The Spirit of Old Trafford: What's next for Manchester United?
This weekend’s Manchester United versus Newcastle United game evoked a memory embedded in the memory of every die-hard Manchester United fan.
Trailing 0-2 at halftime, it seemed the reports of Jose Mourinho’s dismissal as Manchester United’s head coach were gaining traction.
But Manchester United was playing at Old Trafford, home of the Red Devils since 1910. And in this stadium there resides a spirit, which has never let the club or it’s fans down.
With 20 minutes to play, up stepped the ever-reliable Juan Mata. It is a wonder why he still isn’t a starter for Manchester United, considering his quality to play the killer pass and his dead ball skills. It was the latter that brought Old Trafford to its feet. The stunning free-kick after a dummy from fellow substitute Alexis Sanchez found the bottom right corner of the net. There was suddenly a hope that something can be salvaged here.
After 76 minutes of play came the answer to that prayer. Anthony Martial, the other Frenchman who was feuding with Mourinho, found the back of the net after a clever backheel from Paul Pogba. 2-2. A point had been salvaged.
But that was never going to be enough. This is Manchester United, and to get a point against a club that has maybe the quarter the financial power that they possess was going to be a nail in the coffin for Jose Mourinho. Thankfully, the other super sub that he sent on in the second half repaid his manager’s faith.
Alexis Sanchez scored with neither of his feet, but with his head, which will be the reason why Rafa Benitez will be lambasting his defenders the coming training session. And the cross came from none other than Ashley Young, who was exposed in both the goals that Newcastle scored.
As the ball went in in the 89th-minute, the comeback was sealed. Old Trafford saw another night of a famous comeback. But whether the result will save the manager’s job and kick-start a comeback of form will be seen in the coming days. After the match, Mourinho praised the fans and the mentality of the players but then went on the offence once again on two “boys”. This has been one of the reasons why many love to hate him.
One page that Jose needs to take out of his rival Pep Guardiola's book is to never publicly criticize his players. Time and time again it has cost him the dressing room and ultimately his job. In this age where the players have increasing power over managers, he needs to adapt. He needs cut down on the reacting to any news about him and work on getting the team to the best shape.
Many legends of the club have already had enough of his feud with Paul Pogba, and have publically stated that the club will be better without the duo. The upcoming international break will take Mourinho out of the firing line for the moment, but every Manchester United fan will be hoping no injuries happen to the players during the international duty.
But with a rejuvenated Chelsea awaiting them next time Manchester United take to the pitch, it seems the problems circling the most successful team in English football won’t go away anytime soon.
News of another Frenchman knocking on the boardroom of Manchester United has been circling as of lately. Sure Zidane has a LaLiga title and a hat-trick of Champions League titles under his belt. But no matter how good a coach, to come in at the middle of a season and turn around the results is a tough task. Zidane has done it before at Real Madrid, but he had a goal-scoring machine in the shape of Cristiano Ronaldo and a strong squad behind him. Same cannot be said about Manchester United.
Whether Mourinho gets sacked or Zidane arrives; whether Manchester United win a trophy or not; one thing's for sure - if United continue to show the resolve the displayed against Newcastle on Saturday, they might be back in the title reckoning soon.