How times have changed at Old Trafford. It’s a show of football’s fickle nature and how one minute you can be on top, only the next to find yourselves in a seemingly never ending rot. It’s the case for both manager and club, as Jose Mourinho appears to have lost his magic in a little over 18 months. As a fan, it’s so horribly difficult to be a part of and adjust to, watching turgid and unwelcoming football two, sometimes three, times a week. Seeing the players that once won games convincingly and trophies by the bucket now incapable of beating teams clearly inferior to them.
One such player, capable of moments of extreme wonder on his day, is Michael Carrick. He has been speaking to The Guardian and expressing how the current funk is being received in the squad and how the players all know it hasn’t been good enough and things need to change. It’s difficult to disagree with him. We all know as fans that the players are not performing anywhere near their required standards, nor the manager who’s tactics and decisions at times can be somewhat erratic. But it is the same spiel as last season, and the one before that, and the one before that – it’s all been heard before.
The table doesn’t lie and gives a good indication of where the issues really have been this season in particular. A 21-game unbeaten run is fantastic to boast if you’re winning the majority of those games, but when you’re drawing them it’s a much less impressive feat. With the side hardly making a dent on the top four in this time it’s no wonder fans are becoming sick of the same rubbish. You then must look at goals scored, and yet again the total is pitifully low. Less than 50 goals in April is something that was previously unheard of and simply wasn’t allowed under Sir Alex Ferguson, but since his departure, the goals seem to have dried up. Remove Ibrahimovic and his 17 goal contribution in the league and the side have notched a meagre 29 between them all.
Simply put it isn’t good enough. But now it feels different, it seems as though the criticism of the current form isn’t just the usual empty words spoken for soundbites and tweets, the headline of the article speaks of denial and how Carrick and his colleagues are no longer trapped in the cycle. This mindset is vital if United and Mourinho are to be the marriage we all expected them to be back in June. The solutions are obvious, and the wheels in motion behind the scenes. Additions are what is needed and especially in the goals department so expect this summer to be a busy one.
Things haven’t been quite as doom as they appear on the surface. Anderlecht are certainly beatable in the Europa League, their equaliser being the only occasion Sergio Romero was really required in a game United dominated, and the competition itself is certainly winnable. Though the unbeaten run should really see United challenging for the league, failure on that front still sees them well within a shout of top four and the absolute minimum requirement. This season has been another of transition, another of a change in identity and styles of a squad that’s been through the mill a fair bit recently. The transition has to end sometime, and I’d be fearful if I were managing professionally next season.