Opinion: Mourinho and United are painting a bad picture

Another mixed, but mainly bad, week for Manchester United culminated with Jose Mourinho facing FA charges after being sent off in the home draw with Burnley

Opinion: Mourinho and United are painting a bad picture
The 2016/17 Manchester United team photo does not feature the FA Cup or Bastian Schweinsteiger (Photo: Man Utd / Getty Images)

Under Louis van Gaal, Manchester United played some of the most boring football seen since the days of Dave Sexton. Functional, unexciting and unattractive.

It is hard to judge if United progressed in the two seasons the Dutchman was in charge. A fourth place finish with no trophy was followed by a fifth place and the FA Cup.

Some people would see that as regression. Missing out on a Champions League spot is now seen as complete failure. So the fact that Van Gaal ensured United equalled the record for winning the most prestigious cup competition in the world the most times, was not enough. In this money driven football world, he could have few complaints.

United have the right to hire and fire who they want, and unlike any other business, success is subjective. If Van Gaal's target was Champions League football, he did not deliver and these days you pay the ultimate price.

He did leave the fans with the happy memory of lifting the FA Cup, and that is something to be cherished. No doubt the players involved feel the same way.

United have a rich history in the FA Cup

Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick completed their full set of medals, having won everything except the FA Cup under Sir Alex Ferguson.

Jesse Lingard etched himself in United history, scoring the fabulous winner that will be shown time and time again. United and the FA Cup have a rich history and is something everybody connected with the club embraces. Until now.

Times have changed. Winning the FA Cup is not special. It is not even to be acknowledged. It is history. Old news. Move on. That is how it looks from the outside when United release their team photo with the grand old trophy nowhere to be seen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although the Charity Shield - should that really be considered a trophy - is proudly displayed at the feet of Jose Mourinho. Traditionally, any trophies procured from the previous season are on display, so the FA Cup is missing hints at a touch of spitefulness.

If Mourinho was the orchestrator of this, then quite frankly he is a bitter man. Van Gaal did not win the FA Cup, just as Mourinho did not win the Charity Shield. Manchester United did.

Any trophy won, no matter how important it is now perceived, should be proudly celebrated. United were right to display the Charity Shield, but completely out of touch to hide the FA Cup.

Mourinho can be petty

It smacks of Mourinho's pettiness, as the other obvious omission was Bastian Schweinsteiger, the Mourinho outcast. If United are indulging Mourinho to the extent that he is dictating what should and shouldn't be celebrated, then United are in a mess.

When all said and done results, closely followed by performances, are all that count. If Mourinho delivers, he will have earned the right to dictate, but up to this point he hasn't on either front.

United are stuttering. They are showing some attacking intent, and playing well in spurts, but in the main it is all very inconsistent. Very few players are putting in consistent performances, and that is being reflected with some very disappointing results. Predictably, Mourinho has been prickly to say the least and he is appearing more and more unhinged when things don't go his way.

In the defeats to Manchester City and Watford, Mourinho chose to criticise Lingard, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Luke Shaw. Picking on players in public is a dangerous game, as he found out in his last spell with Chelsea.

Players should not be immune from blame, yet the dressing room and training ground are always far better places for that sort of thing.

Mourinho choosing scapegoats

Additionally, if you are going to call out players, how about picking on the right ones, not just easy targets? Mkhitaryan and Lingard were hopeless against City, but Mourinho picked the team - changing a winning one - and those two were far from alone.

He never mentioned the calamity for the first goal, where Daley Blind and Eric Bailly both failed to do their jobs. Blind had one of his worst games for United, but Mourinho had his scapegoats.

Shaw got it in the neck for his part in the build up for Watford's second goal. He could have closed the ball down earlier, yet Paul Pogba stood still as a runner left his side, and Maroune Fellaini also failed to react quick enough as he could have also closed down the same man.

Pogba was anonymous in both games, yet he is seemingly off limits to any negative words. He is having to adapt, a fact mentioned more than once by Mourinho, but his performances have not been anywhere near good enough. Fellaini has been shocking of late, especially against Chelsea, yet he hasn't been a target for the wrath of Mourinho.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The drubbing at Chelsea was overlooked by Mourinho in favour of a pop at his opposite number, Antonio Conte - for celebrating. It was classic Mourinho, detracting from an awful performance, and it worked.

The conversation with Conte was still talked about two days later. It was a strange move all the same? What did he expect from Conte? You would expect Mourinho to lap it up if United were thrashing a rival 4-0.

He was quite modest after beating City in the League Cup, but he erupted once more after United failed to break down a very stubborn Burnley and a very unforgiving Mark Clattenberg.

The incident that saw him lose his cool was probably a penalty, but in the City game Michael Carrick could easily have been penalised for a slight kick in the area. These things even themselves out.

To go after Clattenberg is to go after trouble. Once he feels he is being 'ganged up' on, he tends to give less to a team, and it could be that Mourinho's half time rant did not help Ander Herrera's plea for leniency when slipping making a challenge. Mourinho probably bought Herrera his early bath.

Mourinho facing a ban

He is now facing a disrepute charge for being sent to the stands, and it is yet another slight stain on United's name. Sir Alex Ferguson courted trouble on more than one occasion, but he never really overstepped the mark.

He was fined occasionally, but didn't ever face the prospect of a stadium ban, which is a fate that could await Mourinho based on his previous offences.

Mourinho and United are behaving tackily right now. Everything is petulant, everything seems choreographed to keep promoting 'The Special One', and yet he seems anything but special right now.

He has relented in bringing back Schweinsteiger into the first team training group, but it is probably nothing more than to get him fit in a bid to sell him January.

It is time Mourinho started showing some contrition. In the heat of a title battle, mind games, a full blown rant and the odd incendiary comment can have their place.

United are nowhere near in a title race, and Mourinho should concentrate more on getting United closer to the leading pack.

United for their part, should back Mourinho through good and bad,  but under no circumstances should they forget their history. Worse still, should they try and erase it.