Things are not rosy in Manchester

At the start of the season most people predicted that it’s going to be the two Manchester clubs who will be fighting for the title. Even though the blue side outfit sits at the top of the table, it’s hard to call their recent results convincing. Meanwhile the situation of United is a different matter altogether.

The Red Devils fans had reasons to be optimistic. The club has brought in big players and despite how things ended at Chelsea, Mourinho is still considered to be a top coach. The first couple of matches looked primising — maybe not because of the performances but the results were satisfying. In recent weeks however, wins were hard to come by, with the only two being in cup competitions: 4–1 against Fenerbahce in the Europa League and 1–0 against Manchester City in the EPL Cup. The second one is not much of a surprise. The Portuguese manager always took this competition quite seriously compared to others, as he considered winning it to be a good opportunity to boost the morale in the middle of the campaign. Perhaps it is this quality that is the reason for the situation becoming dire. Let me explain.

Mourinho has spent about 150 million pounds on 4 major transfers, prioritizing the improvement of morale instead of the improvement of the team. Of course, You might argue that making too many additions could disrupt the squad but it’s hard to deny that United have a lot of deficiencies. And remember that one of those major transfers mentioned earlier, Henrikh Mkhitaryan — a man who got 32 assists and 23 goals last season — is not even playing. It is also worth noting that couple of quality members, like Bastian Schweinsteiger and Michael Carrick, have been frozen out of the team. I understand that it’s the manager who decides whether someone fits his tactics but he still should give them a chance to check if his right or not — after all, he refused to put Wayne Rooney on the bench for so long. Plus, it’s not like his tactics are bringing expected results any way.

Underperforming stars are of course a different issue. When a club spends loads of money to buy you and pays you quarter of a million pounds per week, you don’t get the privilege of having time to adjust to the new environment — everyone expects you to hit the ground running right away. Zlatan Ibrahimovic looked sharp at the beginning but Paul Pogba has been a disappointment so far. Even though some media try to justify the Frenchamn’s poor form by claiming he is played out of position, let’s not forget that the same media said eariler that he can play anywhere in midfield. It’s not only about his lack of goals and assists. Pogba is also criticized for his lack of effort in the defenc as he strolls instead of running. Ironically, of all the new additions, it is the one with the least-known name that is performing the best and it is Eric Bailly.

The Citizens deserve a paragraph as well. Yes — in their last game they’ve won 4–0 against West Bromwich Albion and they’re still at the top of the league table. Earlier however, Pep Guardiola suffered the longest streak without a win of his entire career and some of their results were quite embarrassing (particularly the one against Barcelona in the Champions League). Many people agree that the manager insists on playing in a way that does not suit the footballers he has at his disposal. This matter especially concerns the defence and the Spaniard’s insistance on “playing from the back”. The acquisition of Claudio Bravo has not gone according to plan as well. But I guess you have to admire the fact that despite those deficiencies, City are still leading in the title race.

Probably in a couple of weeks this article will be out-of-date as Manchester United will start to pick up points while their local rivals will slip up after another injury to Sergio Aguero. That’s the beauty of football — past record and stats are irrelevant, every streak ends at some point and it’s all about the next game.