At 53 years, ex Chelsea and now Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho is expected to be in his prime given his success over the years and experience, having coached in top leagues like Portugal, England, Italy and then Spain but judging from the records the reverse is the case considering how Manchester United have only won only five league games in 12 so far this season losing 4-0 away to Chelsea some weeks ago.
While it is a general knowledge the self acclaimed “Special One” needs some time to build his team it should be noted that Manchester United spent over £200 million on player signings in the summer having broken the world record transfer fee (Pogba’s £89 million deal).
This season, United have not fared better as it is becoming clearer, Mourinho is stuck in the past having persisted with the same 4-2-3-1 formation which served him since 2010 at Inter Milan. There is no doubt, the Portuguese has amassed titles with this same formation but on present form it is becoming more glaring that the said formation is gradually becoming outdated and easy to predict and counter .
A look at top continental clubs like Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Bayern Munich, PSG and Juventus shows these clubs appear to have abandoned it for a more complimentary formation. Even in England, it is not difficult to notice that the three clubs topping the league at the moment are not set up with the 4-2-3-1 as Jurgen Klopp plays a fluid, interchangeable and energetic high pressing 4-3-3, Antonio Conte utilising an attacking and expansive 3-4-3 formation not to mention Pep Guardiola’s highly tactical 4-1-4-1 on paper.
Since leaving Madrid, Jose Mourinho has won only six trophies in six years which is not good for his standards (two Super Cups and no European Cup) compared to his previous record of 17 trophies in seven years prior to his gradual demise (six league titles, two Champions League and a UEFA Cup). Such has been United vulnerability that playing against them is no longer scary as the players hardly leave their positions making them rigid and unable to surprise opponents.
While Roman Abramovich was criticised in December for sacking the former Chelsea manager, his loss of form at Chelsea appears not a coincidence considering it has continued at United with the same set-up and formation.
This is not just the problem with Mourinho and United as their are several of them but it should be noted that this the root of the Portuguese’s problems which has seen him unable to tweak his formation and set- up to suit his available players.
For now, though it is more likely his United team is not getting the result expected of them, Jose Mourinho must stop pointing accusing fingers on his players (Luke Shaw, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Chris Smalling), rather he must take responsibility and act fast to redeem his presently questionable image.