The SIX problems facing Jose Mourinho at Manchester United ahead of Chelsea return

Posted Sunday, October 14, 2018 by

The SIX problems facing Jose Mourinho at Manchester United ahead of Chelsea return
Jose Mourinho's job is still on the line at Manchester United (Image: Getty)

ON Saturday, Jose Mourinho returns to the scene of huge highs, facing the ultimate low.

Chelsea’s greatest manager returns to Stamford Bridge where defeat could lead to the end of his reign as Manchester United boss.

In his two returns to London as United boss, the 55-year-old has suffered two losses.

With United constantly on the brink, a win on his old patch is more important than ever.

But has Mourinho lost the qualities that made him the Special One?

No case for the defence

Mourinho’s United have conceded 14 goals in eight league games this season. His Chelsea only let in 15 in 38 matches in the 2004-05 campaign.

Fourteen years ago, the Blues had the best defensive record in English top-flight history. Now only Fulham, Huddersfield and Cardiff have let in more goals. Mourinho stuck with a back four at Stamford Bridge.

Now he can’t decide between a three and a four – sometimes switching mid-match – and has had 10 different defences in 11 games.

Decisions, decisions

Mourinho used to have an irritating habit of being right – a brilliant decision-maker. Now too many of his choices have backfired. Midfielders Ander Herrera and Scott McTominay were miscast as centre-backs against Tottenham and West Ham.

Young Andreas Pereira was an odd choice to anchor the midfield away at Brighton. Anthony Martial underperformed as a surprise starter then and Alexis Sanchez did not justify his return to the side against Wolves.

At least Mourinho got his subs right in the comeback against Newcastle but while he had the clarity of thought to soon discover his best side at Chelsea, now he is nowhere near finding it. Instead, United seem to have a revolving-door selection policy.

Man mis-management

It used to be his great strength. His Chelsea side was packed with disciples who produced the best form of their careers for him. Frank Lampard was voted the second best player on the planet.

Petr Cech, John Terry and Didier Drogba reached new heights. The opposite has been the case at United. Mourinho’s problems with Paul Pogba have been most obvious, and he performed better for France and Juve.

But Arsene Wenger got more from Sanchez, just as Louis van Gaal did from Martial and Marcus Rashford and a host of Chelsea managers – though not Mourinho himself – from Juan Mata. Players used to want to play for Mourinho; now they may want him to leave.

Slow start

Mourinho’s Chelsea were natural frontrunners in title races. They began seasons purposefully and potently, forcing rivals to play catch-up.

They won their first nine league matches in 2005-06. Now Mourinho’s United languish in eighth, three points behind Bournemouth and five adrift of an Arsenal team in transition.

Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea have only dropped four points from eight games – the same start Mourinho’s Blues made in 2004-05.

On the beaten track

Mourinho used to be virtually immune to defeat. His Chelsea lost just one of his first 49 league games in charge; his United have lost three of eight already.

His Chelsea set a Premier League record of 95 points in the season; now his United are on course to record just 62 – his lowest haul in a full top-flight campaign.

When he was at Chelsea, he was in a nine-year, 150-game unbeaten run in home league games; now United have a worse home record than Wolves and Watford.

Age concern

While Claude Makelele was in his 30s, Mourinho built a Chelsea team to last. The other key players were between 20 and 26.

While he likes to mention how many minutes Rashford plays, he has signed Sanchez and Nemanja Matic, both born in 1988, and has a squad in which several are entering decline.

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