Predictability of Manchester United's latest defeat pushes Jose Mourinho towards the edge 2 years ago

Predictability of Manchester United's latest defeat pushes Jose Mourinho towards the edge

Perhaps it was Mark Noble who best summed it up.

Speaking to BT Sport minutes after West Ham's 3-1 win over Manchester United, he was asked if he had been surprised at the way the visitors to the London Stadium had lined up.

"The way it's going at the minute, Man U could've come and lined up all different ways," he replied. "But to be honest, we worked all week on the way we were going to play... I think you can see from the way we played today that we didn't want to stay in a shape, we came here to win. I think you could see that from the first minute."

He was right. West Ham had deserved this victory and, like several other supposedly lesser teams have done lately, made life difficult for United by simply playing their own game, not trying to stifle theirs.

It's the most damning indictment of this current United side: the days of teams trying to execute meticulously prepared plans to combat their style of attacking football are increasingly sparse. Now, they just do their own thing instead.

There's no need for a tactical masterclass. Play your game and, when you don't have the ball, run hard, close the space and show a bit of aggression. That's it. It's literally that simple.

Do this and the composure drains from them, defensive errors occur, their forwards lose the ability to move into space. West Ham, just like Derby in the second-half on Tuesday, just like Brighton last month and just like Newcastle and Huddersfield last season, did precisely that on Saturday afternoon. Like them, they reaped the rewards.

United's players obviously aren't exempt from blame here, but the toothless, disjointed displays they have frequently served up in recent months are ultimately the product of their manager's work.


This was another day where it was impossible to escape the feeling that Jose Mourinho's time at Old Trafford is nearing its end. He bemoaned his side's misfortune after the game, pointing to officiating decisions before West Ham's first and third goals and the looping deflection Andriy Yarmolenko's shot took off Victor Lindelof for their second. To a degree, he was right, but in just about everything else, he wasn't.

Yet again, Mourinho shuffled his pack, tweaking both personnel and formation; yet again, the result was a team resembling a group of strangers, not a set of players representing one of the world's biggest football clubs, coached by one of the game's all-time great managers. Their passing lacked fluidity and, when accurate, was safe and sideways - even when chasing the game. A lack of urgency saw a limited number of chances created.

While his starting XIs are becoming more and more difficult to predict, this kind of showing from Mourinho's team isn't. It's almost expected now, and there's a growing feeling that the former Chelsea manager has already reached a stage where he's unable to salvage matters.

In a week which has seen more rumours of unrest amongst the players and an embarrassing Carabao Cup exit to Derby, Mourinho required a response in east London - one which his confidence-sapped team never looked like providing.

More questions about his future in Manchester will no doubt follow, the most prevalent appearing to be 'when?' not 'if?'.