Mour­inho run­ning out of an­swers as United woes deepen Be­lea­guered boss ap­pears to be on bor­rowed time af­ter CL draw

China Daily (Canada) - - HOLIDAY -

MANCH­ESTER — A fourth suc­ces­sive winless game and an­other dire per­for­mance, Manch­ester United’s 0-0 Cham­pi­ons League draw with Va­len­cia on Tues­day ex­tended the club’s cur­rent cri­sis and prompted man­ager Jose Mour­inho to ques­tion his role in its strug­gles.

With me­dia re­ports in­ten­si­fy­ing in the past few days that for­mer Real Madrid boss Zine­dine Zi­dane was be­ing lined up as Mour­inho’s re­place­ment, the Por­tuguese cut a de­flated fig­ure at the post-match news con­fer­ence af­ter say­ing on Mon­day he felt no pres­sure.

Ad­mit­ting he too was at fault for United’s poor start to the sea­son, Mour­inho took some re­spon­si­bil­ity for back­fir­ing tac­tics and team se­lec­tion which he had pre­vi­ously de­fended adamantly.

“I think there are things that are dif­fi­cult for me to say. I think you have enough rea­sons to criticize me,” he said.

“We had prob­a­bly a cou­ple of the big­gest chances to win it but I have ac­cepted the re­sult as a fair re­sult. I said in pre­sea­son last sea­son was phe­nom­e­nal to fin­ish se­cond (in the Pre­mier League). And I don’t say more than that.”

United’s se­cond-place fin­ish last term flat­tered their cagey per­for­mances, but the for­mula — heav­ily re­liant on goal­keeper David De Gea’s con­sis­tent hero­ics — was less likely to yield suc­cess this term.

With United seem­ingly lack­ing depth and qual­ity in all de­part­ments to launch a ti­tle chal­lenge, it is ques­tion­able whether ax­ing Mour­inho would bring an in­stant change of for­tunes.

Al­though Mour­inho may be on bor­rowed time, with United nine points off the pace — set by Manch­ester City and Liver­pool — in the Pre­mier League af­ter they were also dumped out of the League Cup by se­cond-tier Derby County, the cur­rent squad looks un­likely to start fir­ing on all cylin­ders un­der an­other man­ager.

A shaky de­fense looks in con­stant need of pro­tec­tion by a mid­field lack­ing cre­ativ­ity. This has the ef­fect of forc­ing the for­wards to drop deep in a pre­dictable pat­tern, no mat­ter how of­ten the for­ma­tion is reshuf­fled.

“We don’t have the technical qual­ity to build from the back,” said Mour­inho, con- ced­ing United’s most glar­ing weak­ness, which West Ham ex­ploited to dev­as­tat­ing ef­fect in Satur­day’s 3-1 league vic­tory.

“Our at­tack­ing play­ers aren’t in their best mo­ments of con­fi­dence and in­di­vid­ual level,” he added.

Mour­inho then showed how far ex­pec­ta­tions have been low­ered at the club, which dom­i­nated the English game for two decades un­der for­mer man­ager Alex Fer­gu­son.

“We have New­cas­tle be­fore the league stops (for the in­ter­na­tional break), then we have Chelsea and Ju­ven­tus in three days. It will be good for the team if we can beat New­cas­tle,” he said.

Judg­ing by United’s re­sults and per­for­mances, vic­tory against the Pre­mier League’s 18th-placed team, which has man­aged only two points from seven games and scored just four goals in the process, can­not be taken for granted.

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