We learnt from Jose’s unhappy return to the Bridge
are devastating when they play at full pelt.
It’s time to talk about Ibrahimovic’s form
One goal in eight. It is a troubling record, but it would not be so troubling if the performances on top were convincing. Zlatan Ibrahimovic arrived like he was made for both United and the Premier League, but the cock-of-the-walk is struggling to score from six yards out.
Criticism of his miss at Liverpool last Monday was a little unjust, but he was handed a far more presentable chance in the first-half with the score still at 1-0 here. Again, it was a header. Again, he was static. Again, he missed.
To paraphrase the cliche, his class is undoubted, but his form is now questionable.
The chants of “you’re not special anymore” which some Chelsea supporters used to greet Mourinho were a little surprising, perhaps, but the choruses for Victor Moses raised more eyebrows.
To say that the Nigeria international was a forgotten man upon Conte’s arrival this summer is an understatement. Yet here, on his 100th Premier League start, Moses looked as much of fixture in this team as its star men.
Earlier this week, he told of how Mourinho had barely spoke to him during his second tenure here.
“I thought in my head, ‘He’s got his own players already,” he recalled.
Conte, on the other hand, has arrived at Stamford Bridge with very few pre-conceptions about his squad. He and Moses are reaping the benefits.
Pogba needs time
Maybe deploying Paul Pogba in two different positions, with radically different responsibilities, for three games in the space of six days isn’t expecting too much of the world’s most expensive footballer. Yet it feels like he is not being afforded the chance to shine.
After his brace from midfield against Fenerbahce he found himself back playing off the striker, as he did with discipline, if not distinction, at Anfield. His best football at Juventus came operating in a central three, with license to run and bustle, to live up to his reputation as one of the world football’s elite.
The scrutiny of Pogba’s start at United will continue, but Mourinho’s reluctance to his player in his best position deserves more attention.
United are six points off the top
United remain in the title race, just as Conte’s Chelsea did after their own horror show at Arsenal three League games before this one.
For all the criticisms that can be levelled at him, the overriding feeling among the club’s more sensible supporters is that Mourinho is the man to get it right.
One, speaking to the United We Stand podcast ahead of Monday’s draw at Liverpool, described him as “reeking of United”. What that smell is exactly is unclear, but the sentiment is fully justified.
Jurgen Klopp, ironically, put it best after his side failed to take pole on Saturday, asking: “Who wants to be top of the league in October? Who?” Too many, that’s who. – The Independent