Nobody could have missed Tottenham Hotspur’s dramatic victory over Manchester United during the weekend. The Lilywhites’ 2-1 win in their last game at White Hart Lane was all over the papers the next day, and many have commended Spurs to have come so far. Coming with the London side’s basking in the limelight was the confirmation that United have once again failed, and have to once again sunk beneath the shadow of their former self.
At the core of that failure was manager Jose Mourinho, a man who thought would rejuvenate and put United back at the map after mediocre seasons under his predecessors David Moyes and Louis van Gaal.
And while United’s season started well, it didn’t start as sterling as many fans had hoped. Despite going on an impressive 25-match unbeaten streak, Manchester United have barely gotten themselves beyond fifth this season. Indeed, a whopping 12 of those games were draws, games that were entirely winnable – games against West Ham, Bournemouth, Hull, and Swansea, among others.
Clearly, Manchester United were impotent in attack, despite fielding the prolific striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic up front. True enough, when Zlatan was injured some weeks ago, United went on a downward spiral, not winning a single game in their last four league matches.
Now Mourinho is calling foul on the list of his player injuries. It was clear to fans and pundits alike that the Portuguese tactician had already set his sights on the Europa League by fielding a half-strength side against Arsenal last week, with the race for the top four on the line. The same story occurred on Sunday, with United’s line-up almost signalling their surrender to Spurs.
“If [only] I have Ashley Young, Luke Shaw, Marcos Rojo, Ibrahimovic, Tim Fosu-Mensah, if I had these guys I can rotate, I can go for every match,” Mourinho explained.
“When I have 14, 15 players, I can’t do it. It’s as simple as that. It is not possible to do it every three days,” the United boss added.
While it is understandable that too many injuries can hurt a team, the former Chelsea and Real Madrid manager should have known beforehand that his side were lacking in reinforcements during last summer. Clearly, the near-£90million signing of Paul Pogba, in hindsight, was a poor buy, and the massive amount of cash could’ve been used elsewhere. Furthermore, United did not spend a single cent during the winter transfer window, which Mourinho could’ve used to bolster his squad.
Mourinho can argue all he wants. True, winning the Europa League will give United qualification for the Champions League – and in reality, that is the main goal. But is that really what a huge club such as United should embrace? Is that really the way to go? Does this end really justify the means? For a club of United’s calibre, the answer should be a big no.
As such, no matter what Mourinho says, United’s performances this season has been, simply put, a failure. And as former player and club icon Roy Keane has put it, his old club has been nothing short of “embarrassing.”