Manchester United was humiliated as Chelsea put four goals past them at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. Now, just nine games into the season, United is already five points behind the top four, which is not worth panic, but also not excusable. Many have fired the blame straight towards Jose Mourinho, with some of the most violent headlines I have seen going through the media. With three managers in the last four seasons and none have found success, which makes people believe problems are very much present with the players.
Mourinho made the mistake of trying to turn dead wood into stability for the club. David Moyes failed to purchase a midfielder outside Marouane Fellaini at the club, opting to trust the Tom Cleverley in midfield. Louis van Gaal’s second season saw United’s lowest ever goal tally due to the decision to keep only Wayne Rooney as a striking option.
Mourinho tried to revitalise players, some of whom are simply a liability. Pep Guardiola made a similar mistake at City, but he was initially covered up by the performances of key players. There are many, and it is high time these players were not at the club anymore.
Five players who should not be at Manchester United
1. Wayne Rooney
The obvious one comes first because I don’t want to beat a man while he’s down. Everyone knows Wayne Rooney has gone well off the mark- he only scored one goal in his many appearances as a second striker this season and he completely neutralizes United’s threats. He’s been a great servant for this club, but it’s over, and he seems to be causing pandemonium in the dressing room (again).
2. Marcos Rojo
Usually, a player should be given three seasons of football at the club. Marcos Rojo, though, is an exception. He came in as the club’s best centre-back but Chris Smalling and Daley Blind evolved and Eric Bailly signed. As for his time at left-back, we can all agree it was an abomination that should never be spoken about, though, to be fair, he was one of the only players who wasn’t poor at Stamford Bridge.
3. Phil Jones
Phil Jones has managed to cause problems for United without even being on the pitch- sustaining a ligament injury without playing a minute of football, United is now short on options because Eric Bailly is out for two months. The issue at hand now is so great that Rojo moved into the rotation, which is never a good thing. Ever. I hope Phil Jones reaches his potential, but I doubt he can do it at United.
4. Marouane Fellaini
First of all, Marouane Fellaini is neither a flop or nor a bad player. He has been important for United at times. However, he is a complete misfit. His lack of ability to play the ball on the ground sees him nullify the fluidity of his side. He is talented in a system where he becomes a long outlet for hold-up play (and not goals), as he can bring United’s better midfielders into creative areas. However, the whole point of having Paul Pogba is to move the ball into those areas and then do even more. I won’t think of Fellaini’s time at United poorly- to be fair, he has scored 13 goals for United.
5. Bastian Schweinsteiger
I don’t understand why anyone feels bad for him. He was not a standout for United at all, and then he got injured, flew the world with his wife instead of staying with the team for the FA Cup triumph, and came back to full fitness and in good form for the Euros. Much like Angel di Maria, he doesn’t show any intent to be at the club, barring his words. Calls for him to be reinstated to the team should be ridiculed and put to bed; I’d rather see Timothy Fosu-Mensah, because it would be less of a waste of time and more of a promising experiment.
Three players fighting for their Manchester United futures
1. Antonio Valencia
Many people say Antonio Valencia has been good in recent weeks- he hasn’t been bad, but to say he’s anywhere near what United should be looking at in a right-back is poor. His crossing is random, he gets turned and flipped by passing movements from the opposition, and he is susceptible to players trying to beat him on his left side. Valencia is also a mixed bag of tricks, with incredible inconsistency, and to fight that for a player who will be at least 33 by the time he may be an elite right-back seems a bit ridiculous.
2. Chris Smalling
Manchester United’s captain of recent weeks hasn’t played a single good game this season, looking average when untested and poor when tested. Smalling only played well under Louis van Gaal’s ultra-defensive tactics, and he seems to be reverting into the player he was when he was sent off during the Manchester Derby. He offers very little outside pure defending, with underwhelming leadership and poor attack-starting, which is fine if you are a world class defender, but not when you are a walking liability.
3. Jesse Lingard
Lingard has always been a little bit enigmatic for me- while I admire his work rate on the pitch, he seems to be up to antics off it, as shown by the bus incident before United threw van Gaal’s career away at Upton Park. As well, he simply lacks the technical ability at the top-level, unable to do anything to beat men and play good football, he has zero goals and one assist against the top six in his Premier League career. He needs to show he is more than just a runner on the pitch, else I’d rather have Andreas Pereira, who is impressing on loan and years younger, in the team.