United seek Swansea boost as Mourinho looks on
Manchester United are in need of a lift as they travel to Swansea, but must seek it without the presence of their manager Jose Mourinho on the touchline.
Mourinho must watch from the stand at the Liberty Stadium today, having been given a one-match ban for confronting referee Mark Clattenburg at half-time during last weekend’s goalless draw with Burnley.
These are not happy times for the United manager, who was fined £8,000 ($10,000, 9,000 euros) for that incident, and ordered to pay another £50,000 for comments made about another referee, Anthony Taylor, before the goalless draw at Liverpool on October 17.
Mourinho has become embroiled in controversies off the field as his team labour on it.
In the Premier League, United have dropped to eighth place after going four matches without a win and three without a goal. In the Europa League, they are in danger of being eliminated at the group stage, falling to third place in their section following Thursday’s 2-1 defeat by Fenerbahce in Istanbul.
The concern for United is that they are not scoring despite dominating the ball; they had 72 percent possession against Burnley, and 70 percent in Turkey. It does not help that Zlatan Ibrahimovic is going through one of the worst goalscoring spells of his career. He has gone six league matches without scoring for the first time since December 2007.
The one positive attacking note in the last week was Wayne Rooney’s spectacular consolation goal against Fenerbahce, his first since August.
Despite that goal, Mourinho has acknowledged that his forwards are lacking confidence.
“Sometimes teams don’t score goals because of their philosophy, because the team isn’t aggressive enough and doesn’t risk enough,” he said. “That’s not our case, that’s not our case at all.
“It is also easy to see that some players in our attacking areas lack confidence; they’re not sharp and getting the chances that they can,” the Portuguese boss added. United will definitely be without Ander Herrera at Swansea as he serves a one-match ban incurred for a sending off against Burnley.
They may also be missing his fellow midfielder Paul Pogba, who limped off against Fenerbahce.
Those concerns will not, though, signal a quick return to the team for Bastian Schweinsteiger, who has only just rejoined first-team training this week after being cast aside following Mourinho’s arrival.
“He’s been training with the team for three or four days,” Mourinho said.
“He’s not ready to play football at that level yet.” Bob Bradley’s appointment as Swansea manager has not stopped their slide and the American acknowledged that their performance was not good enough as they were beaten 3-1 at Stoke on Monday.
Swansea have not won since the opening day of the season, collecting just two points from their last nine matches, and sit next to bottom of the table. Bradley has suggested he may try to sign former Manchester United striker Dimitar Berbatov, a free agent after leaving Greek club PAOK at the end of last season.
But the immediate priority is to improve an increasingly perilous league position and Swans defender Mike van der Hoorn said: “It has been a very difficult start for us. Results have not gone our way and when you are near the bottom positions you find you often don’t get the luck or the 50/50 decisions.
“A win over Manchester United would give the team a lot more confidence, which in turn gives you more freedom in your play.”
Winger Jefferson Montero has recovered from a calf injury and could make his first league start of the season, while defender Kyle Naughton has overcome illness. —AFP
LOS ANGELES: Golden State Warriors guard Shaun Livingston (34) dunks against Los Angeles Lakers center Tarik Black (28) during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Friday. — AP