Boring Mourinho needs a tougher defence

marty beauchamp Roar Rookie

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    Jose Mourinho's spending spree has failed to change the scene. (Supplied)

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    A one-all draw overnight away to Anderlecht leaves Manchester United with work to do in the return leg of their Europa League quarter-final at Old Trafford next week.

    Sixteen shots on goal should have provided a two or three-goal goal buffer that meant the tie could be closed down. But that didn’t happen.

    Jose Mourinho stated almost immediately that he puts the blame for the draw squarely at the feet of his attackers, who were lazy and profligate again. It’s obvious that United are short of goals, other than Zlatan Ibrahimovic no one is consistently banging them in.

    The great United teams had an Ibra equivalent – Ruud van Nistelrooy, Dwight Yorke or Andy Cole. But it was the consistency of the likes of David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, and especially Paul Scholes that ensured the goals kept coming when the strikers had an occasional off day.

    And that was an integral part of United’s long runs of success.

    But Sir Alex Ferguson pointed out a number of times that all great teams have a great spine. All of his teams had great scoring talent and midfield dominance. Above all, though, they had a great defence, centred around players and partnerships of the quality of Gary Pallister and Steve Bruce or Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic.

    I don’t pretend to understand Mourinho’s mind games, and they work more often than they don’t. But United’s failure to reach the level of Chelsea, Manchester City and Tottenham this year has got to have more to do with their lack of truly world-class defenders than it has a lack of attacking quality.

    Great teams of the past, such as Don Revie’s Leeds, Liverpool of the 1970s and ’80s, Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest, George Graham’s boring Arsenal, and Mourinho’s Chelsea sides have been able to defend leads. It was enough to get ahead and then great defenders would close the game down, job done.

    With long seasons, multiple cup runs and fixture congestion, those teams often nicked a lead in a tricky European tie, or a League Cup replay, and settled for that result. This United defence simply can’t do that.

    It is indicative that not one of them is courted by any of the other great teams in England or in Europe. Real Madrid and Barcelona would have loved to have prised Vidic or John Terry away, but that doesn’t apply to Chris Smalling or Phil Jones.

    David de Gea may well go to Real Madrid eventually – to play in his home country must be a huge drawcard. But the standard of defence that has played in front of him throughout his time at United must be a contributing factor as well.

    Peter Schmeichel was a brilliant keeper, but he had one hell of a defence in front of him.

    The end of the season will see United linked to every attacking midfielder between here and Timbuktu, but it would be great if they could manage to lure a player of Mats Hummels’ quality at long last.

    Then Mourinho could justify lots of boring 1-0 wins, instead of angrily remonstrating about infuriating 1-1 draws.

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    The Crowd Says (22)

    • April 15th 2017 @ 7:08am
      j binnie said | April 15th 2017 @ 7:08am | ! Report

      Marty – You are very observant. The players you mention have been at United since the Ferguson days and despite the millions being spent by Moyes,Van Gaal,and Mourhino it is noticeable that very few dollars have been spent on central defenders of world class standard.
      Wih Mourhino publicly stating he is not happy with his attack it has to be doubtful if he too has noticed this weakness in his team’s, “spine”; as you put it. Cheers jb.

      • Roar Rookie

        April 15th 2017 @ 7:59am
        marty beauchamp said | April 15th 2017 @ 7:59am | ! Report

        Thanks jb, he can only do so much though I suppose, players of the quality of Hummels demand champions league football. This United team will have to win the Europa league for that to happen, and there are some good teams left if they get past anderlecht,

        • April 15th 2017 @ 9:09am
          Fadida said | April 15th 2017 @ 9:09am | ! Report

          I think you’ll find he’ll buy another defender.

          • Roar Rookie

            April 15th 2017 @ 10:49am
            marty beauchamp said | April 15th 2017 @ 10:49am | ! Report

            who? no de gea and perhaps a Europa spot, you aren’t going to get the creme de la creme

            • April 15th 2017 @ 4:11pm
              Fadida said | April 15th 2017 @ 4:11pm | ! Report

              He just needs someone who is better than they have.
              They are still Manchester United and they can pay huge salaries.

              • Roar Rookie

                April 15th 2017 @ 7:07pm
                marty beauchamp said | April 15th 2017 @ 7:07pm | ! Report

                that’s true, and money talks, and they might find another Ferdinand at that early stage of the defender’s career.
                But the older players who have matured into being a great defender may not follow the money so much, they need to know they stand a chance of having the real winners medals when they hang up their boots in a few years

    • April 15th 2017 @ 1:05pm
      Andy said | April 15th 2017 @ 1:05pm | ! Report

      I dont know about needing better defenders, i think United need someone like a Michael Owen or Solksjaer, someone who you is a predator in the 6 yard box. United have had an insane amount of shots most games, they just dont score. The United defence is one of the best in the premier league at the moment, only Tottenham has had less goals scored against them the problem is that they have scored 15-22 goals less than everyone around them. And its not for lack of chances, its lack of that guy in the box who converts.

      • Roar Rookie

        April 15th 2017 @ 1:46pm
        marty beauchamp said | April 15th 2017 @ 1:46pm | ! Report

        That”s very true and a true goal poacher would have made their season different. But while the statistics look good I think United get found out by strong teams, the premier league is made up of the elite and the rest, United would be eaten alive by barca or bayern.

        • April 15th 2017 @ 11:19pm
          Andy said | April 15th 2017 @ 11:19pm | ! Report

          I dont know about the elite and the rest, every game in the premier league is a hard game whereas in most other leagues 36 games are pretty easy. Cant really have an elite when they make up almost a third of the league.
          I still think the defence is ok, they are not great but young and whilst a world class defender would be very welcome i still think that poacher in the six yard boxs is the most important person to have. United have had so many shots in every game, the second most of any team and have the second highest pass accuracy this season too, Zlatan and Pogba average the most and the 5th most shots every game and the amount of time the ball hasnt been in the United third is the best of any team with only Liverpool equally as good at keeping the ball away from their final third. All this and they still have 20 odd goals less than everyone around them, just because there is no one to tap the ball in.

          • April 15th 2017 @ 11:49pm
            AZ_RBB said | April 15th 2017 @ 11:49pm | ! Report

            Every game is hard for mid table teams in every league in the world. Top of the table teams like Chelsea and Tottenham have had very few difficult games this season.

          • Roar Rookie

            April 16th 2017 @ 8:03am
            marty beauchamp said | April 16th 2017 @ 8:03am | ! Report

            Good points. But I think the fact that the ball is not in United’s third a great deal shows we give up goals easily. And players such as Smalling and Jones aren’t that young, I think they are becoming the next Jonny Evans , players who promised a lot but eventually don’t really deliver.

      • April 15th 2017 @ 4:17pm
        Fadida said | April 15th 2017 @ 4:17pm | ! Report

        Hernandez may have been that man

        • Roar Rookie

          April 15th 2017 @ 6:44pm
          marty beauchamp said | April 15th 2017 @ 6:44pm | ! Report

          great point, he was the solskjaer, danny wellbeck was going to be pretty handy too

    • April 17th 2017 @ 9:14am
      Nemesis said | April 17th 2017 @ 9:14am | ! Report

      No doubt the keyboard coaches who don’t rate Jose Mourinho, will be very quiet today.

      • April 17th 2017 @ 10:05am
        j binnie said | April 17th 2017 @ 10:05am | ! Report

        Nemesis- You did note that the two central defenders stopping Chelsea scoring were Bailly and Rojo who had obviously replaced the 2 “Fergie era” England centre-backs, Jones and Smalling ,so maybe Jose has finally “seen the light” as, from the reading of match reports, the United win was accomplished more by stifling Chelsea’s main attack weapons than by playing the better football..
        Note he is also using that “Everton discard” signed by Moyes, Felliano, instead of Carrick, another Fergie stalwart from yesteryear.
        Yes, change is happening, no doubt,,but at what cost one hates to think. Cheers jb

        • April 17th 2017 @ 10:26am
          Nemesis said | April 17th 2017 @ 10:26am | ! Report


          My heart leapt for joy when I saw Jones & Smalling were not in the XI. Two bigger clowns I’ve not seen in a United shirt ever.

          I think Jose has done a wonderful job with United this season. They’re currently on a 22 match unbeaten run in the Premier League, which is extraordinary when they’re sitting 5th on the table.

          But, if you watched United matches (and I’ve watched quite a few), it’s obvious that, in many games, the team has played superb attacking football, created huge number of chances, but haven’t won.

          2 major reasons

          1) The opposition GK has had an outstanding match; or
          2) The woodwork or poor finishing has prevented the goal

          So, whilst United have not been good enough compared to Chelsea or Spurs over the season, they’ve beaten both those teams.

          • Roar Rookie

            April 17th 2017 @ 10:33am
            marty beauchamp said | April 17th 2017 @ 10:33am | ! Report

            I saw Peter Schmiechel’s five-a-side dream team during the week. He had Cantona, Giggs and Scholes, and as you point out United are again playing the type of attacking football those guys loved. The first name on his list though was Jaap Stam, and the footage they had reminded me what is really still missing from this team, the great defender who turns and runs or distributes and then all those great attacking midfielders cause havoc.
            i used the term ‘boring Mourinho’ because of the Arsenal teams who were the epitome of shutting games down. Yes United have beaten Chelsea and Spurs, the teams that will finish well ahead of them this year, but it is the other results that have let Mourinho down.
            he can only work slow miracles, i just worry that United might miss Champions League football again and that will make it an even slower process.

            • April 17th 2017 @ 10:58am
              Nemesis said | April 17th 2017 @ 10:58am | ! Report

              But, my opinion, if United misses the Champions League it has nothing to do with Mourinho or style or structure.

              Mourinho’s job is to give the players the right “recipe” & ingredients. But even with the recipe & ingredients, not everyone can prepare the perfect meal.

              Mourinho can’t be responsible for players missing goals, hitting the woodwork, or opposition GKs putting in incredible performances at Old Trafford.

              It’s just football. At the very least, United should have 4-6 more points from matches that were almost perfectly executed without the win.

              Even so, United are have 2 matches in hand and 6pts behind Liverpool in 3rd. Going to be a close finish for 3rd spot. And for #1 spot now that Spurs aren’t choking.

          • April 17th 2017 @ 11:14am
            j binnie said | April 17th 2017 @ 11:14am | ! Report

            My heart actually sank when season after season I watched supposed super coaches continue to use,Ferdinand (past his use by date),Jones at fullback and centre-back, Smalling at fullback and centre back, Young at winger and fullback,,Valencia at winger and fullback, Rooney as a midfielder, not to mention superstars like,Di Maria and others coming and going, at great cost.
            A 22 match unbeaten run doesn’t say much for a club that has spent the “Bank of England” on players for, if they had drawn all their games to date, they would be unbeaten yes, would have 32 points,and would be lying 17th in a 20 team table!!!!!. Silly observation is it not?
            United are not out of the woods yet. In their attempt to conquer Europe,that being the ultimate aim,, they are still a bit short of where they want to be.
            Jose??? We all saw at Chelsea that he is an astute coach,no doubt, but one adept at playing with “systems” that suited the opposition, thus achieving success.
            The difference, United are a different “kettle of fish”, with over 70,000 regular attendees, not to mention countless millions around the globe, who have been brainwashed into believing the club philosophy is to be the finest attacking unit in the football world.
            That is what Jose faces day to day. Not easy. Cheers jb.

            • Roar Rookie

              April 17th 2017 @ 11:23am
              marty beauchamp said | April 17th 2017 @ 11:23am | ! Report

              You’re right that there is a difference between United and the others in terms of what is acceptable to the faithful.
              It just seems so long since a club that doesn’t mind breaking the bank did so for a ‘Beckenbauer’, as you said it was strange to keep watching a team where the defence seemed to be an afterthought, players who shouldn’t be there, players out of position.
              I still cringe a little at the team sheet when Chelsea keep finding an Alonso, City found Zabaleta, Kompany etc.

            • Roar Rookie

              April 23rd 2017 @ 8:25pm
              marty beauchamp said | April 23rd 2017 @ 8:25pm | ! Report

              Zlatan is gone, maybe for good. So all focus necessarily turns to a replacement who will get the goals that will take United to a title.
              Rojo is gone too. For this season. Jose is quoted as saying Jones, Smalling etc have to take some pain and come back earlier than perhaps they were going to.
              I don’t think I am the only United fan who thinks, who cares whether they do or don;t, I’ve never really thought they are worthy of being there anyway.
              It is a great shame about Zlatan and may well cost United a Europa League. I hope the bigger pity of it isn’t that searching for a replacement takes precedence over the search for defenders who should be playing for the Red Devils.

      • Roar Rookie

        April 17th 2017 @ 10:24am
        marty beauchamp said | April 17th 2017 @ 10:24am | ! Report

        everyone rates Mourinho, just not all the stock that he inherited

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