Manchester United 2018/2019: Third Season Voodoo

Zomp

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United's first game is tonight against Leicester.

After a lackluster, but drama filled, off season the club returns with a few new names but only one that is expected to be in the starting 11. The club signed 19 year old right back Diogo Dalot who will be expected to play in cup games and when Antonio Valencia needs a rest (though both are injured at the moment), Journey man keeper Lee Grant, and Fred. Fred is the big name and United paid over 50 million pounds for him.

I think Jose wants to play 4-3-3 when everyone is fit with Matic holding, Fred shuttling, and Pogba being free to create. Pogba's world cup performances were in encouraging in that he was still able to affect the game from sitting deeper, which is something Mourinho will want him to replicate for United.

Other than that, on the football side I'd expect more of the same from last season. Moments of brilliance, a lot of frustration, and a lot of drama. To nail down a first choice starting 11 is a bit difficult because of the defenders. Even though we have five center backs who are all of varying quality, Mourinho failed to bring in another to shore up the back line. The midfield should be a position of strength this year with Pogba (Peirreira), Fred (Mctominay), and Matic (Herrerra) all having able back ups. Peirreira in particular is intriguing as he's been loaned out the past few seasons. Up front 2 of Alexis, Lukaku, and Rashford will be starting with either Mata or Lingard in a false right wing position.

Probably the best news of the offseason was Courtois going to Real, which means unless Juventus come calling we should have David De Gea through the prime of his career.

Every major British paper seems to have the same story tonight about how the United brass didn't think Jose Mourinho's target list was worth the money and how they're thinking long term and wary of his short term (and self-interested) calculus. Its plain as day that Woodward or one of his cronies briefed all the journos to put his side of the story out there. Mourinho was pretty restrained in his press conference earlier in the day but I'm sure he'll be putting in his two cents pretty soon. He's not one to accept blame easily or keep his mouth shut if he feels somebody else is to blame for a perceived failure.
I mean I guess I can see both sides of the argument, but if you're not going to back the manager's strategy then you need a director of football. The board shouldn't be making decisions on the on-field product. That needs to come down to the manager and his staff. The only positive I see from this is Mourinho does love playing as the underdog and will drill that into the player's heads. Every write up so far, including the prediction thread here where the glee comes right through the screen, is predicting United to fall out of the top 4.
 

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I think the issue is that people are seeing (maybe searching out and seeing something that isn't there, but either way) the Jose Mourinho saga play out the way it has for quite a few cycles. It feels like meltdown is imminent...I'm not sure that accurate, but I think that's what people are seeing. Talent is there to be a top 3 team- question is if Jose will be flexible enough in his approach to get the best out of his creative players. I understand why people are thinking that won't happen.

I've been a huge Mourinho fan for years- his villain BS went too far a few times, and I do worry the game has passed him by a bit, but I think there's some magic in him still.
 

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I can't see them falling out of the top four, unless there's a mutiny of epic proportions.
I, too, was a Mourinho fan for years, but I've grown tired of his schtick, and can never root for United anyway. Still, his teams are always set up well defensively, and are hard to beat; doubly so when considered the underdog. His style of coaching will never fit the bill of ManU's swashbuckling tradition though.
I figure they will finish somewhere between 2nd and 4th, and that Mou will get the sack at some point during the season.
 

Zomp

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His last season at each club:

Porto: League winners and Champions League winners
Chelsea: Left by "Mutual Consent", was probably fired. Team was under performing and he left in September.
Inter: Treble Winners
Real Madrid: Semifinals of Champions League, Finished 2nd to a historically good Barcelona team
Chelsea: A disaster. Was fired when they only gained 11 points from their first 12 matches.

Don't get me wrong, he always leaves on bad terms, but the narrative that his 3rd, or last, season at the club is a bit overblown.

We'll see what happens.
 

Zomp

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Jose on Paul Pogba:

"The truth is we are together for two years and a couple of weeks and I’ve never been so happy with him as I am now, that’s the truth. I cannot demand more from him, I cannot ask more from him, he came here on a Monday, trained three days, I asked for his support for his contribution in an important match for us when the team had difficulties."

"He did it better and for more time than we could expect, when he says he did it for the fans and for the team is exactly what I want, is exactly what I demand from my players, he’s working well, playing well, he does for the fans, he does for the team and that’s what I want, to play for the team and I couldn’t be happier than what I am."

Put the popcorn away.
 

koufax32

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No, YOU put the popcorn away.

My head says that this is not the end of it. My heart hopes desperately that it isn’t. I will continue to eat the popcorn of hope seasoned with the salt of Portuguese tears.
 

Kliq

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At some point, it has to be decided that the season isn't lost yet and whether or not Jose is the guy that can get this team playing better football moving forward. All signs point to this being the end for him and that almost anybody would be better than Jose; so how many more losses like the one tonight and the one last week to Brighton is Glazer going to take?
 

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United fan here. Where Jose jumped the shark was everything he said post-match. While I get the frustration, you cannot win a game that you lost. You cannot measure success in anything other than wins and losses. Had Lukaku taken his chances in the first half, they could have been up 2-0 and they were the better side. Tottenham played like themselves in the second and Pocchetino made some tactical changes that exposed United's formation and personnel. Then needing to chase the game, they put on Fellani over Rashford while Martial looked on from the stands. Jose is toxic and you can see his negativity reflected in his tactics and his squad in general. Today almost felt like he was giving Woodward the finger with that squad selection. "You don't want to pay money for new players? Alright, Herrera in a back three with Calamity Phil Jones and Smalling (who wasn't awful for the most part) and you get to watch the fireworks!"

Hard to see how this gets any better going forward. Sack him and move on down the road.
 

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So...Zidane?

Edit: this isn’t snark, so I should explain. What do ManU fans think of Zidane as a potential replacement? I feel like he’s hard to judge only having managed Madrid. I think we can safely say that he’s pragmatic, can get star players to buy into a system, routinely makes game-changing substitutions, and is a quiet presence. Is that what ManU needs or wants now? Never mind if it’s even want Zidane wants...
 
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Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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You can't throw your players under the bus like that. But the funny thing is that Mourinho is basically right - the tactics worked, his players were basically just calamitous in the final third on both ends. The CB play in the second half was some of the worst CB play I've ever seen from a top level premier league side. Jones loses his marker for the first goal, then promptly gets hurt. Herrera (predictably given that he isn't a CB) instigates the second goal by playing like 10 yards behind the rest of the line and therefore letting Spurs break easily down the flank. Lindelof comes in for Jones, within 10 minutes he has played Alli in for what should have been the third goal then gotten absolutely rinsed by Kane to give him a free header from the six for what should have been the fourth goal. And then of course Smalling just gets smoked off the dribble by Lucas Moura for the last goal.

United just doesn't have the talent to compete with the best teams in the league. Mourinho hasn't done a good job making the pieces fit together but they really needed a top level CB and two new FBs this summer if they wanted to make a run at the league.
 

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MMS, I agree re the needs, but the poisonous atmosphere around JM is so awful and it’s his fault. I’m failing to think of a good analogue in American sports. Bobby Knight at the end of his run? Not close enough.

Forget the likes of Pep or Klopp - would Eddie Howe or Chris Hughton or Santo from Wolves be getting this team to play better? You’d have to say so, right? Yes they lack pieces but FFS this is like dog puke.
 

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I agree they lack the talent at the back, but some of that is Mourinho's fault -- Bailly and Lindehof were both his buys, and Shaw is a top-notch talent Mou hasn't yet figured out how to get the best of (but who is finally playing regularly and was probably Utd's best player tonight).

The bigger tactical indictment of Mourinho is that he hasn't figured out how to create a dominant attack despite all the high-end attacking talent United have. Lukaku, Sanchez, Martial, Pogba, Rashford, Lingard, Mata -- these guys should be scoring goals for fun. Instead when he needs a goal he throws on Fellaini and goes full-on Route 1. His defenders aren't that good, so he should embrace his inner Keegan and just try to outscore everyone.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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MMS, I agree re the needs, but the poisonous atmosphere around JM is so awful and it’s his fault. I’m failing to think of a good analogue in American sports. Bobby Knight at the end of his run? Not close enough.

Forget the likes of Pep or Klopp - would Eddie Howe or Chris Hughton or Santo from Wolves be getting this team to play better? You’d have to say so, right? Yes they lack pieces but FFS this is like dog puke.
I agree they lack the talent at the back, but some of that is Mourinho's fault -- Bailly and Lindehof were both his buys, and Shaw is a top-notch talent Mou hasn't yet figured out how to get the best of (but who is finally playing regularly and was probably Utd's best player tonight).

The bigger tactical indictment of Mourinho is that he hasn't figured out how to create a dominant attack despite all the high-end attacking talent United have. Lukaku, Sanchez, Martial, Pogba, Rashford, Lingard, Mata -- these guys should be scoring goals for fun. Instead when he needs a goal he throws on Fellaini and goes full-on Route 1. His defenders aren't that good, so he should embrace his inner Keegan and just try to outscore everyone.
I agree with both you guys. They are currently far less than the sum of their parts and that is on Mourinho. But I also think some of the parts just aren't good enough or just don't fit that well together. And while some of that is on Mourinho, a lot is on Woodward.

Pep bought Claudio Bravo and it didn't work out, but City didn't spend another couple years trying to make it work before letting him buy another GK, the way United did with Mourinho this summer at the CB position. Pep inherited players like Mangala and Bony that were expensive buys that he obviously didn't like as players but nobody told him that he couldn't sell those guys and had to make it work with them because the club had invested a lot in them, like Woodward has essentially done to Mourinho with players like Martial and Shaw.

Don't get me wrong, I think Mourinho has done a crappy job with this team and I agree with your critiques of him. But the dysfunction runs deeper. The common denominator throughout all of United's post-Ferguson struggles is not having a real Director of Football and having Woodward, who has no football background at all, encroaching on football-related decisions.
 

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Last season Manchester United allowed 28 goals; and yeah a lot of that was because De Gea makes up for a lot of the defenses mistakes, but this was a good defensive squad last season. United doesn't have big name talent in the back (unless you count De Gea) but I see that as a red herring, and I'm not letting Mourinho off the hook. United has sucked this season because almost every player has underachieved. They didn't lose to Brighton 3-1 because they lacked talent, they lost because the talent they do have underperforms, either because they hate the manager and emotionally are not ready to compete at a high level, or because tactically the manager is out of touch.

Jose has to take responsibility here. Could they improve their back four? Sure; but United has spent hundreds of millions of dollars recently on improvements. They made a massive offer for Lukaku, and turned Mkhitaryan, who was a bust, into Alexis Sanchez. Who out of United's core has performed at or above expectations over the last two seasons? De Gea for sure, probably Lingard, anyone else? Either all of these guys don't know how to play or Mourinho isn't reaching them.
 

Zomp

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I agree with both you guys. They are currently far less than the sum of their parts and that is on Mourinho. But I also think some of the parts just aren't good enough or just don't fit that well together. And while some of that is on Mourinho, a lot is on Woodward.

Pep bought Claudio Bravo and it didn't work out, but City didn't spend another couple years trying to make it work before letting him buy another GK, the way United did with Mourinho this summer at the CB position. Pep inherited players like Mangala and Bony that were expensive buys that he obviously didn't like as players but nobody told him that he couldn't sell those guys and had to make it work with them because the club had invested a lot in them, like Woodward has essentially done to Mourinho with players like Martial and Shaw.

Don't get me wrong, I think Mourinho has done a crappy job with this team and I agree with your critiques of him. But the dysfunction runs deeper. The common denominator throughout all of United's post-Ferguson struggles is not having a real Director of Football and having Woodward, who has no football background at all, encroaching on football-related decisions.

Yes, this is the most rational look at it (Dog puke? Its been three games, and they actually weren't bad last night particularly in the first half).

Once Woodward denied Jose his transfer targets we were screwed. Either support the guy or sack him and move on. Its been rumored now for months that the club wants to hire a Director of Football but even if they do, you won't be able to see changes until next season at the earliest when by all likelihood Jose won't be here.
 

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I was posting on my phone so not as expansive as I might have been - I meant "dog puke" re: the general feeling around the team and Jose's negativity.

I had the game on at work yesterday. I agree that MU looked decent in the first half, had some chances, and could have turned their game in their favor had they converted one.

But "we played decently and could have had a different game had we buried a chance and gone ahead" is the kind of thing that I'm used to hearing my fellow Everton fans say after Everton lose to a top-6 team at home.
 

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Are manager contracts guaranteed in European football?

Is the amount of cash they will owe Jose if they fire him material to Woodward & the Glazers?
 

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Contracts are guarented unless the club proves the manager breached it. They also can just not pay and force the manager to take them to court. His contract is as material to the Glazers as the NFL referees pension was material to them during the lockout of 2012.
 

Zomp

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So currently watching West Ham look like Barcelona.

Do you let Mourinho go and hope to energize the team into the top 4, or do you continue with Jose and hope he can turn it around?

I’m usually one to preach patience but after going through Moyes and LVG it’s hard to be optimistic about the rest of the season...particularly when the top 4 places will be so competitive this year.
 

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So currently watching West Ham look like Barcelona.

Do you let Mourinho go and hope to energize the team into the top 4, or do you continue with Jose and hope he can turn it around?

I’m usually one to preach patience but after going through Moyes and LVG it’s hard to be optimistic about the rest of the season...particularly when the top 4 places will be so competitive this year.
Down 2-0 to West Ham and what does he do? Pulls the best player off the field to get another attacker on. He has become the American football coach who insists that his Phillip Rivers led team run a triple option offense. He’s the anti-Belichick instead of fitting his system to what his players’ strengths are he insists that they change to his program.
Here’s to months more of this. There’s no such thing as too much popcorn.
 

Dernells Casket n Flagon

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So currently watching West Ham look like Barcelona.

Do you let Mourinho go and hope to energize the team into the top 4, or do you continue with Jose and hope he can turn it around?

I’m usually one to preach patience but after going through Moyes and LVG it’s hard to be optimistic about the rest of the season...particularly when the top 4 places will be so competitive this year.
When things get Messy with Mourinho they get really messy. Has he ever been able to steer things back once they get going off the rails?

The upcoming matches for October are:
Tomorrow vs. Valencia (CL)
Saturday vs Newcastle
Saturday (10/20) vs Chelsea
10/23 vs Juventus (CL)
10/28 vs Everton

I think a bad loss in either of the next two and he's out. Two wins (or Win and Draw even) and I think he's okay no matter what the result with Chelsea is.
 

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This is a slow moving disaster in which the end is inevitable. They should rip the band-aid off and fire Mourinho. Yes it will cost them millions of dollars but there is a real danger that they miss Europa League qualifying much less top four, which will cost them millions more. The tactics are terrible. The squad selection / rotation ridiculous. He's lost the locker room completely. His feuds are contrived, petty and pointless. And this team is losing ugly and consistently. West Ham has improved since the start of the season but that's a team destined for bottom half of the table and they played United off the pitch.

Pogba is the single most frustrating player I've ever watched but his talent is undeniable. Normally, I'd be against siding with a player over a manager, but Mou is not only no longer elite, he's barely replacement level. Toss in the other baggage, I'd I rather see if someone can come in and get the best out of all the talent at the club.
 

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Firing Mourinho makes sense, but having Ed Woodward last multiple managers in his role wouldn’t. I don’t think anything changes if José is the only move they make.

He was a top manager for roughly 15 years, but it it looks like Mourinho should retire. If he can’t connect with players or motivate, he’d be just as useless as an international manager.
 

Kliq

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This is a slow moving disaster in which the end is inevitable. They should rip the band-aid off and fire Mourinho. Yes it will cost them millions of dollars but there is a real danger that they miss Europa League qualifying much less top four, which will cost them millions more. The tactics are terrible. The squad selection / rotation ridiculous. He's lost the locker room completely. His feuds are contrived, petty and pointless. And this team is losing ugly and consistently. West Ham has improved since the start of the season but that's a team destined for bottom half of the table and they played United off the pitch.

Pogba is the single most frustrating player I've ever watched but his talent is undeniable. Normally, I'd be against siding with a player over a manager, but Mou is not only no longer elite, he's barely replacement level. Toss in the other baggage, I'd I rather see if someone can come in and get the best out of all the talent at the club.
This is where I am. I don't quite understand why United are resigned to entertaining the Mourinho 3rd Season from Hell. The season is still young enough and the squad is talented enough that things can still be salvaged. You could argue that Mourinho's resume suggests that he is capable of turning the team around, but all the signs are pointing towards him undermining this squad and being the cause for a lot of their issues. It's better to can him right now and hope whoever fills in can get more out of this squad (and NOT losing to West Ham 3-1 is a pretty low bar to clear) and save the season, as opposed to promoting the Mourinho sideshow each week.
 

koufax32

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His pre-extension salary was reportedly 15 mil GBP. United prints money, but the Glazers may not be in a big rush just to set a big pile of it on fire and pay a 2nd guy in addition.
That’s what they’ll be doing if they miss out on the UCL. That said their only shot might be to win Europa. I think that should be their entire focus.
 

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That’s what they’ll be doing if they miss out on the UCL. That said their only shot might be to win Europa. I think that should be their entire focus.
I believe Mourinho needs to go because they need to do a total management sweep. But if they bring in Zidane, and keep the current structure, they’re going to be paying two high priced managers for plebeian results.
 

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That’s what they’ll be doing if they miss out on the UCL. That said their only shot might be to win Europa. I think that should be their entire focus.
As poorly as United have played, Valencia has been even worse (only one win on the season). I’d be surprised if they were unable to place second in their group.
 

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Firing Mourinho makes sense, but having Ed Woodward last multiple managers in his role wouldn’t. I don’t think anything changes if José is the only move they make.
Exactly. What United really need to do is the following:

1) Remove Woodward from any role in the footballing side of the enterprise.
2) Hire a top level Director of Football to give an overarching footballing vision to the club and to run the scouting and recruitment operation.
3) Empower the DoF to decide what to do with the manager. 99% chance this means canning Mourinho and bringing in a replacement. But let the new man swing the axe and decide which new manager is the right fit for his overall sporting vision. If the right manager isn't available midseason, bring in an obvious caretaker type and pursue the right manger over the summer.
4) Be patient and give the new regime some time to build up a team in a different image.
 

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Apparently it was possible for non-members to walk up to the stadium and buy a ticket for today's CL game. That may be more of an eye-opener to management than the recent results.
 

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If ownership/Woodward had functioning brains and cared about the direction of the club, they'd hire a technical staff (which has been recently rumored) to run the club, fire Mourinho, and bring in Jardim as their manager.

A manager that has experience bringing in young players with some established experienced players and likes to attack.
 

Zomp

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All three probably.

I think the board wanted to wait longer but the displeasures from the fans became too much that they had to let him go. For the first time in a few months I’m looking forward to a game over the weekend, and I bet some of the players feel that wa too.

Rumors right now are that Laurent Blanc is coming in. I do like that they’ve already said whoever comes in will be temporary. Right move imo. In the summer they’ll probably go all out for Poch.
 

Zomp

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Man, disappointing news to face when waking up this morning. Probably kills the Pogba back to Juventus rumors, too.

A few reliable journalists reported yesterday that Raiola had a meeting with United during the week and said either get rid of Mourinho or Paul wants to go. I wouldn't doubt it.
 

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He really had become a bit of a curmudgeon. Jose needs to find some joy again. As a manager he needs to adapt or drop down the ranks or retire.

There's still time to put a sheen on the season if Man U go on a run, and play some decent football. It's not like they don't have good players.
 

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Watching ManU flounder has been a thoroughly enjoyable experience this season. Sad to see it end. This must be what it was like for Yankee fans to watch Bobby Valentine manage the Red Sox.