Manchester United, despite fielding a strong side, was beaten by Fenerbahce in a match that lacked energy, pace, inventiveness and overall poor football. At this point, Jose Mourinho is doing more than enough to set the players up in a situation to win matches, and the deficiencies in the system can only be put down to the players. If they don’t already know that, United is going to have a complete joke of a season. There are players who simply shouldn’t be at Manchester United, and those players are consistently criticized and scapegoated by the United faithful, but there are some who have been underperforming considering the expectations of them this season.
At this point, criticism of Shaw may be a little bit unfair, considering the Englishman is only two months back from a potentially career-defining injury. That being said, Shaw looks psychologically and physically devoid of recovery, and if that is the case, I believe he should be communicating with the club about it. Mourinho seems to be unaware, criticizing him in the media and not preparing any left-backs of starting quality (barring Blind, who is needed in the centre) in case Shaw goes down. In my opinion, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson should never have gone on loan, and now that he has, Joe Riley should be in the first team.
Speaking of left-backs, why doesn’t Darmian play there? Incredibly solid defensively, he struggles moving forward and United needs right-backs who can attack prolifically with the system. Darmian could be like Cesar Azpilicueta was for Chelsea, but instead he is having the same problems Branislav Ivanovic had in Mourinho’s first Chelsea season, with the inability to cross the ball. He seems to be trying too hard to play in the mould of Antonio Valencia when he can be his own player. With the current injuries, I would give Darmian a chance at left-back, bring Timothy Fosu-Mensah into the setup and use all the potential central defenders where they are needed.
Supposedly the future captain and world class defender at Old Trafford, Mourinho probably came to Old Trafford thinking he could build his defence around Englishman Chris Smalling, who can completely shut opponents out when he’s at his best. However, he has found a great problem in that Smalling has been sub par, living off the performances of Eric Bailly. He offers nothing on the ball, and he has been erratic, made poor decisions and failed to cover his man. If United is to get out of the rump they are in, either Smalling or Shaw will need to get back to their best, because United’s back four has three members who can play for a side that qualifies for Champions League football at the moment (Blind can play either in the centre or on the left).
I know he’s a youth product of United and he is supposed to be a great success story, but I don’t know how he earns starting appearances for United in the biggest matches. Sometimes, it is completely baffling. When off form, he can’t keep the ball, or do anything with it at all. In his best form, he finishes off moves created by other players, and simply runs around and does nothing else. I’d rather see Ashley Young on the pitch than Lingard because he makes the players around him better, works harder defensively and can cross the ball for United’s taller attacking players. I said this was a big year for Lingard on multiple occasions, and it is becoming bigger and bigger as the season progresses.