Jose Mourinho goes on the defensive as he tries to salvage season with FA Cup glory

Pic credit: Andrea

Jose Mourinho has lashed back at the critics of Manchester United’s premature European exit by highlighting the English side’s failure to go past the Round of 16 and the lack of consistent top level European Football at the club since 2014.

The Portuguese manager referred to Manchester United’s recent European failure in terms of not going past the last 16 as a “football heritage”, whilst under ex-Everton boss David Moyes and more recently Louis Van Gaal.

Of course a part of it was Mourinho just diverting attention from a toothless European performance from his charges against Sevilla, a team that sits 6th in La Liga, but what has certainly annoyed most fans was his post match press conference where he said that this latest exit was not unusual, if you look at United’s recent history.

It almost seems as if Mourinho isn’t getting the best out of the bright prospects at United, such as Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba, arguably restricting both of his most creative players with his disciplined and controlled style of play.

These players just need to be let off the leash to perform at their peak but they seem to be performing under specified instructions: almost like a puppet controlled from the touchline.                                                                                             

Inconsistency creeping in?

The home defeat to Sevilla, inspired by a brace from striker Wissam Ben Yedder, was preceded by two huge domestic victories on the bounce against Chelsea and arch-rivals Liverpool – both at Old Trafford, but while Mourinho’s side won the games they were edgy 2-1 victories.
 

If anything the results against Chelsea and Liverpool were meant to spur the Red Devils onto the European stage in front of their own support, but it did exactly the opposite as the team were lethargic and just didn’t turn up in their first Champions League knockout game in three years.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

Excuses? Or genuine problems?

In his FA Cup pre-match press conference against Brighton, Mourinho compared Manchester United’s signings with rivals Manchester City’s pointing out that high- quality players like David Silva, Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne were recruited before Blues boss Pep Guardiola took over suggesting that the former Barcelona manager inherited a better team than he did.

But, given that this is Mourinho’s second season in charge of Manchester United and in his time at Old Trafford he has spent almost £300 million to recruit Romelu Lukaku, Paul Pogba and from Chelsea, one can see that this is clearly Mourinho’s team.

The general view among the United supporters seems to be that of frustration.

Having been treated to the exciting style of football played by Sir Alex Ferguson’s teams during his reign, it’s fair to say that the weight of United’s history is becoming a burden to Mourinho.

This will be United’s 5th consecutive season without a Premier League crown but they are in a good position to finish 2nd in the league, currently sitting two points above Liverpool in 3rd with a game in hand.

Despite what the performances may suggest, if United do finish 2nd it will be their best ever league finish since the 12/13 season in which Ferguson won his last title.

As the Stretford End sings “Attack, Attack, Attack” it looks like all this Manchester United team are comfortable doing is “Defend, Defend and Defend”. And this is a problem.

More Cup Glory?

Now all the attention will turn to finishing second in the Premier League and going all the way in the FA Cup for Manchester United as they face Tottenham in yet another semi final Wembley appearance.