United struggle as Jose rings changes
Jose Mourinho will be desperate for his struggling Manchester United side to put their defensive woes behind them against the Premier League’s bottom club Fulham but the form book suggests they may struggle to do so.
United have conceded 25 goals in their 15 Premier League games to date – more than four times the number conceded by Liverpool.
Alarmingly, only the division’s bottom five teams have a worse defensive record.
In the two complete seasons under Mourinho’s management, United conceded just 29 goals in 2016-17 and 28 goals last season. That leaves United facing the real prospect of overtaking those marks for an entire campaign before the turn of the year.
Against Arsenal midweek, Mourinho made seven changes from the weekend draw at Southampton. This means he has made a total of 46 changes in the opening 15 games, more than any other team.
The game against Arsenal ended in a 2-2 draw.
The past two games have seen Mourinho opt for a threeman defence, employing wingbacks higher up the field, although there has again been a lack of consistency in his selections.
Unsurprisingly, United’s defence looked terrible in conceding goals to Shkodran Mustafi, courtesy of a dreadful mistake by goalkeeper David de Gea, and a Marcos Rojo own goal – a defensive catastrophe that left Mourinho joking that his team had scored all four goals against the Gunners.
But, given the patched up nature of his defence, Mourinho insisted he was delighted with their attitude and effort in midweek.
“We have to be happy with the spirit, the effort, the dynamism, the intensity, the understanding of our difficulties,” he said.
Fulham, bottom of the table and with just 15 league goals in as many games this season, should offer United’s defence a sightly easier challenge on Saturday, although the arrival of new manager Claudio Ranieri may produce a galvanising effect, at least based on their 1-1 draw with Leicester on Wednesday. –