Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho said that it would not be easy for his side to bounce back from two consecutive defeats against Watford at Vicarage Road on Sunday afternoon, but the manager has the faith in his players to do so by labelling them as ‘very good guys’. United were beaten last weekend in the Premier League in the Manchester Derby against Manchester City at Old Trafford. United’s bitter rivals won 2-1, with United getting a goal back just before half-time and playing a lot better in the second half, challenging for a second goal, but not achieving it. United then face Feyenoord in the UEFA Europa League, losing 1-0 in Rotterdam to a goal which looked offside, but was given. United need to do all they can to avoid three defeats in a row as they will pipe up the media and before you know it many will be calling for Mourinho’s head – probably the same people who were calling for Louis van Gaal’s head last season, wanting Mourinho to take over this summer.
United started their season well by defeating Premier League champions Leicester City 2-1 in the FA Community Shield, then winning their first three Premier League matches; 3-1 against Bournemouth, 2-0 against Southampton and Hull City 1-0. After the international break, United headed into the first Manchester Derby as the favourites, by some at least, despite City also unbeaten in their start to the season, which included UEFA Champions League qualifications matches. United has shown great ability at the start of the season, getting the better of their opposition, but seemed to have come unstuck against Hull, who defended in great numbers throughout the game with United trying hard to break them down. Speaking after Thursday’s 1-0 defeat to Feyenoord, Mourinho spoke about his team’s performances, turning the negativity into positivity ahead of the next match and how United needed to bounce back against Watford, saying:
“You win matches and people are happy and full of confidence. You lose matches then people are sad and they feel it. That is the normal nature of football players. I am here to try to stop them from being in a negative mood because we lost two matches. They were two matches where we didn’t play well for 90 minutes but they were two matches where we deserved a better result.
“I don’t think it will be easy [to bounce back] but the game will be independent. It is a new event, it is another match, it starts at minute zero and so I think it has nothing to do with the two previous matches.
“Obviously when you lose matches then the mood and feeling is not the same. That is normal, but we are experienced people and the players are very good guys. I know they want to win, they want to work and that is what we have to do.”
Ahead of the defeat to Feyenoord, Mourinho made eight changes to the team that started against Manchester City five days earlier giving some players the chance to get some minutes on the pitch and build up their fitness for a busy month with the Premier League, UEFA Europa League and the EFL Cup all in play in September. Mourinho left Luke Shaw, Antonio Valencia, Wayne Rooney and Jesse Lingard in Manchester, with the first three likely to find themselves back on the team sheet against Watford. Daley Blind travelled to the Netherlands in the 20-man squad but was left out of the matchday squad with Sam Johnstone, the third choice goalkeeper this season. Blind could also be called back into action with Eric Bailly a doubt after suffering a knock on Thursday evening. The manager said:
“Well, first of all I have players that are not here. I have players that didn’t play here for 90 minutes, so it is a not a problem with accumulation. I know that we play at midday on Sunday and at this moment it is 9pm on Thursday, but we are professionals.
“Let’s not make an excuse for Sunday because we had to play this game [on Thursday]. The players are professional. They have to be fit and they are. And they have to be mentally strong to play again.”
United have been in this situation before under Sir Alex Ferguson, David Moyes and Louis van Gaal. They are in this position again under Jose Mourinho and will be in this position in the future under the next manager, the one after that and so on. Last season United had a bad period where they went eight matches without a win, something which contributed to Van Gaal being sacked as it just never looked like the football was improving, despite the fact United eventually broke out of the depths they were in and change some results. Similar things happened for Moyes, and for Ferguson in his near on three decades as United manager. Last season, many wanted Moutinho to be the next manager, celebrated the fact when he was announced, then also the fact he brought in four good signings and people got excited and immediately thought the good times were back when it was not always going to be that case scenario.
As United have slipped into a bad period again, losing their last two matches, heading into that third match, which could well be a whitewash in United’s favour, but could be the opposite too, many seem to have lost their positivity from just over a month ago, with some suggesting that the manager should be sacked, with bookies also slashing odds on Mourinho to be sacked this season. This kind of support is pathetic. Last season when United lost, #LVGOut was trending on Twitter and being posted heavily on Facebook and other social media sites, but when United won, not much was said, until the next defeat, or draw – anytime United did not win the negativity against the manager was back. That does not seem to be changing, the same things is starting to happen again and that is not a good thing.
Too many people seem to be stuck in the period with Sir Alex Ferguson as the manager where winning was something the inevitably happened, but so did losing and drawing, but the discontent was nothing like this. Yes, there were people moaning about defeats, which is fair enough, but this now, it is pathetic. In football, there are winners and losers. One week a team could be a winner, and the next, a loser. That is inevitable in life. Manchester United, or any other team for that matter, are not guaranteed to win. Some do win like United did, but they can lose just as easily, and they will. United have played six competitive matches this season, winning four and losing two – it is not all that bad. Many seem to think that a losing streak is coming, when in fact, it might not. That is the point I am trying to make here.
The future can only be predicted, and most of the time a prediction is not the right outcome. United, after they have found their feet, changed their ways and solved their problems, will be back. This season has started much better than the last, and the one before that, and the one before that, which is the start of something. United will win, lose and draw – that is the nature of the game. Those expecting the win all of the time, then moaning when they do not get it is part of nature – some do support United solely based on the club’s history of winning, which is their own choice, but not one I would make for myself. It is these ‘fans’ that are starting this discontent as with social media they have immediate access to fans just like them, who then spread more discontent and it grows furthermore. Whether United win, lose or draw, I for one will still support them, as should you. Those that don’t want to, it is their loss.