Wednesday 25 July 2018

A storm is brewing after Manchester United's summer of discontent

As painful as it is to be writing this - it gives me no pleasure whatsoever - there are massive problems bubbling in the corridors of powers at Manchester United. Jose Mourinho is grumpy and miserable, Ed Woodward is a man without a plan or a vision, and the squad still lacks depth and quality. There are all the ingredients of the classic Mourinho third season meltdown - the unwritten tale that has been as much a part of our manager's decorated and illustrious career as the numerous successes and various trophies for which he has become synonymous. I hope I'm wrong but there seems a certain inevitability about where all this is heading, and I know I'm not the only one who doesn't fancy our chances in the slightest this season.

 I have tried to be positive, and I believe that it's not all doom and gloom. Some of our club's brightest young talents have looked very impressive indeed in pre-season, Fred's signing should release Paul Pogba from his shackles, and Alexis Sanchez will be all the better for his first full season at Old Trafford. Romelu Lukaku is only going to continue his upward trajectory, and Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard will be brimming with confidence after England's run to the World Cup semi finals. But even these cannot mask the pessimistic undercurrent that has plagued our preparations for 2018-19 - that things will come to a head one way or another and a storm is brewing.
Jurgen Klopp's hypocritical stance may not have done himself any favours, but you can't deny the reality that he not only identifed Liverpool's area of strengthening, but went out and got what he needed with plenty of time to spare. Unai Emery has barely been in the Arsenal job for two months but has already made his mark in the transfer market.
United, on the other hand, appear to be dithering and floundering without a clear plan of who our primary targets are. Everyone can see that we are in urgent need of a top quality centre back (of the defenders we've currently got, only Eric Bailly is good enough), a left-back and a natural out and out winger. The incessant rumours appear to be exactly that - all talk and nothing remotely tangible. In short, Liverpool have been ruthless, clinical and got their players in - a masterpiece in how to operate today's world of miserly agents, stubborn owners and overinflated fees.
In contrast, United have ambled aimlessly, linked with a combination of Woodward's cloud cuckoo land fantasies like Gareth Bale, bang average rejects like Marko Arnautovic and the downright unattainable like Raphael Varane and Willian.

Recruitment has always been a huge Achilles heel - even in the Sir Alex Ferguson days - and that brings us to Jose Mourinho himself. Instilling confidence and belief into your side is a pre-requisite for success, but can anyone really say Mourinho has done that. His 'my way or no way' attitude may spur some on to greater heights, but knocks or even alienates others. It was this that caused him to lose the respect of his players during the dying embers of both spells at Chelsea and also at Real Madrid.

In what seems a do or die, make or break season for Jose, he is getting his excuses in early and setting himself up to fail. I've learned to never to write off a Manchester United team too early, but something has to give eventually. When you hear your manager say he is worried about his team's season - before it's even begun - how is that meant to inspire us as fans, or his own players, even if there is an element of truth in his words. We're Manchester United - we believe anything is possible.
At the minute, all that seems possible is unrest, in-fighting, disappointment and a familiar end for Mourinho.

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