After Manchester United suffered three straight defeats, Peter Smith looks at some of the problems facing Jose Mourinho…
Manchester United slipped six points behind Premier League leaders Manchester City on Sunday, concluding a week to forget for Jose Mourinho. It’s the first time since 2002 that Mourinho has endured three competitive defeats in a row. Next up is a tricky away trip to Northampton in the EFL Cup before defending Premier League champions Leicester visit Old Trafford.
After winning his first three Premier League games in charge, Mourinho now has issues to address at United. We take a look at some of the problems he’s facing. With Manchester United and Manchester City going into the derby on the back of three straight wins, something had to give, and the result has had a contrasting impact on each team.
For City, victory has further boosted their belief in Pep Guardiola’s methods. For United, defeat has highlighted problems and affected the players’ confidence. “I feel the first moment we had a defeat, a difficult situation, some of the boys are having a bit of difficulty coping with the negativity,” said Mourinho. That mental blow has been reflected in United’s subsequent performances against Feyenoord and Watford. Against Feyenoord a much-changed team managed just four shots on target. At Watford, that number halved to two, while they attempted fewer dribbles than they have in any Premier League game this season and less than half the total they tried against Southampton before the City loss.
The only way to address this issue is with results. That means there is added pressure on Tuesday’s League Cup tie with Northampton. The Sky Bet League One side have only been beaten three times in 2016 and will be fired up at Sixfields.
United have been knocked out by League One MK Dons and Championship Middlesbrough in the past two seasons in this competition, so victory is far from a foregone conclusion. Can Mourinho afford to drop too many first-team regulars?