. But recent developments has seen Rojo in Mourinho’s doghouse, with Lindelof and Bailly starting the past two outings. An assured display against Leicester seemed to be the turning point for the pair; but an error filled outing against lowly Brighton has brought back questions that Mourinho needs to answer. Bailly was at fault for the last two of the Seagull’s goals while Lindelof was caught flat footed by 34 year old Glenn Murray’s smart run to score Brighton’s first.
Fullback is not short of problems either as United lacks depth on both sides. Ashley Young deputized for an injured Antonio Valencia at right back and had a poor showing. Luke Shaw seemed to have cemented the left back slot but health issues and no capable backup is a cause for concern. Recent signing Diogo Dalot is not ready for first team football and is one for United’s future; a capable backup besides Matteo Darmian, who many expect to leave this January, will be needed.
Mourinho has not made secret of his disappointment at the club for failing to address these issues the past window. A rumoured Director of Football hiring in the near future might just be what the Portuguese tactician needs to help address his transfer itch.
Lee Sharpe on Jose Mourinho: “He is the wrong man for the job, he just seems dour and fed up. His negative style does not fit in with the expansive football that United fans want. I think he’ll be gone before Christmas.” pic.twitter.com/xRmZjxB4by
— Squawka News (@SquawkaNews) August 20, 2018
2. Figure out Paul Pogba’s best role.
Paul Pogba has been largely underwhelming in his return from Turin. Mourinho has mostly deployed the world cup winner in a deeper role alongside Nemanja Matic on a three-man midfield. Jesse Lingard has been tasked with the attacking load for United with Pogba sitting deep. This has lessened his influence going forward.
Club legends Ryan Giggs and Wayne Rooney had their fair share of advice regarding Pogba’s best role; with both men agreeing that Pogba is best utilised in a box-to-box role on the left with more defensive minded teammates besides him. Paul Pogba is the heartbeat of Manchester United. It will be up to Mourinho to mix and match his lineups to be able to get the best of his star man. Achieving this feat could mean United fans could witness the attacking brand of football they so crave with Pogba spearheading it all.
— Paul Pogba (@paulpogba) August 19, 2018
3. Give those that want to leave the club a pass out the door.
Manchester United is one of the biggest clubs in the world. Period. Playing for United means representing it’s millions of fans around the world. It is not just any simple club. Performing for United could make or break one’s career.
Players like Juan Mata and Ander Herrera has expressed their desire to represent the club in a good light. David De Gea has been a wonderful professional despite transfer rumours linking him with a move back home. Jesse Lingard is a great example of someone with patience who worked hard while waiting for his chance. He is now a regular fixture on Jose Mourinho’s matchday squad, playing ahead of players who are higher rated than him.
Players that do not see this fact do not deserve to wear the shirt. No player is bigger than the club. Now is the time for Mourinho to prove this statement and show these under achievers door no matter their reputations.