As Britney Spears once sang, ‘I’m miss bad media karma, another day, another drama’ and while it’s doubtful she was referring to Jose Mourinho and Manchester United, she may as well have been. United’s loss to a West Ham side that started the day four places off the bottom of the table piled more misery, pressure and sh*t on to the United boss and leaves his position looking increasingly precarious. Rumours that Zinedine Zidane has already booked a viewing for houses in Hale and been Google mapping the nearest Greggs are yet to be verified.
So what did Saturday’s impotent display prove to us other than United are somehow managing to find new depths to plumb?
Here’s five things we can take away from the London Stadium other than a migraine.
1. Proving a point to Ed Woodward about how you didn’t get a centre back this summer needs to stop.
“From the manager that brought you Ander Herrera as part of a midfield three comes Scott McTominay in his new role as the centre back.”
As if to reiterate the point that he wasn’t backed fully in the transfer window and didn’t get the shiny new Harry Maguire he wanted, Mourinho has started playing midfielders at centre back. He’s done it twice, we’ve conceded six goals. It needs to stop. He may be out of a job before he even gets the chance to put it right at this rate.
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2. Paul Pogba isn’t happy. Whether it’s jumping up in the air after a misplaced pass, waving his arms around when he doesn’t see the run from his team mates he wants or shouting to himself, Pogba has the look of a man who’s completely unhappy with his current lot in life. His supporters will claim it’s the manager’s fault and that United’s former vice skipper would be fine under a boss who understands him, while his detractors think Pogba should play for the shirt and stop being a big baby. Either way, the why is irrelevant, it’s the what that’s killing this team and that’s the fact United’s star player looks like he’d rather be having root canal surgery than playing for the Reds. Saturday rivalled Brighton for a display of ineptitude and his substitution was completely unsurprising.
3. Anthony Martial hasn’t forced his way into the team. After a decent display against Derby County midweek, there was the chance for Tony to cement his claim for regular football when he was named in the starting line up against West Ham.
Unfortunately like many of his team mates, Martial failed to turn up and while he’s hardly the reason United lost, there’s little doubt he’ll be one of the scapegoats for a manager who obviously doesn’t rate him too highly.
4. Romelu Lukaku needs to regain his mojo – fast. It’s not the first time Lukaku’s performance has been an issue this season and while chances were few or far between for the Belgian, it’s obvious he’s nowhere near the level he needs to be to lead the line for Manchester United. We know Lukaku can be a real threat and his all round game had come on leaps and bounds before the World Cup, but he needs to get back to that level, sooner rather than later. The next manager may not be as patient.
5. United need a leader on and off the pitch. With Mourinho engaging in a battle of wills with anyone he comes into contact with, the board seemingly undecided on whether to back him or sack him and the players lacking direction – something has to change, quick. Antonio Valencia, Paul Pogba, Chris Smalling, Nemanja Matic, it doesn’t matter who it is but someone needs to get a grip of this team with more than just a strongly worded tweet and show some real leadership – the sort that even Richard Keys would admire.