On Saturday, Manchester United faced Wolverhampton Wanderers at Old Trafford and the result was a underwhelming 1-1 draw.
United closed their winning spree by drawing against Wolves, after three consecutive wins. Even though they gained an additional point, the gap between the league leaders, Liverpool, is quite wide as they are 8 points behind them.
The Red Devils’ performance was quite disappointing. Watching them attacking was frustrating as they were unable to convert any chances. Romelu Lukaku displayed a terrible performance, missing every opportunity to score a goal. His control and touches were very poor. Just a very discouraging overall performance by him. Alexis Sanchez also continued his terrible run as well. There has been a lot of pressure on him and is unable to deliver what the fans expect from him. Even Jesse Lingard had no flair for his performance, he barely created any chances or contributed to United’s attack.
Prior to the match, Jose Mourinho said:
“I think the result is fair.
“They deserved their point and we deserve the punishment of only getting one point. They started better were more aggressive, had more intent and I don’t know why but they were more motivated.
“I was expecting more from my attacking players. There was not enough creativity, movement or dynamism. We made it quite easy for them to cope with our supremacy in last 20 minutes. Overall we don’t deserve more than this.
“Our performance was not consistent, not creative and not dynamic.”
Mourinho himself admits that the problem lies in the way the attackers played. The midfield was tight and perfectly set until the Portuguese decided to bring Marouane Fellaini on during the second-half. These are small tactical mistakes which lead to greater problems. Distorting Fellaini’s defensive role created lots of space for Wolves to attack. United’s defence wasn’t played that bad as compared to their attack. David De Gea was just brilliant as always, while the other defenders were giving an average performance.
“When we’re at home, we should attack, attack, attack. That’s Old Trafford. We’re here to attack. I think teams are scared when they see Manchester United attacking and attacking.
“We were winning 1-0 so it was positive for us. Then we tried to defend a bit more against the counter-attack. We stopped playing forward like in the first half and we didn’t put them in trouble.
“That was our mistake.
“We should just attack and press, like we did against Tottenham, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal last season. When we play like this, it’s easier for us.”
When asked about why his side are unable to implement an attacking tactic, he said:
“I can’t tell you, because I’m a player. It’s not me. I’m not the manager, I cannot, like, say that, but obviously, we should show more options for playing.
But I cannot say that because I’m a player. That’s my way of thinking – we should move better, we should move more, yeah.”
Furthermore, Pogba talks about United have to step things up and adopt a more attack-oriented style of play.
Certainly, there was a lot of truth in the Frenchman’s words. The Manchester outfit do not create enough chances and they often give the ball away easily in the final third. Despite having world-class players like Lukaku and Sanchez at disposal, this side is still unable to attack like a top tier team. Wolves had a more dynamic attack than United, they co-ordinated well and created superb chances. The midfielder said that after scoring the first goal, the forwards switched off as United were defending against the counter-attacks.
Personally, I don’t think United have a chance at winning the title this season. They lack consistency and are very unpredictable. There is a severe lack of vision in the attacking half and it always looks like the midfielders are playing the part of the forwards. They often play long balls which just gives away the possession. As mentioned before, switching the tactics was a poor decision. Bringing Fellaini out from his position put United in a lot of pressure. Pogba had to lie deeper in the midfield, while he is the central playmaker of the team. United’s shift in performance was clearly evident as they struggled while attacking in the second half.
It’s been a rollercoaster ride for United so far and the fans clearly don’t know what to expect. Mourinho has to formulate a tactic where players like Pogba are able to display their creative attacking play. We all know that Lukaku can’t dribble past the defence, he positions himself well but when there no feeds him the ball, he starts to become inefficient. As far as Sanchez is concerned, he is under immense pressure. We have seen him play at Arsenal and the main reason why he struggles is that of a shift in the style of play. He works really hard but is having a tough time adjusting you Mourinho’s strategy.
“What you have to know about Alexis is that he is a hard worker,” explained the World Cup champion. “He trains very well, he always tries to help the team, talks with the team and everything.
“He will get used to it. When you play a long time with another team and you play different football in that other team, you have some kind of adaptation that you have to have.”
Mourinho has to start talking with the squad and understand their troubles so that he could resolve them. It’s time to get serious because United haven’t even faced tough teams yet.