The Mailbox is better than the game. Mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Attack, Attack, Attack, Attack
Do they bother with attacking drills at Carrington??
Did they only buy defensive cones?
Mark Danger Endicott, MUFC
…The worst thing about watching United under Mourinho is that it’s still better than watching United under Moyes or Van Gaal.
We play like the players met last night in the pub.
I’ve always been of the opinion that Mourinho, including his previous clubs, gives little to no coaching to offensive play instead focusing on the defensive aspect and giving his players free reign to play however this wish going forward. When it works, at Chelsea, inter, and occasionally at Real Madrid this was primarily a result of the players at his disposal and their individual link up play.
However at United for some reason it’s just not working. Whether it’s bad buys, not enough work on forward movement, or the players just not being good enough I don’t know, but for whatever reason it just doesn’t work.
I genuinely believe there is a good team in there somewhere but they are being hamstrung by negative tactics.
We’re a big club, it’d be nice if we could stop playing like Stoke.
For many years I used to slag Chelsea off when they came to OT for a nil nil. Especially under Moyes. Now this is my life.
Big MUFC (Manchester)
When even the clearest thinkers are lost…
*where to begin*…
I’m starting to run out of patience with how we’re set up in games like tonight. No getting round it, we are not seeing the best of these players and that sits with the manager. That should, at worst, have been a meeting of equals tonight. If anything, United should perhaps have been slight favourites. Instead we’re pinned back in our own half unable to string more than 3 or 4 passes together. Its hard to complain when silverware is offered up, which so far it has been, but that was f***ing sh*t tonight.
Another huge game. Another extremely negative approach. Another pathetic performance. It must be the Mourinho way.
Other than McTominay looking solid and De Gea being his usual self, I can’t take one positive from that game. It hurts my heart to see a United team that has all of Pogba, Sanchez, Lukaku, Martial, Rashford and Mata in the squad being too scared to play attacking football. You could try and say a draw away from home in the Champions League is a good result, but every United fan knows that that was weak, just like every other big game we’ve played this season.
I can count on one hand how many times I’ve enjoyed the football United have played this season. I am tired of this. On top of that, our great defensive record is largely down to having the best keeper in the world. Watching Liverpool and City tear defenses apart is making me sick to my stomach with jealousy.
Mourinho got a new contract for being nowhere near the top of the league and finishing sixth last season. When your big signings (Pogba, Sanchez, Lukaku) look nowhere near their best and your young stars (Martial, Rashford) can’t even get in the team anymore, it’s because of you. The fact that Smalling is still starting for us is the most mind boggling thing since the first time I watched Bebe play.
There is absolutely no way that it has to be like this. Surely this team could string a few passes together and go for a win. Mourinho is not pragmatic, he is scared.
I am at the point where I no longer even get excited to watch United. Maybe we’ll be better at Old Trafford. Maybe we’ll crash out and I’ll cry myself to sleep for the rest of the year. Either way, Mourinho and the players need to be much, much better.
Forever missing you, Sir Alex.
Gaaavie, Cape Town
…That surely was one of the worst ever performances in Europe by any United team. Could easily be heading into the 2nd leg 3-0 down, and Sevilla deserved a lot more than they got out of it, so dominant they were.
When you look around and see fellow EPL sides outclass and blow away opposition away from home, the severity of the problem hits home all the more. Absolutely wretched with zero ambition and guile to make things happen. To serve up that steaming pile of horse sh*t so regularly despite having the players who would run riot in the right system, it all comes down to one man. The manager.
Further more, the performances have nosedived even further ever since Jose signed Sanchez. Pogba, Martial, Lingard have all been subsequently marginalised and lost form. Rashford might as well go out on loan as he surely isn’t getting much game time in near future.
I hate the way we play most of the time. And I’ve done so ever since Sir Alex retired. It already feels like a decade. Trophies can never be guaranteed, but exciting football definitely can. We need a new manager. The kind who doesn’t believe in doing ‘just enough’. The kind who will not buy a £90m attacking midfielder only to play him in a defensive role. The kind who will give our best left back a chance instead of playing a converted mediocre winger in his position. The kind who will not buy a £75m battering ram striker without wondering where he’d get his service from.
…Brilliant article by Mr Storey. It’s what our circle of United die hards have been saying for a while now. The complete lack of cohesion as an attacking force when compared to our rivals – who instinctively seem to know where team mates are – is staggering to behold and more often than not we’re just 11 individuals plodding around without a plan.
Playing this ‘brand’ of football might be acceptable if it delivers trophies – as indeed it did/was last season. But this season is looking increasingly likely (FA Cup aside) to end without any success which can only be deemed a massive failure. Appreciate there are three months of the season left but things aren’t looking good and the alienation of players (Shaw – was he injured?,Pogba, Martial etc) is the last thing we need right now. It genuinely feels like we’re teetering on the brink – get a new man in and this squad, with one or two additions, can certainly challenge, if not win the league. Stick with this guy and it’s going to take us back to the Moyes era.
And to think he got a pay rise the other week. Astonishing.
Man United do NOT do quite enough
I pretty much agree with everything Daniel Storey wrote in the aftermath of the Sevilla game, though I think he could have taken it further: United are the masters of doing not quite enough. I don’t think a 0-0 away to Seville is “enough” – just enough would have been a 1-0 win. Draws against Leicester and Burnley were not “just enough” and defeat away to Newcastle certainly wasn’t anything like it. Occasionally we do get it right and finish the job, but it’s seeming to be the exception rather than the rule at the moment. If this ‘not quite enough’ idea of mine plays out over the rest of the season then we’ll exit the Champions League, exit the FA Cup and finish fourth in the league – with City winning the Champions League. ‘Just enough’ would mean that we either win the FA Cup or manage to finish in the top three.
As for the game itself, a few conclusions:
* Best ‘keeper in the world. Maybe ever. Dave makes the ridiculous routine and the routine look effortless. It’s worth paying him absolutely anything to keep him at the club.
* I think the unsung “heroes” (for want of a better word) of last night were Lindelof and McTominay. Firstly, Lindelof: he was calm, composed and effective in defence, especially playing on the left side. He dealt with everything that came his way really well and even managed to mop up the mistakes Smalling made. The only blip was the miscommunication with De Gea near the end of the first half, but that’s what a lack of first team football gets you. I can’t wait to see Bailly and Lindelof as the first choice pairing at the back.
* McTominay now: I have previously expressed doubt about what makes him a fit for the first team, but last night I saw it. He and Matic appear to be building quite a nice partnership together, and their styles of play compliment each other nicely. He was bright going forward, very composed and effective defensively, and had our only shot on target, which wasn’t half bad. His crossing still leaves a bit to be desired; he hits the first man a little too often at the moment, but that can be improved. But overall it was a very mature display from the young man. I’m not naive enough to think that he won’t be first choice any time soon, but last night certainly did his chances of more starts no harm at all.
* At what point does Sanchez’s ineffectiveness on the left give Martial a chance to start in his best position again? Not for a lack of trying, but his contributions were negligible last night. He rarely got on the ball in dangerous positions and on the few occasions he did, nothing came of it. We had a good thing going with Martial until Sanchez came in, but now that rhythm has been disrupted and Martial looks visibly less confident when he does feature. Either Sanchez needs a big performance against Chelsea or Mourinho needs to reassess whether he should be starting right now.
See above, but swap Martial for Rashford.
* Lukaku was quiet again, unsurprisingly. He had one huge chance – which Roberto Martinez insisted at the weekend was all he needed – and completely fluffed his lines. Admittedly we aren’t playing to his strengths at all, but when we do create such clear opportunities for him then he really cannot afford to spurn them. He is working hard, and does make the odd good contribution each match, but he needs to be more clinical and we need to play more to his strengths – like we did against Huddersfield.
* It’s nothing new, but Mata just isn’t a right winger. He looks far more dangerous on the left, because he can pick out accurate crosses better than most of our squad, but he’s still not a winger. Either play him deeper, play him as an out-and-out number 10, or don’t play him at all.
* We really are just Meh-chester United at the moment. I’m fine with that if we’re picking up wins doing it, but when we get dirge and draws/losses then it’s hard to stomach the lack of ambition. The problem last night was that we seemed content to create just the one chance for Lukaku and, whether we scored it or not, that was all we were going to do. There was no incision or cutting edge, and the statistics back that up. I agree with Mourinho’s comments that teams do need to track back without the ball, it’s just that if/when we do win it back it’s too slow on the counter-attack. He needs to release the brakes a little bit – which I guess he’ll be more likely to do if he can actually improve his defensive options in the summer – but we’re not exactly a leaky ship right now, and some risk is needed in order to reap the rewards. I fear another 2-0 to Chelsea this weekend.
Man United like Ireland now…
That game actually offended me. Supporting United now feels like following Ireland; they’ll squeak past teams they should be hammering and play turgid, long ball shite in the hopes of a draw against any team that’s even half decent. Sevilla aren’t even that decent and yet still.
I’m not sure this is 100% down to the manager. Much like how the toppling of a Middle Eastern dictator creates a power vaccuum and chaos, I think there is a severe lack of direction, leadership and most importantly; authority at United since Ferguson left.
The Glazers want their dividends, Woodward wants his sponsorship deals, Mata and Pogba want to cultivate their “brands” and Mourinho just wants to protect his own reputation before anything else. People love to say the Chelsea and City players (at least before this season) are mercenaries but it really feels like that’s all United are now. It’s a club full of people who see the game as a mere vehicle to get rich, like playing football is secondary to being famous and having a nice lifestyle. I’m not sure a lot of them are too bothered about winning and asserting their ego on the pitch like Keane and Vidic and Ferdinand before them. Those were players who seemed to live for beating their opponents. There are no personalities like that left at the club. Nobody to scare the underperformers into pulling their collective finger out nor lead them by example.
The recruitment policy has a lot to do with this. Long term planning on that pitch seems to have been thrown out the window. Matic was a short term panic buy, Sanchez was a short term panic buy, even Pogba looks like a panic buy. Having the marketing team write “biggest club in the world” in each new signings’ “quotes” can only not look stupid for so long. Signing big names so you can look like a big club will only work for so long without success on the pitch.
The right kind of success though. Pochettino is right to say the FA and League Cups are not a priority. The main thing is to be *perceived* as an elite club and those two trophies won’t do much for that. Handling the best teams in the best tournaments is how to get there.
United have been desperately clinging on to that elite status since they threw £300k a week at Rooney to stay and be the club’s only marquee name after Ferguson left. It feels like it’s been nothing but quick fixes and hope ever since.
Eventually, United need to back up their big name with big performances against big teams in the league and Champions League. Jose Mourinho is clearly not the man for that job. Whether it’s because he doesn’t believe in the players or doesnt believe in himself or because he’s now just another mercenary more concerned with sponsorship deals with Jaguar than proving himself against the competition, I don’t know. There’s no vision and passion anymore with him like there was 10 years ago though, that is clear.
Are United’s forwards worse that much worse than the competition? Ok, Kane and Aguero over Lukaku but are Sane and Sterling that much better than Sanchez, Martial and Rashford? Are Son, Erikson and Alli that much better? Mourinho just doesn’t have it in him to motivate and sell a vision to a young player these days. He’s a reactive, dictionary definiton manager who’s main motivation is to minimise risk. He’s best suited to underdogs. A club the size of United though, need a visionary. They need someone with an ego who wants to dominate and show everyone he’s the best.
TL DR? Jose out, Pochettino in.
Pogba looks broken
65 minutes into the Sevilla – United game, so Pogba may end up smoking one into the top corner. But thus far, he looks completely broken and disinterested, or disinterested because he’s broken.
He needs a Lingard handshake boost. It’s all in the handshakes.
Jose, you’ve broken our best player and relegated our other best player this season (The Ant Man) to the bench for someone we didn’t even need. What use is a match winner when we aren’t attempting to win the match?
Thoughts on the Man United vs Sevilla game…
1. Sevilla are playing United off the park. It’s a travesty they haven’t scored.
2. There is something going on in the United dressing room. As good as Sevilla have been there has been a lack of effort from the United players. They look like they are just going through the motions. There was talk of a change in formation. The manager has done that and the performance is lacking. Is it just a drop in form for the whole team?
3. The manager’s tactics are quite bizarre. There is no pressure on the opposition when United don’t have the ball. Not sure whether United is counter attacking or trying to hold on to the ball.
4. Something needs to change sharpish else the top four might not even be possible.
5. When, not if De Gea leaves, United will be f**ked. He’s their only world class player. And he’s the best in the world.
…I’m a Man Utd fan and have been trying desperately to like this team. It is easy to quickly dismiss the challenge of moving on from Louis Van Gaal. It was still evident in our play early last season and we managed to win the League Cup and Europa League in largely uninspiring fashion.
Now though we are 18 months in and four transfer windows. Lukaku, Sanchez, Pogba etc are like a football manager shortlist and yet we are soooo boring. We have not been greater than the sum of our parts since Fergie left. We haven’t even been the sum of our parts.
Ok. An away game in the Champions League last 16 shouldn’t be a reckless open game but how on earth are we getting outshot 25 to 6 or whatever it was by Sevilla. Why can’t a journalist take Mourinho to task in a press conference and ask him why his team was thoroughly outplayed?
More than anything I’m fed up of watching us play. Every time something is working for us Mourinho seems to get spooked by a poor result. Until Sanchez signed for us the left wing of Shaw, Martial and Pogba had been finding form and looked dynamic. Now Young is back in (because he is trusted) yet he offers nothing in attack and barely competence in defence. Sanchez has signed but he seems to have no trust in the team as he insists on coming to the ball rather than mixing it up and running behind. Pogba is the kind of player who can play Sanchez in behind the defence.
I know this is rambling but the key thing is this. Do Utd have the players to play better football than they are right now? Ignore results. We may be second in the league, FA Cup quarterfinal, last 16 of Champions League but what does the eye test really tell you? Do we look a better side than Liverpool, Tottenham or Chelsea at their best? To my eyes we just don’t look right. We don’t look like an energetic ambitious football team. We don’t look capable of performing under pressure in big moments.
Man United did not need Sanchez
José Mourinho’s decision to sign Alexis Sanchez is looking like a terrible idea with every passing game. This is what he does, he signs players just to make sure his direct rivals don’t get them even when he doesn’t really need them.
Manchester United needed a wide player who can play on the right wing, the left wing position was well covered with the likes of Martial and Rashford, the former being in incredible form before the arrival of Sanchez.
The signing of Sanchez has unbalanced the team, Mourinho doesn’t seem to know his best attacking line up anymore.
Anthony Martial is the best out and out winger in United, he is arguably a better winger than Alexis because in my opinion, he offers much more with his direct running style, Sanchez on the other hand drops too deep too often, he is always cutting inside, always overplaying the ball and always losing possession to the opponent. His arrival has brought a bit of negativity to the team, it has killed the momentum of Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial.
I was desperate to see United sign Alexis but not at the expense of Martial. We were doing just fine before his arrival, now the United team is lopsided and unbalanced.
Against Sevilla, Mourinho played Sanchez and Mata on the wings, the problem is, they were both more interested in dropping deep and cutting inside like they usually do, there was no one to offer a direct threat against opposition fullbacks and Lukaku was isolated for much of the game. It wasn’t until Rashford and Martial, actual wide players, came on that United started threatening.
Alexis Sanchez is a top player no doubt but for someone who is pushing Martial out of the team, he needs to do better than the player he is displacing. So unless José puts his foot down and switches him to the right, United’s attack will not click.
Deji-Demoy (Martial is 22, Alexis is 29, is it really worth it?)
…I, like many other United fans, was happy to have Sanchez on our roster but I’m not sure if he’s doing as well as Martial/Rashford were doing on the left wing. Martial was in the middle of a purple patch when Sanchez arrived and was subsequently shunted out to the right to accommodate the Chilean. Yes, he’s been able to play a few passes into the feet of Lukaku but for me, Sanchez has been largely ineffective. He runs into defenders too much of the time and despite his industry, has been unable to unlock defences. Martial on the other hand was doing brilliantly well.
Similarly, I believe Sanchez’ arrival has affected Pogba too. He seems to drop too deep to get the ball and doesn’t leave enough space for Pogba to operate. Despite the recent criticism on Pogba, I believe United are a much better team with him in the lineup.
Lastly, Mourinho not getting his tactics right. I think we’ve bought some very good players but I’ve rarely seen them being part of a bigger system. United rely too much on individual brilliance to create goal scoring opportunities. You can’t always expect the likes of Lukaku to keep scoring when the wingers are expected to dribble past 3-4 players everytime they need to create something. There needs to be some method to this madness (though you could argue there is always some order in any chaos).
Wisam, Pakistan (On a happier note, I haven’t indulged in the Who’s the best goalkeeper debate in a few months #Davesaves)
…Jose Mourinho is transforming Alexis Sanchez’s career.
He’s turning him into a cracking full back.
Jimmy (This one is far from over) Spain
More from Planet Sport: The day Federer and Agassi played the coolest tennis match in history. (Tennis365)