Manchester United lost on Tuesday night at Old Trafford to Sevilla in one of the most important, if not the most important match of the season. The Premier League race is gone for some three months now, the League Cup was won by their city rivals and the FA Cup is still for the taking. Yet, the Champions League was a competition where a good result could reassure Manchester United fans that this team has a great potential.
However, the performance against Sevilla was meek, at certain points disinterested. Lack of proper desire and drive was evident, while the lack of attacking cohesion has been a worry for months now. Alexis Sanchez was cutting in, Marcus Rashford as well, creating a mess in the centre of the pitch, stifling each other throughout. There are no evident patterns of play and everything gets to individual skill. That is not the way forward.
Jose Mourinho’s “slap in the face”
And there are some evident problems at Manchester United. This is not a typical internet rant after a poor result. Rather than that, it is something that was building in recent months and now it surfaced, after a terrible performance and a terrible result to go with it.
Jose Mourinho basically slapped everyone that hold Manchester United dear with his post-match comments. His talk of “being happy that the players are sad after a loss” might make sense in its basic form, but Manchester United did not play anywhere near expected levels in the first place. If this was a loss after a great battle, throwing everything at Sevilla and doing their utter best, it would be fair.
This way it is not acceptable. There was no fight whatsoever and that is what hurts the most. Mourinho wanted to take all the spotlight with his comments, saying that “this is not something new for Manchester United”. It all sounded as if he was the Porto manager once again.
Lack Of Sporting Director
What Manchester United lack is a proper sporting director which will have a vision for this club. Ed Woodward is not someone that should be bringing players in and a manager should not have a complete right to say who will come. A sporting director will keep the balance and look at long-term, for longer than one manager’s reign.
The recruitment has not been good. Manchester United maybe have been spending a lot of money, but it was mostly spent on smaller number of players. For months now everyone is talking of no real options at full-backs, a lack of a centre-back and a central midfielder. That is not good and a sporting director could bring in a sense of direction in which the club will head and Manchester City really are a good example of how things can work in that regard.
Lack Of Leaders On The Pitch
Paul Ince talked about this after the match against Sevilla, talking about him and Roy Keane being the leaders on the pitch when they were at the club. And he has a point. There is no real leader in this team, someone who will step up when things go south.
It may sound a bit archaic, but it is truth. Manchester United needed someone to wake them up on Tuesday night, but their awakening came too late, when Sevilla were 2-0 up.