Manchester United have struggled both domestically and in Europe, at least when they have played in a European competition since Sir Alex Ferguson retired at the end of the 2012/13 season. United have been led by David Moyes, Ryan Giggs (on an interim basis) and Louis van Gaal during that time. This summer, Jose Mourinho was brought in to replace the Dutch manager who was sacked shortly after the Emirates FA Cup victory over Crystal Palace at Wembley in May. United have a lot of building to do in order get back to the glory days experienced under Sir Alex Ferguson, with Mourinho looking like the man to do that. This season has been a mixed one for United so far, winning the first four matches, then going on a three-match losing streak, before starting an unbeaten streak with has lasted for four matches, with three wins and one draw before the international break.
United will need to match Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City this season if they are to reign supreme, but that could be something which is too early for the Red Devils, especially after the mixed start to the season. The ups and downs are not the same as they were under Moyes or van Gaal as the style of play has become more interesting with more attacking, which is great entertainment. United had 24 attempts on goal against Stoke City just before the current international break, scoring once and drawing the match 1-1 after Joe Allen equalised. To get the better of City, which is not something Mourinho and his squad have managed to do yet this season, losing 2-1 in the derby in the league with a rematch later this month in the EFL Cup, the defence which is considered weak could be the way for United to prosper against Guardiola’s side. Former Manchester United striker Dwight Yorke, speaking exclusively to 888sport, feels that City’s defence could be there for the taking, saying:
“Mourinho is one of those managers who is always looking for weaknesses in the opposition. City are very vulnerable at the back and certainly their strengths are attacking. De Bruyne, Silva and Aguero are very exciting going forward but when you look at teams who are good going forward they often have defensive weaknesses and that seems to be the case. That’s the area Man United will try and exploit.
“He will not stop working until he has achieved something but I think he needs to bring some silverware in by 18 months into the job. He will be given a year to cement his side but that’s about it. Then he needs to produce the goods because it’s been four years since we won the Premier League and for a club the size of Manchester United that is not acceptable.”
Manchester City has some great attacking players, but the defence is more of an experiment, which could work for the better, or fail massively. I don’t see City as the team that will run rampant this season, they seem to be in good form right now, but much like last season, in which it did not last, that could well be the case again. Guardiola has been labelled the messiah for City, despite being in charge of less than twenty competitive matches. United did have their fair share of defensive weakness over the years, but they seemed to ride out the storm on occasions. That could also be the case for City, but when there is a known weakness, it should be exploited, but not to the point where it gives United a weakness which could equally be exploited.
Yorke feels that Mourinho needs to land silverware for United within 18 months of his reign at the club starting, which is achievable. United won the FA Community Shield twice and the Emirates FA Cup since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson, which on the grand scale of achievement by the club is not all that great, but based on the form of the teams United have had during those three years and the fact that many players have been brought to the club, winning those trophies is an achievement in itself. Stability and the squad finding their feet under Mourinho is the key to success. We have already seen how Manchester United can play under Mourinho, picking apart Leicester City at Old Trafford by scoring four first-half goals, but consistency seems to be the most important ingredient which is missing. Once that has been found, Manchester United could well be on their way to the promised land once again, but that is easier said than done. United have a big match on Monday where they face Liverpool at Anfield, a slightly reborn Liverpool side under Jurgen Klopp, a side that could send more problems in Mourinho’s direction.
Read the full 888sport interview with Dwight Yorke, including his thoughts on why he should have been given the Villa job