Premier League 2018-19: Manchester United's deep-rooted struggles don't seem like ending any time soon
In a season in which five of the Premier League 'Big Six' are thriving, Manchester United find themselves going in the backward direction. Sacking Jose Mourinho may not be the best possible alternative, but there are flaws in his philosophy that we cannot ignore.
Why is it that Alexis Sanchez, arguably the third best player in the league at Arsenal, becomes a mere average player when he comes to United?
Why is it that the brightest young prospect in the league, Marcus Rashford, does not utilize his full potential at United?
The team is leaking goals at the moment, and being one of the worst defenses in the league is not acceptable for a club of Manchester United's stature.
The explanation that Mourinho has given is that this year the club has adopted a more attacking approach, leaving them more exposed at the back. But then you have to question the role of Nemanja Matic, who is a starter in all of United's matches by default.
It is hard to understand why a holding midfielder like Matic, who contributes little going front, would retain his place in the side every week despite the persisting defensive woes.
Mourinho wanted a centre back like Maguire, Alderweireld or Boateng which he didn't get. But what about Lindelöf and Bailly? They were brought in by Mourinho himself, and now he does not find them good enough.
On the other hand, there are talents like Kevin De Bruyne and Mohammed Salah who once played under Mourinho, didn't flourish at all, and are now top players in the league.
Furthermore, why is it that Romelu Lukaku, a goal machine at Everton, has turned into a static and almost ineffective centre forward at United? The team needs a link from midfield to attack, which is evidently missing at this point. The only player capable of doing so at this point seems Juan Mata, and even he is not being utilized to the fullest.
United's Plan B in most emergency situations seems to be using the aerial threat and physicality of Fellaini. That is a good example that shows the inability of the team to create chances.
The most recent criticism of the manager was with regard to his decision to play an injured Fellaini for 90 minutes in the Manchester derby while his highest priced acquisition of the summer was sitting idle on the bench. Frederico Rodriguez was bought by United from Shakhtar Donetsk for 52 million pounds, but Mourinho didn't trust him enough to give him any playing time. Such decisions are bound to make us wonder whether Mourinho is causing money to go down the drain.
After the City match, Mourinho said, "It wasn't a bad performance, but performance with mistakes." But isn't it the mistakes that make a performance bad? Sometimes it is hard to understand the Special One.
Truth be told though United don't have another option right now either. And to Mourinho's credit, he has done quite a lot to rebuild the team from scratch. But we also know that players like Pogba, Sanchez, Martial and Lukaku can perform better, because we have seen them perform better in the past with different managers.
A change in the system that United play with seems to be the need of the hour. But only time will tell if Mourinho is up to the task.