October 30, 2016 – Chelsea win 0-2 to Southampton with Antonio Conte as manager.
October 29, 2016 – Man United draw 0-0 to Burnley with Jose Mourinho at the helm.
As you read the headlines today & see Chelsea winning with a new manager at the Bridge & Man United drawing at home to a newly promoted side, I am sure you would try and wonder, what is going on at Old Trafford. Is it that you are failing, your tactics have gone wrong over the years? What is it?
This is the job that you have always craved for, after Sir Alex retired. Maybe you thought it suited your profile, matched your ambitions or you wanted to prove yourself after the failed campaign last season. The reasons can be many, but the result expected at Man United was only one – win silverware with Manchester United.
However, the going has just gotten tough recently isn’t it? The team has not been performing consistently well, after a good start that we had for the season.
It’s been topsy-turvy ride; with players in bad form, injured & those who are fit enough to play are not being used or given opportunities.
The match against the just promoted Burnley was a classic example of not killing the match off. In spite of wonderful one-touch play between players, the finished product was missing, unfortunately!
There is lots of work to be done, mentioning some pointers –
- Know your best 11:
Its time to play your best players, in the role/position that suits them. Lately, you have been playing Marcus Rashford (the runner up in the European Golden Boy) as a winger. Its not his best position, yes he has pace, but if you have seen his performances, he has scored goals as a striker upfront, when he can run at defenders, rather than on the wing, where he either has to cross or pass.
Similar situation with Mata & Mikhitariyan, where you don’t play the former in important matches. Mata is the best in-form player you have & who can unlock defenses while Mikhitariyan has had a bad start, with the game against Manchester City being his last. I feel both these players are key players & need to start most of our games. You need these players to unlock defenses, with teams coming to Old Trafford to park the bus.
- Solution to Paul Pogba conundrum:
The most expensive player in the history of Football – Paul Pogba is surely talented & has come back ‘home” with a point to prove.
You have given him a long rope to prove himself, trying him in several positions, as a CM & as a CAM. But neither has worked consistently. I am sure you will know that, Pogba has been most effective playing as a LCM, (where he can roam across the field), flogged by a ball spreading midfielder & a defensive one. You have Michael Carrick to fill the role of the ball spraying player & Herrera to fill up the defensive one.
When given an opportunity against Fenerbache, the combination of Pogba & Carrick, did wonders & was Pogba’s best game in a United shirt in terms of the overall play – passing, defending & scoring. But more baffling was the fact that, you did not use the same combination against Chelsea. Maybe you want to spare Carrick the run of continuous games in 4 days, considering his age.
But remember there is a guy called Bastian Schwienstieger to fill the role of Carrick. Both are similar players who like to keep the ball moving around. Its time you bring him under your wing & use his talents on the ball in the middle of the park.
Shore up that Defense & add some steel to the Midfield:
Most of your success has been based on strong defenses & a good keeper. While we have one of the best keeper, he needs to be protected by a strong defense. While you have identified it by recruiting Eric Bailly in the summer, I am sure you have realized there is more to be done. Van Gaal liked ball playing defenders, while your style is not the same. You like players who defend & prevent the ball falling in to your own net. You may ship some defenders out, but for now, we are falling behind ‘coz of a weak defense.
Add some steel to the midfield too, a CDM/CM (Kante in the Chelsea loss) can’t walk through the midfield & score a goal! Use Morgan Schnierdelin, who was recently given few minutes in the EFL cup vs Man City in the dying minutes to add some steel to the midfield.
- Back the players:
The most notable fact of your Chelsea career (the first time) had been the way you had managed to create a core team of players who were not only leaders on the pitch but of it too. This United team sorely lacks leaders; even a player like Zlatan has not been able to create that aura around the team.
We want you to back the players to the hilt, rather than blame them for having bad games publicly. You are a brilliant man-manager apart from being a master tactician. You have proved it when you orchestrated the famous Inter Milan win against Barcelona & also with Porto in 2004 against Man United
But your strength lies in being a great man-manager & we want you to work your charm around the squad. Squash the egos, give them the hairdryer treatment, but at the end of it all, put your arm around those guys & work your magic.
- Is there an attitude problem?
Post the Chelsea match, Zlatan was seen exchanging the jersey with Hazard & smiling, as if all was well. That was heart breaking! The team just lost 0-4 at a stadium we have not won for some time now. It was the biggest defeat of your PL career & here were some players who looked like they cared less. Well, that’s a problem!
Losing isn’t a problem, but attitude loss is. We are Man United, a club adored by millions of fans, with a history richer than most & envied by rivals. The players need to realize that they are playing for one of the biggest club in the world. The name on the front matters more than the one at the back!
There is no doubt that the whole team needs to step up & understand these facts. I am sure Jose, you are trying to imbibe the right mentality within them, educate them about the style & tactics to be used all along, but with the business end nearing, time is a luxury.
Lastly, we as fans may have hated you earlier when you managed our rivals, but now, we stand by you – our manager, we stand by you during defeats & sing your name during wins.
We hope you sort out this conundrum that has existed in the long illustrious journey of Manchester United, and like your great predecessor – Sir Alex, get forged in the history books forever.
May you manage the club forever, while rivals fall off! May you win trophies every year!
Glory Glory Manchester United!
A Manchester United fan